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2015 NCAA Tournament Players to Watch – Part 2

March 17, 2015 Columns No Comments

March has a way of bringing people out of the shadows. Whether it’s the causal sports fan who suddenly tunes in to college basketball in time for the NCAA Tournament or the unknown player who becomes a household name even for a day, March is the best month of basketball in part because of this.

Every year in the NCAA Tournament, players who have been outside the spotlight make a name for themselves under the bright lights of March. This year will surely be no different, especially considering how competitive the landscape is. With that, here’s a look at some players you may not have heard about yet, but will as the NCAA Tournament goes on.

Yesterday, we started with players on teams playing Tuesday and then Thursday. Today, we take a look at players who play on Wednesday and then Friday.


Sam Rowley, Sr. F, Albany
The senior has been an example of steady growth over his career, playing his best basketball at the end of it as the team leader in scoring and rebounding.

Derrick Marks, Sr. G, Boise State
He was the Mountain West Player of the Year, but is still a relative unknown nationally. He’s closing out his career in fine fashion, and has been terrific since Anthony Drmic went down with a season-ending injury.

Craig Bradshaw, Jr. G, Belmont
In some ways, he’s the prototypical Belmont star, a guy who just knows how to play. He can do a little of everything and has come a long way from a guy who played just 9.3 minutes a game as a freshman to now being one of the best in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Justin Moss, Jr. F, Buffalo
The MAC Player of the Year is Bulls’ leading scorer and rebounder, and he made a monumental leap when he got to take over for departed star Javon McCrea. One of the nation’s most improved players, he’s now a candidate for a double-double on any night.

Warren Gillis, Sr. G, Coastal Carolina
A key part of last season’s Big South champions as well, many of his numbers dipped slightly from last season, but the end result – a championship – didn’t change at all. The Chanticleers’ leading scorer and assist man had 22 points in the win over Winthrop to get here.

Tyler Kalinoski, Sr. G, Davidson
Though he made the highlight reels with his buzzer-beater against La Salle in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the senior guard was the conference Player of the Year and a big part of the Wildcats’ outright regular season title. He was third in scoring and assists and led the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Dyshawn Pierre, Jr. F, Dayton
One of the Atlantic 10’s most underrated players, he impacts the game in a multitude of ways with his skill package. He had an off year shooting from deep, but leads the team in rebounding and posted a career best in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Quinn Cook, Sr. G, Duke
While the dynamic freshman trio in Durham gets a lot of publicity, Cook had a fantastic senior year under the radar. He is, quite simply, a winner.

Marcus Thornton, Sr. F, Georgia
He had a quietly solid senior season as the Bulldogs’ top scorer and rebounder. If he doesn’t drift out to the perimeter too much, he can be tough to handle inside.

Byron Wesley, Sr. G, Gonzaga
The USC transfer simply fit right in from the get-go, at times taking over games and at other times letting others ride a hot hand and finding other ways to help them win.

James Blackmon Jr., Fr. G, Indiana
He’s been able to score from the outset, and he can do it in bunches for this team, especially when he’s hitting from long range.

Jarrod Uthoff, Jr. F, Iowa
The key complement to Aaron White, he’s capable of filling the stat sheet and providing an outside shooting threat. He improved this year when he got an expanded role.

Frank Mason III, So. G, Kansas
A great story of growth, there were doubts about whether or not he would ever be a big factor at the point for this team, but has turned into the Jayhawks’ toughest and arguably most indispensable player.

Wayne Blackshear, Sr. G, Louisville
The Cardinals need this former McDonald’s All-American more than ever. He’s underachieved, but is no less talented than when he first came to campus. With Chris Jones long gone, they need someone to complement Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier.

Jake Layman, Jr. F, Maryland
The Terrapins’ leading rebounder has steadily developed into one of their horses during his time in College Park. He’s always known how to play the game and compete, and now he can take advantage of the attention that Melo Trimble and Dez Wells attract on the perimeter.

Travis Trice, Sr. G, Michigan State
Few players fit Tom Izzo’s style as well as the senior does. He’s a tough player who has developed and gotten the max out of his talents at a time the Spartans needed that the most: this season.

Pascal Siakam, Fr. F, New Mexico State
He wasted little time making an impact, as he’s second on the team in scoring and leads in rebounding and blocked shots. He’s posted seven double-doubles on the season, including one in the WAC Tournament semifinals.

Lawrence Alexander, Sr. G, North Dakota State
The Summit League Player of the Year and leading scorer had 25 points in the championship game, going 6-9 from deep. That’s what he does best – he has shot 44 percent from long range this year.

Dallas Moore, So. G, North Florida
The Ospreys’ leading scorer and assist man had a fine freshman season and has only gotten better this season. He scored 36 points on 12-17 shooting in their Atlantic Sun semifinal win, showing that he’s capable of putting up a big number.

Seth Tuttle, Sr. F, Northern Iowa
The Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year has gotten some All-America mention, but now more people will find out about the man who led this team in scoring, rebounding and assists.

Isaiah Cousins, Jr. G, Oklahoma
While Buddy Hield commands a lot of attention, he takes advantage with his great stroke from long range and also rebounds well from the guard spot.

Michael Cobbins, Sr. F, Oklahoma State
When he got hurt last year, the Cowboys really missed his inside presence. Now, he balances out the perimeter duo of Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte III.

Elgin Cook, Jr. F, Oregon
He was thrust into a bigger role this season, and he’s responded as one of the key complements to Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young. In the Pac-12 Tournament, he helped get them to the championship game with two big games.

Ben Bentil, Fr. F, Providence
The well-built forward has had some good moments this season, and now that he has games under his belt his growth should pick up.

Marcquise Reed, Fr. G, Robert Morris
The Northeast Conference’s top freshman made an immediate impact for the Colonials as their second-leading scorer and leader in assists. He’s also a threat from long range and shot 49 percent overall, which is pretty good for a guard.

Winston Shepard, Jr. F, San Diego State
A tough competitor, he’s the Aztecs’ leading scorer and rebounder, and he’s fun to watch because of how he competes at both ends of the floor. He still has a good deal of untapped upside.

Sir’Dominic Pointer, Sr. G-F, St. John’s
The most complete player on this team, he brought it all together in his senior season as a scorer, rebounder and their leader in assists. There’s no one on the Red Storm who impacts a game in as many ways as he does.

Will Davis II, Sr. F, UC Irvine
The Anteaters’ top scorer and rebounder, he benefits from having a giant next to him in Mamadou Ndiaye. He’s their go-to guy at the offensive end, and one you could easily miss if you aren’t on the west coast.

Alec Peters, So. F, Valparaiso
After a promising freshman season, he was even better this year, leading the Crusaders in scoring and rebounding while shooting 46 percent from long range.

Malcolm Brogdon, Jr. G, Virginia
Sure, he’s getting All-America honors and was first team All-ACC, but how many fans really know about him? He’s just tough, smart and knows how to win, and he’s the epitome of what this Virginia team is all about.

Devin Williams, So. F, West Virginia
A quietly solid part of their frontcourt, he made a nice improvement from a promising freshman year to help anchor the inside game.

Darius Carter, Sr. F, Wichita State
While Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker lead the way, he leads the team in rebounding and is the third scorer. He’s also posted four double-doubles on the season.

Nigel Hayes, So. F, Wisconsin
He’s the next star up for this team, and has started to show it recently, including in the Big Ten championship game with his game-high 25 points.

Larry Nance Jr., Sr. F, Wyoming
The son of the former NBA star has been a fine player in his own right. When he missed time earlier this season, the Cowboys greatly missed him, but he’s healthy and leading them with his play now.

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