College Basketball’s Under the Radar Stars
Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are taking a look at a few Under the Radar Stars heading into the 2016-17 season.
Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall: This could easily be Desi Rodriguez or Angel Delgado, but I think Khadeen Carrington can make a big jump this season as he fills the shoes of Isaiah Whitehead. One of the best two-way guards in the Big East averaged 14.1 points per game last year.
Troy Caupain, Cincinnati: The Cincinnati senior lead guard has be a consistent performer for Mick Cronin. Last season, Troy Caupain averaged 13.0 points and is the AAC’s top returning assist man at 4.8 per game.
Matt Daum, South Dakota State: You will likely hear his name quite a bit this season. The Jackrabbits are in a good position to return to the NCAA Tournament for the a second straight season. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 boards in less than 21 minutes as a freshman. He also shot 45 percent from three.
Vince Edwards, Purdue: Some of the Boilermakers on frontline last season could overshadow certain skyscrapers. But they can’t overshadow Vince Edwards, who continues to provide production for Purdue, averaging 11.3 points and 5.4 boards during 2015-16. With point guard play being a major issue for Purdue the past few seasons, Edwards has found himself leading the team in assists as a freshman and sophomore.
Marcus Evans, Rice: The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard could very well end up being the nation’s leading scorer, especially if he can prove upon his 30 percent 3-point shooting. He poured in 21.4 points per game and Conference USA in steals. Expect Evans to improve on his 2.8 assists per game, while also cutting down on the miscues.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig are the faces of Wisconsin basketball. That makes sense. They were part of two Final Four teams, and both have made headlines off the court: Koenig traveling to the Standing Rock protest and Hayes’ public criticism of the NCAA. But when it’s all said and done, Ethan Happ will be the Badgers’ best player this season. The 6-foot-10 sophomore averaged 12.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, recording 10 double-doubles last season.
Josh Hawkinson, Washington State: The Cougars are most likely finishing in the bottom of the Pac-12 standings again this season. But the 6-foot-10 senior is on the verge to averaging a double-double for the third season in a row. I think that is worth mentioning.
Kevin Hervey, UT Arlington: Like Daum, Kevin Hervey enters this season as a mid-major star on the radar of NBA franchises. In 15 games, the 6-foot-8 forward was close to averaging double-double, putting up 18.1 points and 9.8 boards. He guided the Mavericks to back-to-back wins over Memphis and Ohio State. But then he tore his ACL, ending a promising season. All five starters are back, and by the time we get to March, the Mavericks could be a trendy upset pick.
Trey Kell, San Diego State University: The 6-foot-4 guard made quite the jump as a sophomore, especially during Mountain West Conference play. Trey Kell averaged 12.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from the field. Those points per game increased to 16.4 points a contest in league play. The first-team all-conference selection anchors the best team in the Mountain West.
Kyle Kuzma, Utah: The Utes lost plenty of talent, including lottery pick Jakob Poeltl, Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor. The 6-foot-9 junior had three 20-point games last year. Big scoring games should be expected to happen on a more consistent basis this season.
Zach LeDay, Virginia Tech: Buzz Williams’ team is expected to have a breakout year this season. The Hokies have a deep and talented backcourt, but the frontline will rely heavily on Zach LeDay, especially if Kevin Blackshear doesn’t return due to a foot injury. In his first season in Blacksburg, LeDay, the 6-foot-7 South Florida transfer, averaged 15.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
Yante Maten and J.J. Frazier, Georgia: As a sophomore, Yante Maten made a major jump for Georgia. The 6-foot-8 forward was top-10 in the SEC in points, rebounds and blocks, averaging 16.5 points, 8.0 boards and 1.8 blocks per game. J.J. Frazier posted 16.9 points, 4.5 boards and 4.4 assists (1.6 turnovers per game) last season. He also shot 39 percent from three. The Bulldogs have two guys who could land them a top-3 finish in the SEC.
E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island: A potential breakthrough season for the Rams essentially ended 10 minutes into the 2015-16 season when EC Matthews tore his ACL. I hope fans didn’t forget about the 6-foot-5 lefty. As a sophomore, he averaged 16.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Voted as a preseason second-team, all-conference selection, E.C. Matthews will contend with Jack Gibbs for A10 Player of the Year honors.
Emmett Naar, Saint Mary’s: An efficient guard on a talented offensive backcourt, Emmett Naar is a reason why the Gaels are beginning the season in the top-20. Naar, as a sophomore, averaged 14.0 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game en route to first-team all-West Coast Conference honors.
Cameron Oliver, Nevada: The 6-foot-8 sophomore averaged a double-double in the Mountain West Conference Tournament and the CBI Tournament, which the Wolf Pack won. Oliver posted 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.