NCAA Tournament 2012: 15 Players with Skills to Be This Year's Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is a versatile player with a rare combination of basketball skills that made him a force to be reckoned with as a collegian at UConn.
Beyond his physical abilities, he demonstrated incredible determination and willpower throughout the Huskies' unbelievable runs last year in both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.
Even though Walker scored at a great clip during the entire 2011-12 season (23.5 ppg), he bumped it up a notch (24.6 ppg) in last year's postseason.
But Kemba wasn't just about "getting his." He also dished out 4.5 apg during November-February, but handed out five per game during the Huskies' title runs last year.
In addition, the 6'1" guard was an exceptional rebounder during the regular season (5.4 rpg), and found a way to improve his work on the boards in the conference and national tournaments (6.1 rpg).
Who are the college players that could lead their teams in a similar way come March Madness 2012?
Who are the individuals who can not only put the ball in the basket, but impact the outcomes of this year's NCAA Tournament games in a wide variety of ways?
And, who could be the player that some team will naturally point to as the primary reason they are cutting down the nets at the New Orleans Superdome on April 2nd?
Some players were included on this list because they have "the skills to be this year's Kemba" even if their team is not currently nationally ranked or thought of as a Final Four favorite.
Some players were left off of this list because their team is not likely to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
This list consists not only of guards who have the ball in their hand most of the time, but also wings and frontcourt players who get things done in multiple statistical categories.
As always, if you think someone has been left off of this list and they should be on it, please make your case. Or, if you think someone shouldn't be on this list, let us know why.
Let's do this!
15. Nate Wolters (South Dakota State)
What kind of a story would it be if South Dakota State made a deep run in this year's tournament?
If this near-miracle takes place, Nate Wolters will be responsible.
Wolters does a little of everything, leading the Jack Rabbits in scoring (21.2 ppg) and assists (6.1 apg).
The 6'4" guard is also SDSU's second leading rebounder (5.0 rpg).
Wolters has put up 30 points or more five times this season, including 34 as South Dakota State pummelled Washington in Seattle.
14. Matthew Dellavedova (St. Mary's)
Matthew Dellavedova may not be lightning fast or vertically explosive, but he gets things done for St. Mary's.
Dellavedova leads the Gaels in both scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (6.5 apg).
The 6'4" combo guard is a points-and-assists double-double threat every night.
His best game of the year was against Weber State (25 points and 11 assists).
With Dellavedova in the lineup, the Gaels are a mid-major menace who have won 78 games in less than three full seasons.
In his freshman season, St. Mary's made it to the Sweet 16.
Could the Gaels do it again in 2011-12? We'll soon find out.
13. Royce White (Iowa State)
Royce White started his collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, but before he suited up for the Golden Gophers, he left school, and was looking for a new place to play ball.
The people in Ames, Iowa were glad to bring in the 6'8" 270 lb. combo forward.
White is one of the few players in the nation who leads his team in all five major stat categories with 12.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.2 spg and 1.0 bpg.
Obviously, he can hurt you in virtually every way.
White has put up seven double-doubles for Iowa State this season and one triple-double against Texas A&M (10 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists).
If the Cyclones make it into this year's NCAA Tournament, it will be their first time dancing since 2005.
12. Brad Beal (Florida)
Brad Beal is one of the most explosive perimeter players in the country.
He has made an immediate impact on a Gators team that already had two great backcourt players in Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.
Beal, a 6'3" guard from St. Louis, is Florida's leading rebounder (6.5 rpg) and the No. 2 scorer (14.7 ppg).
Most of the time when guards get double-doubles, it is with points and assists. Beal has done it five times this season with points and rebounds, including putting up 19 points and 12 rebounds against Georgia.
11. Scott Machado (Iona)
Scott Machado dominates games in a different way than most of the players on this list.
Machado has spent most of the year leading the nation in assists (10 apg), but is also his team's No. 2 rebounder (5.1 rpg) and the No. 3 scorer (13.2 ppg).
The 6'1" senior point guard has put up 10 points-assists double-doubles, including a 33 point, 10 assist outing vs. St. Joseph's and a 10 point, 11 rebound and 10 assist masterpiece against Marist.
10. Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette)
You've heard of power forwards. Darius Johnson-Odom is a power guard.
The 6'2" 215 lb senior is a prolific scorer (18.4 ppg) who is helping Marquette challenge Syracuse for the Big East title.
Marquette has won all 13 of the games in which Johnson-Odom has scored at least 20 points..
9. Dee Bost (Mississippi State)
Dee Bost is multi-dimensional point guard who is going to have to step it up if the Bulldogs are going to make it into the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Just a little over two weeks ago, Mississippi State was 19-5 and a virtual lock for the Dance.
After losing their last five games, Bost and his teammates need to get down to business in their final two games and in the SEC Tournament.
Bost is averaging 15.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 5.0 apg.
When Bost is rockin', the Bulldogs are rollin'!
8. Tu Holloway (Xavier)
Tu Holloway may be one of the most multi-talented point guards in the country.
Holloway is constantly in attack mode. He goes to the line eight times a game, and makes his opponents' regret putting him there by hitting 86.2 percent of his attempts.
Holloway leads the Musketeers in scoring (16.9 ppg) and assists (5.6 apg).
Even though Xavier's season has had more twists and turns than a Kings Island rollercoaster, the Musketeers could be a team to be reckoned with in the A-10 tournament.
If Holloway gets hot, he could take the Musketeers to the conference title game and then on to the Dance.
Tu is just that good!
7. Marcus Denmon (Missouri)
Marcus Denmon is one of the best perimeter scorers in college basketball.
The 6'3" senior is putting up 18.2 ppg on 46.8 percent shooting from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc.
If you put Denmon on the line, just forget about it. He has only missed 11 of 112 free throws in 29 games.
Think that he is just putting up big numbers against a bunch of stiffs?
In Mizzou's two games against Kansas, Denmon has scored 29 and 28 points.
He is also the Tigers' second-leading rebounder (5.1 rpg).
Even though the Tigers have lots of weapons, they will only go as far as Denmon takes them.
6. Will Barton (Memphis)
Will Barton is a slasher extraordinaire. He gets into the lane and to the rim just about any time he wants to get there.
The 6'6" shooting guard leads the Tigers in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg). Barton has put up 20 points or more 14 times and has 9 double-doubles on the season.
Memphis lost last year in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament to Arizona, but with Will Barton as their engine, this could be the year the Tigers take off.
5. Tony Wroten (Washington)
Tony Wroten is lethal in the lane and relentless on the offensive glass.
The 6'5" combo guard has been named as one of five finalists in the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Year award.
Wroten is averaging 16.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.5 apg.
He's also a terror on defense, tipping passes and making steals (2.0 spg)
Right now, the Huskies are on top of the Pac-12 (20-8; 13-3 Pac-12). They would be a completely different team without Wroten.
4. Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)
The Murray State Racers are one of the best stories of the 2011-12 season.
They were the last undefeated team in the nation, winning their first 23 games before losing to Tennessee State.
Isaiah Canaan is a huge reason that the Racers are ranked No. 12 in the nation.
The 6'0" 193 lb. junior guard does it all. He leads MSU in scoring (19.4 ppg) and assists (3.8 apg), and also pulls down 3.2 rpg.
Canaan is a dead-eye shooter, hitting 48.4 percent from beyond the arc (92-of-190; No. 9 in the nation) and 83.9 percent from the line.
He has exploded for 30-plus four times this season, with a high game of 36 points (along with eight rebounds) against Southern Miss back in November.
Murray State is in good hands regardless of who they face in the Ohio Valley conference or NCAA Tournaments as long as Canaan is leading the attack.
3. Mike Moser (UNLV)
Mike Moser is the kind of player every coach is looking for.
He's not only a big-time scorer (14.2 ppg), but a banger under the boards (11.0 rpg; No. 5 in the nation).
Moser also does the little things, like finding the open man (2.4 apg) and picking the other team's pocket (2.0 spg) on a regular basis.
Moser blew up early in the season (16 points and 18 rebounds) in the Rebels' surprising upset of North Carolina on Thanksgiving weekend.
He followed that up four days later with a 34 point and 10 rebound outing against UC Santa Barbara.
Moser has put up 13 double-doubles this season and had 20 or more rebounds twice this season.
Even though UNLV has a number of nice players on this year's squad, their fortunes in March Madness are pinned to Mr. Moser.
2. Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
Anthony Davis is the kind of player you don't see every year.
Davis leads the nation in blocked shots (4.8 bpg). Only 33 D-1 teams are blocking more shots per game than the 6'10" freshman. He also shoots a blistering 65.8 percent from the field (No. 8 in the nation).
Davis leads the No. 1 Wildcats in both scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.8 rpg). Those numbers might be even higher if he didn't play alongside Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
He has put up 12 double-doubles on the season and is likely to have even more before the 2011-12 season comes to a close.
I fully expect to see Davis and the Wildcats doin' their thing in New Orleans.
1. Draymond Green (Michigan State)
Draymond Green is far from the same size and shape of Kemba Walker, but he is the most likely player that could carry his team in this year's NCAA Tournament like Kemba carried UConn last year.
Green is the main reason the Spartans are leading the Big Ten with a 24-5 record and ranked No. 5 nationally.
Green leads Michigan State in scoring (15.6 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg), steals (1.5 spg) and blocks (27).
The 6'7" 230 lb. man-mountain is also the team's No. 2 assist man (3.6 apg).
But, where Green most resembles Walker is in leadership. Besides the team in multiple statistical categories, he is the absolute heart and soul of Tom Izzo's squad.
While Green may not win any national player of the year awards, he is without question the most valuable player to his team in the country.