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David Quistberg

Few freshmen have impacted their team more this season thanTulane’s Ricky Tarrant.

Tarrant leads the team with an impressive 17.5 points per gamein Conference USA play, and 13.9 points per game overall. Thefreshman phenom’s role on the team is only likely to increase withthe recent injuries to junior Kendall Timmons and 7-foot centerTomas Bruha. Tarrant, who has won four C-USA Freshman of the Weekawards, has given an inexperienced Tulane team crucial poise andleadership, and there is no doubt that his role will only increaseafter Timmons’ injury. The remainder of the season now rests on hisyoung shoulders.

Tarrant was a three-star recruit out of Pleasant Grove (Ala.),where he was a three-time team captain and runner-up Mr. Basketballin Alabama. His commitment to Tulane was a landmark of head coachEd Conroy’s first year. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Tarrant’sexplosiveness and shooting ability allow him to flourish inConroy’s attack-orientated scheme.

What makes Tarrant so unique, though, is his poise. Some of hisbest performances have come in the biggest games. Tarrant scored athen career-high 24 points, including 6-of-7 3-pointers, in a 57-52Tulane victory against Georgia Tech. More recently, Tarrant set theTulane freshman scoring record with 33 points in an 80-74 winagainst Southern Methodist. After a poor first half, Tarrant tookcontrol of the game in the second half, burying SMU with 26 secondhalf points. Tarrant also had a career-high eight assists in therecent loss against Rice.

Tarrant said he does not try to emulate the style of any currentNBA star, but that he tries to emulate some of NFL quarterback CamNewton’s qualities on the gridiron.

“I really admire Cam’s confidence and his ability to lead,” hesaid.

Despite his youth, Tarrant has successfully adapted his game tothe speed and intensity of Division I basketball. Tarrant isembracing his role as a scorer and facilitator for others, and withso many young players around him, Tarrant has slowly embraced aleadership position on the Wave because of his on-the-courtsuccess.

With the loss of Timmons and Bruha, Tarrant will need toshoulder an even bigger role.

“Players will have to step up,” he said.

He is also working on developing his own game, citingdecision-making, ball handling, and 3-point shooting as areas he isfocused on improving. Despite the recent injuries, Tarrant stillhas high hopes for this team.

“We’re going to continue to get better, try to win moreconference games, and when the conference championship comesaround, we’re going to make a run and do some damage,” he said.

If Tarrant continues to improve, Tulane will be a dangerous teamheading into the postseason.