An unusual number of potential impact players become eligible in mid-December this season. Here's a look at six who figure to make the biggest difference for their respective teams in the coming months:
1. Josh Selby, G, Kansas
No midseason addition faces more pressure than Selby, who many expect to elevate Kansas from an already formidable team into one of the nation's two or three leading title contenders. Rivals.com's top-rated 2010 recruit will provide Kansas a backcourt threat capable of generating offense off the dribble, but his arrival also poses a threat to the chemistry the Jayhawks have built during an undefeated start.
Scheduled debut: Saturday vs. USC
2. Renardo Sidney, C, Mississippi State
Mississippi State tried to schedule its weakest non-conference opponents during Sidney's nine-game suspension, but the Bulldogs still lost at home to Florida Atlantic and East Tennessee State. Whether they can recover from those setbacks once Sidney and point guard Dee Bost return depends largely on whether Sidney is in shape and committed to being an interior force rather than floating to the perimeter.
Scheduled debut: Saturday vs. Virginia Tech (Bahamas)
3. Drew Gordon, F, New Mexico
The Lobos have lost only once while waiting for Gordon to get eligible after fall semester, but they should benefit greatly from the 6-foot-9 UCLA transfer's ability to run the floor and score with his back to the basket. Freshman Alex Kirk is more of a flat-footed jump shooter at this stage of his career and neither A.J. Hardeman nor Tennessee transfer Emmanuel Negedu are as skilled or versatile as Gordon.
Scheduled debut: Sunday vs. The Citadel
4. Jio Fontan, G, USC
Lost amid the endless hype leading up to Selby's debut in Saturday's Kansas-USC game is the debut of a highly touted guard Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill called his best player last week. Fontan, who averaged 15.0 points a game at Fordham, will likely start at point guard and give USC some backcourt scoring punch to complement frontcourt standouts Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson.
Scheduled debut: Saturday at Kansas
5. Gregory Echenique, C, Creighton
Although a 5-4 start including losses to middling Nebraska and Iowa State has been disappointing for Creighton, the long-awaited debut of Echenique gives the Missouri Valley contending Bluejays hope of a turnaround. The pairing of the Rugers transfer and high-scoring center Kenny Lawson could give the Bluejays the conference's best frontcourt tandem, but the key will be whether the two big men can coexist on the floor at the same time.
Scheduled debut: Saturday vs. Idaho State
6. Roberto Nelson, G, Oregon State
The most highly recruited Oregon State signee since Gary Payton saw his first action in almost two full years on Sunday, scoring four points in 15 minutes in a victory over Texas-Pan American. It's understandable that coach Craig Robinson wants to bring Nelson along slowly, but the Beavers desperately need Nelson to make an immediate impact to be competitive in the Pac-10.
Scheduled debut: last Sunday vs. Texas-Pan American