While the Men’s College Basketball season continues to unfold, the national landscape of competition has tilted as many teams on the horizon are preparing for a poised run in the NCAA Tournament. Our center of attention is primarily on the phenomenal freshmen play that are potential NBA prospects. It may be the time to give recognize players under the radar across the nation for their play.
Xavier Thames- San Diego State
Xavier Thames has been a focal point for the recent success found by the San Diego State Aztecs. The senior point guard has found himself into a leader role for his team as he is averaging a career high 18 points per game. If the Aztecs expect to make a deep run in the tournament, Thames must be the person to lead the way.
Nick Johnson- University of Arizona
Although many have praised the coaching of head coach Sean Miller freshman forward Aaron Gordon for his dominant play, the unsung hero for the Arizona Wildcats has been Nick Johnson. The third year guard has been the Wildcats most consistent player on the defensive and offensive sides of the basketball, scoring a career best 15.9 ppg. Johnson’s play on the court becomes a X-factor on how far he can lead this team.
Kareem Jamar- University of Montana
A name that does not get the national exposure it deserves comes from Missoula, Montana in Kareem Jamar. As a senior, he has continuously improves every season since being at Montana by becoming an honorable mentioned All-American the previous season. This season, Jamar has continued to be the best player in the Big Sky Conference as the Grizzlies are riding a current four game winning streak. Jamar is poised to lead his team to a third straight NCAA tournament birth as his tangibles are what is looked for at the NBA level.
DeAndre Kane- Iowa State
While there are many headlines to a college basketball season, DeAndre Kane has become one of them. The Marshall transfer has came into an Iowa State program where he has became a catalyst for the Cyclones, averaging 15.9 ppg, 6.5 rebounds along with 6 assists per game. As the Big 12 Conference slowly becomes one of the toughest in the nation, Kane has solidify himself as a Conference Player of the Year with aspirations of leading the Cyclones to the postseason tournament.
Chaz Williams- University of Massachusetts
The UMASS Minutemen have had early success due to elite guard play of Chaz Williams. The 5’9″ point guard who started off his career at Hofstra University has led his team to a 19-4 record thus far while being ranked in the AP poll this season due to a 16-1 start. Averaging 16 ppg and 7.4 assists, Williams must continue to be the floor general he is in order to seal a postseason birth.
Chris Walker- University of Florida
The highly coveted freshman has seen limited minutes on the floor after being cleared by NCAA to play this season. Florida Gators have not display signs of missing him out of their lineup as they are current ranked No. 3 in nation. However, the talent and athleticism of Chris Walker can elevate the Gators to a championship contending team come March.
Jahii Carson- Arizona State University
Sophomore guard Jahii Carson is considerably one of the most electrifying point guards in the NCAA this season. Picking up where he has left off last season, Carson has led the top half of the Pac-12 Conference at 19-5. Being the team leader, he is putting up consistent numbers across the board at 19 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 4.7 apg. The Sun Devils have goals to reach the NCAA Tournament behind Carson’s ability to control the tempo of the game.
Cleanthony Early- Wichita State
The Cinderella story in Men’s College Basketball has been the Wichita State Shockers led by senior forward Cleanthony Early. Early epitomizes the Shockers ‘play angry’ mentality with his aggressive play on the floor while posting career high numbers this season 16.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Wichita State’s formula isn’t predicated on one man’s success, but they will need Early to come up big and sometimes late in situations when called upon to reach the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
James Bell- Villanova University
Sitting atop of the Big East Conference, the Villanova Wildcats have found success with James Bell leading the team. The senior guard has continuously improved his game for head coach Jay Wright averaging a career highs in points and rebounds. The No. 6 ranked team in the nation eyes a high seed in the NCAA tournament with a deep run that starts with Bell.
Marcus Foster- Kansas State University
Marcus Foster has became the latest freshman to attract national attention for his assertive play for the Kansas State Wildcats. Currently third in the Big 12 Conference, Foster is the leading scorer for this team averaging 15 ppg. As Kansas State position themselves to make a run for the tournament, he needs to extend his offensive productivity when the time comes.