July 17, 2010

Who is the nation's most underrated player?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a topic in the sport. We have two questions this week, one today and one Sunday.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Who is the most underrated player in the nation?

David Fox's answer:
I can't claim I'm fully impartial on my pick of the most underrated player in the nation. This guy plays a few miles from Rivals.com headquarters, and we'll be writing a story on him in the coming weeks. I'm going to go with Adnan Hodzic of Lipscomb. He's the nation's leading returning scorer at 22.7 points per game, and he's not too far off from averaging a double-double, with 9.1 rebounds. Lipscomb shared the Atlantic Sun regular-season title before being bounced in the conference tournament, so his efforts aren't for nothing. What's most impressive to me, though, is his performance out of conference. Often, the top players from low-major leagues dominate their conference competition and get shut down by big-name teams. Not Hodzic. Last season, he scored 18 points against Vanderbilt, 18 against Ohio State, 18 against Cincinnati and had 34 points and 13 rebounds in a near-upset of Arizona. Thanks to those numbers, he has scored in double figures in 57 consecutive games, and so few have heard of him. I think that qualifies as underrated.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
My pick is a small forward who plays in the Big East. He averaged 14.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals -- along with shooting 53.0 percent from the field and 76.6 percent from the line -- for an NCAA tournament team. It's Marquette's Jimmy Butler. He was just a guy on the 2008-09 team, but he made the jump to key performer last season. With Lazar Hayward gone, expect Butler to be Marquette's go-to guy this season -- and to get a lot more publicity.

Jason King's answer:
Kansas forward Marcus Morris is incredibly underrated -- or at least he was last season, when Morris was overshadowed by stars such as Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins. Truth be told, Morris was the main reason Kansas was able to win its sixth consecutive Big 12 title with a 15-1 record. He averaged 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in conference play. Although most of Morris' points came on the inside, he also showed an ability to connect consistently from midrange. Through Kansas' first nine Big 12 games last season, Morris was averaging 17.8 points and 8.4 boards. At one point coach Bill Self said, "Marcus Morris isn't just one of the best players in our league. He's one of the best players in the nation." That fact wasn't lost on Kansas fans last season. This season, the rest of the country will find out, too.

Steve Megargee's answer:
Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins gets plenty of attention within his own conference, but I believe he remains largely unknown on a national scale because he plays outside the six major conferences and never has appeared in the NCAA tournament. The reigning Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, Jenkins was one of only five players in the nation last season to average at least 20 points (20.6), four rebounds (4.5) and three assists (3.9) per game. His rebounding ability is particularly remarkable since he's only 6 feet 3. Jenkins, a fifth-year senior, has scored in double figures in 90 of his 96 career games. He delivered three 30-point efforts in a four-game span last season and scored at least 20 points in 13 of his team's final 14 games last season. His big season included a 23-point performance against Kansas and a 25-point, eight-assist game against Connecticut. The biggest strike against Jenkins is that he has averaged more than three turnovers in each of his three seasons, but a player who has the ball in his hands as often as Jenkins naturally is going to give it away a little more often than most.




 

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