An unpredictable NCAA tournament didn’t just produce a combination of Final Four teams that nobody saw coming.
It also produced an unusual array of Final Four players.
There are no former McDonald’s All-Americans. Few are potential NBA draft picks. Some did not have high major scholarship opportunities outside of high school. Many are on their second stop after switching from another program.
The strangest Final Four in years begins Saturday night in Houston with San Diego State v Florida Atlantic followed by UConn v Miami. Here’s an attempt to rank the starters of all four teams from 1 to 20:
After Sanogo demolished UConn’s first three NCAA tournament opponents with his efficient internal scoring, Gonzaga sent doubles teams on him to force him to be a passer. Sanogo responded with a brilliant performance of six assists and a turnover that will surely have opposing coaches wondering if there’s an effective way to defend it.
Wong is Miami’s top scorer and best return from last year’s watch-heavy Elite Eight team. The 6ft 4 shooting guard boasts a quick first step, the ability to create his own shot and improves consistency behind the bow.
If Kansas’ Gradey Dick was the top scorer in high major college basketball this season, Hawkins wasn’t far behind. The 6-foot-5 sophomore cemented himself as a first-round pick with his perimeter reach, whether pulling up or running around screens to create catch-and-shoot opportunities. Give him some breathing room and he’ll make you pay.
No fringe NBA prospect did more to help himself this March than Miller. The 6-foot-7 ex-transfer from George Mason has displayed an active perimeter defense and a Christian Laettner-style perfect night off the field against Texas on Sunday (7-on-7 from the field, 13-on-13 from the foul -Line). ).
Omier embodies college basketball’s paradigm shift from valuing high-ranked freshmen to proven transfers. Arkansas State’s transfer wasn’t even a consensus among the top 200 recruits out of high school. Now he’s perhaps Miami’s most important player, a 6-foot-7 double-double threat capable of defending and rebounding against centers who tower above him.
On a deep, balanced Florida Atlantic team, Davis is the closest thing the Owls have to a go-to guy. The 6-foot-4 combo guard can score in a variety of ways, from dribbling, from deep, or even stationed. He had 29 against Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round and then provided an emotional interview after the win.
San Diego State’s top scorer has been called up all season for scoring most of his team’s biggest shots. The Aztecs will need more than he gave them last week when he remained scoreless until the closing minutes against Alabama and scored just two points in the 1-on-8 shooting against Creighton.
As Field of 68’s Rob Dauster points out, this track embodies what makes Jackson so special. What he lacks in outside shooting, he makes up for in his build-up play, defense and most importantly, his feel.
Ever since Pack became the face of name, image and likeness in college basketball last spring, it’s proven to be worth LifeWallet’s $800,000 investment. The Kansas State transfer drew attention to the company while also leading that run in Miami, averaging 18.5 points per NCAA tournament game and 26 points in a Sweet-16 riot against Houston.
San Diego State’s last line of defense almost turned pro last offseason to earn money to support his family in Ghana. Mensah, a 4.0 student and one of college basketball’s top rim protectors, stayed with the Aztecs for just one more season after that to land a paid internship at a financial services firm in San Diego.
As UConn tried to build around its core of Hawkins, Jackson and Sanogo last offseason, the point guard position was one of the holes it needed to fill. One of the most valuable transfers on the market, Newton expertly filled the gap and made up some profitable stretches with his build-up play and outside shooting.
The junior guard has overcome the pain of his older sister’s fatal shooting earlier this year. One of the nation’s most formidable full-backs, Butler can also be dangerous up front. He had a team-high 18 against Creighton and knocked down both 3s he attempted.
Miami’s long-term NBA prospect with the highest upside potential has recently shown more consistent flashes of its enticing potential. The long, athletic wing is averaging 12 points per game in the NCAA tournament and produced one of the Elite Eight’s funniest moments.
The dynamic 6ft 2 guard could have both the dunk of the tournament…
…and the tournament’s unwise dunk attempt.
The 6ft 8 newcomer is the perfect ground spacer to pair with Sanogo and the 7ft Donovan Clingan. He’s shooting over 40% from 3-point range this season and has hit a few big ones during UConn’s Final Four run.
Trammell hasn’t always been a good scorer this season, but he’s upped his game in the NCAA tournament. The undersized combo guard, who had no offers from high school, dropped 21 points to Alabama, then pulled a foul and pocketed the game-winning free throw to beat Creighton.
For Florida Atlantic’s four-out style to work, it takes a big man who can patrol the paint, bounce and score all around the rim. Enter Goldin, who was brilliant at all stages in the Elite Eight against Kansas State. The Russian 7-footer had 14 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocks against the Wildcats.
While Boyd has only scored in double digits once in FAU’s four NCAA tournament games, he is responsible for the largest basket in the Owls’ Final Four run. His starting shot with two seconds remaining gave Florida Atlantic a one-point win over Memphis in the first round.
His most valuable contribution may be his defensive versatility, but Johnson’s high-flying dunks often spark runs at San Diego State. He could lead San Diego State in SportsCenter’s top 10 moments, whether in transition or via dump-offs and alley-oops.
The former three-star recruit didn’t make an impression in Minnesota, so he returned to his home state. Greenlee has been a consummate role-player as a perimeter shooter and secondary playmaker in the Owls’ four-guard attack for the past three seasons at FAU.
Source : sports.yahoo.com