2011 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the 5 Most Unheralded Role Players in the Field

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IMarch 18, 2011

2011 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the 5 Most Unheralded Role Players in the Field

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Jon Leuer #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers posts up against David Jackson #15 of the Penn State Nittany Lions during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2011 in Ind
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    2011 NCAA Tournament: Which Role Players Are in Need of More Recognition?

    March Madness is officially upon us, and with it comes some of the most talented, young NBA prospects across the nation.

    Every team in the field of 68 maintains that one play-maker; the guy that is capable of carrying his respective team deep into the tournament.

    Yet for some squads, the infamous "role player" is often times overlooked and unable to receive the recognition they are so deserving of.  Well today, that is all about to change.

    Here are the five most unheralded talents playing in this year's NCAA tournament. 

Jon Leuer, F, Wisconsin

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    COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 06:  Jon Leuer #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers shoots over Jon Diebler #33 of the Ohio State Buckeyeson March 6, 2011 at the Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    PPG: 18.6

    RPG: 7.3

    MPG: 33.6

    PPS: 1.29

    Jon Leuer hasn't quite lived up the hype that comes with being named a preseason All-American forward, however his role within Bo Ryan's offense is second to none among his fellow power forwards across the nation.

    Averaging 18.6 points and 33.6 minutes per game over the course of the regular season, Leuer is without question one of the most complete and consistent talents in the Big Ten, and has contributed to many of the Badgers' victories this season.

    Along with fellow teammate Jordan Taylor, Leuer maintains a reputation to get the job done no matter what the cost.

    If the Badgers are to go far in the tournament, Leuer will need to play at the top of his game on a 24/7 basis.

Darius Morris, G, Michigan

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 12:  Darius Morris #4 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to pass the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2011 in Indianapolis,
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    PPG: 15.2

    RPG: 3.9

    APG: 6.7

    PPS: 1.30

    Michigan's prolific scorer and under-the-radar talent Darius Morris has consistently supported a Wolverine squad in need of major leadership throughout the course of the regular season.

    Impressive statistics and a knack for the basketball in critical situations make Morris a must-see talent for any true basketball fan, however his status in a power-packed Big Ten conference make it extremely difficult to get any national recognition.

    It's safe to say Michigan's tournament hopes rely on Morris' ability to produce in the minutes (and seconds) he plays.

Austin Freeman, G, Georgetown

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    NEW YORK - MARCH 11:  Austin Freeman #15 of the Georgetown Hoyas handles the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the quarterfinal of the 2010 NCAA Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotma
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    PPG: 17.9

    RPG: 3.6

    APG: 2.5

    PPS: 1.33

    The overlooked and underrated Georgetown Hoyas enter the tournament under the direction of their often disregarded point guard Austin Freeman who, to the surprise of many, leads the Hoyas in both points per game and minuets per game.

    Georgetown exhibited a disappointing 2010-11 season in which they furnished just a 10-8 record in Big East play; however Freeman's performance has not hindered.

    If the Hoyas are to make a deep run towards a potentially Final Four appearance, they'll need Freeman to take his chances.

Keith Benson, C, Oakland

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    MILWAUKEE - MARCH 19:  Keith Benson #34 of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies shoots the ball over Gary McGhee #52 of the Pittsburgh Panthers in the first half during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Bradley Center on March 19
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    PPG: 18.0

    RPG: 10.1

    MPG: 32.2

    BPG: 3.6

    When it comes to absolute productivity on the court, look no further than Oakland's all-purpose center Keith Benson.

    Benson, who can contribute to the Golden Grizzlies' winning efforts in both the painted area and beyond then three-point line, is clearly one of the most versatile centers the tournament has to offer.

    Over the course of the regular season, Benson has attributed over 20 points on 15 different occasions, including 30 points in a single game back in early January.

    If there is one player to watch in the first round of action, it would be Benson.

Marcus Dennon, G, Missouri

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09:  Marcus Denmon #12 of the Missouri Tigers signals against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during their first round game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 2011 in Kansas City, Mis
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    PPG: 17.1

    RPG: 3.4

    MPG: 30.4

    3P%: .455

    Clearly qualified to fit this list, Missouri's all-purpose point guard Marcus Denmon is a prototypical NBA point guard in the making—and he's showing us all just why he is so valuable to the Tigers' tournament aspirations this season.

    Averaging just over 30 minutes per game for Missouri, Denmon is the undisputed commander in chief of Missouri's offensive and defensive attack.

    With a three-point percentage of 45 percent, Denmon also stakes his claim as one of the most clutch, reliable point guards the tournament has to offer, and should make for must-see television as soon as he hits the court.

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