James Snook-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Some of college basketball's best players this season will hail from small- to mid-level conferences. Aside from those household names, here's a handful of other players that will make an impact this season.
You know Doug McDermott, are in love with C.J. McCollum and Nate Wolters, and can spout off all Isaiah Canaan's statistics. Heck, only Wolters didn't make SB Nation's 2012-13 First Team Preseason All-American list; these are truly household names in the college basketball space.
By all accounts, this could be a wide open college basketball season, which means more teams outside of major conferences could spark upsets from November through March, and more players to get to know. As a result, to really sound like you're a guy in the know you've got to peel back the onion a few more layers.
Aside from the usual suspects, there are a handful of other mid-major stars for 2012-2013. It's always better to know about as many mid-major studs as you can sooner rather than later.
- Mike Muscala - Bucknell: Sure, Lehigh is the clear favorite in the Patriot League, but the Bison are the unanimous choice to challenge the Mountain Hawks all season. The Bison return four starters, including the 6-11 Muscala, the league's best big man. Averaging 17 and nine last year, Muscala should be a walking double-double for his senior season. With great shooting guards, Muscala gets plenty of room down low to operate on the offensive end. Let's hope he gets his fair share of touches in the post.
- Will Cherry - Montana: Last season the Big Sky was all about Weber State's Damian Lilliard. But let's not forget that Montana went 15-1 in conference with their own star guard who was the league's defensive player of the year and led the Grizzlies to the NCAA Tournament. Now Lillard is gone and it's Cherry's time to shine. Alongside Kareem Jamar, the duo make up a strong starting backcourt. It's a bummer that they're non-conference schedule is weak, as a road game against BYU and a to be determined opponent for Bracket Buster weekend may be the only opportunity for a national audience to get a peek at Cherry. (Ed. note: Cherry will also be recovering from an injury that could have him sidelined for a month of the season)
- Zena Edosomwan - Harvard: The Crimson may have lost a lot in the wake of an academic cheating scandal, but their recent success has helped them land a top-100 recruit. Edosomwan's story goes like this: he's a native of Los Angeles who shunned scholarship offers from schools like UCLA, USC, Texas and Wake Forest, to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Yeah he's a talented basketball player, but he's pretty smart, too, and is very focused on earning a college degree. Harvard is no longer the favorite to win the Ivy League, but Edosomwan leads one of the most talented freshman classes this conference has ever seen, so he'll be a fascinating player to track for the next four years.
- Frantz Massenat - Drexel: In this era, no mid-major player watch list would be complete without a representative of the CAA. Returning four starters from a team that won the conference regular season, but slipped up in the conference tournament and subsequently just whiffed on the NCAA Tournament, you have got to think that the junior point guard Massenat will play with something to prove the entire season. In the Anaheim Classic over Thanksgiving weekend, an opening round victory over St. Mary's could put this team in position to win it all. Be sure to get a look at Chris Fouch and Damion Lee as well. The Dragons are a dangerous mid-major because they are a "defense first" team with plenty of scorers.
- Chris Udofia - Denver: Playing for a team that won nine more games last season than it did the year before, Udofia has become the centerpiece of a program that is knocking on the door. One of the most physical big men in the country, the senior will look to lead the Pioneers and challenge Utah State in the WAC for the program's first NCAA Tournament berth. Check him out in early season games against the PAC-12's Cal and Stanford.