The Top Nine College Basketball Players You Need to Know but Probably Don't
When Bleacher Report gave me the idea to write about the unknown superstars of NCAA basketball--the players who fly under the radar--I was so excited! Figured I'd put my own spin on it and it would be so much fun!
So sick of hearing Tyler Hansborough every two minutes on ESPN. I mean of course he is good; he's on UNC. That's what they do there, breed big names.
But what about the quiet teams? The ones that suddenly show up on the March Madness brackets and make people* say "Where the f&R%^ is Austin Peay. Or MSM/Coppin State." (*by people I mean those of us who only tune in to college ball in March because we have lives. But you can't fool me, I know my 50 states and there is no Coppin!).
Then, I realized I know absolutely nothing about college basketball or the players this year except for the super-big names, because I only tune in during March Madness because I have a life.
Yes, I know, duh, that is the point of the article to find the others. But most sports writers or college b'ball fans would have an inkling of where to start. I, on the other hand, can name five players off the top of my head: Hansborough, Michael Beasley, Stephen Curry. Okay, maybe three.
So let's say I come across a great sounding player from Oklahoma that I had never heard of. I'd put him in the article, right? WRONG. Turns out Blake Griffin was exactly who I was not supposed to write about.
You see my dilemma?
So I did what any smart Stiletto Chick would do. I asked my guy friends to do the legwork while I did fun stuff! So if you don't like my picks, talk to Shelton and Mark. (If you do approve, however, don't I totally rock at this? :) )
1. David Holston, Chicago State Cougars, guard
I'd like to point out that I found him, not the boys! He is the No. 3 scorer in the country right now, right behind big name Stephen Curry. And no one even knows who he is, even in Chicago!
* 26.4 points per game (Curry has 29.1 In December, Holston averaged 27.7 and was No. 2)
* 5.7 Assists per game
* 2.9 Rebounds per game
* 53 steals in 18 games (almost 3/game)
* Shoots 44% from 3-point land
* He's only 5-foot-8.
Why he's unknown:
"[He's on] a team with no conference, zero television exposure, a minuscule fan base and a bizarre recent history marked with chaos and turmoil. So the man is in desperate need of introduction to a wider audience." ~ESPN.com
2. Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse Orange, forward
Why he deserves to break out: He has the No. 3 shooting percentage in the country, right behind big name Patrick Patterson.
* Field Goal %: 68.94, which is just sick!
* 11.7 ppg
* 7.7 rebounds per game
Why you haven't heard of him: His teammate Jonny Flynn is the big name on campus.
3. Patrick Mills, St. Mary's Gaels, guard
Why he deserves a breakout: St. Mary's is the No. 1 team in the WCC conference and he is a big reason why.
He's No. 2 in the conference for scoring, No. 1 for steals, and No. 4 for assists. Oh, and did I mention he's already played against NBA superstars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the USA Team?
The kid held his own against the stars in the exhibition game before the 2008 Olympics as the youngest player on the team.
He is also the first Australian to really make a name for himself in b'ball. And Aussie accents are so hot.
* 19.7 ppg
* 2.4 rebounds per game
* 3.8 assists per game
* 39 steals in 16 games
* St. Mary's is 15-1 as of January 16
Why you haven't heard of him: You probably did and then looked him up on the Mount St. Mary's team like I did because that's the team you've actually heard of. Then thought you were crazy when he wasn't on the roster.
4. James Harden, Arizona State Sun Devils, guard
Why he deserves a breakout: Actually, he is a candidate for Player of the Year, so you should have heard of him but as I was told "You kinda need to know about ASU to know about him. I doubt people could pick him out of police lineup."
Oh, and his birthday is Aug. 26, 1989; one day short of being exactly 10 years younger than me!
* 21.9 ppg
* 5.8 rebounds per game
* 4.5 assists
* 34 steals in 17 games
Why you haven't heard of him: You haven't heard of Arizona State's most famous lefty since Phil Mickelson? Huh. Maybe because he doesn't have any tattoos or a "flashy nickname." He's quiet, reserved, and that's the way he likes it.
"I've never had much notoriety. It's fine with me. My main focus is just to keep working hard every day to make myself and my teammates better. I'm always the underrated guy. That's fine."~James Harden on ESPN.com
5. Taylor Battle, Penn State Nittany Lions, guard
Why he deserves a break out: Because he's from Albany, like me! And he went to Bishop Maginn High School, where Mark and Shelton went! Ok, actually it's because he is a really solid player and he is leading the Big 10 in scoring.
* 18.9 ppg
* 5.8 rebounds per game
* 5.5 assists per game
* 25 steals in 18 games
* 3-pt %: 41
* Scored 26 points twice this season, against Mt. St. Mary's and Northwestern
Why he's unknown: Maybe because no one knows what the hell a Nittany Lion is. Team is so-so, kinda the bottom of their conference, with bigger teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, and Ohio State leading the way.
6. Manny Harris, Michigan Wolverines, forward
Why he deserves a breakout: He has been the key to Michigan's turnaround season and he is tied with Taylor Battle as the leading scorer in the Big 10. He is also No. 2 in rebounds in the conference.
* 18.7 ppg
* 7.6 rebounds per game
* 4.7 assists per game
Why you haven't heard of him: Don't worry, you will. He is pushing his way through, and with Michigan being ranked in the top 25, more headlines will emerge.
7. Brock Young, East Carolina Pirates, guard
Why he deserves to break out: He is No. 1 in assists per game in the country, ahead of Levane Fields, guard for top-ranked Pittsburgh. Oh, and Young also beats Fields on points per game, steals and rebounds, but you know, whatever.
* 7.2 Assists per game, Fields is at 7.1.
* 10.4 points per game, Fields 10.3
* 3.7 rebounds per game, Fields 2.5
* 27 steals in 15 games, Fields has 14 steals in 16 games.
* Scored 25 pts agains NC State
Why he is unknown: Have you heard of East Carolina? I know North and South....
8. Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, guard
Why he deserves a breakout: Seton Hall is only 9-7 on the season and in the bottom of the Big East, but Hazell has already broken through that stigma because he is the No. 12 scorer in the country.
* 22.4 ppg
* 3.3 rebounds per game
* 27 steals so far
Why you haven't heard of him: Like I said, Seton Hall kinda sucks this season.
9. Edwin Ubiles, Sienna, guard
Why he deserves to breakout: Because I found this quote about him:
"[He is] the most athletic player in the MAAC...Explosive, extremely skilled, multi-position talent... Plays above the rim...Long, lean and bouncy... Can score in a variety of ways...Creative with and without the basketball...Electrifies fans with rim-rocking dunks and lightning-quick first step...Equally effective on the perimeter and off the dribble..." Of course, it was from the Siena College Official Athletics site, so they may be a bit biased.
I am going to admit that I am picking him because he is in playing in college up in Albany, N.Y., and he was born in Poughkeepsie. I was born in Albany and went to school in Poughkeepsie (shhh, actually New Paltz, but it's close enough)
* 14.4 ppg
* 4.9 rebounds per game
* 2.3 assists per game
Why you haven't heard of him: Because have you ever heard of anyone from the Albany area? That is why I left. But Siena's doing good this season and they have made it to the tourney before, so look out!