The NCAA Tournament or ‘March Madness’ as it’s affectionately known, has always been known and adored for it’s amazing upsets, thrilling buzzer beaters, and fantastic individual performances. A lot of those individual performances were by players that were little known, or not known at all. Especially, by the casual viewer. Let’s take a look at 5 players who might just have enough swag to be the next Stephen Curry, or Gordon Hayward and take their game to the NBA. First, they must make their mark on March Madness!
1. Anthony Bennett (UNLV), is a pretty safe bet to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft this summer. The 6′ 8″ 240 pound Forward leads the Runnin’ Rebels in scoring at 16.1 points, and 11 rebounds per game. He’s a freshman so he’s been a little up and down, but make no mistake, he and his teammates are going to be a very tough out. Anthony Marshall, is the guy that runs the show for the Rebels, but also adds a little scoring punch at 10.5 per game. The California Golden Bears gets first shot at this dynamic duo.
2. Dewayne Evans (St. Louis), stats aren’t particularly overwhelming at 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, but with the Billikens balanced approach, these numbers are actually pretty good. He’s been the best player on the team all season, and the Billikens may be the most talked about ‘mid-major’ squad in the field, that has a shot at winning a couple of games or more. Evans, at 6′ 8″ 230 doesn’t have to do it all alone. St. Louis, uses a balanced approach with one of the best names in the tournament, Jordair Jett running the show. The Billikens with their tough hard nosed defense, and deliberate but opportunistic offense will cause teams major problem, and are a serious threat to make the regional final, or maybe the Final Four.
3. Nate Wolters (South Dakota St.), is 4th in the country in scoring at almost 23 points a game. Dude can flat out shoot the ball. He’s not just a shooter, though. Wolters, also averages close to 6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game, while leading the JackRabbits back to the NCAA Tournament. One of the best matchups of the 1st Round may be that of Wolters, vs Trey Burke of the Michigan Wolverines. Burke, averages 19 points per game. It will be extremely interesting to see who gets the better of that match up. If you can’t watch it live, I suggest you get your DVR’s going for this one!
4. Mike Muscala (Bucknell), is a guy with some size at 6′ 11″ 239 lbs. He’s also a guy that gets the most out of that size by scoring 19.2 points and leads the nation in defensive rebounding. He averages 11.1 total rebounds per game. The Bucknell Bison are no stranger to pulling huge upsets in the Big Dance. In the 2005 tourney, Bucknell as 14 seed, knocked off 3 seed Kansas in one of the greatest upsets in tournament history. Can the Bison repeat the feat. It’s possible. Butler, hasn’t exactly been on a roll of late. Muscala, could be the difference maker in what looks to be a close, highly competitive game.
5. Jamaal Franklin (San Diego St.), scoring numbers are down slightly from last year, his sophomore season, but are still very good at 16.7 ppg. His numbers are up in rebounds from 7.7 to 9.5 and assists are up from 1.8 to 3.2. As a junior, Franklin has really come into his own and is better all around while leading the Aztecs. Franklin, is another a line of players the Aztecs have seemed to have over the years that are very athletic, and defensive minded. The Mountain West conference had an outstanding season, and the Aztecs are a team capable of making noise and winning a couple of games.