This list classifies players with respect to their present impact in the university team.
Zion Williamson, Duke Blue Devils
Well, that ACC tournament was fun to watch, right? College basketball is better with a healthy Williamson. It is like that. The rookie 6’7 “”inches tall arrives at the NCAA tournament with a ridiculous average conversion of 76 percent in his attempts at 2-point baskets. If you have been reading the Top 25 lists this season, you already know the secret ingredient: Williamson gets clear hitting opportunities with a frequency never seen before. During this campaign, 87 percent of his attempts at 2-point baskets have been recorded in the hoop. That is absurd and the same implies a testimony of cunning and abstinence from attempts at 2-point baskets away from the hoop. Oh also added the second-highest theft average of any player in the ACC Conference. This list moves away from any estimate of potential in the NBA; but being fair, the evaluation at a glance and the statistics agree: Zion will be amazing when he reaches the next level.
Ja Morant, Murray State Racers
So that you do not think that this is simply a list of star players that have large individual numbers, with Morant we have a precise case in which it is likely that his team can’t come so far without him. In the game for the Ohio Valley Conference title against Belmont, the 6-year-old, 6-foot, 3-inch tall player erupted to score 36 points and secured the 77-65 victory in the final stages by converting free throws. Morant is the proud owner of the highest attendance rate in the United States, his dunks are legend material and we should all personally thank each member of the men’s basketball committee for putting the Racers in a game against Markus Howard and Marquette. It will be 40 minutes of chaos and mastery in elite action from base to base.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga Bulldogs
In any normal season without the presence of Zion we would be stunned by the show put by a transfer from San Jose State, making 71 percent of his attempts at 2-point baskets for a number 1 seed team. In fact, running the risk of simplifying in excess to write a brief capsule, Clarke is Williamson on the offensive (despite having a lower percentage of use) and the former member of the Bulldogs Zach Collins on the defensive. Not content to be merely one of the best defenders of the hoop in the country, the 6-foot, 8-inch junior player is additionally a dominant force in the offensive crystal. Statistics recorded by Gonzaga players are occasionally received with some skepticism; however, Clarke’s figures remain consistent against Gonzaga’s strongest extra-conference rivals.
Cassius Winston, Michigan State Spartans
One is tempted to say that Winston is Ja Morant, only that he has a less attractive date of birth for the NBA. The “”old man”” manages to remain present on the field at age 21 and he and the star of Murray State are ranked as numbers 1 and 2 of the nation in percentage of assists. The Spartans have had to deal without the presence of one player or the other during virtually the entire season and despite this, the end result was “”plummeting”” until the second sown, perceived by many observers as a snub for the co-champion of the regular season and automatic candidate of the Big Tean Conference. It seems that the MSU can survive the loss of players, as long as the player in question is not about Cassius Winston.
Grant Williams, Tennessee Volunteers
We don’t want to see the glass half empty, but this could be, statistically speaking, the best offensive Rick Barnes will have in Tennessee. He has had such a level of quality and Williams is the engine of the Volunteers attack. The junior player is a kind of resident artist on the free throw line, attracting seven fouls for every 40 minutes and converting 82 percent of his attempts. If there is an additional and underestimated aspect in the Williams game, it is represented by the fact that, for significant periods of minutes, he is the highest player of the Volunteers on the court when Kyle Alexander rests. His ability to stand on the defensive paint with 6 feet 7 inches in height has been a nice bonus for the Barnes team.
RJ Barrett, Duke Blue Devils
Any player who starts with Williamson may have a reputation for being relatively inefficient, but no coach in the country will reject a leading scorer who scores 54 percent of his doubles in a ridiculously high number of attempts. No, Barrett’s three-point shot is not what is called automatic, but it is useful, and anyway, when you get to the point where no one notices a double-double of 26-12 in North Carolina which includes four triples, the whole discussion has been reconsidered.
Markus Howard, Marquette Golden Eagles
Howard is said to be healthy and ready to go after he appeared to suffer a wrist injury in the defeat in the semifinals of Marquette’s Big East tournament against Seton Hall. The star of Steve Wojciechowski left only 15-1 on the field in that game, but when he is in full force (and when the referees are not marking 56 personal fouls in 40 minutes) the junior is one of the best pure shooters of the game, besides being like an underrated dealer. His confrontation with Morant promises to be one of the best moments of the round of 64.
PJ Washington, Kentucky Wildcats
Hopefully, this week’s reports of a possible injury in Washington, including seeing him with a walking boot, will not prevent the ‘sophomore’ from playing in the tournament. After all, no one should be happier to see Reid Travis return to the Kentucky lineup. Washington saw how his production and efficiency reached a difficult point in the absence of his teammate, but the 6’8 “”star returned to his former self (although in a lost cause) with a strong effort of 16 points in just 20 hard minutes against Tennessee When the Wildcats are in full force, Washington is free to take any opposing defense overcome, either in the paint or, sometimes, behind the arch.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin Badgers
Greg Gard should seriously consider hypnotizing Happ and convincing him that every game in the NCAA tournament is, in fact, Senior Night at the Kohl Center in Madison. In the Badgers home final against Iowa, the senior left with 11 of 18 (61 percent) on the line. That will work, and if hack-a-Happ is off the table for opponents, you are facing a direct conference POY-level interpreter with zero resignations. No player in the country, other than Williamson, is as skilled as Happ to reach the hoop, either in units or from the classic posting movements. His ability to pass is justly renowned, and takes possession of the defensive crystal.
Tremont Waters, LSU Tigers
Matisse Thybulle receives many of the praise for the defense of the elite perimeter this season, and not without reason. Just be sure to create a dedicated space for Waters under that same heading. The sophomore has recorded four or more steals in no less than nine games this season. Yes, Waters’ selection of shots can sometimes be … innovative? bold? Something less euphemistic? Be that as it may, the total sum for LSU is a 5’11 “”dealer and scorer who somehow converts 51 percent of his doubles and is also a constant thorn in the side of the opponent’s shipowner.