The college basketball season has been awesome thus far. We have seen our fair share of upsets, including UNLV over UNC, Indiana over Kentucky and Long Beach State over Pittsburgh.
College basketball never fails to excite, but what NCAA hoops is missing this year is a player that the entire nation adopts as its hero, the type of player that hits shot after shot and can score at will; it's missing a player like Jimmer Fredette.
While it would be awfully difficult to replicate what Jimmer Fredette did last season for the BYU Cougars, these five players have the potential to captivate the country and make huge impacts on the court for their teams.
To be eligible for consideration, players must play in a non-BCS conference, play on a team in the West and have the ability to change any game in which they play.
Don't expect these players to have as much of a following as Jimmer did last season, because that would just be an unfair expectation. Do expect, however, for these players to make highlights all season long, and don't be surprised if they lead their teams to great heights come March.
Matthew Dellavedova, a junior at Saint Mary's, is one of the nation's best point guards. He is averaging 14.2 PPG on 45.2 percent shooting, up from 39 percent and 41.8 percent in his freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively.
Dellavedova is also a great passer; he is amongst the nation's Top 20 assist men, dishing out 6.2 APG. What makes him similar to Jimmer, however, is his ability to shoot from beyond the arc. He averages two made three-pointers per game, and that number should increase as the season goes along.
It should be mentioned that Dellavedova, an Australian native, has a teammate who could also emerge in the spotlight as a mid-major star in Rob Jones. Jones is averaging 18 PPG and 11.5 RPG, while shooting 62 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from three-point land.
The pair could lead the Gaels to the second weekend of March Madness, and perhaps even further.
The Santa Clara Broncos play alongside Saint Mary's in the WCC, and they have a star of their own. To say that junior guard Kevin Foster loves the three-pointer would be an understatement. That would be like saying that Duke and North Carolina fans occasionally don't get along or that Kentucky has a few decent underclassmen each season. You get the point.
Foster has connected on 27 three-pointers this season in just eight games, but he has also attempted 82. While his shooting percentage might not be great, he still averages 17.3 PPG for the 5-3 Broncos, and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
If Foster can find a way to shoot above 40 percent on the season (he's currently at a paltry 34.9 percent), then he should earn some national recognition.
When the UNLV Rebels defeated the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, Chace Stanback scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, along with most of the media attention following the game.
While Stanback is a star in his own right, sophomore Mike Moser scored 16 points, corralled 18 rebounds and dished out six assists in the winning effort.
Moser, a UCLA transfer, has been outstanding for the Rebels in his first year in Las Vegas, averaging 14.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG (good for most in the nation), 2.7 APG and 2.1 SPG. He is a very diverse player, and may remind some college basketball fans of former UNLV star Shawn Marion.
UNLV has already shown its ability to beat an elite team, and has legitimate Final Four aspirations, largely due to the great play of its super sophomore.
Orlando Johnson is one of the most talented players in the nation, regardless of team or conference. The UCSB standout is averaging a ridiculous stat line of 23.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 BPG and 1.2 SPG for the surprisingly competitive Gauchos.
Johnson has led the Gauchos to a 4-2 record, with the only losses coming against SDSU by one point in overtime and against UNLV in double overtime. UCSB is the clear-cut favorite to win the Big West, due to the play of their star, along with contributions from James Nunnally (18.7 PPG).
Johnson should be receiving a lot more national coverage than he currently is, and he is a legitimate NBA-ready prospect. UCSB will be just the beginning for this young man, who has a bright future awaiting him at the professional level.
Just in case you wanted to see the nation's leading scorer, you'd have to travel Ogden, Utah, where you'll find Weber State's star Damian Lillard.
Does anything in this scenario sound familiar to you? Is it the fact that Lillard is the nation's leading scorer and plays his home games in the state of Utah? Reminiscent of none other than...Jimmer Fredette himself!
Lillard, like Fredette, is a prolific scorer. He is averaging 26.9 PPG thus far this season, to go along with 5.8 RPG and 3.6 APG. All of this is done on extremely efficient shooting, as he has shot 50.4 percent from the field, 45.2 percent from three-point land and 88.1 percent from the free-throw line. With numbers like that, it makes you wonder how such a great player ended up playing in the Big Sky.
If Lillard and his Wildcats are able to secure their conference's automatic bid to March Madness, opponents should be scared of playing against the elite scorer. He is only a junior, but he could leave early for the NBA, which is a testament to his talent and dedication.
If anyone is wondering who this season's Jimmer Fredette will be, tell them to look no further than Utah.