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Top 30 under-the-radar players: Moore, Needham ready to shine

by | College Basketball Recruiting Blogger
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With more help in the backcourt, Derek Needham won't have as much pressure on him this year. (US Presswire)  
With more help in the backcourt, Derek Needham won't have as much pressure on him this year. (US Presswire)  

The majority of our college basketball preview has revolved around the big-name players and high-profile teams. All-Americans, top 100 players, top 30 position rankings, all-conference teams, preseason Top 25 -- each of those is primarily composed of BCS-conference teams and players.

That's not our fault; it's what people care about, it's who people will see the most this season.

More accolades

However, the best stories come NCAA tournament time are the mid-major and small-conference players who carry their team to an upset victory (or two) and go down in Big Dance lore as Cinderella heroes. Everyone still remembers Weber State's Harold Arceneaux and his performance in the 1999 NCAA tournament, despite the fact he never played in the NBA and didn't even return to the tournament in 2000. Davidson's Stephen Curry leapt into the nation's forefront with 30 points in the NCAA tournament as a freshman, and followed that up with a historic run as a sophomore.

It's our job to pinpoint who these under-the-radar players are and figure out which ones you need to follow this season.

For the following, players in the six BCS-affiliated conferences could not be included. Also, players ranked on our top 100 list are ineligible for inclusion. After all, if a player is getting recognition as one of the best players in the country, he's not very under-the-radar, is he?

Top 15 under-the-radar players
1. Ramone Moore, G, Temple
If Temple is to keep pace with Xavier in the Atlantic 10, Moore will be a key factor. He had stretches of brilliance last season, including a 30-point effort against Georgetown early. The fifth-year senior can fill it up in a variety of ways, and has become a better playmaker and rebounder over the past year.

2. Derek Needham, G, Fairfield
With the arrival of transfers Rakim Sanders (Boston College) and Desmond Wade (Houston), Needham won't have as much pressure on him in the backcourt this year -- and that's a good thing. His numbers dipped a little last season, but his penetration and playmaking ability will terrorize the MAAC throughout the upcoming campaign.

3. Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas
The former Missouri signee sat out last season after being ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Expect him to dominate the Sun Belt from the opening game. He is a versatile prospect who can play multiple positions; essentially, he's an athletic matchup nightmare for anyone. He was rated a five-star prospect in high school, and finally has a chance to live up to his reputation.

4. Kent Bazemore, G, Old Dominion
Quite possibly the best player in the CAA, Bazemore is a lockdown defender who will take on more of an offensive role this season for the Monarchs. He has the ability to play the point guard position, but his athleticism and defensive ability enables him to line up in the frontcourt as well. Expect a big year.

5. Alex Young, F, IUPUI
The most prolific active scorer in the NCAA ranks right now. Young is a two-time All-Summit player and the preseason Player of the Year in the conference this season. Can play against anyone, as evidenced by his 19 points and eight rebounds vs. San Diego State, and his 20-point performance in a loss to Ohio State.

6. Scott Machado, G, Iona
His playmaking role might deteriorate slightly with the addition of Momo Jones, but Machado's passing ability makes him a factor regardless. He was just shy of leading the nation in assists last season, but his experience with the U21 Brazilian National Team this summer could boost those numbers even further in the upcoming campaign.

7. C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
One of two returning players to lead his conference in both scoring and rebounding, McCollum is an all-around productive player despite standing just 6-foot-3. He averaged 21.8 points and 7.8 rebounds last season, including a 42-point output against Kent State and a stretch of 11 games where he didn't score fewer than 20 points in a game.

8. Nate Wolters, G, South Dakota State
He's my colleague Matt Norlander's favorite player in the history of basketball, so we had to include him. Wolters' game speaks for itself, though. He is one of the most productive guards in the country, putting up great scoring and assist numbers. Moreover, he takes care of the ball and is highly-efficient with the ball in his hands.

9. Bradford Burgess, F, VCU
Burgess burst onto the national scene during VCU's run to the Final Four last season, but he will fade back somewhat this year without a dynamite supporting cast. With that said, Burgess is one of the most difficult matchups in the country, with the ability to score inside and outside. Scoring a combined 49 points against Purdue and Florida State.

10. Deonte Burton, G, Nevada
The preseason Player of the Year in the WAC, Burton should have a breakout campaign now that he has a season under his belt. The sophomore is a tough player to guard given his penetration ability and his knack for creating contact in the lane. Moreover, his shooting got better as the season progressed, making him even more of a threat.

11. Dominique Morrison, F, Oral Roberts
Another big-time performer in the Summit, Morrison should be poised to get the credit he deserves this season. He can score the ball at will, and is a threat from both inside and outside the arc. He had six games of at least 25 points a year ago, including averages of 26.0 points and 6.3 rebounds against league champion Oakland.

12. Cameron Moore, C, UAB
Moore made an intelligent decision by withdrawing his name from the NBA draft pool after originally declaring that he would forgo his final season. If he becomes more consistent this year, he has a chance to dominate. Moore racked up 13 double-doubles a season ago, but also struggled down the stretch. Expect big numbers on a regular basis.

13. Marcus Jordan, G, UCF
It's hard to be under-the-radar when you're the son of the greatest basketball player of all time, but Jordan doesn't get a ton of credit for his talents on the court. He stepped up his game late in the season, increasing his minutes and also his numbers. With more help on the way, Jordan will get a chance to play his natural position this year.

14. Ken Horton, F, Central Connecticut State
Horton put up ridiculous numbers last season, ranking 1st in the league in scoring, third in rebounds and eighth in blocks, en route to Northeast Player of the Year honors. He totaled 12 double-doubles, including games of 27 points and 16 rebounds; 35 and nine; 28 and 14; and 31 and 10. Simply put, he's extremely productive at both ends.

15. Mike Muscala, F, Bucknell
Despite putting up numbers that weren't as gaudy as those of C.J. McCollum, Muscala still won Patriot Player of the Year honors. He continues to develop his offensive game, going from primarily a face-up big to one who did most of his damage in the low-post. Ready to take the next step again, Muscala will be even better this season.

The next 15
16. Antoine Young, G, Creighton 21. Kendall Williams, G, New Mexico 26. Ronald Nored, G, Butler
17. Justin Greene, F, Kent State 22. Chace Stanback, F, UNLV 27. Dario Hunt, C, Nevada
18. Javon McCrea, F, Buffalo 23. Eli Holman, C, Detroit 28. Greg Mangano, C, Yale
19. Rob Jones, F, Saint Mary's 24. Ryan Pearson, F, George Mason 29. Kyle O'Quinn, F, Norfolk State
20. Mark Lyons, G, Xavier 25. Kevin Murphy, F, Tennessee Tech 30. Julian Mavunga, C, Miami (Ohio)

2011-12 Season Preview
DateFeatureDateFeature
Oct. 13Preseason Top 25 (and one) Nov. 1Top freshmen
 Projected NCAA tournament field Nov. 2Top transfers
 Goodman and Parrish bracket picks Nov. 3Under the radar players
Oct. 14Team profiles: 'Cuse | UConn | UK | UNC Nov. 4Breakout players
Oct. 17Preseason All-Americans Nov. 5Best shooters
Oct. 18Top 100 players Nov. 6Best defensive players
Oct. 19Positional rankings: Point guards Nov. 768 things ...
Oct. 20Positional rankings: Wing men Nov. 8Ranking the preseason tourneys
Oct. 21Positional rankings: Big men Nov. 950 can't miss games
   Nov. 10Coaches on the Hot Seat

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