Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/6/14

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19: Jai Lucas #10 of the Texas Longhorns dribbles the ball past Dexter Strickland #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cowboys Stadium on December 19, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Most fans love to head to their school’s web sites and read about the incoming players, go to their favorite web boards and talk about the newcomers and why this recruit did not pick their team and why that one did, or just talk about this either by the water cooler or their favorite watering hole. But for me, who has been following North Carolina basketball and football for three decades and college sports in general for over a quarter century, the players I tend to watch out more for now are the returning ones. And while in the world that is college hardwoods nowaday senior leadership does not mean as much as it did ten or twenty years ago, it still means a lot in my opinion. This more so when the team is loaded with a lot of players that have talent but not so much playing experience at the college level. So when Dexter Strickland, who was injured on January 19th against Virginia Tech and has been rehabbing ever since, tweeted yesterday that he had been cleared to play it made me feel good, very good.

Finally cleared to play!! #LetsGoo

— Dexter Strickland (@DStrick01) August 27, 2012

Strickland, if he gets back to form, is going to give this year’s basketball team a lot of things. First his presence is going to take the pressure off incoming freshman Marcus Paige to having to be the starting point guard from day one. We all loved the way Kendall Marshall, who left Chapel Hill after two seasons for the NBA, lead the team as its floor general. But what some might not remember is that Marshall came off the bench for over a half a year in first season under head coach Roy Williams. With just him, Paige and walk on transfer Luke Davis playing the one spot, Strickland is the only player on this roster that has any experience running the show for head coach Roy Williams. Let’s also not forget that on last season’s squad, where the 6’3″/180 lbs guard was not a top choice when it came to scoring, he did have six double digit performances out of 18 full games he played.

Second, be it at the point or at the shooting guard positing, Strickland is going to be the senior leader that a good team needs. On a team that many feels has a lot of question marks and many new faces the senior is going to be the player that has the “been there, done that” mentality and can help all the newcomers get on the same page when it comes to both the offense and the defense. Whatever the starting line up will be the combo guard will be the one with the most experience on the court and the only one that will have been a starter for coach Williams for over a year. If his knee holds up through the season the senior will probably have the most minutes played than anyone else on the team.

Third, and maybe most important, Strickland is going to be part of what could be a very good defensive team in Chapel Hill. Before getting hurt last year the senior combo guard was the best perimeter defender for the Heels, once hurt, his replacement, Reggie Bullock, became the defensive stopper. This year the two could easily see a lot of time on the court together, and that can only mean good things for a team that will not be anywhere as big as last season but could easily be as good on defense as any that coach Williams has had in Chapel Hill.

It might not have changed the final outcome when it come to the Nationl Championship last season, but with a healthy Strickland I have to believe that the Tar Heels would have reached the last game of the year even with Marshall going down to injury. Now, returning to the hardwoods with something to prove to all, and maybe himself, Strickland might just be one of those players that opponents will not worry about before the game against Carolina and will wonder what happened after it. When this season is over and done I do not expect Strickland to be the team’s leading scorer, but I do expect him to be the team’s leader, and of course its captain as well. For more North Carolina basketball and/or football stories make sure to come back often to isportsweb!

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NFL Scouts not in love with Amari Cooper?

Report: No teams interested in trading for Lance Stephenson

It is not Chip Kelly's fault if Eagles miss playoffs

FCC declares that 'Redskins' is not obscene

Padres reportedly acquire Justin Upton

Rajon Rondo after trade: My love for Celtics fans is 'unmatched'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Athletics trade Derek Norris to Padres

Dodgers not happy with Padres GM over Matt Kemp trade

Mario Balotelli banned match for offensive Instagram post

Marc Trestman: Benching Jay Cutler could revive QB's career

Rob Gronkowski jokes about Tom Brady saying he's grown up

Rajon Rondo traded to Mavs for three players, picks

Ranking NFL coaches on hot seat heading into Week 16

Five draft picks why the Browns won’t make the playoffs

Peyton goes Belichick with 'we're on to Cincinnati'

The 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Mark Cuban finalized Rondo trade on "Colbert Report' set

Sen’Derrick Marks celebrates $600K sack with money sign

Five most underpaid NFL players of 2014 season

Extremely rare set of Air Jordan 7s selling for $45,000

Five reasons why Alabama will win College Football Playoff

Hugh Freeze proud of Ole Miss’ record 2.57 team GPA

Youngstown St. addresses Bo Pelini's profanity-laced rant

It's been almost 40 years since NFL's last untelevised game

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

Andrew Hawkins, other athletes gain support for social statement attire

NBA's most underrated players

Michael Vick nearly debt-free

Dolphins CB rips Brady's career plans

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.