NIT 2013: Top Stars to Watch in Remaining Matchups

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2013

Tyler Haws headlines a list of NIT stars.
Tyler Haws headlines a list of NIT stars.Douglas C. Pizac

Often overlooked and underappreciated, the NIT may not feature star teams, but it doesn't necessarily lack star players.

As the tournament rages on, some of the top dogs—namely Kentucky and Tennessee—have been knocked out, yet a number of dazzling individuals remain.

Although these players don't get the national attention of those playing in the NCAA tournament, they still deserve some spotlight. 

Let's take a look at the top stars to watch in the remaining NIT matchups. 


Pierre Jackson, Baylor 

In the case of Pierre Jackson, size doesn't matter. 

Standing just 5'10", 180 pounds, the senior guard is at a supreme disadvantage every time he walks on the court. At least, that's what his opponents think. 

Despite his small stature, Jackson is one of the premier players in the NIT and a consummate leader for the second-seeded Bears. 

A former junior college standout, Jackson has enjoyed two successful years at Baylor. Last season, he made an immediate impact as a three-point shooter and top playmaker. This season, he's been the guy for head coach Scott Drew.

Though his shooting percentages have slipped, Jackson leads the Bears in scoring (19.8) and assists (6.7), and is tied for the lead in steals (1.6). 

That's an MVP, folks. 


Tyler Haws, BYU

A premier scoring threat, Tyler Haws simply knows how to find the basket. 

The 6'5" guard finished the regular season as the nation's No. 11 scorer (20.9 points per game) and was money from the free-throw line. 

Haws has turned it on lately, particularly in BYU's first-round matchup. Facing Washington, Haws scored at will, dropping 37 points on the Huskies. A solid three-point shooter (38.5 percent), Haws consistently finds his way to the basket and converts. 


Joe Harris, Virginia 

Ever since he stepped foot on campus, Joe Harris has been a valuable member of the Virginia squad.

Standing 6'6" with a soft shooting touch, the junior has developed into a tremendous scorer who is money from downtown. After averaging over 10 points per game as a freshman, he improved that mark to 11.3 as a sophomore before making a big leap to 16.7 this season.

His ability to knock down perimeter shots and get to the free-throw line has made Virginia a legitimate threat to take home the NIT title. He hasn't topped 20 points in nearly a month, but the last time he did he dropped 36 points in a 73-68 win over Duke.


Bryce Cotton, Providence

Another undersized guard, Bryce Cotton plays with tremendous heart and hustle. The 6'1", 165-pounder finds ways to score and is only getting better. 

After averaging just four points per game as a freshman, he exploded for 14.3 per game as a sophomore before topping out at nearly 20 per game this year. He takes too many three-point attempts (8.3 per game) but is a very solid free-throw shooter. 

Cotton doesn't do much else besides score, but that asset has kept Providence alive in the NIT. 

He'll need a big-time performance against Robert Morris if the Friars plan on taking on Baylor in the next round.