Shipp, three others should be high-impact
Midseason additions are usually way overhyped.
Too often, the player who is sitting out becomes a mythical figure in the program, only to disappoint when he finally hits the floor.
That shouldn't be the case this season.
Injury, academic and suspension issues have created four of the most critical December additions, so forget about these guys being overblown -- they've already been here and just got sidetracked a bit.
The most notable addition might be at UCLA, where sophomore Josh Shipp is expected to play Thursday night against Stanford and Saturday against Cal. Shipp has missed the entire season following an arthroscopic procedure Sept. 28 for a right hip injury.
How critical could Shipp to be to a UCLA team that is off to a 10-1 start?
"He was arguably our best player before he got hurt," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
Really? Shipp averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 boards last season, but he could end up being one of the team's top scorers once he gets going.
Howland told Shipp to expect that it might take him a month before he's fully effective.
"This is much different than a typical transfer because he's a known commodity," Howland said. "He was here a year ago. He's been practicing lately. It's only going to be a positive."
Shipp should give the Bruins another rebounder and could siphon minutes from senior Cedric Bozeman.
"This is a change for the better because it gives us a third scorer, gives us another guy who creates and passes," Howland said. "He's a winner, a competitor, and if we had him from the beginning ... "
That might be a bit wishful. Clearly, the Bruins weren't ready to take on Memphis in the NIT Season Tip-off semifinals in New York City last month, which is their only loss. Adding Shipp to sophomores Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo in the backcourt, along with the rest of the deep Bruins squad, gives Howland more options than at any time in his UCLA tenure.
Who are the other three most important additions?
Sean Williams, Boston College: Williams is a shot blocker and a defensive pest who allows Craig Smith and Jared Dudley to slide down to their natural power and small forward positions. He didn't practice last semester after being suspended for possession of marijuana following his freshman season. He took classes at the University of Houston. Williams' timing is still off, so Al Skinner has limited his minutes in the two games he has played so far (12 minutes against Harvard and at Duquesne).
"I'm not in a rush," Skinner said of Williams' minutes. "It's nice to get him on the floor, and in time, he'll be able to change the game."
But Skinner said the Eagles' interior defense will improve with Williams, allowing BC to press more often. BC also got Akida McLain back earlier this month from a suspension, so the Eagles have the inside depth they lacked when they lost to Michigan State in New York City earlier this month. Marcus Williams, Connecticut: This one is a no-brainer. Williams didn't practice in the first semester after being suspended for his role in laptop thefts during the summer, but he was a starter last season as a sophomore and played half of his freshman season before being ruled academically ineligible the year the Huskies won the national title. Once he's in game shape, he'll likely step in as the starting point guard for a national title contender.
Jawann McClellan, Arizona: The Wildcats desperately need his 3-point shooting. They've been brutal so far, hovering around 26 percent as a team. McClellan is expected to be academically eligible in mid-January, in time for a Pac-10 series against the Oregon schools. Once he's back, the Wildcats should start to find an offensive groove. McClellan has been allowed to practice.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- UNC's McDonald reinstated; Hairston still out
- AD backs SIU coach after tirade goes viral
- Laettner's jersey from 'The Shot' at auction
- Florida gets Murphy's brother via Duke transfer