If you ask every member of the Wildcats which player means the most to him, you may get some differing answers.
However, there is a better chance that the consistent response will be T.J. McConnell.
“I think what's unique about T.J. is his personality,” Stanley Johnson said. “I would say his overall -- he's able to comply with a lot of situations. He does a lot of stuff.
“He’s like a second coach on the court. He can manage personalities on the court, he can lead, and he knows how to talk to everybody. Sometimes even when you get mad at him or he's mad at you, it's always constructive. You always kind of build from it.”
Johnson has gone through a major learning process this season and McConnell has helped him through it.
“There are negative moments, but there are no negative moments as in we don't learn from stuff,” Johnson said. “It's always a learning process.
“Especially for a guy like me, coming in as a freshman, having somebody like him to lead me and being able to be there and do the right things for me to follow him, that was really constructive for me for my freshman year.”
It’s not just the freshmen that has been able to build a close relationship with McConnell.
“For me, T.J. has been a brother for me since I got here,” said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. “I remember my first visit, getting close with him was big for me because I value relationships, and that just translated on the court to him being a big brother off the court.
“I can listen to him. We can talk. We can argue. We can fight. We can make up. And those things you want with a basketball team. You want that brotherhood. You want that bond that you don't always find, and that is the big thing for me. So I value that.”
McConnell’s importance and overall relationship to his teammates extends to his head coach as well.
“Well, I'm sure everyone that's watching or whoever has tuned into the game, you can tell when we're playing and they point at each other, or T.J. does something or the team does something, the first person Coach Miller looks at is T.J. McConnell,” Hollis-Jefferson said.
“That is just something they build throughout practice and throughout the years of getting to know each other. As a point guard and as a former point guard, they have that bond where Coach Miller knows the game and he knows what a point guard should do, and he expects the world of T.J., and I think he should. I expect the world of him too and I'm sure people can see that.”