(Missouri Basketball App) – Now, I love Phil Pressey as much as the next fan. He’s electric on defense, lightning fast with the ball, and he seems to be able to find passing lanes that even psychics couldn’t see coming. Heck, he can even shoot a little.
But the amount of love coming from preseason pundits is catching me a bit off guard. Pressey was already named preseason first-team All-American by CBS- a declaration that comes loaded with expectations and is often a bit premature. Then Monday he was named SEC preseason player of the year.
This is quite an honor considering the reigning national champion Kentucky is in the conference and the Wildcats often reload with the five best players in the country after every season.
In fact, the latest national diaper dandy darling, Nerlens Noel, made the preseason first SEC first team without ever taking the court in the NCAA.
Maybe it’s just so foreign to see Missouri on the national radar in October. Maybe seeing an undersized, pass-first point guard be revered over a scorer is too unfamiliar to make sense. I don’t know what it is, but seeing Flip next to Shabazz Muhammad, Cody Zeller and the prolific scorer Isaiah Canaan still feels like I’m playing a video game where I make my own rules.
But Pressy has been impressive. He’s coming off a fantastic Big 12 Tournament performance to close the season with career highs in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He’s also one of two returning players from the 30-5 2011-2012 club. He blew the school assist record out of the water, netting 223 assists in 35 games, averaging 6.3 per game. Numbers like that are impressive, and they led to a nation-leading 50.4 field goal percentage for the team.
Then he worked to improve himself over the off-season, going to three elite camps and spending extra hours in the gym to strengthen his game.
With an impressive group of newcomers and a couple exciting transfers (not to mention the return of Laurence Bowers), Pressey will have plenty of offensive weapons to work with. Flip is set up to have a monster junior year, provided all this preseason hype can fall on deaf ears.
In college basketball, confidence can be a boost but arrogance can be deadly. Norfolk State should be a lesson in that regard. Pressey does have dynamic skills, but he also has a penchant for getting a little out of control, especially when he gets into “hero mode.”
So let us rejoice in Phil’s rise to national prominence, but let’s temper any expectations until we take the court against a foe who challenges his composure, not his skills. Once he can keep calm under pressure, he will be ready to lead on a national stage.