College Basketball's Top 25 Players You Might Not Know, but Should

Kevin GossenContributor IIIJuly 28, 2011

College Basketball's Top 25 Players You Might Not Know, but Should

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    It isn't hard for many good collegiate basketball players to go under the radar. With 346 Division I college basketball teams around the nation, it's nearly impossible for a fan to get a glimpse of every team around the country each year.

    Some players go without notice due in large part because they are playing with a star on their team. Playing with a star player and a high volume score can certainly take away recognition from the best of players.

    I will run down some of the nation's best players who most people have never heard of. I recommend taking notes because most of the players are going to have very good seasons, and you will be smart to catch as many of these guys as you can in the 2011-2012 season.

25. C.J. Reed- Bethune, Cookman

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    18.8 points

    3.8 rebounds

    4.8 assists

    1.6 steals

    C.J. Reed is coming off an All-MEAC First Team performance in which he led Bethune-Cookman to the MEAC regular season title and a spot in the NIT last season. Reed's scoring average has increased each of his first three seasons with the Wildcats, putting up nearly 19 points per game last season. While his scoring has gone up, so have his assists. His assist numbers have risen each season, as his turnovers are down each season as well. This year, Reed looks to lead the Wildcats to another MEAC championship and finally send his team in to the NCAA Tournament.

24. Cleveland Melvin, DePaul

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    14.3 points

    Five rebounds

    1.5 blocks

    Melvin is coming off a fantastic freshman campaign, but it did end a bit premature due to a sprained thumb. Cleveland Melvin wasn't a high rated prospect coming out of high school, but he did choose DePaul over some bigger names, which appears to of paid off thus far, as he was able to step in right away and lead the Blue Demons in scoring. Expect Melvin to stick around for four seasons, so it would be a good idea to get to know his name now. As Coach Oliver Purnell begins to get his own players in the system, DePaul could look to be an NCAA Tournament team down the road, led by Melvin.

23. Jio Fontan, USC

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    10.9 points 

    Two rebounds

    3.9 assists

    Fontan made his Trojan debut this season in December against Kansas, as he made an immediate impact by putting up 15 points. Fontan had three 20 point games last season, two of them coming late in the season against  Pac-10 powerhouses Arizona and Washington. Once Jio Fontan can become a consistent enough player for USC, he should be regarded as one of the conference's best players. With Nikola Vucevic off to the NBA, the pressure will be on the senior, Fontan, to lead the Trojans back to the NCAA Tournament.

22. Michael Glover, Iona

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    18.4 points

    10.1 rebounds

    Michael Glover put up a staggering 18 double-doubles in his first season on the court with Iona. Glover displayed just how dominate he can be with a 39 point, 14 rebound performance against Canisius. Glover will be a senior at Iona this year, after spending two seasons with JUCO College of Eastern Utah, and looks to appear as the preseason favorite to win MAAC Player of the Year.

21. Faisal Aden, Washington State

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    12.7 points

    3.2 rebounds

    1.3 assists

    Aden was completely under the radar in his first season with the Cougars because Washington State had a pretty good player by the name of Klay Thompson. With Thompson gone, Aden will likely step up in his absence and lead this team in scoring. If a guard can score 13 points per game playing with Klay Thompson, like Aden did last season, just imagine what he can do when he will be the player with the ball and the majority of scoring chances. Keep an ear out for Faisal Aden's name this season, as he will be the key to whether or not Washington State can find their way back in to the NCAA Tournament.

20. Ralston Turner, LSU

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    12.3 points

    2.3 rebounds

    1.6 assists

    Ralston Turner was arguably the best player for LSU last season in his freshman year. LSU is a young team still looking to bounce back after losing players like Anthony Randolph, Glen Davis, Marcus Thornton and Tyrus Thomas in recent years. Turner is the likely candidate to build this program around, and if the Tigers are going to get back into the SEC conversation over the next three years, it will likely be because of the play of Turner.

19. Rob Jones, St. Mary's

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    13.8 points

    7.7 rebounds

    1.7 assists

    Most people knew who Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova were for the Gaels last season, but few people are aware of Rob Jones. Jones is the top returning scorer for St. Mary's this season with All-WCC performer Mickey McDonnell gone.

    After sitting out all of 2009-2010 for transferring from San Diego, Jones surprised many people around the WCC with his performance and managed to put up eight double-doubles last season. St. Mary's will continue to compete with Gonzaga at the top of West Coast Conference next season, and that will be because of the play of Rob Jones.

18. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    12.8 points

    3.3 rebounds

    3.2 assists

    Ellington, a freshman last season, did his best to try and get Gamecock fans to forget about Devan Downey. Like Downey, Ellington is a small (5'9", 197 lbs), quick guard who has the ability to score when he wants. Starting right away is tough on any college athlete, but especially for a point guard who has to play in the SEC. I expect Ellington to improve quite a bit in his sophomore year, as he will get even more accommodated to playing PG at the collegiate level and should be more calm and poised on the court. If Ellington stays for all four seasons, Gamecock fans are going to love Bruce Ellington, and never forget what he did for South Carolina basketball, as he has a chance to do huge things for the program in the next three seasons.

17. Kyle O'Quinn, Norfolk State

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    16.4 points

    11.1 rebounds

    3.4 blocks

    Kyle O'Quinn is just a beast. That's a nice way of saying that he plays like an absolute animal on the court. O'Quinn finished his junior season with Norfolk State fifth in the nation in rebounds, and fourth in blocks, with 3.4 contest. O'Quinn finishes strong around the rim, cleans up the mess on the offensive boards extremely well. Looking at O'Quinn, you may not think he is very athletic, but he moves very well for size, which allows him to get as many blocks as he does. He is able to dominate the MEAC with his size and skill, making O'Quinn a force to be reckon with.

16. Casper Ware, Long Beach State

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    17.2 points

    2.5 rebounds

    4.4 assists

    1.6 steals

    Casper Ware has steadily become a better player each of his three years at Long Beach State, and he went from 11.9 points per game in his sophomore year to 17.2 points per game his junior season. Ware has the ability to be one of the top scorers in the nation this year. He's on a pretty good 49er club that won the regular season Big West title, but couldn't win the conference tournament and had to settle for the NIT, opposed to the NCAA Tournament.

    Ware is a guy to look out for come March, as he has all the talent in the world to single handily bring the 49ers to the big dance, and has shown that he can score against the big boys, putting up 25 points in their NIT game last season against Washington State and 22 points last season at North Carolina in a five point loss.

15. Bryce Cartwright, Iowa

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    10.9 points

    2.9 rebounds

    5.9 assists

    Bryce Cartwright excelled in his first season at Iowa after transferring from Fresno State. Now that Cully Payne is gone for good, Cartwright doesn't have to worry; the point guard position is his for good now. He finished last season with 5.9 assists per game, good for 17th in the nation and third in the Big Ten behind just Darius Morris and Demetri McCamey. Iowa seems to be a team on the rise, and with Melsahn Basabe (who almost made this list), Cartwright can lead this team to a possible NIT bid this season and really make a name for himself as one of the best floor generals, not only in the Big Ten, but in the nation.

14. Travis McKie, Wake Forest

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    13 points

    7.7 rebounds

    Travis McKie definitely went under the radar last season, but that doesn't mean he wasn't one of the most productive freshmen in the country this past season. McKie was arguably the best player on a weak Wake Forest team, but one can only imagine the ceiling on this kid after he nearly averaged 13/8 in his freshman campaign. McKie will likely be at Wake Forest for at least two more seasons, so he is definitely a guy to watch out for this season, as well as in future seasons.

13. Alex Young, IUPUI

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    19.7 points

    6.4 rebounds

    2.4 assists 

    Alex Young is undoubtedly the best player in the Summit League, and considered by plenty as one of the best players in the nation not playing in a power conference. Young has a very good combination of both size and strength, and is a good prospect at the next level. Look for Young to be in the top 10 in scoring at season's end, and he rebounds exceptionally well for a wing player as well. Young is an all-around complete collegiate player.

12. Augustus Gilchrist, South Florida

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    13.4 points

    Six rebounds

    It's pretty rare that the best player on a Big East team can be a relatively unknown player around the nation, but playing with South Florida, Augustus Gilchrist is certainly overlooked. Gilchrist has been pretty consistent over the his three year career at USF, but his stats have improved each year in most categories. South Florida is one of the worst teams in the country, among those in powerhouse conferences, but Gilchrist just adds to an already big team, and the Bullfrogs would be far worse off without Augustus.

    If you have chance to watch a Big East game this season with South Florida playing, I recommend watching just for Augustus Gilchrist. Gilchrist had big games last year against Louisville, going 25 and 10, against West Virginia, posting a 20 and 10 game, and versus DePaul, putting up a career high 32 points, the latter two coming on the road.

11. Harper Kamp, California

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    14.2 points

    5.6 rebounds

    1.7 assists

    Harper Kamp is one of the more skilled big men around the Pac-12, as well as the country. Kamp is labeled as somewhat "soft" and a guy who may not always get as many rebounds as he should for a guy with his size. Kamp burst out onto the scene last year after not playing in 2009-2010. The two years prior to that, Kamp averaged 4.4 points per game and 3.8 points per game respectively. Kamp has the ability to put up 20 points on any given night, though.

    Kamp had a career day last season against Derrick Williams and Arizona, as he put up 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds.  If Kamp can put it all together on a nightly basis, he could certainly be a player to reckon with in the new Pac-12.

10. Ramone Moore, Temple

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    15.2 points

    4.2 rebounds

    3.1 assists

    Somehow, Ramone Moore has managed to go under the radar in his three seasons at Temple. Everyone always gives recognition to Lavoy Allen, and deservedly so, and even Juan Fernandez as well. Moore was Temple's leading scorer last season even with Fernandez and Allen still on the team. Now that Lavoy Allen has moved on, even more of the scoring load will be put on Moore next season.

    As Moore becomes the man for the Owls, he will most certainly get his share of notoriety, and you will be hearing his name much more next season. As Temple looks to be one of the favorites in the Atlantic 10 once again, Ramone Moore will look to put up solid numbers in March once again after scoring 23 against Penn State and 17 against San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament last season.

9. Reggie Hamilton, Oakland

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    17.6 points

    2.5 rebounds

    5.3 assists

    It's tough to score nearly 18 points a game during the course of a season while managing over five assists a contest, but Reggie Hamilton is able to do it. Hamilton does a fantastic job getting his own looks and doing his thing while still getting all of his teammates involved.

    Now that Keith Benson has moved on to the NBA, the Oakland Grizzlies will look for Hamilton to carry them back to the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Texas last season by four points, with Hamilton going 25/6/5. Hamilton's scoring really picked up in the final stretch, as he put up at least 20 points in five of his final six games a season ago, and there is no reason to believe he won't start this season off the way he finished up last season.

8. Rodney McGruder, Kansas State

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    11.1 points

    5.9 rebounds

    1.5 assists

    McGruder is certainly not one of the better scorers on this list, but his defense and completeness as a player is what is valuable to Kansas State. McGruder made some giant leaps from his freshman campaign to his sophomore year, scoring over seven points per game more in his second season in Manhattan. With Jacob Pullen, McGruder was a relative unknown. But with Pullen and Curtis Kelly gone, as well as the mid-season transfer of Wally Judge, the Wildcats are going to look at McGruder to pick up the scoring even more this season, and McGruder should be the unquestioned leader of this team heading in to his junior season.

    Kansas State may not be an NCAA Tournament caliber team this year, but if they do make it to the big dance, you better bet it's because McGruder had an excellent season.

7. Vincent Council, Providence

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    13.7 points

    4.2 rebounds

    5.9 assists

    It's not your fault if you've never heard of Vincent Council before. Providence did have that one guy who was second in the country in scoring last year, Marshon Brooks. Even with Brooks around, Council was able to put up a 14/4/6 sophomore season. With Brooks gone, Council will be the man for the Friars without question. Even though Council was in the top 20 in the country last year in assists, he can still do plenty of scoring as well.

    I wouldn't look for Council to have a Kemba Walker type season this year or anything, but he is one of those Big East guards who can dominate a game with his scoring or passing. He's an overall playmaker who does everything on the court well. Council will look to get his teammates involved next season and break his current high in assists in one game, which is 16 in a game against Brown last year.

6. Ken Horton, Central Connecticut State

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    19.5 points

    8.5 rebounds

    1.9 assists

    1.6 blocks

    Horton is a long 6'6", 195 lb. forward for Central Connecticut State, who loves playing around the basket, and is one of the best in the country at cleaning things up on the offensive end. Over 33 percent of Horton's rebounds a year ago came on the offensive end, and nearly 38 percent were offensive boards his sophomore year.

    Horton is is an exceptional shot blocker. He blocked 2.2 shots a game his freshman year at CC State and 1.6 last season. Horton had a game against Quinnipiac last season in which he went 35 and 9 and had four blocks as well. If Central Connecticut State would have beaten Long Island in the NEC Tournament last season (lost by two), there's a better chance that some of you would have heard of this young man's game.

5. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    19.5 points

    4.6 rebounds

    6.1 assists

    Wolters became the first South Dakota Jackrabbit to ever be named to the All-Summit League First-Team, something he was able to accomplish in just his sophomore season. Wolters is coming off a fantastic season, one in which he finished ninth in the nation in assists and 28th in scoring (tied with Jacob Pullen and LaceDarius Dunn). Look for Wolters to be right there with Reggie Hamilton and Alex Young as the best player in the Summit this season. Wolters doesn't wow anybody with his athleticism, but he uses everything he has extremely well. He has good moves towards the rack and finishes at the rim well.

4. Landon Clement, North Carolina Central

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    18.7 points

    3.7 rebounds

    Landon Clement has a true scorer's mentality. He can put the ball in the basket at will, in a majority of ways. At 18.7ppg however, Clement wasn't even the top scorer on his team last year. Senior teammate C.J. Wilkerson led the Eagles with 19ppg a year ago. With Wilkerson gone, the scoring load with be solely on the shoulders of Landon Clement, meaning you better get to know this name, since he could easily be in the top 5 in the nation in scoring next season.

3. Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    20.8 points

    7.3 rebounds

    1.5 blocks

    Andrew Nicholson might be the biggest NBA prospect on this list. He has fairly good size at 6'9", 225lbs. and is improving his inside moves. Nicholson can also stroke it from mid-range. Nicholson is certain to compete for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year of this season. Once Nicholson can add a little more muscle, he will be a force to be reckoned with down low, but Nicholson is already a player that you should be watching, even if they only get one televised game all season, since they aren't likely to get out of the second round in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.

2. Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    21.1 points

    6.2 rebounds

    2.9 assists

    If you don't know who Orlando Johnson is yet, you should really start getting to know who this guy is. He's one of the best talents in the entire nation and is without a doubt the best player in the Big West.

    Johnson reminds me a lot of Danny Granger when he was still at New Mexico. Johnson is a pretty good shooter from deep, shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc last season and is incredibly creative and explosive going to the rim. Johnson has good size and is very active on the boards as well as on the defensive end. Look for Johnson to contend for the national scoring title this season, as he is the second leading scorer returning this season.

1. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh

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    2010-2011 Stats (per game)

    21.8 points

    7.8 rebounds

    2.1 assists

    2.5 steals

    Nobody playing Division I college basketball in 2011-2012 scored more points last season than Lehigh's C.J. McCollum. McCollum led Lehigh in scoring, rebounding and steals in 2010-2011, and despite being just 6'3", grabbed an astounding 7.8 rebounds per game last season.

    It's impossible to watch a Lehigh game for more than two minutes without noticing McCollum, unless he is on the bench, obviously. He is all over the place and is in on almost every play on both ends of the court. McCollum plays a lot like Monta Ellis and has comparable size. He gambles on defense a bit too much at times, but comes away with 2.5spg. McCollum is one of the most talent players in the country, and he is a prime candidate to lead the country in the scoring in just his junior season with the Mountain Hawks.


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