Hassan Martin isn’t one of those players who was always on the radar of college coaches. Rather, he’s more like your classic late bloomer. In an age where many players repeat a year of high school at some point, or even repeat in junior high, and come into college at least at the age of 19, Martin was 17 years old at the beginning of his freshman season in college. This year, the junior forward will be a key cog on a team that will contend in the Atlantic 10.
While E.C. Matthews gets a lot of attention, and understandably so, Rhode Island doesn’t win solely from him. Martin is long, very athletic and has developed the way teams often hope a player with his body and skill set would. He was first a defensive star, blocking a lot of shots, and his offense has come along. This season, he will at least move into second all-time in blocked shots in program history, with an outside shot at surpassing all-time leader Kenny Green (Martin comes into the season with 183, while Green had 328; Martin had 103 last season).
There’s still a lot more untapped potential, evident in the Rams’ season-ending loss at Stanford in the NIT, where he had 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots. If he taps a lot of that potential this season, the Rams will go a long way this year – maybe even back to the NCAA Tournament.
Martin leads our 2015-16 edition of the best players no one knows about – the hidden gems of college basketball. Here are ten more players who are hidden away in smaller conferences, on bad teams, or, like Martin, with a teammate who seemingly gets all the accolades.
Mo Alie-Cox, Jr. F, VCU One of the more fun players to watch, he has a great motor and can really impact a game when he’s rebounding and running the floor. The Rams will need that even more from him this season.
DeAndre Bembry, Jr. F, Saint Joseph’s See a pattern here? Three Atlantic 10 players already, with Bembry being a candidate for Player of the Year. Winning that will probably hinge on how well his team does, and the Hawks are a potential sleeper in the conference.
Robert Brown, Sr. G, UAB Last year’s Conference USA Tournament MVP then scored 46 points in the Blazers’ two NCAA Tournament games. The Blazers are the favorites to win again this season, and he will lead the way.
Octavius Ellis, Sr. F, Cincinnati He’s not going to wow you with big numbers, although he led the Bearcats in scoring and was right behind Gary Clark in rebounding. He makes his mark with defense on an unheralded team.
A.J. English, Sr. G, Iona He makes the high-powered Gaels’ offense go with his ability to score and get teammates involved, and will close out a fine career this season.
Marvelle Harris, Sr. G, Fresno State He should be a serious candidate for Mountain West Player of the Year this season, and on a middling team overshadowed by others. Last season, he went for 40 points in a game en route to a fine season.
Maodo Lo, Sr. G, Columbia After Alex Rosenberg went down for the season last year, Columbia wasn’t the same team. But Lo had a big year, and now with Rosenberg back, they will combine to form the Ivy League’s best 1-2 punch.
Stefan Moody, Sr. G, Ole Miss In his career, he’s played on a team overshadowed by others in the SEC, and has been overshadowed by teammates. This year, it’s his team, and he should step into the limelight in the SEC.
Wesley Person, So. G, Troy He has the pedigree as the son of a former NBA player, and he was the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year last year.
Alec Peters, Jr. F, Valparaiso The Horizon League Tournament MVP is the first player in Valpo history to score 1,000 points by the end of his sophomore season. He’ll be a Player of the Year candidate this season as the Crusaders are favored to repeat as champions.