Unknown Stars of the 2015 NCAA Tournament

With over 4,500 Division one players, it can be struggle to know even fifty of them. Of course, you will know most, if not all of your favorite team’s players. If you follow high school basketball, you might know the top talents. But, I’d bet, television introduces you the most to other players. However, those said players, play for the top schools in the nation. The players I’ll be introducing, are the talents that don’t normally get to shine on national television. The diamonds in the rough, that could very well be catching your eye soon…

 

Tyler Harvey

Meet the nations leading scorer and junior from Eastern Washington, who will take on the 4th seeded Georgetown Hoyas on Thursday night. If you don’t know anything about Harvey, than this nugget might surprise you, he was never offered a scholarship. Long story short, Harvey’s dad who is a Division one referee happened to cross paths with Jim Hayford on plane, which at the time coached a local Division III college. Harvey’s father pitched his son, with Hayword allowing him to be sent game film of Tyler. Hayford would later be offered the job at Eastern Washington and invited Harvey to walk on the team (Read the story here). The rest is history and it’s such an inspiring and unbelievable story. It’s a testament to Tyler Harvey’s passion and hard work to keep at it, while credit to his dad, who not only pitched him, but supported his dream to the fullest. Talk about timing and destiny too, just an all around feel good story. Anyways, Harvey leads the nation averaging 22.9 points per game, while shooting 43% from three and an overall 47% from the field. He recently dropped a season high of 42 points on the Idaho Vandals and has only failed to score double figures once this season. Harvey could very well be your next Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard, who happened to play in the Big Sky conference as well. Just make sure you watch out for him because he is a bonafide superstar in the making.

 

RJ Hunter (pictured) & Ryan Harrow

Meet the high scoring tandem from the Georgia St. Panthers. Respectively, Hunter (19.8 ppg) and Harrow (18.7 ppg) make up over 50% of the Panthers points per game (72.0). Hunter is on the NBA’s radar, so it should be interesting to see if foregoes the draft and plays his senior season or if he leaves for the NBA after the season ends. I’ve seen many projections have him targeted as first round material and I can see why. Hunter has had somewhat of a down year in terms of progression, as last year he was a 40% three point shooter and connected on 50% on his two point field goals. This year he is a 29% three point shooter and is 49% on his two point field goals, but has improved to 88% from the charity stripe. If Hunter can refine his three point stroke, you have an absolute problem to guard on the court. As for Harrow, this two-time transfer, most notably from Kentucky is a scoring machine. Statistically, Harrow has elevated his game this year. He brought up last year’s 48% on two point field goals to 54% this season, as well as last year’s 29% from three to 38% this season. Unfortunately he was sidelined from the Sun Belt tournament finale with a hamstring injury, but his team picked up the slack for him in a low scoring nail biter. I’m not sure of Harrow’s current status, but I’d assume the fifth year senior would rather play than watch him team’s fate while on the bench. I’m hoping he plays because the Panthers would be best adept at full strength to give the Baylor Bears a hell of a game.

 

Thomas Walkup (pictured) & Jacob Parker

This tandem has not only led the Lumberjacks to the NCAA tournament, but have also won 29 games this season. Walkup leads this high powered offence in points (15.7 ppg), rebounds (6.4), field goal percentage (57%) and is second is assist (3.7). As you can see, Walkup does it all and luckily for the Lumberjacks, will be back next season. Parker has been just as solid, averaging 14.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg, while shooting 84% from the line, 47% from three and 53% from the field. This is your prototypical highly efficient and effective player, as those shooting number are outstanding. The Lumberjacks have two special players right here and I could see them fitting the bill as Cinderellas in this years NCAA tournament.

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