Under-the-Radar College Basketball Studs Who Will Break out During March Madness
Every March, we see a few under-the-radar college basketball studs make their national introductions on one of the biggest stages in sports.
Last year, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum announced himself by dropping 30 on Duke to pull off the No. 15 over No. 2 first-round upset. Then it was 5'10'' Peyton Siva driving Louisville all the way to the Final Four.
Stars are born in March, whether they're coming from a higher seed or a lower seed.
You don't need to be a future NBA star to make a name for yourself this time of year.
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, 6'3'', SG
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Though Marcus Smart—Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year—has been getting most of the national attention, Markel Brown has been Oklahoma State's leading and go-to scorer.
Brown has become a potent offensive player after being limited his first few years and lacking a refined skill set. He's now got takeover tools, which can come in handy down the stretch of a tight game in March.
With the ability to create shots on the perimeter and soar over the rim, Brown has become a multi-dimensional scorer with strengths suited for both half-court and transition opportunities.
Strong guard play is typically what carries teams deep into March, and there's a good chance that Brown will be doing the lifting when the time comes.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'5'', SG
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Spencer Dinwiddie has established himself as one of the toughest covers in the Pac-12 with the ability to create on the ball and score playing off it.
At 6'5'' with long arms, an impeccable mustache and a smooth approach off the dribble, Dinwiddie is a legitimate NBA prospect. He's averaging 15.4 points per game and showing a good feel for operating in the long range, mid-range and short range at the rim.
Dinwiddie can hurt defenses as a shooter, attacker or playmaker, as he's averaging 1.4 made threes, 7.1 free-throw attempts and three assists per game.
Colorado is one of the more feared teams in America without a national ranking, which can be attributed to Dinwiddie's emergence as an offensive threat. He'll be a must-watch player throughout March Madness.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10'', PF
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Adreian Payne may not be so far off the radar if you've been watching Michigan State over the past few weeks.
He's been a monster, which is easy for a guy who's 6'10'' with a massive wingspan. But despite his giant size, Payne actually has quick and nimble footwork, which combines to form a devastating one-two punch of power and elusiveness.
With Payne in the middle, loose balls aren't so loose. He can be used as a finishing target or clean-up man at the rim and won't be physically outmatched against anyone he suits up against.
Recently, Payne has taken his game out to the arc, where he's actually shooting 44 percent from downtown on the year.
Now an inside-outside offensive weapon, Payne could be Michigan State's most important member of the rotation. If the Spartans make noise in March, expect most of it coming from No. 5.
Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's, 6'4'', PG
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March Madness was made for kids like Matthew Dellavedova.
He's a gamer, playing the floor-general role as well as you can play it at the college level.
Widely considered the best ball-screen guard in the country, Dellavedova's ability to manipulate the defense allows him to orchestrate half-court sets with efficiency and effectiveness. The Australian import has a mature understanding of which pass needs to be made or dribble needs to be taken in order to maximize the chances of a successful possession.
With Dellavedova running the show, you can be assured that someone, whether it's him or a teammate, will be getting off a good look at the rim.
He averages 16 points and 6.4 assists on 38 percent shooting from three. Dellavedova might not have the athleticism to play at the next level, but he's got the game to take over an NCAA tournament.
Jordan Adams, UCLA, 6'5'', SG
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Adams is averaging 15.2 points per game, but he's not the household name a 15-point scorer from UCLA should be.
Though not overly quick, athletic or explosive, Adams moves with purpose over speed. He knows how to get shots off on the perimeter or at the rim and has demonstrated the ability to convert them with consistency.
He's got the ability to heat up, and with potentially a lot of games to play in a short span, teams won't want to be in UCLA's path if Adams has found the zone.
Ian Clark, Belmont, 6'3'', SG
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The Belmont Bruins earned themselves an automatic bid to dance, which means the world will get to see Ian Clark's moves.
Clark was recently named co-Player of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference after averaging 18.1 points per game as a senior, over a five-point improvement from his junior season at Belmont.
He scored 26 points against Tennessee State in the conference tournament semis, nailing six threes to help Belmont advance and eventually punch its ticket.
Clark has always been regarded as a sniper, but he took it to a new level as a senior. He's averaging 3.1 three-pointers made per game at a lights-out 46 percent clip.
Belmont should be a feared high seed with Clark's shooting hand in the backcourt.
Nick Johnson, Arizona, 6'3'', SG
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Nick Johnson is a talented scorer but hasn't yet broken out on the national stage. Cue March Madness.
For Arizona to make a run, they'll need to get Johnson involved as a go-to option in the half court. Point guard Mark Lyons plays with a shoot-first approach, and though he might be able to light up the scoreboard, sometimes it comes at a price.
Johnson is a perimeter-oriented scorer who can step out behind the arc or create his own shot inside it.
He's averaging 11.6 points per game, but that doesn't reflect how potent his offense can be. With Lyons on the way out next year, this would be a fitting time for Johnson to introduce himself nationally.
Colton Iverson, Colorado State, 6'10'', C
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Colton Iverson plays just the way his appearance suggests he should. At 6'10'', 260 pounds, he's a physical mismatch in the paint, providing the contact and feeling none of it.
He's not the most versatile scorer. In fact, you probably won't see him leave the paint the entire game, as he shouldn't. Iverson uses every muscle and inch to his advantage, bullying defenders at the rim and on the glass.
Offensively, he uses his powerful body to gain position and soft touch to convert one-handed shots in the post. He's got a relentless motor and remains active in the paint whenever he's on the floor.
Defensively, Iverson makes it difficult for opponents to get easy shots inside and limits the opposition's second-chance opportunities. Colorado prides itself on rebounding the ball, ranking No. 4 in the country in that department.
Iverson is averaging 14.6 points along with 9.7 rebounds per game, and has been the primary reason for Colorado State's success in 2013.
This is a tough group who grinds out games. Iverson's presence in the middle could be a boatload for opposing frontcourts to handle if Colorado State gets a favorable draw.