Rothstein Files

15 least appreciated players in college basketball

March 11, 2016: Purdue Boilermakers forward Vince Edwards (12) defends Illinois Fighting Illini guard Malcolm Hill (21) during the men's Big Ten Tournament basketball game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and Purdue Boilermakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.  (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

Which players in college basketball are really good, but fail to get the type of pub that they deserve? Check out our list below as we examine the 15 least appreciated players in the sport. In no particular order…

Malcolm Hill, Illinois: It’s not an oversight, it’s an insult. For the past two years, Hill has done virtually everything except sell popcorn for the Illini, but never seems to be mentioned among the elite players in the Big Ten. That will change next season if Illinois can stay healthy and compete for a chance to get to the NCAA Tournament. After fluctuating between different spots on the floor, the 6-6 Hill should spend his senior season primarily on the wing.

Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there were no recruiting rankings and preconceived notions heading into last season then Weatherspoon would have been the elite freshman that people were focusing on within the Bulldogs’ program and not Malik Newman. The 6-5 guard averaged 14.7 points and 5.5 rebounds during Mississippi State’s final 10 games of last year and should compete for first-team All-SEC honors in 16-17.

Vince Edwards, Purdue: Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas may be the two players in the Boilermakers’ front court that people are most familiar with, but it would be foolish to ignore Edwards. The 6-7 forward has great versatility and can play multiple positions. Purdue will be at its best next season when Edwards slides to the four spot.

Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern: If McIntosh played at a school with a more established basketball traditional then he’d be a cult hero. The 6-3 guard is an all-conference caliber guard and should be finally mentioned next season as one of the elite perimeter players in the Big Ten. Last season as a sophomore, this Indiana native averaged 13.8 points, 6.7 assists, and 3.6 rebounds in 35.7 minutes.

Jarvis Garrett, Rhode Island: The major positive that came from the Rams’ injury plagued season in 15-16 was Garrett’s evolution as a player. The 6-foot point guard had to take on a bigger role following E.C. Matthews’ season ending knee injury and that’s just what he did. Garrett averaged 12.5 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.7 rebounds last season for the Rams, but also became a much better shooter. After shooting 33.9 percent from the field and 27.6 percent from three-point range as a freshman, Garrett shot 41.8 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three-point range as a sophomore. This kid should be breathing fire entering his junior season.

Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington: A fifth-year senior with an insatiable desire to improve, Cavanaugh averaged 19.4 points and 9.0 rebounds last spring during five games in the Postseason NIT. With the Colonials’ front court depth in question for the upcoming season, look for the 6-9 Cavanaugh to be one of the most productive big men in the country in 16-17 as he logs extended minutes.

December 15, 2015: Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame (5) prior to 1st half action between the Clemson Tigers and the Presbyterian Blue Hose at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC. (photograph by Doug Buffington/ Icon Sportswire)

(photograph by Doug Buffington/ Icon Sportswire)

Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson: If Blossomgame played for Duke or North Carolina, he’d regularly be talked about as an ACC Player of the Year candidate. The 6-7 forward has produced in obscurity over the past few seasons, but should have more of a national presence if Clemson takes the step forward many — including myself — expect it to take. Blossomgame could have left school early for the NBA, but opted to return to the Tigers with the hope of cementing his place as a first-round pick and leading his team to the NCAA Tournament. It says here that both of those things have an excellent chance of happening in 2017.

Marcus Evans, Rice: Mike Rhoades is on the cusp of making the Owls a contender in Conference USA and Evans is a major reason why. The 6-2 guard is the best perimeter player in college basketball that nobody knows about and averaged 21.4 points while shooting 47.0 percent from the floor last season as a freshman.

Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure: Many NBA scouts are going to become familiar with Olean, New York this winter and Adams is the reason why. A 6-1 guard that score the ball with ease, Adams will again give the Bonnies a chance to be a top-tier team in the Atlantic 10. The Baltimore native scored over 30 points on three separate occasions last season.

Elijah Brown, New Mexico: The son of former NBA head coach Mike Brown, Elijah Brown scored over 20 points in 18 of the Lobos’ 33 games last season. This is the best player in the Mountain West Conference and it’s not a debate. If New Mexico can return to national relevancy then Brown will quickly become appointment television thanks to his ability to score the ball in the basket.

Rokas Gustys, Hofstra: Gustys had nine or more rebounds in 22 of the Pride’s 26 games last season and has an excellent chance to lead the nation in rebounding in 16-17. All college basketball players adhere to a strict diet, but Gustys’ formula is different — he only eats glass.

Emmett Naar, St. Mary’s: The game never gets too fast for this lead guard, who led Saint Mary’s in both scoring (14.0) and assists (6.4) last season. Naar’s efficiency can’t be understated — he shot 48.7 percent from the field a year ago as a sophomore as well as 41.8 percent from three-point range. There isn’t a program in the country that wouldn’t find a place for this kid.

December 15 15: Monmouth Hawks guard Justin Robinson (12) dribbles towards Georgetown Hoyas guard L.J. Peak (0) during a NCAA men's basketball game at Verizon Center, in Washington D.C.  Monmouth defeated Georgetown 83-68. (Photo by Tony Quinn Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Tony Quinn Icon Sportswire)

Justin Robinson, Monmouth: The gas in the Hawks’ engine, Robinson doesn’t get enough credit for the impact he has on the game at 5-8. Playing every possession like he’s shot out of a cannon, Robinson averaged 19.3 points last season as a sophomore as well as 2.2 steals. His presence will ensure that Monmouth will remain a national story to track in college basketball.

Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: If Isaiah Whitehead was the lifeblood of Seton Hall’s run to the Big East Tournament title last March then Delgado was the veins and arteries. The 6-9 big man tallied 13 double-doubles last season and has averaged 9.6 points and 9.6 rebounds over the first two years of his college career. This is the backbone of the Pirates’ turnaround over the past two years under Kevin Willard.

T.J. Cline, Richmond: Eloquent, mature, and confident beyond his years, Cline plays the college game like he’s an NBA veteran that’s coming off the bench for his fifth team. Versatile and skilled, this 6-9 forward can beat opponents either inside or out and has the chops to be a first-team All-Atlantic 10 player in 16-17. Cline averaged 18.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists last season.

Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan. 

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