UNLV, SDSU poised to shake things up with mid-majors on the rise
The point guard battle between Isaiah Canaan and Kerron Johnson is a must-see
Look for St. Joeseph's C.J. Aiken or VCU's Troy Daniels to breakout this season
Look for UNLV, San Diego State and VCU to dominate among non-BCS teams
Several of the so-called major conferences should feature compelling action this season, but with an incredible depth of talent outside those leagues, the 2012-13 season could shape up as one for the littler guys. Here's a quick run-through of some (clearly not all) of the players and teams that will bear watching this season. You'll definitely want to remember this list come March.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
What more can you say? A player from Murray State is a preseason All-American. A terrific talent who could put up huge numbers this season for a Racers squad that lost a good chunk of last season's rotation.
Rotnei Clarke, Butler
He was a deadeye sniper from the arc for three seasons at Arkansas and now, in his only year at Butler, Clarke will hope to provide the point guard play and marksmanship to propel the Bulldogs back into the national picture.
Jake Cohen, Davidson
He combines with De'Mon Brooks to give Davidson a 1-2 frontcourt punch that's way too much for the Southern Conference and has proven to be a handful for just about any team on Davidson's schedule. Bonus stat: The 6-foot-10 Cohen shot 87.6 percent from the line last season. That's insane.
D.J. Cooper, Ohio
It feels like he's been around forever because he splashed onto the national scene during Ohio's resounding upset of Georgetown in the 2010 NCAA tournament. Now the diminutive Cooper is a senior on what should be a very dangerous Ohio team (assuming it can survive the MAC gauntlet).
Brandon Davies, BYU
Best known for the "Having Sex Scandal" that helped weaken BYU down the stretch of the Jimmer Season, Davies is an excellent player in his own right who should have an outstanding final season. He averaged 15.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg last season and BYU should be better this year.
Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's
Another West Coast Conference senior standout, he's the point guard engine that makes the Gaels' traditionally excellent offense run. Very good from the arc, great from the line, excellent at getting teammates involved. Just a terrific player.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Completely blew up last season, pouring in 17.7 ppg and grabbing 7.9 rpg at 6-5. He'll have to deal with high expectations this season, but he's also rolling with a deeper, more balanced Aztecs roster.
Langston Galloway, Saint Joseph's
A straight-up sniper who knocked down 46.6 percent of his threes last season while taking almost 200 of them. He's far from one-dimensional, though. He's averaged around five rebounds a game for two years.
Kerron Johnson, Belmont
The point guard battle(s) between Johnson and Canaan in the OVC will be worth the price of admission. A very effective scorer and distributor who doesn't much rely on the three, he shot almost 52 percent from the field last season and also has notched 118 steals in the past two seasons.
DeAndre Kane, Marshall
After a moderately disappointing non-leap as a sophomore, expect bigger things from this talented guard, especially if he's smoothed out his jump shot and his temper. He'll be wearing No. 50 this season to honor his father, who died earlier this year of an aneurysm at that age.
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
The nation watched him tear Duke apart in the NCAAs, but he's been doing that to teams from all leagues for three seasons. Lehigh was a narrow pick to hold off Mike Muscala and Bucknell in the Patriot League. He has a big chance to make a statement on the first night of the season when Lehigh is at Baylor.
Doug McDermott, Creighton
An incredibly efficient, high-volume scorer and the main reason the Bluejays are considered a solid threat to make the second weekend of the NCAAs. They're going to have to take care of business in the Valley in order to get a seed more suitable for that ambition.
Preston Medlin, Utah State
Learn the name because he has the game and the Aggies may splash back onto the national scene come March as their young roster has started to mature. The Aggies usually run very efficient offense, but it helps when you have a guy who shoots 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from the arc.
Kwamain Mitchell, Saint Louis
He's the senior floor general who will be responsible for helping the Billikens live up to substantial billing, even without Rick Majerus on the sidelines this season. A solid all-around guard who has seen it all.
Tony Mitchell, North Texas
An almost certain first-round pick if he leaves for the NBA after this season, the 6-8 Mitchell should have the Mean Green positioned to challenge for the Sun Belt title. The former highly-touted Missouri recruit averaged a double-double last season as a freshman despite taking only nine shots a game.
Mike Moser, UNLV
Came out like gangbusters last season after a transfer from UCLA, but faded a bit (like the rest of the Rebels) down the stretch. His length, ballhandling and inside-outside game make him a matchup nightmare at the 4. He'll even play some 3 this season when the Rebels go big. That's just unfair.
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
The latest in a long line of excellent shooting Zags guards, Pangos had a terrific freshman campaign and looks poised to be a major player on what could be the best Zags team in a while.
Colt Ryan, Evansville
It's now or never for the Purple Aces with Ryan and his cohorts entering their senior year. Ryan poured in over 20 ppg last season while also chipping in 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.9 steals a contest. His productivity should translate into more Valley wins this season.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
The hero of quant-based CBB analysts for years, Wolters leads the heavily-favored Jackrabbits in the revamped Summit League. He was a member of the 20-5-5 club last season despite shooting surprisingly poorly from behind the arc, so there's upside left for his final season. 'Bama beware on opening night.
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