Everybody knows about Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminski, Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, Iowa State’s Georges Niang, and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor & Tyus Jones… but these guys don’t get nearly enough recognition for their heroic efforts on the collegiate hardwood. There are always going to be those who could find a spot to play for any program in the nation, and will do any and everything to make their teams win. Here are those ‘Unsung Heroes’ that don’t get nearly the national credit that they deserve by any means:

1. Malcolm Brogdon-Virginia 13.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.6apg, 44%FG, 85%FT

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Tate’s Take: This may or may not come as much of a surprise to many of you considering the team concept that the Cavaliers play with. The Norcross, Georgia native who wasn’t as highly recruited in his class coming from Greater Atlanta Christian Academy as those who he competes against weekly in the ACC, is not only the leader for the 22-1 Cavs but is the catalyst that any head coach would love to have on their roster. Brogdon’s stellar play is not only displayed due to the systematic style that Tony Bennett employs, but in large part due to the efforts on defense (as we all know), offensive poise and maturity. Lastly, how Malcolm controls game tempo under extreme pressure just may be his most impressive feat of them all.

2. LaDontae Henton-Providence 20.5ppg, 5.6rpg, 45%FG, 76%FT

Tate’s Take: ‘Buckets’ just may be the most underrated player in the country. Pure basketball mechanics is what ultimately puts Henton over the top and makes him such a valuable asset to the Friars and it’s program. Included in the 1,000-point, 1,000-rebound club, this isn’t LaDontae’s first rodeo of racking up numbers as he has done (and improved) in nearly every existing statistical category. Fresh out of the ‘Great lakes State’, the 6’6 Forward averaged 14.3ppg and 8.6rpg as a true Freshman, followed by a 13ppg, 8.3rpg Sophomore season where he also shot his career-best from the charity stripe at 81%. What about last season in his very first year as an upperclassmen you ask? 14ppg, 7.9rpg, victories over one of the best scorers the college basketball world has ever seen (Doug McDermott), a Big East Conference Tournament Championship, topped off with a first round win advancement in the NCAA Tournament over traditional college hoops blueblood North Carolina. Although defensively he may not blow you away, Henton is a workhorse by nature, has improved his jumpshot, is an exceptional penetrator, excessive rebounding skills (considering his size), and sneaky athleticism. Mostly, his knack for ball location, consistency, persistency, motor, and basketball mannerisms has me constantly thinking a smaller version, ‘lefty’ style of Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard when at San Diego State. 38 points resulting in a win vs. a VERY good Notre Dame team this season explains it all.

3. D’Angelo Russell-Ohio State 19.4ppg, 5.9rpg, 5.5apg, 47%FG, 78%FT

Tate’s Take: Relentlessness is the best way to describe the mentality of one ‘D-Russ’. I know the comparisons must be a bit much for most to take in but Russell has another Russell written all over him: Russell Westbrook (believe it or not). The most competitive collegiate athlete in Division-I as you read this article, the OKC Thunder clone has more similarities than just the #0. Nobody may ever know how the 6’5 180-pound ‘Pitbull in a basketball uniform’ Freshman escaped his hometown team (Louisville Cardinals), but BuckeyeNation lucked up with such a superb talent. NBA scouts are drooling over who should easily be considered every bit of an NBA lottery prospect in this June’s NBA Draft. How about this statline: Scored in double figures of every single game this season (except one, vs. Marquette), tallied a double-double 3 of the past 5 games (one of them a triple-double), and last but certainly not least for what it’s worth, has scored beyond 19 points in 12 of the 25 played games this season.

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4. Melo Trimble-Maryland 15ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.0apg, 1.4spg, 41%FG, 86%FT

Tate’s Take: Does this look familiar? Ahhh, the days of legendary coach Gary Williams sweating out his dress shirt, tenacious defense, hard work-ethic, and gritty play on both sides of the ball. Now in with the new is Mark Turgeon and as it seemed his days would be numbered in College Park, MD, things have turned around suddenly and all in the rookie season in a new conference… the Big Ten. In large part the makeover has been established beginning with yet another Freshman: Melo Trimble. Taking the conference and non-conference opponents by storm, Trimble has left his stamp on the college basketball landscape by pouring in shot after shot consistently making it look as if he’s throwing rocks in the ocean. The basket appears that big which explains his antics of not just scoring but also breaking down veteran defenders on a regular basis and giving them more than they can handle. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Arizona State’s, Iowa’s, and Michigan State’s of the world. As if that wasn’t good enough for you, try asking the best defensive backcourt in the nation: Virginia!

Think former Penn State Guard Talor Battle.

5. Rico Gathers-Baylor 11.2ppg, 12.6rpg, 44%FG

Tate’s Take: A man-child! A man playing amongst boys! A grown man! Move over Montrezl Harrell! The University of Louisville Forward receives a lot of praise in this same description category and deservingly so, but there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s also a Junior. His name is Mr. Gathers… Rico Gathers that is. The automatic double-double machine has a total of 303 rebounds on the season already where he only posted 242 and 211 respectively during his Freshman & Sophomore seasons (a 5.7 and 6.4 avg.) more than doubling his Sophomore rebounding production. Gathers has posted in double digit rebounds in all but 4 games this season. Imagine a Defensive End’s body type on the hardwood.

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When you get a moment, research Rico’s game-by-game stats including his 25-point, 28-rebound performance.