If you are a fan of college basketball, you almost assuredly have heard of Duke’s Zion Williamson. The fabulous freshman’s legend continues to grow as the Blue Devils enter the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. Maybe you have even heard of Murray State’s Ja Morant, the Racers electrifying guard with the 44-inch vertical leap. You could watch highlights of Williamson’s and Morant’s dunks for days.
There are a number of other players around the country that are not household names like Williamson, but the NCAA tournament might change that. Here is a list of players that rise to star level with their play in this year’s March Madness.
MARIAL SHAYOK, Iowa State He started his career at Virginia but really came into his own in this, his first year starting for Iowa State. Shayock doubled his scoring total to 18.6 points per game and is well-known in the Big 12 for his defensive prowess. A 6-6 guard, Shayock is 23 years old, experienced, and could see his draft stock soar with the Cyclones performance in the NCAA tournament.
COBY WHITE, North Carolina The Tar Heels always have plenty of talent and White is definitely a guy with ability. A true freshman, White stepped into the starting lineup and became one of head coach Roy Williams’ leading scorers. White averages 16.3 points per game and dished 4.2 assists. At 6-5, White is a combo guard, a guy who can play the point, but he also has the ability to score from the wing. Many scouts liken him to a John Wall or De’Aaron Fox. Both are explosive players with the ability to play the point or the 2 spot. A deep North Carolina run could earn White a lot of money in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft.
DE’ANDRE HUNTER, Virginia While Virginia isn’t known for its flashiness and scoring, the Cavaliers do have a bona fide NBA talent in Hunter who at 6-7 reminds many of Kawhi Leonard. Hunter is Virginia’s second-leading scorer averaging 15.1 points a game. You can tell how effective he is when you learn that Hunter averages just 10 shots a game. With his size and speed, Hunter can defend a point guard or a power forward. Head coach Tony Bennett’s squad should not bow out in the first round of the tournament like they did a year ago. A solid postseason run by the Cavaliers should get Hunter some notice.
MATISSE THYBULLE, Washington Playing in the abyss known as the Pac-12, Thybulle is surely not on anyone’s radar. You won’t find him anywhere near the top of the Huskies scoring column. In fact, his scoring numbers have dropped and he averaged just 9.3 points per game this season. Still, the Huskies went 26-8 and won the conference title. Looking deeper into the stats, you see that Thybulle averages 3.4 steals (top 20 in the nation) and 2.4 blocked shots per game. A 6-5 whatever you want him to be, Thybulle will find a place in the modern NBA where the position-less player is welcome. He does enough good things with and without the basketball that someone will make him a Draymond Green-sort of player. A few Washington wins in the tournament wouldn’t hurt either.