I really, really like Brandon Triche.
As the quiet and unassuming Syracuse Orange guard the past three seasons playing alongside a handful of players with eccentric, can't miss personalities, Triche has quietly been the catalyst for a number of Orange victories since 2009, leading by example with bursts or multi-game stretches of near flawless basketball.
Because of his place, I've always appreciated if not openly rooted for him to succeed throughout his career.
But we've reached the point for the now senior glue guy to become a star, and if his coy personality doesn't inhibit him taking that next step in his fourth and final season as a college basketball player, Triche could join the conversation for Big East Conference Player of the Year come February.
Is it a stretch to even suggest?
Louisville's Peyton Siva is sort of supposed to win the award.
Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick could score his way to the award if he can become more effective shooting off the dribble.
But Triche, a well-rounded player that's often been taken for granted if not overlooked despite starting every game he's ever played at Syracuse, is in prime position to steal the prize from all others.
"More is going to be expected of me by (Jim) Boeheim this season," Triche said over the summer. "If the team's energy is low, it's probably going to be my fault. I'm going to be the one to blame or the one to pick the team up. So my name is going to be in his mouth a lot. He's going to be screaming for me to do better."
Every conference player of the year race needs a darkhorse, a player always talented enough to win the award but was prevented from flourishing due to various circumstances in previous years.
Now with the team "his," Triche is that darkhorse.
With perimeter players Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters leaving 45 percent of the team's possessions unused for the upcoming season, and with Michael Carter-Willams still primarily about potential, the onus has invariably fallen on Triche to make up a big chunk of that lost production.
The senior, the best and most experienced returning player to an Orange with high rotation turnover, Triche will have the opportunity to show versatility by playing both point guard and off the ball.
Plagued by moments of brilliance followed by bouts of invisibility, Triche's primary challenge to tackle for the 2012-2013 season will be consistency. Despite being the guy Syracuse fans have come to call their unsung hero, Triche has struggled to always leave some sort of imprint on games even when he's getting his fair share of run.
For this season, Triche will score and he'll pass, and with his usage likely moving upwards, he'll certainly post more than 9.5 points and 2.6 assists a game - averages through three seasons at Syracuse - and overall simply have more chances to hit clutch shots while being the focal point of Jim Boeheim's offense. Move those shooting and efficiency statistics up a tick to coincide with more production and the Jamesville, New York native will be right there with the Siva's, Cooneys and Kilpatrick's of the Big East for player of the year honors.
Triche is a senior and Syracuse's backcourt success will be heavily reliant on him.
It's now or never. The opportunity for the local kid to end his college career with some deserved personal accoladres has no choice but to manifest itself.