Breaking Down the Top 5 Players in 2014 NCAA Tournament Championship Game
While Shabazz Napier and Julius Randle are the household names on the last teams standing, the reason the UConn Huskies and Kentucky Wildcats are playing on Monday is because of their depth.
Role players such as DeAndre Daniels and Aaron Harrison have garnered national attention for their timely scoring and clutch play. After all, March is where these players have a chance to make a name for themselves.
Even though the teams squaring off in the season's last game are seeded seventh (UConn) and eighth (Kentucky), they are both chock full of players who have the potential to take over a game at any time.
So without further ado, here are the best five players who will be gracing college basketball's grandest stage.
Boatright often gets overshadowed by Napier, but he's not too shabby of a guard himself. He's scored in double figures in each tournament game, averaging 13.6 points over Connecticut's five games.
Harrison is the second guard overshadowed in this game by his backcourt-mate, but he's no slouch of a second option, either. He's averaged 11.6 points and 5.0 assists in the tournament and has complemented a dynamic sibling tandem.
The injury to Willie Cauley-Stein significantly magnifies Johnson's importance at this stage. With an expanded role in the last several games, Johnson has averaged 11 points and over five rebounds. Not to mention, he is the last member of what could possibly be the next Fab Five.
5. James Young
Young is quite the playmaker for a freshman, as he gets thrown under the rubble among the heap of top first-year draft prospects.
He's averaging 11.8 points per game and playing almost the entire game. Although he's been inconsistent from the field, this is simply too big of a stage for such a dangerous player to fall flat on.
Young will be faced with the daunting task of being guarded by the lanky Daniels, but he's proven to be good enough to be able to mix his game between jump shots and attacking the rim.
4. DeAndre Daniels
Daniels has quite possibly been the most impressive player the entire tournament.
He's averaged 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds, providing a more-than-stellar second option to Napier. When the big stage has called on this role player, he's come up huge.
Against Florida, Daniels played the entire 40 minutes, scoring 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds.
As previously mentioned, his matchup with Young may be the most intriguing one in this game.
3. Aaron Harrison
While Daniels may have been the most impressive player through the first five games, Harrison has been the most clutch.
It's not up for debate that he's the sole reason the Wildcats are at where they are, as his three late three-pointers in Kentucky's last three games were unbelievable.
And it's not just the last few seconds where he's showing up. Harrison has averaged 14.4 points in the tournament, and although he's not much of a passer or rebounder, his importance to this Kentucky team is simply undeniable.
2. Julius Randle
Randle has been Kentucky's best player throughout this entire season.
He's the best pro prospect in this game, as shown by his stats for the entire year.
In the tournament so far, Randle has averaged 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds, as the walking double-double has helped Kentucky overcome the likes of Frank Kaminsky, Cleanthony Early and Montrezl Harrell.
Randle is simply the heart and soul of this team, and if Kentucky is to win the national championship, it will be on the back of this soon-to-be pro.
1. Shabazz Napier
There's a reason Shabazz Napier is highly considered as the best point guard in the country.
Just watch him play for a stretch of five minutes and you will see the heart and skill that goes into each and every dribble of the ball.
His numbers back up his passion, as he's averaging 21.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the tournament. In the area where Connecticut has excelled most, from the foul line, Napier has gone an astounding 29-of-31.
Similar to how the Wildcats will try and ride Randle to college basketball glory, the Huskies will do the same on the back of Napier.
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