We’ve covered the 5 biggest stars in the tournament, now we’re identifying 5 guys who are flying under the radar, but should make for must-see-TV.
It should be fun to watch this guy play, even if his run lasts only one game (I have them losing to Nova in round-1). He’s a lights out shooter (43% from behind the arc this season) and he can get hot and put up big numbers. He’s also a hard-worker who rebounds well for a guy his size (nearly 5 boards per game).
This. Man. Is. HUGE. It looks like he ate Eddy Curry. Like Cam Long and the Patriots, I have Smith and the Bruins losing their first round game but you don’t want to miss that game. Smith, a freshman, is a legit 6’10” and he weighs in at a cool (and conservative?) 305 lbs. He’s a load down on the low block and that might be an understatement. Michigan St. is going to get out and run on this Bruin team, but in the half-court set, Smith should be able to dominate.
Lucas is the perfect Izzo guy; tough, gritty, and smart. The senior has amassed a ton of tournament experience in his 4 years (3 straight Sweet 16 appearances), and he has become an extension of his head coach on the court. I have Michigan State making a big run in the tournament due largely to the relative weakness of the high seeds in the Southeast region. The Spartans love to get out on the break and push the tempo and Lucas is great in transition. Keep an eye on this kid.
There are 2 main reasons to pay attention to The Wildcats in this tournament: Head Coach Frank Martin’s INSANE facial expressions and Jacob Pullen’s basketball ability (and creepy chinstrap-beard). Pullen averaged over 19 ppg this season and is the kind of tough-minded, high-energy, lights-out shooter that thrives in big moments. Pullen is not surrounded by a ton of talent so look for him to put The Wildcats on his back and take over a couple of games before their run ends.
Dennis Rodman v.2.0. That’s what coaches, scouts, and opposing players have been saying after they’ve watched this Newark, NJ product play. This guy is an absolute MONSTER on the glass. He has averaged at least 13 boards per game in his last 3 seasons, including 14.5 this season. The hyper-athletic senior has the kind of rebounding instincts that have rarely been seen before. This kid has a great future in the NBA and you can bet that there will be quite a few pro-scouts keeping their eyes on him. You should too. You might see something like this. Or this. Enjoy.
-by Max Joice