By now, fans of the Oregon Ducks are well versed with the squad who garnered a number one seed. Led by Dillon Brooks….wait I mean Elgin Cook?.....wait, Tyler Dorsey? The Ducks are a well balanced squad with many weapons and ways to win. With the tournament nearing I aim to shed some light on the other key players in the West Region and who Oregon should most be worried about facing.
1. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma Sooners, Senior guard
PPG: 25.0 RPG: 5.6 APG: 2.1
The nation’s leading scorer is the clear choice for the player outside of the Ducks to watch in the West region. Hield is a deadly shooter, this year averaging 46.4% from three on nearly nine attempts per game. The senior will be looking for some revenge in this year’s tournament as he only averaged 17 per game in the Sooners Sweet Sixteen exit last season.
2. Grayson Allen, Duke Blue Devils, Sophomore guard
PPG: 21.6 RPG 4.5 APG 3.6
Grayson Allen had his coming out party in last year’s National Championship game and has extended it to this season. From last season to this season, Allen has increased his points per game by 17.2 per game as he has taken over in the leadership role for the Devils. Averaging 25.5 over his last five, Allen is primed for the tournament.
3. Isaiah Miles, Saint Joseph’s Hawks, Senior forward
PPG: 18.4 RPG: 8.1 BPG: 1.0
The versatile big man is the go to guy for the Hawks after upping his scoring total by nearly nine points in the span of one year. Miles is an excellent free throw shooter at 88% and has no problem stepping out for a three as he hit close to two per game.
4. Brandon Ingram, Duke Blue Devils, Freshman forward
PPG: 16.8 RPG: 6.8 APG: 1.9
Ingram lands on the lone freshman on the list as he comes in leading the recharged Blue Devils. Faced with pressure from the start to replace Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor, Ingram had a roller coaster year. Ingram struggled slightly against top-25 ranked teams averaging close to three points below his season average in those. Duke will need the freshman if they want to make a run.
5. Jalen Jones, Texas A&M Aggies, Senior guard
PPG: 15.5 RPG: 7.2
Similar to the Ducks, the three seeded Aggies are led by a gang of players, but the best of the bunch lies in Jones. Leading the Aggies to a share of the regular season title, Jones was named to the All-Sec first team. In two games in the 2015 NCAA tournament he averaged 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
6. Gary Payton II, Oregon State Beavers, Senior guard
PPG: 15.9 RPG: 7.9 APG: 5.1
Oregon fans are obviously very familiar with the stat stuffing Payton II. Looking to play in his first tournament as a Beaver, watch for Payton II to take over. Coming off of a 20 point, 17 rebound performance in the conference tournament eliminator game to California, he looks tournament ready.
7. Taurean Prince, Baylor Bears, Senior forward
PPG: 15.5 RPG: 6.1 APG: 2.2
Another player Ducks fans witnessed already this year is Prince who went for just ten points, two rebounds and two assists in Eugene. Prince is playing well of late as in his last five games he has averaged 18.2 points, and 8.8 rebounds.
8. Isaiah Taylor, Texas Longhorns, Junior guard
PPG: 14.8 RPG: 2.8 APG: 4.9
The steadily improving junior has upped both his points per game and assists per game in each of his three years in Austin. Most impressive this year for the guard was cutting nearly a turnover out per game. In three games against Pac-12 teams this year, Taylor averaged 22.3 points per game.
9. Melvin Johnson, VCU Rams, Senior guard
PPG: 17.4 RPG: 2.6 APG: 2.2
The first round matchup between Johnson and Payton II should be a great one as both are fantastic guards. The senior guard is coming in cold though as he averaged just 11 per game in the A 10 tournament.
10. Wes Washpun, Northern Iowa Panthers, Senior guard
PPG: 14.3 RPG: 4.0 APG: 5.2
Yet another senior makes the watch list as Washpun leads the Panthers in his last tournament. Nothing stellar from the guard, but he does a little bit of everything to lead Northern Iowa. Washpun will be looking to rebound from his rough tournament last year where he averaged just 6 points and 3 rebounds in two games.
11. Troy Caupain, Cincinnati Bearcats, Junior guard
PPG: 13.2 RPG: 3.7 APG: 4.8
Caupain is another one of those players who is peaking at just the right time. It has been quite the ride for the junior this season, having 12 games scoring in single digits. But he has it going as late, averaging 21.4 points and 5.4 assists in his last five.
12. Carrington Love, Green Bay Phoenix, Senior guard
PPG: 17.7 RPG: 2.8 APG: 3.5
Love is another one of those players who does a little bit of everything. Green Bay will need all of that and more from their senior as they look to give Texas A&M a scare in the first round. Another stat that jumps out about Love is his 2.6 steals per game.