With the college basketball season hitting its midpoint, several of the nation’s best players continue to fly under the radar. Some play at schools that just do not receive the air time of the Dukes and Kentuckys. Others are in leagues where their teams are overshadowed. Whatever the reason, some players are just underrated. Here are the top five college basketball players that do not receive enough notoriety.
Delon Wright, Utah
Utah? In the Top Ten? Yep, and the reason why is related to 6-foot-5 guard Delon Wright. After a phenomenal junior season, the senior guard is back leading the team with 15.3 points and 5.7 assists per game. The Utes are ranked No. 8 in the country, currently 14-2 overall and unbeaten (4-0) in the Pac-12. Utah’s two losses are a four-point defeat to 16th-ranked San Diego State and a three-point loss to No. 10 Kansas. In the game against Kansas, Wright scored 23 points and grabbed five rebounds. At any other school, Wright would be a household name. He was a first-team All-Pac 12 player last year, will likely be this year, and possibly even in the running for the Naismith Player of the Year.
Joe Young, Oregon
The Pac-12 has some great basketball schools. Arizona and UCLA come to mind. Oregon continues to improve its basketball program and a big part of their success this season comes down to 6-2 senior guard Joe Young. He was the second-leading scorer in the league last season and averages 20.1 points per game this season. The Ducks are now 12-5, 2-2 in Pac-12 play. Despite his height, Young averages five rebounds a game and shoots an amazing 92 percent from the free throw line. When the Ducks receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament (unless they win the Pac-12 tourney), it will be because of the play of Young.
Terran Petteway, Nebraska
There may not be a better pure scorer in the nation than the 6-6 Petteway. A year after leading the Big Ten in scoring, Petteway is averaging 19.4 points per game as well as 5.2 rebounds. He is the best player on a very mediocre Nebraska (10-7, 2-3) team in a very competitive Big Ten. After transferring to the Cornhuskers after his freshman season at Texas Tech, Petteway has become one of the premier players in the league and the nation. He will likely repeat as a first-team All-Big Ten selection and could be the league’s player of the year. If Nebraska makes the NCAA tournament, it will be solely the play of Petteway that gets them there.
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay
You have most likely never heard of last year’s Horizon League Player of the Year. That is, unless you remember Green Bay’s upset of Virginia in last year’s NCAA tournament. Sykes may be small (5-11), but he can do it all. He leads the team in scoring with 19.2 points per game and assists averaging 3.8 per contest. Sykes was the key to Green Bay’s 24-5 season a year ago. In that game against Virginia, he scored 21 points and had 10 assists. Green Bay is 14-4 and 3-1 in the Horizon League and should they make it to the NCAA tourney again, it will likely be on the heels of Sykes.
R.J. Hunter, Georgia State
Hunter was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year…as a sophomore. The 6-5 guard scored 18.3 points a game last year and is one of the nation’s most dangerous three-point shooters. This season, Hunter has stepped up his game and is averaging 20.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. He shoots 81 percent from the free throw line. Georgia State, which is coached by Hunter’s father, is currently tied for second place in the Sun Belt at 4-2, 11-6 overall. Many college basketball experts name Hunter the best pure shooter in the nation.