Five players that have made a name for themselves during March Madness

Most of the players on this list were stars during the regular season, but for one reason or another, they didn’t capture national attention until making serious noise in the NCAA Tournament.

1. Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s
Hands down the most quotable player in this year’s tourney, Samhan has led the Gaels on an unlikely Sweet 16 run. But St. Mary’s deserved to get there — the Gaels are better than Richmond and they proved on Saturday that they were better than a slumping Villanova team. The 6’11” Samhan was the key in both games. He posted 29-12 against Richmond and followed that up with 32-7 against Villanova. Moreover, he has been extremely efficient, hitting 75% from the field. St. Mary’s has the tools to beat Baylor, but the Bears have size and athleticism inside to give Samhan trouble.

2. Ali Farokhmanesh, Northern Iowa
Farokhmanesh is the one player on this list that didn’t average double-digits in scoring during the regular season. But he hit THE biggest shot of the tournament thus far when he drilled a three to give the Panthers a four-point lead in their upset of #1-seed Kansas. The shot was big, but his balls were even bigger. Before nailing the game-sealer, Farokhmanesh had missed seven straight shots in the second half and he launched the three early in the shot clock when UNI was nursing a one-point lead. After averaging just 5.6 points in his previous five games (on 6-29 shooting from deep, no less), the senior guard now has 33 points in two tournament games and has nailed 9-19 shots from long range. Here’s another look at his bracket-busting shot:

Even a certain despicable historical figure has felt the impact of that shot.

3. Jordan Crawford, Xavier
Before the tournament, Crawford was probably best-known as the kid who dunked on LeBron at his summer camp, but 55 points in two tournament wins and a Sweet 16 appearance should put some of that to rest. Crawford was something of a one-man show against Minnesota, as he was the only Musketeer to score in double figures (with 28 points). He has hit 56% of his shots in the tournament, including 9-18 (50%) from long range. Things are bound to get tougher against Frank Martin’s K-State team who will surely be game-planning for Crawford.

4. Quincy Pondexter, Washington
Neither Marquette nor New Mexico had an answer for the rangy and athletic Pondexter, who was the difference in both of Washington’s tournament wins. When the Huskies needed a bucket late in the Marquette game, they went to Quincy, and he delivered. He’s averaging 18-8 in the tournament and is shooting 48% from the field. It’s going to be fun to watch him match up with West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks.

5. Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young
Fredette is the only player on this list that has lost in the tourney, but his effort over the last few weeks deserves mention. Even before he dropped 37 on Florida in a double-OT win and 21 more against a very good K-State team, he posted 75 points in two games during the MWC tournament. He has a knack for slipping into the lane and drawing contact while finishing (or at least trying to finish) with an underhand scoop shot, not unlike the Suns’ Steve Nash. For a point guard, he definitely has a scorer’s mentality, and with 44% accuracy from long range, who can blame him? If the junior makes himself eligible for the NBA Draft, he may not be a first round pick, but he’s definitely played himself into the second round and should have a long career as a combo guard in a reserve role.

Photos from fOTOGLIF

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