My 11th annual All-Glue Team (cont.)
Willie Veasley, 6-3 senior guard, Butler
Veasley is often described as quiet, but he has been steadily making more and more noise since coming to Butler four years ago. He started his college career by setting a school record for games played as a freshman, and he is ending it as the winningest player in Butler history. Though he has always been a tough defender and great rebounder for his size (4.3 per game this season), Veasley has turned himself into a top-flight marksman on offense. He did not make a single three-pointer during his first two seasons, but so far this season he has made 105 treys and is converting 37.1 percent. So whenever opposing defenses overplay the Bulldogs' leading scorer, 6-9 sophomore forward Gordon Hayward, they get punished when Butler swings the ball to a wide-open Veasley.
"He's probably one of those no-nonsense guys," Illinois-Chicago coach Jimmy Collins said of Veasley last year. "When he comes to work, he brings his brown bag and hard hat. He doesn't come into practice playing around. He comes to work."
Veasley may have distinguished himself most in October 2008, when practice began at the start of his junior season. Hayward had come to Butler with a lot of hype, but after Butler coach Brad Stevens told Veasley that he would have to share minutes with the newcomer on the wing, Stevens noticed that Veasley repeatedly deferred to Hayward in practice. "The number one quality of a leader, in my opinion, is somebody's willingness to serve other, and he is clearly one of the best servant leaders we've had here," Stevens told the Indianapolis Star.
Veasley is accustomed to making room for others. He is the second-youngest child and the only boy in a family of seven kids. A native of Freeport, Ill., he broke his high school's alltime scoring record. He originally wanted to play for Marquette, but then-coach Tom Crean did not offer him a scholarship until another recruit had backed out of his commitment. By then, Veasley had already committed to Butler, and he refused to go back on his word.
This season, Veasley is posting career highs in minutes (30.4), points (10.4) and steals. In other words, he's still getting better, but what else would you expect from a Glue Guy?
Rick Jackson, 6-9 junior forward, Syracuse
It was one of the biggest games of the year, so if casual fans tuned in to Syracuse's 18-point pasting of Villanova on Feb. 27 and wondered ... who is that guy? ... they can be forgiven. It was Jackson -- not Scotty Reynolds or Wesley Johnson -- who was the best player on the floor that night, finishing with a game-high 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in just 28 minutes. As is the case most nights, Jackson did not force the action. He simply, and smartly, made himself available while the Wildcats focused on stopping his better-known teammates. That's how Glue Guys roll.
"I think people are concerned about Wesley and Andy [Rautins] and he's got to take advantage of those opportunities," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of Jackson after the game. "He's got people looking for him ... and he has done a great job finishing around the basket."
Jackson's proclivity for cleaning up around the rim caused him to give himself the nickname "Trash Man" last season. It fits. Jackson's teammate from Philadelphia's Neumann-Goretti High, Scoop Jardine, was the more heralded recruit for Syracuse, but Jackson, a late bloomer who grew four inches in high school, has found his way into the starting lineup by improving his strength and basketball I.Q. a little bit each day. After averaging 12.9 minutes while coming off the bench as a freshman, Jackson was promoted to the starting lineup in December of his sophomore season for a game at then-No. 23 Memphis. Playing power forward instead of his usual center position, Jackson had 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in a 72-65 victory, and he has kept his position ever since.
More than anything, the promotion convinced Jackson that Boeheim believed in him. That helped Jackson believe in himself. "Once you get confident," he said, "you can do things that you didn't think you could do. That's pretty much what happened."
Jackson is currently averaging just three more minutes than he did last season, but he is posting the best numbers of his career across the board: 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals. His willingness to muscle his way in the paint allows his teammates to escape much of that pounding, and his ability to score when called upon has turned a very good team into a great one. "Go hard or go home. That's the way I like to play," Jackson said. Thanks to his Glue Guy contributions, Syracuse won't be going home anytime soon.
Past All-Glue Teams:
2009: J.T. Tiller, Missouri (captain); Taylor Griffin, Oklahoma; Jermaine Dixon, Pitt; Garrett Temple, LSU; Travis Walton, Michigan State
2008: Stanley Burrell, Xavier (captain); Tory Jackson, Notre Dame; Dave Pendergraft, Gonzaga; Derrick Jasper, Kentucky; Justin Mason, Texas; Wisconsin (glue team).
2007: Dane Bradshaw, Tennessee (captain); Kyle Shiloh, Nevada; Dominique Kirk, Texas A&M; Othello Hunter, Ohio State; Marcus Landry, Wisconsin.
2006: Sean Dockery, Duke (captain); Dane Bradshaw, Tennessee; Mike Hall, George Washington; Sean Marshall, Boston College; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA; Kenton Paulino, Texas.
2005: Jamaal Levy, Wake Forest (captain); Louis Hinnant, Boston College; Erroll Knight, Gonzaga; Christian Moody, Kansas; Ellis Myles, Louisville; Roger Powell, Illinois.
2004: Jaron Brown, Pittsburgh (captain); Tyrone Barley, Saint Joseph's; Erroll Knight, Gonzaga; Roger Powell, Illinois; Nick Robinson, Stanford; Robert Tomaszek, Texas Tech.
2003: Rick Anderson, Arizona (captain); Jaron Brown, Pittsburgh; Justin Hamilton, Florida; Chuck Hayes, Kentucky; Robert Johnson, Oregon; Ellis Myles, Louisville; Tony Robertson, Connecticut.
2002: Gerald Fitch, Kentucky (captain); Dahntay Jones, Duke; Billy Knight, UCLA; Byron Mouton, Maryland; Jarrod Odle, Indiana; Antoine Pettway, Alabama.
2001: Sergio McClain, Illinois (captain); Nate James, Duke; Luke Walton, Arizona; Justin Hamilton, Florida; Marcus Toney-El, Seton Hall; Jason Capel, North Carolina.
2000: Lavor Postell, St. John's (captain); Alex Jensen, Utah; Nate James, Duke; Brian Beshara, LSU; Stanford (glue team).
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