32 Players to Keep an Eye on During March Madness

For many sports fans, the month of March is associated with one of the greatest events in college athletics: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. There will be highs and lows, upsets and blowouts, but one thing is for certain — it will be madness. The following is a list of 32 players who are likely to play key roles if their teams make the upcoming tournament.

American Athletic Conference

Shonn Miller, Connecticut. UConn may not be having its best season, but senior forward Shonn Miller has played consistently well for the Huskies. The Cornell transfer is averaging 13.1 points per game and has made 59 percent of his field goal attempts.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Brandon Ingram, Duke. Freshman guard Brandon Ingram is on his way to having one of the best seasons of all NCAA Division-I freshmen. Ingram has averaged 17 points per game for the Blue Devils and will likely be a Top 5 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Grayson Allen, Duke. In addition to Ingram, another Blue Devil worth watching this March is Grayson Allen. He’s the modern-day version of Christian Laettner; Duke fans love him, and opposing fans love to hate him. Allen leads the Blue Devils, averaging 21 points per game.

Sheldon McClellan, Miami (Fla.). Senior Sheldon McClellan has been a difference-maker for Miami during his two seasons as a Hurricane. After transferring from Texas in 2013, McClellan has continued to progress on the court. McClellan has improved his field goal percentage to 52 percent and will be another one to watch during March Madness.

America East Conference

Jameel Warney, Stony Brook. A two-time America East Conference Player of the Year, senior Jameel Warney is quite possibly leading his team to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Warney has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Seawolves and if Stony Brook makes the tournament, Warney is without a doubt a player to keep an eye on.

Atlantic 10

Isaiah Miles, Saint Joseph’s. Saint Joseph’s forward Isaiah Miles has been leading the charge for the Hawks. The senior leads the starters making 53 percent of field goals, 38.2 percent of three’, 88.5 percent of free throws and is averaging almost 18 points per game.

Charles Cooke, Dayton. Junior guard Charles Cooke has been instrumental in the Dayton Flyers’ journey to secure a bid in this year’s March Madness. At 6-5, 192 pounds, Cooke leads the Flyers with more than 400 total points and a 16.2 points-per-game average.

Big 12

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield will almost certainly be a first-round draft pick in 2016 and is arguably one of the best shooting guards of 2016. The Sooners feel his presence when he is on the court and he will be an impact player to watch come the NCAA Tournament.

Georges Niang, Iowa State. Iowa State has gone through a season of rebuilding. While breaking in a first-year head coach, Georges Niang has remained a consistent playmaker for the Cyclones.

Big East

Kris Dunn, Providence. Providence’s Kris Dunn has been killing it for the Friars. The 6-4 junior’s 73 steals and 17.3 points per game average have helped his team make a run toward the NCAA Tournament, and will likely help him become a Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft.

Josh Hart, Villanova. After being named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year last season, junior guard Josh Hart has continued to be an instrumental player for the Wildcats. Hart leads his team with more than 400 points and is averaging 15 points per game this season.

Big Ten

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine has had one heck of a final season. The shooting guard is leading the Spartans in points per game, total points and three-point percentage. He will most likely be a finalist for player of the year.

Melo Trimble, Maryland. Maryland guard Melo Trimble leads the Terps in scoring, assists, free throw percentage and steals. Those stats alone make him a player to watch in March.

Big West

Stefan Jankovic, Hawaii. If Hawaii makes the NCAA tournament, it will likely be due to the efforts of Stefan Jankovic. The 6-9 big man leads the Rainbow Warriors in points per game and field goal percentage.

Colonial Athletic Association

Chris Flemmings, UNC Wilmington. Junior guard Chris Flemmings has consistently provided a spark for UNC Wilmington this season, averaging 16.4 points per game. Flemmings will be someone to follow if the Seahawks make the tournament.

Conference USA

Chris Cokley, UAB. Sophomore forward Chris Cokley was named Conference USA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2015 and he has continued to progress during his sophomore campaign. The 6-8 big man is hard to miss on the Blazers’ court.

Horizon League

Alec Peters, Valparaiso. Valparaiso star Alec Peters leads his team with 17 points per game and 237 rebounds this season, making him one to watch in March.

Ivy League

Justin Sears, Yale. If Yale can make the tournament, keep an eye on No. 22 Justin Sears. The 6-8 forward leads the Bulldogs in points per game and blocks per game this season.

Mid-American Conference

Isaiah Johnson, Akron. Junior center Isaiah Johnson has been a force for Akron this season. He leads the Zips in points per game and field goal percentage.

Missouri Valley Conference

Fred VanVleet, Wichita State. Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet has been a consistent player throughout his career with the Shockers. He is the definition of a team player and leads the Shockers with 136 assists this season.

Mountain West Conference

Jeremy Hemsley, San Diego State. Freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley leads the Aztecs in total points and points per game. The playmaker has helped lead San Diego State to the top of the Mountain West Conference.

Pac-12

Gary Payton II, Oregon State. Oregon State guard Gary Payton II has been a major difference maker for the Beavers this season. He has played the most game minutes this year and leads OSU with 16 points per game.

Jakob Poeltl, Utah. Sophomore power forward Jakob Poeltl will almost certainly become one of the top 10 players chosen in the 2016 NBA Draft. At 7 feet tall, Poeltl is impossible to miss on the court.

Ivan Rabb, California. California’s Ivan Rabb is another Pac-12 power forward and likely Top 10 pick to watch this March. At 6-11, 220 pounds, Rabb leads the Golden Bears with 224 total rebounds.

SEC

Tyler Ulis, Kentucky. Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis is one of the smaller players on the court for the Wildcats, but don’t let his size fool you. The 5-9 guard leads the SEC with 6.7 assists per game and is second to Jamal Murray in points per game for Kentucky.

Michael Carrera, South Carolina. Senior forward Michael Carrera is an all-around solid player. The 6-5 veteran leads the Gamecocks with 207 rebounds and is averaging roughly 15 points per game.

Southern Conference

Tre’ McLean, Chattanooga. Junior forward Tre’ McLean is one of the most well-rounded players for Chattanooga this season. The junior leads the Mocs in scoring, rebounds and steals.

Southland Conference

Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin. Senior forward Thomas Walkup is one of the brightest stars for the Lumberjacks this season. Walkup leads Stephen F. Austin with 17 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game and 4.3 assists per game.

Summit League

Max Landis, IPFW. In its first season as a D-I basketball program, IPFW has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament thanks largely in part to senior guard Max Landis and his 18.4 points per game.

Sun Belt Conference

Josh Hagins, Arkansas-Little Rock. Senior guard Josh Hagins is well on his way to a fantastic final season in Little Rock. The 6-1 Trojan has averaged 12.8 points per game and leads his team with 4.6 assists per game.

Western Athletic Conference

Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State. Sophomore forward Pascal Siakam has been a machine for New Mexico State this season and could be the reason his team makes the tournament. He leads the Aggies in several categories, averaging 11.8 rebounds per game, 20.7 points per game and has 73 total blocks this season.

West Coast Conference

Emmett Naar, Saint Mary’s. St. Mary’s has come on strong thanks largely in part to sophomore guard Emmett Naar. The Sydney, Australia, native leads the Gaels with 13.4 points per game and 158 assists.

Teams and players listed are determined on USA Today’s Bracketology Prediction as of Feb. 22, 2016.