The Pac-12 is brimming with stars.
From Nick Johnson to Kyle Anderson to Delon Wright to C.J. Wilcox to Jahii Carson to I-could-keep-doing-this-for-a-while, the league boasts more talent than it has in the past several years.
But while those studs—and many others—are expected to take over in Las Vegas for the conference tourney, there are a slew of underrated players who will show the nation the impressive depth of the Pac-12.
Let's take a looksie at some in particular to watch.
What: Pac-12 tournament
When: March 12-15, 2014
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
Bracket: Will be official after UCLA vs. Washington State on March 8
Jason Calliste, Oregon
Chances are, you've already heard several times this year—and will again a couple of more times in March—about the basketball hotbed Canada is becoming. From last year's No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett to this year's freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins, The Great White North is producing some unbelievable talent.
Jason Calliste, who hails from Scarborough, Ontario, is yet another example, although he'll never be included in the national conversation.
Easily one of the best sixth men in America, the Detroit transfer brings the Ducks instant offense off the bench. He is a deadly shooter (50.5 percent on 3.8 attempts per game from beyond the arc) but also has a propensity to put his nose down and get to the rack.
According to hoop-math.com, 57.8 percent of his shots come from deep and 27.6 percent come at the rim. He's also averaging 4.1 free-throw attempts per contest, of which he's knocking down 84.5 percent.
That combination of lethal shooting and elimination of two-point jumpers—those make up just 14.6 percent of his total shots—makes Calliste silly efficient. He is pouring in 12.2 points in just 26.5 minutes per contest, and according to kenpom.com (subscription needed), he is fifth in the nation in effective field-goal percentage (65.9) and second in true-shooting percentage (71.2).
During a teleconference in early January, via 247Sports' Matt Prehm, head coach Dana Altman put it simply:
His numbers are off the charts. He's got 148 points on 62 shots. In 33 years of coaching I don't know if I've ever had someone like that.
[He] just has added a great deal of maturity and leadership. Kind of keeps us together. He's a really tough young man.
Calliste's numbers have since dropped to "only" 1.84 points per shot (!), but he has remained one of the most dangerously efficient scorers through conference play.
Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
For good reason, Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis gets loads of national attention. Although he's a freshman, he is unflappable in big moments and consistently makes crucial plays for the Orange.
Although Washington's Nigel Williams-Goss isn't on Ennis' level, the fellow true freshman has a lot of similar traits. He may never be the best athlete in the gym, but he's an intelligent leader who plays with confidence and is hardly ever phased by the bright lights of college basketball—no matter the situation.
The University of Washington's basketball Twitter feed gave a look at Williams-Goss' production thus far:
While the freshman's impact typically goes far beyond numbers, he's been improving in that area as of late. He has double-doubles in the Huskies' last two games (one with assists, one with rebounds), and in the last nine games, he is averaging 16.4 points (49.6/43.2/79.2 shooting slash line) and 4.1 assists.
Scout's Marshall Cherrington put it simply:
Williams-Goss won't be the star of many highlight reels in Vegas. But he's going to make smart plays, hit a lot of mid-range floaters and come up big when the Dawgs need him most.
Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State
There are some impressive shot-blockers in this conference, but no one comes close to matching Jordan Bachynski's impact on the interior.
Arizona State's senior big man has blocked a whopping 123 shots on the season, putting him at 4.24 swats in just 30.5 minutes per contest. Not only that, but his block percentage (13.1, per kenpom.com) is ninth in the country—and of the eight players ahead of him, none average more than 25.0 minutes per contest.
His most famous block, of course, came during ASU's win over then-No. 2 Arizona:
The 24-year-old, who is also a tremendous rebounder, is easily one of the most impressive inside forces in the entire country, not just the Pac-12.
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