10 Mid-Major Stars Who Will Make Waves During 2014 College Basketball Season
Let's take a moment to remember 2013's favorite mid-major star: Nate Wolters.
That felt right. Wolters will be missed as college basketball's indie star. You missed out if you did not witness the Nate Wolters experience at least once. He was kind of a big deal. I mean he even had his own hashtag.
But, my friends, it's time to move on and find ourselves some new candidates to be our favorite men of the mid-majors. With the dizzying conference realignment, some players are no longer eligible. Sorry Doug McDermott, you're in the Big East now.
This group of 10 players will become names you need to know by next March to impress your friends. Start studying now.
10. Juvonte Reddic, VCU
2012-13 statistics: 14.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 50 steals, 31 blocks, 56.9 FG percentage
Shaka Smart's "Havoc" gets all the headlines and has worked brilliantly, but what gets lost in the VCU story is that Smart has brought in some really talented players.
Juvonte Reddic is the most talented one on the current roster and has steadily improved through his first three years in the program.
Reddic is one of the most athletic big men in the country and fits perfectly with how Smart wants to play. The Rams are set up to have what could be their best team ever next season, and Reddic could reap the rewards if his numbers continue to rise.
9. Chaz Williams, Massachusetts
2012-13 statistics: 15.5 ppg, 7.3 apg, 2.0 spg
Who doesn't love watching a short dude dominate college basketball? At 5'9", Chaz Williams is one of the most entertaining guards in the country.
Williams is one of the rare point guards who can create for himself or others. He has a great handle, good vision and is a nifty finisher in the paint.
8. Preston Medlin, Utah State
2012-13 statistics: 16.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 39.3 three-point percentage
Preston Medlin was the preseason player of the year in the WAC last season, and he might have won the postseason award as well if not for a wrist injury that ended his season in mid-January.
At the time, Utah State was 14-2. Without Medlin, the Aggies went 7-8.
Medlin, a 6'4" guard, can score from anywhere, and he was starting to come on before the injury. He had put up 20-plus points in four of his final six games.
7. Siyani Chambers, Harvard
2012-13 statistics: 12.4 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.6 rpg, 42.4 three-point percentage
This is the little lefty who carved up New Mexico's defense by driving and kicking to Harvard's shooters in one of the NCAA tournament's biggest upsets.
Siyani Chambers played a ton of minutes as a freshman—37.8 per game—and Tommy Amaker trusted him to have the ball in his hands a majority of the time.
The Crimson graduated only one player in their rotation, so expect them to be back in the tourney next year with Chambers quarterbacking the offense.
6. Kendall Williams, New Mexico
2012-13 statistics: 13.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.1 spg
Kendall Williams already had the game of his life, so whatever he does his senior season will never live up to Feb. 23, 2013.
That day at Colorado State, Williams dropped 10 threes on his way to 46 points. He was throwing up heat checks and they just kept going in.
If New Mexico is on TV, it's always worth tuning in just to see if Williams will go off.
5. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
2012-13 statistics: 11.9 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.7 rpg, 41.7 three-point percentage
Let's start with the obligatory mention that Kevin Pangos is from Canada. This is important, because you'll probably hear him compared to Steve Nash.
Pangos is not quite at Nashian levels, but his game shares some similarities. He can hit runners off either foot, he's solid off a ball screen and he's also a great shooter.
His scoring average actually dropped from his freshman to sophomore season, but that was mostly because he was willing to let fellow Canadian Kelly Olynyk dominate. With Olynyk off to the NBA, Pangos should see get more shots up next season.
4. De'Mon Brooks, Davidson
2012-13 statistics: 13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 30 steals, 21 blocks
De'Mon Brooks won the Southern Conference player of the year as a sophomore and then let his buddy Jake Cohen win last season.
Nice guy, that Brooks fella.
Brooks should be the favorite to get his second POY in his senior season, which will be the last year Davidson will play in the Southern Conference.
Brooks, a lefty power forward, can score facing up or with his back to the basket. His quickness at 6'7" makes him a tough cover.
3. Tyler Haws, Brigham Young
2012-13 statistics: 21.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 apg
He's not quite the Jimmer, but Tyler Haws can fill it up similar to the former BYU star.
Unlike Jimmer Fredette, Haws does most of his scoring inside the three-point line. He is one of the best mid-range shooters in the country. According to Hoop-Math.com, 61 percent of Haws' field-goal attempts last season were two-point jumpers, and he made a very respectable 45 percent on those shots.
With fellow BYU star Brandon Davies graduating, Haws is my pick as the preseason favorite to lead the country in scoring.
2. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
2012-13 statistics: 13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, shot 53.5 percent inside the arc
When you put 24 points on the eventual national champion, that gets our attention.
The pressure is on Cleanthony Early to be a star next season for Wichita State. With Creighton and Doug McDermott off to the Big East, Early becomes the Missouri Valley's best and most well-known player.
The stretch four man, as you witnessed in the tournament, is one of those guys who finds a way to simply get buckets. It's rare for anyone in Gregg Marshall's offense to put up huge numbers, but if there was ever going to be a player who would, it'd be Early in his senior year.
1. Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis
2012-13 statistics: 14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.3 spg, 54.7 FG percentage
Dwayne Evans became SLU's go-to man last year after two years as a role player at Saint Louis.
The Billikens were a pretty balanced team, but they graduate their second- and third-leading scorers from this past season, and that should mean even more touches for Evans.
Evans is an unconventional three-man. He can play on the perimeter, but the Billikens often post him up against smaller defenders.
Since there are few players who can actually match up with Evans, he dominates at the college level. And since SLU should be a Top 25 team again next season, Evans will be a name you should know.
Other Mid-Major Players to Watch: Treveon Graham, VCU; Khem Birch, UNLV; Tyler Brown, Illinois State; Chris Udofia, Denver; Tyreek Duren, La Salle; Anthony Drmic, Boise State; Kareem Jamar, Montana; Travis Bader, Oakland- 6-5 guard; Torey Craig, USC Upstate; Troy Huff, North Dakota; Augustine Rubit, South Alabama; Jerrelle Benimon, Townson; Raheem Appleby, Louisiana Tech; Deonte Burton, Neveda; Alec Brown, Wisconsin Green Bay; Javon McCrea, Buffalo; Malcolm Miller, Southern; Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State; Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Hofstra; Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State