Las Vegas Invitational 2013: Biggest Stars to Watch at Anticipated Event

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Las Vegas Invitational 2013: Biggest Stars to Watch at Anticipated Event
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Invitational features four teams looking to do damage in their respective conferences, but it is the stars that will make this event a thrill to watch. 

This two-day showcase is not exactly a tournament, but instead an event where each team plays two games that are already scheduled. While this takes away some of the drama from declaring a winner, there will still be four excellent battles. 

There are plenty of reasons to watch, but these stars make it worth viewing every second of the action.

 

Drew Crawford, Northwestern

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

There might not be a more versatile player in the Big Ten than Drew Crawford. The senior was able to return for a fifth season after suffering a torn labrum last year, and he is ready to make it count.

The wing leads Northwestern with 16.3 points and eight rebounds per game while also hitting 50 percent of his shots from behind the arc. He can score in many ways, which makes it incredibly difficult for opponents to slow him down.

Northwestern will have to rely on a lot of contributions from freshmen and sophomores this season, so it needs a veteran presence to take over when necessary. Crawford provides that as a go-to scorer and leader on and off the floor.

 

Jordan Clarkson, Missouri

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mizzou has a lot of dynamic players on its roster, from the elite shooting of Jabari Brown to the low-post strength of Johnathan Williams.

However, Jordan Clarkson might be the most exciting player to watch on the team.

The Tulsa transfer averaged 16.5 points per game two seasons ago before making the move to Missouri. After sitting out last season, the Tigers are now seeing what they have been missing with his great slashing ability to score against anyone.

Clarkson is averaging 18.8 points per game to start the year despite still not shooting well from the outside. When the shots start to fall, he can be even better.

The talented player knows how to finish inside and can seemingly get into the lane whenever he wants. When he is not scoring himself, he is creating for teammates, averaging a team-high 3.6 assists per game.

As he gets more comfortable in the lineup, he has a chance to be one of the best players in the Big 12.

 

Deonte Burton, Nevada

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After three impressive years with Nevada, Deonte Burton is set to take over in his senior season. The guard currently ranks 12th in the country with an average of 24.5 points per game, although this only tells part of the story.

The fact is that Burton has been an all-around star for Nevada, playing almost every minute of games while going hard on both ends of the court. He plays active defense that helps him grab two steals per game, while he excels on offense based on his efficient scoring.

As he continues to put up big individual numbers, he will draw more attention from defenses, which will lead to more production out of Michael Perez, Cole Huff and others.

Of course, Burton will need this help around him after the Wolf Pack's 3-3 start.

 

Jordan Adams, UCLA

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Due to the great freshman class in college basketball, sophomores all over the country have been virtually ignored.

Marcus Smart is clearly showing that he is among the best players in the sport, but Jordan Adams is another member of this class who deserves more respect.

The UCLA guard has solid size for his position and uses it to get into the lane whenever he wants. From there, he can finish with a jump shot or continue all the way to the rim and finish with a big dunk.

Still, his on-ball defense might be his best attribute, as he can shut down an opponent's best player. His 3.4 steals per game ranks fifth in the nation and he will give Burton a lot of trouble on Thursday.

Adams ranks 35th in the current draft board of ESPN.com's Chad Ford (subscription required) and is certain to keep moving up throughout the season. He will likely turn more heads than anyone else at the Las Vegas Invitational.

 

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