Up to this point I think the rankings have been pretty accurate and agreeable. At #14, I have Louisville forward Dwayne Sutton, which I recognize as having the potential to be a controversial selection. In the Garrison Brooks piece at #19 I mentioned that GB was part of the All-Kevin Keatts team, meaning he’s a winner. Well, Dwayne Sutton is the captain of that team in my humble opinion.
Sutton, a Louisville native, began his career at UNC-Asheville. In 2015-16 he helped lead the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012. Following the season he decided to transfer and was offered a preferred walk-on spot with the Cardinals by then head coach Rick Pitino and the opportunity to return home was too good to pass up. Now, as the elder statesman of the Louisville program, Sutton will look to lead a deep and very talented Cardinals team to the promised land.
The 6’5 forward was one of the most surprising breakout players of the 2018-19 ACC season. In fact, as far as upperclassmen go, he was the most surprising. Sutton averaged 10 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists last season while shooting 52% from two, nearly 35% from deep and 75% from the stripe. Sutton was also the only player in the ACC last season to average more than two offensive rebounds per game and make 45 or more triples. An obscure statistic, but a fun one I thought.
Sutton is the first player on this list to possess what I would refer to as an “old man’s game.” He won’t wow you with athleticism, but he can take it to the hole, he cuts to the hoop, he can shoot if from behind the arc. He is the annoying kid at the playground that plays hard defensively. At 6’5 and being a plus rebounder, he can also play three positions effectively and provide Chris Mack with numerous lineup possibilities.
Sutton will also be leaned upon by Coach Mack to be a leader along with Jordan Nwora (stay tuned) for a Cardinal’s group that welcomes seven new faces to the program this season. As Fresh Kimble, Samuel Williamson, and others become acclimated with the system, those two will be the old hands on the ranch making sure the transition goes smoothly.