How important is Ryan Pearson to George Mason this season?

With all that has gone down with the program over the last couple of months it’s difficult to predict just what kind of season the Patriots will have on the court this year. However George Mason is still considered to compete in the CAA and maintain their mid-major elite status despite what has happened.  With Cam Long, Luke Hancock, and most likely Andre Cornelius gone the team’s back court situation is currently up in the air.  With that in mind, a strong front court presence will be vital to help the younger and less experienced guards at the beginning of this season. This puts pressure on Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison, and even wing Sherrod Wright to produce more and not just on the scoreboard. Of those three I think most would be in agreement that Pearson is the most irreplaceable guy on the roster and a lot will be expected of him this year.
It goes without saying that George Mason will need more than just an All-CAA performance from Ryan Pearson to win the conference but I think a lot of what they will try to do this year will start with him.  Over the last two seasons Pearson’s effectiveness in the post created numerous opportunities for his teammates, most notably from behind the three-point line.  In the early goings this year I’d imagine teams will double Pearson and force the younger guards to beat them from the outside. Luke Hancock and Cam Long made a living off this last season and hopefully someone like Sherrod Wright can this year.  
Statistically the Patriots were an efficiency machine last year and as Michael Litos writes, it will be hard to replicate that.  Ryan Pearson was a big factor in their efficiency and with him on the floor they have a chance to get close to those numbers again.  Three-point shooting was a big part of those numbers and although Pearson took the occasional shot from behind the arch that task will rest on the shoulders of Bryon Allen, Corey Edwards, Vertrail Vaughns, Vaughn Gray and Sherrod Wright. However it difficult to think this team will start off hot from the three-point line in the early part of the season under Hewitt.

Speaking of statistics, below is a chart with data by John Pudner of Cracked Sidewalks of the top returning Mason players and how they rank nationally in terms of what % of his team’s overall scoring he added to and the % of points he took away from his opponent’s scoring. For more explanation on the stats and how this was calculated you can read up on it here. As you can see Ryan Pearson is ranked 62 out of 4,472 players in college basketball (Drexel’s Samme Givens is 31) and I think Pudner’s work shows how valuable certain players are to the team’s overall success. You can also see that Pearson is almost just as valuable on the defensive end as he is on offense.

Pearson is the team’s most valuable player because of the different things he does on the court. Say what you want to about his leadership skills but he is a lefty who can score in a variety of ways, get to the free-throw line, and be a relentless rebounder against bigger forwards.  He also possesses more intangibles than anyone else on the team. However, the question this season will be can he make the younger players around him better?

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  • Matt

    Without a doubt Pearson is the key to this team.  I don’t have any real reason to doubt leadership because he did not have to be the guy last year; it was, as it should have been, Cam’s team.  I think his intensity and desire to win coupled with his consistent production makes Ryan the obvious and reasonable leader for the team this year.  I do like that Michael Litos notes that he is also bearded!  It’s also killer that people expect Andre out until the new year at a minimum.  I have already stated that this was dumb, especially for a senior, but with all the other intense corruption in college sports this is kind of pale and I’d hate to see him lose the year!

  • cagee

    Is it really expected that Cornelius could miss the whole year?  This seems extreme, given the offense.

  • gmuhoops

    There’s a chance, he’s already had problems in the past with the previous coaching staff, some publicized some not. Regardless he won’t be with the team at the start of the season at the very least.

  • Tompkey6

    Yes Ryan is very much a key and I think much more from a leadership role. He must stay healthy since he does get banged and knocked around due to his style. As for Andre I said it before, it is time for him to be humble,truthful and pray. Anything less will result in just punishment. Sure I hope for the best for him both in life and basketball but that is for someone else to judge. Oh, thanks for taking the high road when it comes to speaking about the teams family problems.