NCAA Men’s Basketball: Mid-Major Stars Dominate Tournament

Kevin Fielder, Staff Writer

As the NCAA tournament comes to a close, the stars and duds of the game’s biggest stage comes to a close.

As usual, the Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish’s of college basketball shined, as expected. This year, however, stars from Mid-major conferences that are not known for turning heads in March have once again turned heads and dominated the tournament at an unusual pace.

Fletcher Magee, Wofford

Hailing from Southern’s Wofford, Fletcher Magee was one of the standouts of the first round of the tournament.

In the Terriers’ Round of 64 game against Seton Hall (another mid-major), the sharpshooting senior from Orlando finished the game with 24 points, including 21 from beyond the three-point line. The performance helped the Terriers defeat Seton Hall by a score of 84-68.

Magee, however, is not a new name to college basketball die-hards. He finished the season averaging over 20 points and last season, got a pre-draft workout with the Los Angeles Lakers before choosing to go back to Wofford for his final season. Magee is also the holder of the record for most three-pointers in a Division 1 career with 509 three-pointers over the course of four seasons.

Magee will likely attempt a career in the NBA and will likely get some consideration as a sharpshooter as the NBA continues to transition to more deep range shots than ever before.

Evan Leonard, UC Irvine

In one of the biggest Round of 64 upsets, it was guard Evan Leonard who helped lead the 13-seed UC Irvine Anteaters over 4-seed Kansas State.

Leonard led the Anteater’s in scoring with 19 points, shooting a perfect nine-for-nine from the free throw line. Leonard also added six rebounds and four assists (both team highs). Leonard also played a critical role on the defensive side of the ball, holding Kansas State’s star guard Barry Brown Jr. to just five points.

Leonard is a new name for many college basketball fans. Over the course of the season, Leonard averaged 11 points per game, which was a two point drop from his sophomore campaign, where he averaged 13 points on 44% shooting.

While Leonard will likely return to UC Irvine for his final season, expect the guard to make a push towards second round consideration in the 2020 class, especially if he can pull it all together and help lead the Anteaters to another dream season.

Jeremy Harris, Buffalo

Unlike UC Irvine, the Buffalo Bulls are a high seed (6) with expectations to advance past the first round of the tournament. Despite a tough match-up against 11-seed Arizona State, Buffalo handled the Sun Devils by 17 points to advance to the second round, where a battle against Texas Tech awaits.

Most of Buffalo’s performance came from guard Jeremy Harris. Against Arizona State, Harris finished with a team-high 21 points (8/16 shooting) and 10 rebounds, giving the senior a double-double in the tournament.

Over the course of the season, the guard has been an important piece to the Bulls, averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game. Against Texas Tech in the Round of 32, the Bulls will need Jeremy Harris, who will look to improve his draft stock as much as he can before the NBA Combine and private workouts during the off-season.