March Madness: Players to watch in West Region
Arkansas was announced as the eighth seed in the West region, lining up to match up with top-seeded Kansas.
Arkansas is blessed with a roster of NBA talent and top players in the country. Eric Musselman can pick from a good group of guys to lean on.
Nick Smith Jr.’s return has given the Hogs a spark. Despite the team’s inconsistent performances, Smith Jr. found a groove that landed him back in the starting spot.
Ricky Council IV is one of the best scorers in the SEC and has the mockup to be a player Musselman can lean on during the tournament. Anthony Black and Devo Davis can create opportunities for the scorers on the floor but take a game over on either end of the court.
The Hogs have the talent to make some noise, but here is a list of the other big-time players to watch for in the West division.
F Jalen Wilson - Kansas
Mar 11, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson (10) puts up a shot during the first half against the Texas Longhorns at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
He is the best player on the best team in the region, what else do you need to know?
If you do need to know more, Wilson is a potential Naismith Award winner averaging 20 points and eight rebounds this season. Wilson has scored 20+ points and 10+ rebounds in three of the last four games, so don’t miss this big-time talent.
G Terrance Shannon Jr. - Illinois
Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) passes the ball during the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament game against the Penn State Nittany Lions, Thursday, March 9, 2023, at United Center in Chicago. Penn State Nittany Lions won 79-76.
Shannon leads the Illini in scoring, averaging 17 points a game. He gives Illinois head coach Brad Underwood, a bonafide scoring option, playing alongside Michael Mayer.
G Ace Baldwin - VCU
Mar 11, 2023; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams guard Adrian Baldwin Jr. (1) celebrates after scoring in the second half against the Saint Louis Billikens at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Baldwin was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, also earning the conference’s defensive player of the year. If you love floor generals, then definitely check out Baldwin.
G Walter Clayton Jr. - Iona
Mar 11, 2023; Atlantic City, NJ, USA; Iona Gaels guard Walter Clayton Jr. (1) shoots the ball against the Marist Red Foxes during the second half at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Clayton leads Iona, averaging 17 points a game. Clayton was a highly touted two-sport athlete coming out of high school, receiving offers from the top football programs in the country. I’m sure Rick Pitino is glad he stuck with basketball.
C Drew Timme - Gonzaga
Nov 13, 2021; Spokane, Washington, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) shoots the ball against Texas Longhorns forward Timmy Allen (0) in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Timme has been one of the best players in college basketball for the last two years. The big man leads the team in scoring, averaging 20 points a game with seven rebounds a game. Although, since he was a sophomore, Timme has been a central piece in Gonzaga’s previous tournament runs, this is his final chance to add the Final Four to his resume.