College basketball is a reflection of society. Everyone wants to win now. Every fan wants a bigger, quicker and faster freshman to take his school to the next level. Who is the next big thing? The reality is that for every McDonald’s All-American playing for Kentucky, Kansas and Duke, there is an under-the-radar player who is having an impact on his team and program.
Some of those players make their impact immediately, while others find it to be a process. This is at both high-major programs that consistently play on national television, and at the mid-major level. Each season there are under-recruited players who, when given the opportunity, flourish. This can be as a result of more on-court minutes, better coaching and additional time in the weight room.
While they may not all become high NBA draft selections, the following 12 players are primed for big seasons. Let’s take a look at the nation’s most underrated players.
2013-14 per game stats: 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Niang is as complete a player as there is in college. With the graduation of DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim, I look for the Cyclones to use Niang at almost every position on the floor and run the offense through him.
The skilled 6-foot-7 forward can score on the block, shoot the 3-pointer and pass. He can drive the ball from the trail spot in transition and puts pressure on the defense as a ball-screener. He is a threat to roll, slip or space for the perimeter shot. An excellent isolation player, Niang does a great job moving his defender to score and does a great job throwing out of double teams. Last season he averaged 3.6 assists per game.