Lehigh Basketball: C.J. McCollum and 3 Players Who Will Get Lehigh to Sweet 16

Joseph ZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 3, 2017

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 16:  C.J. McCollum #3 of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks reacts after the Mountain Hawks defeat the Duke Blue Devils 75-70 during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 16, 2012 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Sports fans everywhere have become familiar with the name C.J. McCollum following the Lehigh Mountain Hawks huge upset of the Duke Blue Devils.

The junior guard had a great game, scoring 30 points, grabbing six rebounds and adding six assists.

It's been a very good season in general. He led the team in scoring (22.1), rebounding (6.5), steals (2.6) and tied for the lead in assists (3.6).

He's unquestionably Lehigh's best player. It's safe to say that if the Mountain Hawks are to advance, McCollum will need to keep performing like he did against Duke.

However, here's three more players that will also need to step up and play well:


Mackey McKnight

He might have scored 11 points against the Blue Devils, but McKnight won't be asked to score a lot.

However, he's going to be a key factor in other areas of the court.

McCollum's the go-to guy, but it's going to be up to McKnight to be the floor general during the game. He tied McCollum atop the team's assists leader board.

He'll also be a huge factor on the defensive end of the floor. McKnight's opposite number will be Tu Holloway, Xavier's leader in assists and scoring.

If he can shut down Holloway, then Lehigh will have exponentially better chances of reaching the Sweet 16.


Gabe Knutson

Knutson is the second leading scorer (12.3) and rebounder (5.6).

At 6'9", Knutson is the second-tallest player on the Mountain Hawks. He's the only real post presence Lehigh can offer.

Xavier isn't a team with a glut of post players either, but the Musketeers do have 7'0" Kenny Frease. His numbers don't jump off the page (9.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg), but against an undersized Mountain Hawks team, he could have a huge game.

Lehigh was able to limit Mason Plumlee's effectiveness, and they'll have to do the same thing against Xavier.

Knutson will be a big part of that.


Holden Grenier/Jordan Hamilton

This might be two players, but it's one aspect of the game they'll both need to be key for.

Next to McCollum, Grenier and Hamilton are Lehigh's biggest threats from behind the three-point line. They shot 35 and 34 percent, respectively, from long range. Those aren't incredible percentages, but either of them has the ability to hit some important shots.

Going up against Frease, points in the paint might be hard to come by, so Lehigh is going to have to shoot well from mid-to-long range.

Plus, a hot shooter(s) can turn an entire game around.