Commentary

All-Marco Polo players, big contributors

Updated: October 8, 2009, 1:09 PM ET
By Dick Vitale

When I look ahead to a college basketball season, I am always intrigued by the impact of newcomers. There are many diaper dandies that will make an immediate difference.

Another area which thrills me is the All-Marco Polo. He might have been unhappy at one school, but then he finds his Utopia elsewhere. These players can be vital at their new schools.

Let's look at some of the All-Marco Polo players that will be contributors this season:

Out at Syracuse, fans and coaches are ecstatic with the arrival of versatile Wesley Johnson from Iowa State. He can dominate in many ways and Jim Boeheim feels he will be a major factor for the Orange.

Jai Lucas will step in down at Texas for coach Rick Barnes. Lucas was a starter at Florida, but he was unhappy that the ball was in the hands of Nick Calathes. Now he will get the opportunity to run the show in Austin, where Damion James returns and Avery Bradley comes in.

Villanova gets a boost with the addition of Taylor King from Duke. King came in with an incredible reputation as a prolific scorer. Jay Wright has put together a dynamite program and the George Clooney look-alike is a star on the sideline. Can Wright motivate King to live up to the billing he had from the west coast as one of the top scorers in California high school history. King is capable of hitting the jumpers, but he goes to a team with a lot of talent on the perimeter.

Notre Dame adds Ben Hansbrough from Mississippi State. Usually the Fighting Irish pass on transfers, but Mike Brey has a player that will be essential since the team lost a number of quality players, including Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers. Brey was expecting to have two key Marco Polo newcomers, but forward Scott Martin, a major player as a diaper dandy at Purdue, recently suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Hansbrough shows toughness like his brother Tyler displayed at North Carolina. Ben Hansbrough was a stable contributor with Mississippi State and he should help Brey's squad.

Miami lost Jack McClinton, so Frank Haith needs some help. He will count on Malcolm Grant from Villanova, who shows quickness and scoring ability. Grant will be an instant-impact performer and he will get playing time.

Memphis lacks depth, but new coach Josh Pastner got a lift when Elliot Williams was declared eligible immediately following his transfer from Duke. The circumstances are difficult since there is an illness in his family, leading to his decision to return closer to home.

Jordan Crawford made some noise during the off-season. His dunk on LeBron James made headlines; now his performance for Xavier will be a positive for new coach Chris Mack.

Southern Illinois is happy to have former Iowa guard Tony Freeman on board. Vernon Macklin, the former Georgetown frontcourt player, should help out Billy Donovan's club at Florida. Derrick Jasper left Kentucky and he should be a plus at UNLV. Shamari Spears left Boston College and should contribute at Charlotte for coach Bobby Lutz.

Keep an eye on these guys as they will help out right away.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.