Championship Week is in full swing, but while much of the focus will be on guys like Kansas’ Frank Mason and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, admit it, you’re kind of over them aren’t you? College basketball fans have been talking about them for months, and we've seen what they can do.
So, let’s turn our attention to some lesser-known players. These guys could be off the radar for a number of different reasons – injury, the role on their team or the school for which they play – but deserve our attention in the final few days before Selection Sunday.
Here are seven such players you need to know:
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY SportsNoah K. Murray
Cam Oliver, F, Nevada
Oliver might not be Nevada’s leading scorer (that is guard Marcus Marshall), but he is the most important player on this year’s Mountain West regular-seasons champs.
Oliver is a low-post monster, averaging 15.7 points, 8.5 boards and 2.6 blocks per game. Oliver could be an NBA Draft pick this spring and could cause matchup nightmares if the Wolf Pack get to the NCAA Tournament.
Angel Delgado, F/C, Seton Hall
Speaking of “matchup nightmare,” there might not be a low-post player in America playing better than Delgado. Incredibly, the Seton Hall junior has tallied 12 straight double-doubles, including a pair of 20-rebound games. It has allowed Delgado to become the nation’s leading rebounder at over 13 a game.
It’s no surprise that Delgado’s strong play has coincided with Seton Hall’s rise in the Big East standings. The Pirates have won seven of nine and four in a row as they head to New York to try to defend their Big East Tournament championship.
Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.AP
Kyron Cartwright, G, Providence College
Cartwright was named the Big East’s Most Improved Player earlier this week, but still probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s been a stat-sheet stuffer, averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 assists (tied for fourth in the nation) to go along with 3.5 boards and 1.1 steals per game.
Like Delgado, Cartwright’s improved play has led to a resurgence with the Friars, who have won six straight entering the Big East Tournament.
Mike Daum, F, South Dakota State
A true off-the-radar player, Daum plays at tiny South Dakota State. Thanks to his stats, however, he won’t stay anonymous for long. He's averaging over 25 points per game (second in the nation). That included a staggering 24 games with 20 points or more, and one 51-point performance.
Unlike a lot of other guys on this list, you won’t have many chances to catch Daum during Championship Week. The Jackrabbits play for the Summit League title on Tuesday night against Omaha, and they need to win to go dancing next week.
John Collins, F, Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons are a terrifying team in Championship Week – capable of knocking off just about anyone in the ACC Tournament. And that’s thanks in large part to Collins, a player projected by many as a first-round NBA Draft pick this spring.
Collins has been a cornerstone for Danny Manning’s resurgent Demon Deacons club, as he’s averaging 19 points and nearly 10 boards a game, and has double-doubles in four of his last five. Wake Forest opens ACC Tournament play on Tuesday afternoon against Boston College, and look out. This team can do damage not only in Brooklyn but the NCAA Tournament as well.
Jawun Evans, G, Oklahoma State
Sometimes everything in life just works out for the best, and that’s definitely the case for Evans. A McDonald’s All-American back in 2015, Evans was limited by injuries as a freshman last season, but he has thrived in the up-tempo, high-octane attack of new head coach Brad Underwood. Evans is averaging just under 19 points and 6.3 assists per game.
Evans might have saved his best game of the season for his most recent, when he tallied 22 points and an amazing 15 assists in a close loss to Kansas this past Saturday. It showed that Evans can put up stats against just about anyone, which is why he and the Pokes will be so dangerous in Kansas City this weekend – and beyond.
Johnathan Williams, F, Gonzaga
Stop us if this sounds familiar: A high-profile transfer takes over at Gonzaga, puts the team on his back and is one of the key reasons the school might finally make its first Final Four. But while we’d normally be talking about Nigel Williams-Goss, our attention has instead turned to Williams.
The 6-foot-9 power forward who began his career at Missouri has thrived in Spokane, averaging 10 points and a team-high 6.4 boards per game this season. He’s probably playing his best basketball of late, with double-figure scoring in the Zags' past five games (with three double-doubles mixed in).
Gonzaga will close its Championship Week run on Tuesday night when it faces Saint Mary’s in the WCC final.