College Basketball: 10 Hidden Gems for the 2012-13 Season
Kyle O'Quinn. D.J. Cooper. C.J. McCollum. Names that you probably didn't hear until the 2012 NCAA tournament last year. All three are stars at their respective colleges and are capable of playing with the big boys. They led unprecedented upsets and runs in the tournament, and two are capable of doing it again.
Cooper and McCollum, however, will not make this list. They are garnering much more attention now than previous years because of their splendid tournament performances. Other players, like Doug McDermott and Isaiah Canaan, won't make the list because they are already very well-known.
Here, we'll go with all mid-major athletes. There certainly are some "hidden gems" in the major conferences, but my goal is to give you some names you don't recognize. You'll find players that have the brass to take on other top players in the country.
Let's check out 10 "hidden gems" in college basketball for the 2012-13 season.
De'Mon Brooks, Davidson
Davidson is known for being one of the best mid-majors in the nation. De'Mon Brooks and his teammate, Jake Cohen, make up a great one-two for the Wildcats.
Last season, Brooks averaged 15.7 points in just 22.8 minutes per game. He shoots well over 50 percent from the field, and rebounds at a great rate (6.2 per game).
In the NCAA tournament, he was riddled with foul trouble against the Louisville Cardinals. He averaged over three fouls per contest last season. That statistic needs to improve if Brooks wants a larger role in the Davidson offense.
Jake Cohen, Davidson
Jake Cohen is the "two" in Davidson's elite duo. The soon-to-be senior averaged a career-best 14.3 points per game last year to go with 6.1 rebounds.
What is most impressive about Cohen is his innate ability to shoot the rock. He shot 48.7 percent from the floor, 36.6 from three and 87.6 from the line. Not bad for a 6'10" big man.
Cohen is solid at other facets of the game, as well. He led the team in blocks and finished fourth on the team in assists, exhibiting his above-average all-around game.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Here's a name you should know: Jamaal Franklin.
San Diego State had success last season because of Franklin's outstanding athleticism. Head coach Steve Fisher entrusted Franklin to be the leader in a four-guard lineup, and he stepped up to the challenge.
17.2 points per game made him one of the most potent scorers in the game. His Thomas Robinson-like improvement (8.1 minutes per game as a freshman, 30.3 as a sophomore) was as good as any in the nation.
At 6'5", he is one of the best rebounding guards in the nation. He averaged 7.9 per game last season. In 2012-13, Franklin will be one of the best players in the country, regardless of school or position.
Mike Moser, UNLV
This may be a stretch because UNLV has been garnering attention all summer. Anthony Bennett. Katin Reinhardt. Savon Goodman. Khem Birch. Roscoe Smith. Bryce Jones.
Dave Rice has been busy.
One player that figures to be (arguably) the most important piece to the Rebels' 2012-13 season is Mike Moser. He led the team in scoring and rebounding last year, averaging a double-double at 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Chances are he'll have to cede some of those statistics to incoming freshmen and transfers, but Moser will be the undisputed leader when the season kicks off.
Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Only six players made more free throws than Mike Muscala. He averaged nearly seven attempts per game, and made them at a 85.3 percent clip.
With averages of 16.7 points, 8.9 boards and a 50.3 shooting percentage, Muscala was the talk of the Patriot League alongside C.J. McCollum last year.
In 2012-13, Muscala and Bucknell will look to retain their regular season crown over Lehigh. A 2012 NIT win over Arizona was nice, but the Bison have bigger goals for next season. Muscala will be the most important factor in determining just how far they go.
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Here's another name you should know: Kevin Pangos.
He was one of the best freshman guards in the country last year, averaging 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season. His shooting (40.1 percent from three) was the biggest surprise of his standout season.
Pangos will once again lead Gonzaga next season. Without Robert Sacre, Gonzaga will lean on Pangos' scoring even more.
Andre Roberson, Colorado
Alright, I cheated. Colorado isn't a mid-major. But Andre Roberson deserves to be on this list.
Roberson averaged 11.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game last season. He has length, athleticism and a knack for the ball. He's the main reason Colorado advanced to the round of 32 in the 2012 NCAA tournament, going for 12 points and 16 rebounds against Mike Moser and UNLV.
The Pac-12 is loaded next season. Roberson will have plenty of chances to impress against teams like UCLA and Arizona.
Colt Ryan, Evansville
The Missouri Valley is very top-heavy with Wichita State and Creighton. Evansville's Colt Ryan is looking to buck that trend, as he finished third in conference voting for player of the year.
It was well-deserved. Ryan finished the season averaging 20.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Ryan will be an exciting player to watch in 2012-13.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
South Dakota State finished the season with the 18th best offense in the nation at 77.3 points per game. The undisputed leader of that offense is Nate Wolters, averaging 21.3 points per game.
What may be more impressive, however, is Wolters' ability to distribute. He finished the season averaging six assists per game—tops on the team. His 5.2 rebounds per game also led the team.
Wolters is a star in the mid-major scene, and he'll be one of the most exciting players to watch next year.
Khalif Wyatt, Temple
Khalif Wyatt is an interesting case. For one, he may be suspended for an arrest earlier this year. His track record goes against him—ESPN's Eamonn Brennan talks about the problems Wyatt has given Temple in this article.
Regardless, Wyatt is a great player. He increased his points per game by seven from his sophomore campaign, and as a senior, could be the best player in a loaded Atlantic 10.
We'll have to see just how much Wyatt plays next season, but he could be one to watch. His 17.1 points per game would be sorely missed if he were to miss any time.