As teams begin to separate themselves from the pack, we’re beginning to spend more time focusing on and dissecting the elite, and less time on the mediocre.
This shift in attention occurs each season, but if you’re a true college hoophead there’s still plenty of reason to watch or at least follow a number of programs that may not be headed to the NCAA Tournament.
Take Texas’ J’Covan Brown. The Longhorns are already getting the bubble treatment, so I understand that if you’ve got no true allegiance you’re likely not eager to watch them. But as this program goes through an in-between season, waiting for a top five 2012 recruiting class to get to campus, Brown is carrying this club while growing up at the same time. The Big 12’s leading scorer has improved his efficiency ratings, assist numbers, and is diligently trying to shed his baggage as a headcase.
Brown is just one of many other great stories being written outside the top 25. You just have to know where to look.
The next time you have a chance to watch one of the following players, give the remote a rest and tune in.
Vincent Council – Providence
Despite missing last Saturday’s game against Syracuse at the discretion of coach Ed Cooley, Council has played his way into Big East all-conference consideration. The Friars leading scorer and assist man, Council plays bigger than his 6-2, 180 pound frame and relishes any one-on-one opportunity. It’s a real bummer the Friars are off to a 1-5 start in league play, but expect Council’s senior season to be special if he continues to improve his game over the summer.
Colt Ryan – Evansville
You know the best player in the Missouri Valley Conference; you don’t know the second best (sorry Kyle Weems). Ryan’s not Doug McDermott, but he’s managed to keep spirits high in Evansville despite the team’s 8-9 overall record. Deadly from beyond the arc at 43 percent, Ryan shouldn’t be mistaken as a one-trick pony. Against Butler, Ryan hurled a curveball at a Brad Stevens scouting report by frequently driving to the basket instead of settling for jumpers. His approach resulted in a 14-18 night from the charity stripe, and an upset win over the two-time national runners up.
Andre Roberson – Colorado
Yeah, yeah, the Buffs are currently first in the Pac-12. They matter, right? Perhaps now, but it’s hard to think that this team will hold form, even in such a mediocre league. Regardless of what happens, continue to follow Roberson, a high ceiling guy who is currently the conference’s leading rebounder. One of those athletic players who must improve his fundamentals and agressiveness, Roberson is a potential NBA lottery pick if he can somehow find some semblance of a jumpshot and a true position.
Arsalan Kazemi – Rice
Because of his background, Kazemi is probably a bigger deal around the world than he is in the United States. Born and raised in Iran, the 6-7 junior forward made his way stateside to The Patterson School after playing professionally in his home country at the ripe age of 16. There’s no question that Kazemi is a true all-around player. He has no major deficiencies or holes in his game, but scouts offer a wide range of opinions on the kid. With the Owls unlikely to appear on national TV anytime soon, you may need to put in a little effort to get a look at Kazemi before he likely bolts back over the pond to play for a top flight European club.
Reggie Hamilton – Oakland
The Golden Grizzlies have won the Summit League the past two seasons. It’s unlikely Greg Kampe’s current roster pulls off a three-peat, but despite guys like Johnathan Jones and Keith Benson long gone, Hamilton continues to keep it real out in Auburn Hills. A transfer from Missouri – Kansas City, the undersized guard is relentless with the basketball, at third in the country in scoring and first in free-throw attempts. Although he’s probably not a favorite amongst KenPom disciples, Hamilton has had some of his best games against tough opponents.