Whether a highly ranked freshman or a highly regarded transfer, new roster additions often help fuel the excitement as basketball practices begin. They bring the feeling that a missing piece to a special season just showed up.
Before celebrating those new arrivals, try to think beyond the Twitter-induced attention deficit we've been reduced to and remember the players who were sidetracked. Some were sidelined by injuries and in some cases academic missteps, but their returns could mean a big boost from familiar faces.
Don’t call it a comeback. They have been on campus at least a year, but they have been off the court just long enough to be forgotten.
Not for much longer, though. Here are 10 players whose returns should have an immediate impact:
Brandon Ashley, Arizona
The 6-foot-8 forward started the first 22 games for the Wildcats until a foot injury ended his season. Ashley, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, had to watch the remaining 16 games, including their Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin. His return is a reason why the Wildcats are considered a Final Four contender.
Michael Cobbins, Oklahoma State
It seemed like Cobbins’ torn Achilles after starting the first 13 games began the Cowboys' downslide last season. The 6-8 forward’s return will add a shot-blocking presence and some stability to a roster that has undergone a big overhaul.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
The 6-5 guard carried the Irish offensively, averaging 19.0 points per game, before he was sidelined by an academic issue after just 12 games last season. Grant is one of only two seniors on the roster and should keep the Irish from having to concede to a rebuilding season.
Kevin Ware, Georgia State
The 6-2 guard gained national acclaim when he recovered from a broken leg suffered in the 2013 Elite Eight in time to start the 2013-14 season for Louisville. It was a short-lived return as he played just nine games before he was accidentally kicked in the same leg and his season was over. Ware transferred to Georgia State, where he received a waiver to play immediately.
DaJuan Coleman, Syracuse
Injuries have been a part of Coleman’s first two seasons with the Orange. The 6-9 forward, who has started 32 games in his career, missed the final 21 games last season because of a left leg injury. Even if he stays healthy, Coleman won’t be a big scorer, but what he does bring is experience and toughness to the lineup.
Roosevelt Jones, Butler
The 6-4 junior had started 67 straight games for the Bulldogs before a wrist injury sidelined him for the entire 2013-14 season. Prior to his injury, Jones led Butler in assists (3.5), was second in rebounds (5.6) and was third in scoring (10.1) during the 2012-13 season.
Durand Johnson, Pittsburgh
The Panthers will need more scoring now that Cameron Wright is out 10 weeks with a foot injury. Johnson, a 6-6 junior forward, could help fill that void. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in a sixth-man role last season before missing the final 20 games with a knee injury.
Josh Smith, Georgetown
The 6-10 center transferred from UCLA but played only 13 games before being declared academically ineligible in January. Smith, who shot 65 percent from the field and averaged 11.5 points per game last season, regained his eligibility. But conditioning remains a question for Smith, who is listed at 350 pounds. He will be a sorely needed low-post presence if he can stay on the floor.
Allerik Freeman, Baylor
The 6-3 guard initially signed with UCLA to play for Ben Howland but was given his release when Howland was fired. A preseason wrist injury that kept him inactive for most of the 2013-14 nonconference schedule made the decision to redshirt him an easy one.
Elijah Macon, West Virginia
The 6-8 forward was ranked in the top 50 in 2012 but has been sidetracked while trying to gain eligibility. He spent 2012-13 at Brewster Academy Prep School, and last season he still did not gain eligibility and could not participate with the team. Now that he is cleared, Macon could bring some balance to the perimeter-heavy Mountaineers.