For wahetever reason, I have been thinking a lot about underrated players. Perhaps it is due to being hit over the head with talk of Wiggins, Parker, Smart, Randle, etc. There are dozens of candidates, covering mid major scoring savants, second bananas on top 10 teams, and underappreciated slow paced scorers. Here are my top 5, in no particular order (disclaimers: all tempo free stats are via KenPom.com and all shot location stats are via hoop-math.com):
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
Brown came to Stillwater as an athletic freak who was due for a SportsCenter worthy dunk every other game or so (such as this one against Missouri) but he's evolved into much more than that. He's Oklahoma State's second best perimeter defender, and he's developed into an excellent and efficient shooter. He's shooting 35.6% from three this year, and he's taking almost 40% of his shots at the rim this year compared to just 25% last year).
Brown showed up big in some of the Cowboys' biggest games last year, going 7-10 from three in Allen Fieldhouse. Brown has done it all for the Cowboys: he shoots, has a good assist rate without turning it over, and pitches in on the glass. He won't make anyone's All-America team, but if he gets left off the all Big 12 teams an injustice will have been done.
Troy Huff, North Dakota
Big Sky players usually don't get a lot of love, but Huff should. Always one of the most athletic players in the league, Huff didn't put it together efficiency wise until this year. He ranks 15th nationally in scoring, and he's done so very efficiently. Huff is shooting 51.5% from two, 36.2% from three, and 74.5% from the line. Huff has always done a good job of drawing fouls, but this year he's stepped it up another notch. Huff is drawing 8.3 fouls per 40 minutes, which ranks 6th nationally. He's an opportunistic defender as well, with a top 30 steal rate, and his potential as a rebounding guard has been realized, with Huff having a 22.4% defensive rebounding rate. He doesn't get the attention deserves because of the team he plays on and the league he plays in, so hopefully this makes up for it a bit.
Lamar Patterson, Pitt
Because Pitt plays slowly, it's tough for their players to rack up the per game numbers you need to make waves nationally. But Patterson should be more appreciated. He has a 31% assist rate and 17% turnover rate, and he's one of the more efficient shooters around as well. He is shooting 43% from three, 58% from two, and 78% from the line. He's rebounded decently for a guard as well, but the main thing he brings to the team is hsi ability to help Pitt win games by shooting and by passing.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Stauskas is probably the most well-known guy on this list, but I love his game so much that I'm including him anyways. He is second on the Wolverines in assist rate while only turning it over on 11.4% of his possessions used, he draws fouls, he doesn't commit fouls, and oh yeah he's one of the best shooters in the country. Stauskas is shooting 45% from three this year after shooting 44% as a Freshman. It's even more impressive due to having to do more work by himself with the departure of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The inspiration for this list, Iowa State's DeAndre Kane, probably can't be on it due to absolutely blowing up in the last couple weeks. His replacement is Iowa's Devyn Marble. Marble has one of the better offensive ratings in the country for a high usage player (113.7), he shoots 37% from three, he passes (24% assist rate), doesn't turn it over (10.6% assist rate) and he's the best perimeter defender for the 5th ranked team in KenPom. Good enough for me.