Every year, a few players use the NCAA tournament as their coming-out party. They step up and have huge games throughout the tourney and can single-handedly impact just how far their teams go.
As the Sweet 16 comes to a close and the Elite Eight field is set, let's take some time to remember some of the best individual player performances in the early rounds of this year's NCAA tournament.
Russ Smith, Louisville
Russ Smith has had two incredible performances for Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals. In the first round against North Carolina A&T, Smith racked up 23 points on almost 63 percent shooting from the field. Not only was he scoring efficiently, but his defensive game was on as well. Smith swiped eight steals in the first game and helped lead his team to a 79-48 win in the second round.
In the third round, Louisville was matched up with Colorado State. Smith put on another great performance, putting up 27 points and shooting 4-of-7 from the three-point line, allowing Louisville to get another easy win.
Sherwood Brown, FGCU
You can't have an impressive player list without Sherwood Brown. Brown and the FGCU Eagles have become the nation's team, capturing the hearts of millions, scoring upset after upset on their way to the Sweet 16. In FGCU's insane upset over Georgetown, Brown made his name known across the country by scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds against the Hoyas.
In FGCU's second game against San Diego State, Brown wasn't needed as much, as the Eagles beat SDSU 81-71, but he still managed to drop 17 points with eight rebounds as he led the Eagles to the Sweet 16.
Doug McDermott, Creighton
McDermott has been strong for the Bluejays all season, averaging over 23 points and seven rebounds a game. He didn't slow down once they got to the tourney.
McDermott put up a double-double against Cincinnati with 27 points and 11 rebounds as Creighton eked out a 67-63 victory to move on. In the second game, McDermott couldn't muster another double-double, but he got pretty close. Even though Creighton would lose to Duke, McDermott showed up and dropped 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds against a couple of the best bigs in all of D-1 basketball.
Andre Hollins, Minnesota
Here's a guy who isn't on a lot of people's radars. Hollins had a decent year with the Golden Gophers in a very strong Big Ten conference, putting up just over 14 points per game.
In this year's tourney, 14 just wasn't enough for Hollins. The sophomore helped lead his team to a second-round upset over UCLA by dropping 28 points and nine rebounds on the Bruins. He also shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line and knocked down five of his eight three-point attempts.
In Minnesota's next game, the Golden Gophers couldn't pull out a victory against Florida, but Hollins still had a good night. Hollins hung 25 points on the Gators and knocked down six shots from beyond the arc.
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