Non-BCS conference players to watch following NBA exodus
Gordon Hayward, Jordan Crawford, Derrick Caracter and more are off to the NBA
Even after Gordon Hayward's exit, Butler is still loaded with potential stars
Two highly touted recruits elected to play for their dads at mid-majors in Michigan
Every year, it seems like there are some high-profile early entrants from non-BCS schools that shake up the competitive landscape, but this season's losses feel particularly heavy. When you lose talent like Nevada's Luke Babbitt, Xavier's Jordan Crawford, Ohio's Armon Bassett, UTEP's Derrick Caracter, Fresno State's Paul George and Butler's Gordon Hayward from the pool, you're going to feel an impact.
That said, there's still plenty of talent remaining in the leagues that get a bit less TV love. Butler, rightfully, will rightfully command much of the attention, but the Bulldogs are far from the only show in town. Here's a look at some of the most compelling non-BCS players in place for the 2010-11 season.
Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard and Ronald Nored, Butler: Mack's star turn will be one of the season's major stories, but he's only one piece in a still-impressive Butler foundation. Howard's numbers (11.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) dropped a bit last season as he struggled with foul trouble, but coach Brad Stevens insists that Howard's selfless and passionate play was a major factor in Butler's success. With the love that Gordon Hayward and Mack received, it's easy to forget it was Howard who was the Horizon League Player of the Year two seasons ago. It's also going to be time for Nored to increase his scoring role. The lockdown defender was an offensive opportunist this season, but his ability to get to the rim off the bounce should lead to more points as he moves up in the Bulldogs' scoring hierarchy.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU: The Cougars' leading scorer and long-range sniper took an early-entry dip and then withdrew to return to Provo for his senior season. With second- and third-leading scorers Jackson Emery and Tyler Haws also back, BYU should be strongly in the mix again for the Mountain West crown.
Elias Harris, Gonzaga: Harris, a German import, was a revelation in his freshman season, complementing Matt Bouldin with 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting over 45 percent from three-point range. This season, the uber-athletic Harris should combine with Steven Gray to form a potent 1-2 scoring punch.
Chris Wright, Dayton: "Top Flight" returns to a Flyers squad that squandered an NCAA berth with a slew of close losses but won the postseason NIT. His athleticism has always surpassed the consistency of his contributions (13.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg last season), but he's still a difference-maker in a league that doesn't have many (any?) athletes like him.
Kevin Anderson, Richmond: The sharpshooting A-10 Player of the Year returns to a loaded Spiders squad that should be well positioned to redeem itself after a disappointing first-round NCAA tournament loss to Saint Mary's. With Dan Geriot having more time to get healthy and a strong freshman class supplementing Anderson and Co., a league title is not unrealistic.
Lavoy Allen, Temple: The Owls' rugged double-double machine also flirted with the draft before returning to school, which is a boon for the three-time defending Atlantic 10 tournament champs. The rising senior was the first Owl to average a double-double for the season since 1971. Now let's see if Allen can help Temple break its NCAA tournament slump. The Owls have been lost in the first round in each of Allen's three seasons, part of coach Fran Dunphy's ongoing (and head-scratching) all-time record of 11 straight NCAA losses.
Ryan Rossiter, Siena: After three straight MAAC titles and NCAA berths, the Saints lost the core of their program with the departures of Alex Franklin, Edwin Ubiles and Ronald Moore. Now the leading role falls to Rossiter, a skinny-but-effective scorer and rebounder who quietly averaged a double-double last season (13.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg) while shooting 57 percent from the floor.
Randy Culpepper, UTEP: Culpepper averaged 17.9 points last season, and that was with Caracter getting his share of touches. Now that the big man has departed, expect the explosive 6-foot guard to up those numbers. He made nine threes in two separate games last season, exploding for 45 points against East Carolina.
Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's: Skilled big man (and legendary quote machine) Omar Samhan may be gone, but the Gaels will be in good hands with this talented backcourt. The last national memory of McConnell was his banked-in three that helped subdue Villanova in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Providence. The method was unusual, but the outcome was expected for McConnell, who shot a blistering 51 percent from the arc last year. He's complemented by the heady and confident Dellavedova, who also is a fine shooter and ball handler.
D.J. Cooper, Ohio: You may have seen the diminutive freshman spearheading the Bobcats' mauling of Georgetown in the first round of the NCAAs, but that performance wasn't an outlier. The 5-11 (yeah, right!) point guard averaged 13.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season and now will have the backcourt spotlight to himself after leading scorer Armon Bassett stayed in the NBA draft. With coach John Groce's Ohio State (and, by proxy, Butler) lineage, keep an eye on the mojo for these 'Cats.
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