On Tuesday, CBSSports.com released a ranking of the top 100 players in college basketball for the 2013-14 season. Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart were slotted as the top two players in the list, highlighting the type of talent we will be fortunate enough to see this season in the Big 12. Even for the casual Big 12 basketball fan, Wiggins and Smart are household names, but what about those “other” guys out there? The ones who will take a back seat to the Wiggins and Smart media exposure, but are fully capable of putting on a show in their own right? If we were to take a page out of the Dick Vitale vault, we might refer to this list as the All-Drone Team – guys who will fly a bit under the radar, but certainly remain viable weapons for their respective teams. Here are five Big 12 players to keep an eye on this season:
Markel Brown: 6’3” Senior Guard, Oklahoma State: While Marcus Smart is the one who garners the national media attention for Oklahoma State, Brown is a vital part of the Cowboys’ success in Stillwater. Brown initially made his mark in college basketball with his knack for throwing down monster dunks, but proved last season that he’s much more than just a high-flying guard, averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting 36% from the three-point line. It was Smart’s play down the stretch in Oklahoma State’s win last season in Allen Fieldhouse that drew praise nationally, and rightfully so, but Brown was the thorn in the side for the Jayhawks in the first half, knocking down five of seven three-point attempts to build a lead. There certainly won’t be a moment too big for Brown this season, given his fearlessness and confidence. Opposing players and fans alike should refrain from sleeping on him, or they’ll quickly be reminded just how impressive he is at dunking the basketball.
Georges Niang: 6’7” Forward, Iowa State: Unlike Brown, Niang isn’t a superior athletic specimen, but that’s what makes his European-inspired game all the more impressive. The fact that Niang is a staple in Fred Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system shows his ability to shoot the ball from deep. Add that to his ability to put the ball on the floor and his crafty ways of scoring around the rim and you have a match-up problem for almost any team in the country. Niang will be looked at as a key component this season after the departure of the Cyclones’ leading scorers. The combination of he and fellow forward Melvin Ejim will provide an ability to stretch the floor and test the frontcourt depth of Iowa State’s opponents this year.