A good amount of hype always surrounds new players coming into a program. It’s the excitement of fresh blood and the hope that a team will improve with an injection of talent.Occasionally forgotten, though, especially if their teams don't perform as well, are the ones who have helped their schools get to the point where the young guys can take over. A few of those players – shall we say, the more “mature” ones -- are now wrapping up solid college careers.
From freshman through their still-senior seasons, here are five of the country’s best:
Josh Hart, VillanovaIn 2013, when Hart first stepped onto the court for the Wildcats, he impressed with his ability to put up points (an average of 7.7 a game) and his durability (he played in all 34 games). He was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team and was a three-time choice for Big East Rookie of the Week. His numbers continued to improve as he grew with the program, and now Hart has matured into a tough and versatile wing player. He’s averaging 18.84 points and 6.53 rebounds a game as a senior for top-ranked ‘Nova and next year could have a shot in the NBA.
Dallas Moore, University of North FloridaHow many accolades has this 6-foot-1 guard brought home? At least nine. And that doesn’t include whatever he grabs after this stellar senior season. ASUN Player of the Year. NABC All-District 3 First Team. All-Atlantic Sun First Team. ASUN Freshman of the Year. And more. As a freshman, Moore led the Ospreys in scoring, then did it again as a sophomore. By the end of his junior year, he became the all-time leading scorer for North Florida. He recently hit 2,000 career points in the Ospreys’ win over Palm Beach Atlantic, which marked the first time a UNF player and the eighth time an ASUN player has reached that mark. He’s averaging 22.42 points a game this year, which puts him sixth in the nation.
Marquise Moore, George MasonAfter being recruited by Hofstra, Providence, Tulane, Creighton, Fairfield, Connecticut and Cleveland State, Brooklyn native Moore headed for Fairfax, Va., and George Mason, where he started 19 games his first season. While he averaged fewer than four points a game as a freshman, he improved every year and now averages about 18 a game. The 6-foot-2 guard has saved his best for last; he’s shooting better than 51 percent, averaging nearly 11 rebounds a game (10th in the country) and has put up 11 double-doubles in the Patriots’ first 18 games.
Alec Peters, ValparaisoThis 6-foot-9 forward has posted some of the most successful seasons in Crusader history. He’s pulled in All-American, All-District and All-Horizon League honors year after year. By the end of his first season with Valpo, he already was averaging 12.7 points per game and, much like the other seniors, his skills only improved. Today, he’s averaging 23.89 points (second in the nation) and 10.89 rebounds a game (10th), and he’s posted 12 double-doubles in Valpo’s first 19 games.
Sabastian Saiz, Mississippi
798. That’s how many rebounds this 6-foot-9 forward from Madrid, Spain, has posted during his career at Ole Miss. Now, he’s pulling down 11.61 rebounds a game this season, No. 6 nationally. He’s also scoring more that 15 points a game this year and shooting at slightly better than 51 percent. (He’s shooting just a bit over 50 percent for his career.) Saiz has chalked up 12 double-doubles in the Rebels’ first 18 games.