The Five Most Underrated Players in College Basketball in 2012-13
- Updated: October 30, 2012
By: Scott Laube
Editor’s note: The college basketball season is almost here (Second Editor’s Note: HALLELUJAH!!!!!) and we here at Roundball Daily can’t control our excitement. Other analysts from across the country have begun to forecast their predictions, and quite frankly, they’re all the same.
Stars such as Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott, and Isaiah Canaan will get all of the preseason love, and there will be no talk about all of the under-the-radar studs who could send your bracket into Bolivian come March. Dickie V will name his Diaper Dandies, Rolls Roycers, Dipsy-Doo Dunkaroo-ers, and whatever the hell else he does. But we here at Roundball Daily look beyond the blue-chippers and BCS-conference ballers, down to the slip-through-the-cracks superstars who will make names for themselves in the upcoming season.
You probably haven’t heard much about the guys listed below. But like the sneaky-hot Krysten Ritter from Breaking Bad and Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23, they’re really, very underrated. As players, that is. Check it out.
THE ALL-KRYSTEN RITTER TEAM:
Nate Wolters, G, South Dakota State. The 6-foot-4 Minnesota native averaged 21.2 points and 5.9 assists as a junior and led the Jackrabbits to 27 wins and the school’s first NCAA tournament bid. While SDSU lost to Baylor by eight points in the second round of the NCAA tourney, Wolters still had an impressive showing by putting up 19 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
With the Jackrabbits returning all but one starter, there is no reason to think Wolters won’t improve upon his impressive stats and lead SDSU to another Summit League title. Don’t be surprised if the senior starts jumping his way up NBA draft boards as the season progresses as well.
Chaz Williams, G, Massachusetts. Hard not to compare the elusive 5-foot-9 guard to former Hofstra star and New York native Speedy Claxton. Williams actually started his career at Hofstra as a freshman before sitting out a year and joining the Minutemen this past season. And boy, did his decision pay off. The electric point guard broke out as a sophomore averaging 16.9 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.4 rebounds. Yes, Chaz even throws his body around in the paint to grab boards despite his small stature.
He led UMass to 25 wins this past season, which was good enough for an invitation to the NIT where they lost to eventual champion Stanford in the semifinals. Considering the fact UMass only win 15 games during the 2010-2011 season, I think it’s safe to say Williams made a fairly huge impact in just his first season as the floor general. If the A-10 preseason First Team selection can lead the Minutemen to the dance this year, I guarantee you’ll become familiar with his name and game.
D.J. Cooper, G, Ohio. The Chicago native does a little bit of everything for the Bobcats. Despite his number dipping a little bit, Cooper still averaged 14.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals in his junior campaign last season. In addition, he led Ohio to their second NCAA tourney appearance under his watch, making it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to North Carolina in a heartbreaking overtime loss.
The senior leader always seems to come up huge in big games, especially during the big dance last season where he scored 21 points against Michigan in the 2nd round and 19 points against South Florida in the round of 32. And who can forget his spectacular performance as a freshman in the NCAA’s when he scored 23 points in route to the Bobcats upset victory over Georgetown in the first round. Already a factor on NBA draft boards, if Cooper leads Ohio to another March Madness appearance, he may make a case to be considered as a lottery selection.
Rotnei Clarke, G, Butler. Quick, how many of you had any idea Clarke now plays for Butler or even know he existed? My guess is not many know of Clarke’s game and that is unfortunate. The three-point specialist spent his first three seasons at Arkansas before deciding to transfer to play his senior season this year at Butler. Clarke averaged 15.2 points his last season at Arkansas and shot an incredible 43% from three.
All indications this offseason have suggested Clarke improved tremendously during his redshirt year and now possesses a much more all around game. Clarke may even see some time at point for Brad Stevens’ club as they try to return to the NCAA’s after a disappointing year last season. If Clarke could put up the numbers he did in the SEC, I’m excited to see what he can do for Butler in their first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference. I don’t mean that as an insult to the underappreciated A-10 either, but the SEC still possesses tougher competition on a daily basis.
Not to mention, Clarke fits Butler perfectly as the one thing the Bulldogs struggled mightily last season with was shooting from downtown. If Clarke displays the deadly stroke he possessed at Arkansas and the new wrinkles to his game he added during his redshirt year, there is no doubt he can lead the Bulldogs to an appearance back to the NCAA tourney. Pure shooters are a luxury in college basketball and Clarke is as good as there is in the country.
Colt Ryan, G, Evansville. It’s a shame the Aces of Evansville aren’t relevant because Colt Ryan is legit. The senior averaged 20.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists last season for the Aces. And like Clarke, he is deadly from long range as he shot 43% from deep last season. With Evansville expected to be average again this year, expect Ryan to be among the country’s leaders in scoring, with most of his damage coming from long range. He’ll get a chance showcase his skills for the country right off the bat as Evansville takes on #22 Notre Dame November 10th.
Sixth Man: Julian Boyd, F, LIU Brooklyn – As a native Long Islander, I had to show some love for Boyd. The senior averaged 17.8 points and 9.3 rebounds for the Blackbirds last season and helped lead them to an NEC championship and NCAA tournament appearance. A double-double machine, Boyd racked up 14 last season and scored in double-figures in all but one game last season. He’ll try and lead the Blackbirds to their third straight NCAA appearance this season.
This was the first contribution from new writer Scott Laube, who is a journalism student at the University of Maryland. Check out wmucsports.wordpress.com for Scott’s commentary on everything UMD athletics.