Now that I am done with previewing and breaking down each region, I am going to go through each region again. This time I will be highlighting some players to keep your eye on.
Juan Fernandez, Temple – Fernandez is known for being consistent and making big plays when it matters. In last year’s tournament, Fernandez hit a three-point shot with just seconds remaining in Temple’s opening round win over Penn State. This is a guy, whose draft stock is teetering on non-existence that will come ready to play.
Tim Hardaway, Michigan – Hardaway can flat-out score. He plays like his daddy. Can stroke the three, but can get to the basket just as well. He benefits from playing on a team that has a lot of three-point threats. If he plays well, I can see Michigan playing against North Carolina in the Sweet 16.
Hollis Thompson, Georgetown – I think Thompson is the best player on the Hoyas roster. He can shoot, post-up, and plays with passion. I know Georgetown has struggled in recent NCAA tournaments (they didn’t even make it last season), but if they advance to the Sweet 16 or, even the Elite Eight, look for Thompson to have a hand in their success.
C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State – Part of NC State’s turnaround is due to head coach Mark Gottfried. Another part of their recent success is due to sophomore standout C.J. Leslie. He didn’t play in the Wolfpack’s first three games this season (all wins), but he came back in the fourth game and posted 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting against then #20 Vanderbilt. Leslie has scored in double-figures the past 13 games and if NC State wants to pull off an “upset”, Leslie will need to play big!
Elijah Johnson, Kansas – I had noted Johnson in my “Midwest Region Breakdown” as a player that will have to step up if Kansas hopes to make a deep run. Again, I have him as a player to watch in this region. He plays 32 minutes per game, so I don’t think he will have any trouble being found on the floor, but he will need to produce while he is out there. I expect him to have a breakout tournament.