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July 12, 2009

Who is the nation's most underrated player?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college basketball coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. We have two questions this week one Saturday (about the nation's most overrated player) and one today.

Today's question: Who do you think is the most underrated player in the country?

David Fox's answer:
Travis Ford pushed all the right buttons in his first season at Oklahoma State, but few benefited more from the coaching change than James Anderson. He improved in all categories in his sophomore season, leading the Cowboys at 18.2 points per game. He's a phenomenal shooter who made 48 percent of his shots from the floor and 40 percent of his 206 3-pointers. At 6 feet 6 and 205 pounds, he has the potential to become more of a slasher as a junior. After watching his development from Year One to Year Two, I expect him to become an All-America-caliber player before his career is up.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
Why doesn't California point guard Jerome Randle get more attention? He had a great junior season in 2008-09, leading the Golden Bears who were surprisingly good in scoring (18.3 points per game) and assists (5.0 per game, with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.7-1). He also shot 50.1 percent overall, 46.3 percent from 3-point range and 86.3 percent from the free-throw line; he hit a bit more than 53 percent of his two-point shot attempts. He's also a tough kid, averaging 3.0 rebounds. Randle did a superb job in his first season under new coach Mike Montgomery, who is notoriously tough on his point guards. Randle could stand to cut down on his turnovers, and his quickness means he can improve as an on-ball defender. But he's also just 5-10, which means his height always is going to be a negative on defense. This guy deserves more attention. Maybe he'll get it next season, when Cal will be favored to win the Pac-10.

Jason King's answer:
Kentucky's shortcomings the past two seasons have kept forward Patrick Patterson from receiving the praise he deserves. He is a workhorse in the paint. His advanced footwork paves the way for a variety of moves that lead to open shots, and he has a soft shooting touch that helps him rack up points away from the basket and at the free-throw line. The most impressive thing about Patterson is his poise. Even on a team with seniors such as Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley, Patterson clearly was Kentucky's go-to guy before injuring his knee just past the midway point of his freshman season. The big shots he continued to hit and his level-headedness under pressure were rare for someone his age. Patterson also played well as a sophomore last season despite nagging injuries. Some folks were surprised when Patterson opted to stay for his junior season instead of turning pro. Patterson, though, is an excellent student who is on pace to earn his degree after just three years in college. That's quite a feat for any student but for an athlete, it's almost unheard of. Patterson's name isn't the only one that comes to mind when thinking of underrated players. A few others: Arizona's Nic Wise, Michigan's Manny Harris and Kansas State's Denis Clemente.

Steve Megargee's answer:
No conference in the nation received more attention last season than the Big East, yet one of the best players from that league somehow managed to slip under the radar. How underrated is Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell? Consider that he ranked 10th in the nation in scoring last season and still couldn't earn first- or second-team all-conference honors. Hazell's a victim of his team's lack of success. Seton Hall didn't play on national TV as often as the Big East's better teams and also failed to give Hazell the NCAA tournament showcase he deserved. He made 105 3-pointers as a sophomore to tie the school's single-season record and broke the 30-point mark six times. Hazell consistently puts up big numbers even against Seton Hall's toughest opponents. Last season, he scored 32 points against Memphis, 29 against West Virginia, 26 against Villanova, 25 against Pittsburgh and 27 against Syracuse. Yet he consistently was overshadowed by other Big East guards such as Marquette's Jerel McNeal, Connecticut's A.J. Price and Syracuse's Jonny Flynn. Now that all three of those guys have completed their college careers, perhaps Hazell finally will garner some overdue attention.



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