The madness of March has arrived as teams begin to shape into form preparing for the NCAA Tournament. Where anything is possible come tournament time, we take a look at the game changing players in the latest installment of the under the radar players to be aware of in men’s college basketball.
Darrun Hilliard II- Villanova University
Head coach Jay Wright has the Villanova Wildcats playing its best basketball in recent memory with the performance of Darrun Hilliard II. The junior guard has elevated his play, becoming a primary option averaging 18.6 points per game in his last five games, 14.4 this season. While the Wildcats are head into the Big East Tournament with 1 seed aspirations to the big dance, Hilliard must continue to be the go to guy in order to be successful going forward.
Jarnell Stokes- University of Tennessee
In his junior season, Jarnell Stokes is a physical force for the Tennessee Volunteers as they are fighting for positioning for the tournament. He is a man amongst boys on the court setting career high numbers in points and rebounds with 14.5 ppg while grabbing 10.3 rebounds per game. Currently on a four game winning streak, the Vols will need Stokes to impose his will during the SEC Tournament to make a deep run.
London Perrantes- University of Virginia
The Virginia Cavaliers are beginning to peak on the eve of the ACC Tournament due to the huge contribution of freshman point guard London Perrantes. Not averaging staggering numbers, however, Perrantes has become the floor general of the offense, leading the conference in assist to turnover ratio. His performance over the course of conference play has earned him All-ACC Freshman team. The future is bright for Virginia and Perrantes in March and years ahead.
Buddy Hield- Oklahoma University
The Oklahoma Sooners have found success of their basketball program finishing second in the Big 12 Conference led with the talents of sophomore guard Buddy Hield. Stepping into a bigger role from his previous season, Hield has become the primary scorer for this team with a career high 16.8 ppg. It will be critical for Oklahoma to advance in the tournament as he has shown the ability to catch fire in games.
Terran Petteway- Nebraska University
Terran Petteway has the Nebraska Cornhuskers playing its best basketball in recent memory this season. Petteway, who started off his college basketball career at Texas Tech has now found a home in the Big Ten Conference as he carries the Cornhuskers with 18 ppg and 4.9 rpg. While Nebraska continues its stretch of dominance winning 10 of their last 12, Petteway has averaged 19.2 for the duration of that span. Nebraska has the opportunity to become a bracket buster behind the leadership and play of him.
Joseph Young- Oregon University
The Oregon Ducks have returned to natural form on the eve on the Pac-12 Tournament, closing the regular season on a seven game winning streak. A key contributor is the University of Houston transfer Joseph Young. The junior guard has been able to make a scoring impact immediately to this team, leading the team with 18.2 ppg. While defense continues to be Oregon’s nemesis, the fast paced offense can outscore anybody with Young leading the way.
Markel Brown- Oklahoma State University
The Oklahoma State Cowboys has had an up and down season, threatening the potential chance of making the NCAA Tournament. One bright spot that has kept Cowboys fans optimistic is senior guard Markel Brown. He has improved every season of his college, setting career highs in points, rebounds, and assists while carrying his team in various situations this season. A guard with his size and caliber can takeover a game come clutch time.
Briante Weber- Virginia Commonwealth University
The season of March Madness means it is time to prepare for head coach Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams. The staple of success for the Rams is their stifling defense led by point guard Briante Weber. Along with career high numbers across the board, Weber is among the leaders in the nation in steals with 3.6 per game in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Beware of the full court defense being put on notice that leads to easy points beginning with the ball pressure from Weber.
Kendall Williams- University of New Mexico
New Mexico has been able to duplicate its regular season success without head coach Steve Alford with the help of Kendall Williams. Williams has been able to become the catalyst at the guard position with career highs in points and assists. The senior will look to avenge his lost last season as a three seed as they would lose to Harvard in the opening round of the 2012-13 NCAA Tournament.
Alan Williams- UC Santa Barbara
The UCSB Gauchos have the potential to become a cinderella story out of the Big West Conference led by the man in the middle Alan Williams. Williams is difficult to contain in the paint averaging an astonishing double double at 21.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg and 2.4 blocks per game. The junior has the opportunity to upset a high seed team by first winning its conference tournament.