Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Under the Radar Big Sky Players

Sometimes I find myself talking about a lot of the same players on this blog. So, I wanted to take a post to talk about some of the more "under the radar" guys on a few clubs, and take a look at their games. No real rhyme or reason, just some guys that don't get a lot of mentions, but could be interesting to take a look at.

- Tim Huskisson (Northern Colorado) - After starting the first two years of his career, he is unexpectedly UNC's sixth man so far this year, but has responded by playing his best per-minute basketball so far. Huskisson has always been a big talent, with some of the best athleticism in the Big Sky, along with a good outside stroke. He has always been efficient inside the arc, but this year he is 25/37, shooting 68% on twos. One aspect to his game that he has added is the ability to get steals, as he has a 4.5 Steal percentage, third in the Big Sky. He also has the best assist rate, and lowest turnover rate of his career. He is really developing in an all-around solid player, and that is a big reason why UNC has to be considered contenders this year. The key for him, as always, is consistency, but when he is playing well, he can be one of the best players in the Big Sky.

- Casey Oliverson (Southern Utah) - Oliverson is a sophomore in his first year with the Thunderbirds, and should have a nice career as a rotation guy for them. So far, his best skill is his offensive rebounding, with a 9.9% OR%, ninth in the conference. He has also flashed a little bit of skill as a shot-blocker, as he had three blocks against UC Riverside. He hasn't been a huge offensive threat so far (though he had a career-high ten points against Northridge), but he could be a nice fit for them as a rebounder.

- Brandon Gfeller (Montana) - He was too good for Montana to redshirt this year, and he is proving himself to be a reliable weapon off the bench. At this point in his career, he is just a shooter - but that is valuable for them right now. Gfeller is 11/24 from three-point range so far this year. He has only taken three twos (made all three), and he doesn't get many assists or add much defensively, but his range will be a nice asset for them this season.

- Max Jacobsen (Northern Arizona) - Don't look now, but Jacobsen has been the best post scorer in the Big Sky. He was one of the most improved players in the conference last season, and is showing that that improvement was no fluke. He has shot an astounding 63% on two-pointers (and it's not a sample size fluke - he is averaging almost 10 attempts per game), up from an already excellent 59% last year. He is not a great rebounder or defender, but if you get him the ball, he'll get you buckets. In a league without a lot of post scorers, that is huge.

- Andre Hatchett (Idaho State) - Hatchett is a guy that simply slots in for the Bengals wherever he is needed. In past years, he played a lot at the four spot. This year, he has been able to play a little more naturally at the three thanks to the addition of Jeffrey Solarin. While he has struggled this year offensively (only shooting about 40%), he has been a great defensive rebounder, which has been key for a team that struggled in that area last year. Still, like Gaellen Bewernick from NAU two years ago, I have a soft spot for undersized who do whatever the team needs. Hatchett is that guy.

- Cody Demps (Sacramento State) - Demps is an interesting player. He is 6'4'', but starts at the three spot for the Hornets, and does a lot of the little things for them. He rebounds 17.2% of available defensive rebounds, which is 11th in the Big Sky, and best on the team among guys that play at least 40% of the team's minutes. He is a solid passer and defender. However, there are still a lot of holes in his game. He turns the ball over way too much, with a 29.4 TO Rate. He is also still finding his way offensively. He is 14/28 on two-point attempts, but 4/15 from downtown, meaning he takes over two threes a game. For someone that is 9/35 in his career, that is way too many threes to take. He is a talented guy that can do some things, but until he finds a way to take better shots and take better care of the basketball, he is really holding the Hornets offense down.

- Terrell Brown (Montana State) - Brown has quietly been one of the better newcomers in the conference this year. While he is not shooting the three ball well so far this year, he has otherwise been efficient offensively. He has made 24/27 FTs, and 50% on two-point attempts. He doesn't turn the ball over. While he could be a better rebounder, if his outside shooting improves (and I think it will), he is an excellent complementary offensive weapon for the Bobcats.

Anyone else deserve a mention that doesn't get talked about much?

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