Roughly 5,200 people will play Division I college basketball this season. Obviously, there are talented scorers, rebounders and defenders everywhere.
Today let’s identify the nation’s under-the-radar stars - with a caveat.
Don’t look for Justin Robinson of Monmouth here, or Giddy Potts of Middle Tennessee State. They embraced their big moment last season and led monumental upsets of national powers.
Rokas Gustys, Hofstra’s incredible hulking forward, isn’t around either. He had two 20-point /20 rebound games in five days last season and at 6-9, 265 pounds sneaks up on no one.
Take note of these 11 college basketball players you may (or may not) have heard of yet.
Tookie Brown, Georgia Southern
The Eagles struggled to a 14-17 record as they rebuilt the roster in coach Mark Byington’s third season. Their 5-11 point guard, however, recorded a freshman season to remember. He averaged 17.4 points per game to earn Sun Belt first team honors and returns poised to help Georgia Southern contend for the league crown. Brown went off for 25 points or more in seven games, hitting 37 percent of 3-pointers and converting 53 percent at the rim, per hoop-math.com
Antonio Campbell, Ohio
A double-double machine, Campbell considered the NBA but came back to Athens for what should be a special senior season. The 6-9, 265-pound center averaged 17.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and shot 56 percent from the field as the Bobcats won 23 games last season.While the paint is his domain, Campbell also stepped out and swished 41 3-pointers to further aggravate MAC defenders. He finished with a 120.4 offensive rating and was an elite defensive rebounder, snagging 30.3 percent of opponent’s misses (seventh in the nation).
Joe Cremo, Albany
Cremo averaged 10.7 points in 20.5 minutes per game for the Great Danes, who posted their third 20-win campaign (24-9) in the last four seasons under coach Will Brown. He was the America East’s Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. Don’t expect Cremo, who hit 86 percent of free throws and 39 percent of 3-pointers, to endure a sophomore slump either. He attempts 1,000 practice shots per day - and expects to make 700.
Mike Daum, South Dakota State
Coming off the bench also suited Daum in his first college season, who won Summit League Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. The 6-9 center averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds - in only 20.2 minutes per game - by flourishing from everywhere (67 percent at rim, 86 percent on free throws, 44 percent on 3-pointers). He had 16 points and five rebounds as the Jackrabbits pushed Maryland to the brink before falling 79-74 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
James Daniel, Howard
College basketball’s 2015-16 scoring champion resided in the nation’s capital. Daniel, another diminutive guard (5-11, 180 pounds) poured in 27.1 points per game for the Bison. He hoisted a whopping 37 percent of the team’s shots (second in the nation) to push his career scoring total to 1,899 points. The free throw line was kind to Daniel. He scored 9.3 points per game there.
Quinton Hooker, North Dakota
The Fighting Hawks were 17-16 last season, but Hooker was a positive force in the backcourt. He averaged 20.1 points per game, hitting 53 percent of 2-pointers and 38 percent of 3-pointers. Just as important, he was a rock solid ballhandler, with a near 2:1 assist-turnover ratio. Hooker scored 68 points in two Big Sky conference tournament games and eclipsed the 30-point barrier in two other outings.
Keon Johnson, Winthrop
It was a rough finish for the Eagles’ 5-7 point guard. UNC Asheville held him to two points on 1-of-16 shooting in the Big South championship game. Expect him to quickly recover. Johnson played 88 percent of Winthrop’s minutes and averaged 18.7 points per game as a junior, flashing mid-range skills by knocking down 52.8 percent of 2-point jump shots.
Fletcher Magee, Wofford
In his freshman season at Wofford, the 6-4 Magee was one of the nation’s best shooters. He finished first in free throw percentage and No. 3 in 3-point percentage in the nation. If the final month of the season is any indicator, Magee is just becoming comfortable in college. He had 11 consecutive double-figure scoring games, including a 34-point, 9-of-10 3-pointers effort against VMI.
Dallas Moore, North Florida
A veteran point guard is an essential piece for any championship contender, and few play the position better than Moore, a 6-1 senior. The 2015-16 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year assisted on one-third of the Osprey’s baskets in conference action, and averaged 22.1 points and 4.5 rebounds as his squad finished 22-12 and had the nation’s seventh most efficient offense.
Cameron Morse, Youngstown St.
Morse was a highlight reel for the defensively challenged Penguins in an 11-21 season. He poured in 20.3 points per game and nailed 41 percent of 3-pointers, while playing a Horizon League leading 91 percent of the minutes. After scoring only 102 points in his first season at Youngstown, he amassed 608 last season.
Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State
It’s been a rough month for Northwestern State, which lost star point guard Jalan West (the 2014-15 national assist leader) to a knee injury for the second consecutive season. Woodley, who has 1,764 points in three seasons for the Demons, returns trying to improve on 22.2 points per game, which was 11th nationally a year ago. Woodley, a strong 6-2 guard, hit 89 percent of free throws and 60 percent of 2-pointers.