Top players from nonmajor conferences

Xavier Thames, averaging 16.6 points, has led San Diego State to a 25-3 record. Tommy LaPorte/Icon SMI

In recent seasons we’ve seen teams like Wichita State, Butler and VCU come out of smaller conferences and make runs to the Final Four. On the way, each school defeated supposed giants and proved that teams don’t necessarily need to be a household name to compete for a national title.

This season Wichita State is 31-0 and a likely No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Saint Louis, San Diego State and New Mexico have enough talent and depth to go far. Which players have led them to this point? Let’s take a look at the top individuals from nonmajor conferences.

1. Xavier Thames | G | San Diego State Aztecs

Key stats: 16.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals per game

Thames is a big, physical ball guard. He’s a play-starter but he also has the ability to get into the lane and score. He can get to the rim, has a middle game and can shoot from 3-point range, where he hits 40.5 percent of his attempts. Thames is a very strong on-ball defender and he sets the tone for San Diego State. If Winston Shepard is the pulse of the Aztecs, Thames is the heart.