Norris Cole of Cleveland State finished today's game against Youngstown State with a stat-line that makes you look twice. Finishing with 41 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists, the 6'2" guard put up some of the best numbers we have seen out of anyone this season.
Aside from this one game, Norris Cole has had an outstanding season thus far. He has the ability to make some noise in the NCAA tournament with his solid Cleveland State squad, as does Kenneth Faried of Morehead State.
Faried, a 6'8" senior, leads the nation in rebounding. He has been compared to the likes of Dennis Rodman. By putting up 15 points, 12 boards, five steals and two blocks against Ohio State this year, he has proven that he is the real deal. Yet the vast majority of America does not know his name.
These following players, like Cole and Faried, are not household names, but have the potential to make a big splash when March rolls around.
Andrew Goudelock is a fourth year guard for The College of Charleston Cougars. He has been their best player for his entire career, and has proven that he can play with the big boys. Against ACC opponents Maryland and North Carolina, Goudelock has had some of his best games.
In a one-point loss to Maryland, he dropped 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Despite the loss, Goudelock instilled some fear in Maryland early in the season.
Later against North Carolina, Goudelock scored 28 points while playing 38 minutes. Again they lost, this time by five points, but he made his presence felt.
The Cougars sit atop the Southern Conference at 11-2 in conference, and 18-7 overall. If they can get to the tournament, Andrew Goudelock is a player who has the ability to make a run like somebody else in the Southern Conference did a few years back—Stephen Curry.
Arsalan Kazemi made some noise when he first came to the United States to play for the Rice Owls. He became the first Iranian to play Division I basketball, and the long-distance recruiting has paid its dividends for Rice.
Kazemi, just a sophomore, is an absolute beast on the boards. Atop the nation's leaderboard in rebounding, he has also polished his offensive game during his sophomore campaign.
Now averaging just a shade under 16 points per game, Kazemi has intrigued NBA scouts. He shoots 56 percent from the field and has shown solid touch at the charity stripe, shooting at a 74 percent clip.
The Owls sit at 11-12, but that is already the highest win total they have accumulated since the 2006-2007 season. Perhaps Kazemi can spark a conference tournament run, and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
After attending a Hofstra game myself, I have no doubts that Charles Jenkins can play at the next level.
The senior combo-guard is averaging absurdly high numbers, scoring over 23 points a contest, along with dishing out five assists. He is the best player on the Hofstra Pride, and teams focus their entire defensive game plans on stopping him. The CAA is a conference that is known for its defense.
Despite these plans to stop him, Jenkins has had great success this season, leading the Pride to a 11-4 conference record and the chance of obtaining an at-large bid to the tournament; even if they fail to win the conference tournament.
C.J. McCollum was awarded with the prestigious Gatorade Player of the Year award in the state of Ohio during his senior year of high school. Despite this, he was met with criticisms of being "too short" and "too skinny."
The big teams shied away from McCollum, and he ended up taking his talents to Lehigh. As a Mountain Hawk, he has already had a record-breaking career.
Last season, he became the first player in Patriot League history to be awarded the Freshman of the Year award along with the Player of the Year award. He is only a sophomore, and his prowess has continued.
Last year, McCollum scored 26 points against the Kansas Jayhawks, perhaps weakening them before the Northern Iowa game. If he can lead Lehigh into the tournament this year, expect similar numbers, and maybe even a first round upset.
The Fordham Rams have faced much adversity recently on the basketball court. Although they have struggled as a team, the same cannot be said about Chris Gaston.
Like McCollum, Gaston is a sensational sophomore. He has averaged about 17 points per game and 11 rebounds per game thus far in his career, and can leave Fordham holding many records.
The Rams are winless in A-10 play, but a solid recruiting class should lead to some success when Gaston is an upperclassman. He is a supreme athlete and could get some looks from NBA scouts if he keeps playing the way he does.
It is pretty rare that the star player on a big conference team is still relatively unknown. Darius Morris of the Michigan Wolverines is worthy of more attention than he is currently receiving.
The sophomore point guard has come out of nowhere to lead the Wolverines to a respectable 15-10 record, and is almost singlehandedly keeping them afloat in Big Ten play. Currently at 5-7, the Wolverines definitely have a chance to make the tournament, as this year's bubble is very weak.
Morris leads his squad in scoring and assists, and without him, it is hard to imagine how Michigan would create any of their offense. They can only hope that he doesn't leave early for the NBA.
If I were to ask you to name every team with two losses or less this season, you wouldn't have much trouble naming six teams: Duke, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, San Diego State and BYU. Little do most people know, there is a seventh.
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have compiled a record of 23-2, yet are receiving no love on the national scene. Desmond Holloway could change that all come March.
The junior college transfer has potentially given Coastal Carolina just what they need to reach the NCAA tournament. They finished last season with a 28-7 record, and with the addition of Holloway, will likely finish this season with even fewer losses.
Averaging nearly 20 points per game to go along with seven boards, Holloway plays much bigger than his 6'3", 167 pound frame would suggest. If he and the Chanticleers can continue their winning ways, they might sneak into the national polls.
Holloway has never played on such a big stage as the NCAA tournament, and could make history for his small southern school.
Randy Culpepper is similar to a few other players on this list in the regard that he was told that he was not big enough to succeed in Division I. Yet, despite his slender 6-foot frame, he has been able to lead the Miners of UTEP to an 18-5 record in a solid C-USA.
Culpepper has been the star player for the Miners ever since his sophomore season, but has yet to win an NCAA tournament game. As a senior, he will look to achieve this goal, and make a run deep into March.
Surrounded by other contributing seniors, Culpepper seems poised to lead the Miners to glory this season. Will it be enough to make a movie, though? Only time will tell.
Norris Cole has led Cleveland State to a 22-5 record, including a win over a Big East team in South Florida. If his Vikings are able to make the NCAA tournament, he is certainly a player that should be feared.
College basketball experts always note that for a mid-major team to make a deep tournament run, they need a guard who can create his own shot. Cole fits this role perfectly. Teams know that he keys Cleveland State's offense, yet are unable to stop him.
He showed his versatility earlier today with an absolutely ridiculous 41 point, 20 rebound, nine assist outing. These numbers are remarkable, but they show what he has been doing all season. He is the only player in Division I to average 20 points per game, five rebounds per game and five assists per game.
He will be able to play at the next level, but right now he is focusing on leading his Cleveland State squad to unprecedented heights.
Kenneth Faried is one of the most feared post players in the nation, yet his name is relatively unknown. College basketball experts, however, have taken notice of his game, and he could very well end up being an All-American performer.
Faried has made an impact ever since his freshman season, and shows similar capabilities to a former low-major college basketball player—Paul Millsap. The two have very similar builds, along with aggression, and Faried could one day be as solid as a contributor as Millsap is in the NBA.
In the meantime, Faried is just looking to lead his Eagles to the NCAA tournament. He plays alongside a talented guard in Demonte Harper and the two seniors could cause problems for opponents in March.