All of the players listed below have power conference talent, but none play for power conference teams.
As the 2016-17 season slowly but surely gets closer, the excitement level keeps building. With the 2015-16 season a distant memory, the upcoming season promises to be an exciting and eventful five-month journey.
Transfers will play their first games with their new programs, talented freshmen will make their much-anticipated debuts, and stellar four-year careers will sadly come to an end for some players who have donned the same jersey throughout.
Some of the best players in the country aren’t found on the rosters of power conference programs, and simply don’t get the attention and respect they deserve. Many of them play their entire collegiate career with the same school, and are among the best players to ever play for their respective program when all is said and done.
After going through the rosters of every non-power conference school, we narrowed the list of can’t miss seniors down to 10. There could easily be 30 or 40 players on the list, but after careful deliberation, it was trimmed down to the final 10.
All of these players have power conference talent and a ton of potential that will lead them to promising careers after graduation. Check them out while you can in 2016-17 before it’s too late.
Quinton Hooker – North Dakota Fighting Hawks
From recording the first known triple-double in school history (13p, 12r, 10a against the Idaho State Bengals) to being named the College Court Report Mid-Major Player of the Year, Hooker had himself quite the year, and that barely scratches the surface on what he accomplished in 2015-16. His individual success, combined with overall team success, has a lot of eyes focused on the Fighting Hawks in the Big Sky Conference this season.
He averaged 20.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game last year, while hitting on 48.7% of his field goal attempts. Hooker is one of the best all-around guards in the NCAA, as he can do it all on both ends of the floor. Hooker appeared in 32 games last season, and scored in double-figures in all but two of them.
As his college career comes to an end following the 2016-17 season, Quinton Hooker is a player that you won’t want to miss.
Jeremy Senglin – Weber State Wildcats
When people talked about Weber State in 2015-16, the first name that came to mind on most occasions was senior forward Joel Bolomboy. The senior was a double-double machine, averaging 17.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game, but he was only half of the Wildcats’ dynamic duo. Junior guard Jeremy Senglin was a key piece of Weber State’s run to the NCAA Tournament.
Senglin, not Bolomboy, led the Wildcats in scoring a season ago, averaging 17.9 points per contest to go along with 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. With Bolomboy gone to the NBA, Senglin becomes the focal point of the Wildcats’ offense, as the spotlight will be on him from the outset of the year. He will see double-teams almost every night, making his life a little bit harder in his senior season.
If anyone can handle the pressure, it’s Senglin, as he has thrived in his three years in the NCAA. He has averaged at least 10.9 points per game in each of his three seasons with the Wildcats.
A battle between Hooker and Senglin in 2016-17 is a basketball fan’s dream.
QJ Peterson – VMI Keydets
From the outset of his collegiate career with the VMI Keydets, guard QJ Peterson has been one of the nation’s best scorers that people aren’t talking about. Playing for a smaller program like VMI doesn’t necessarily help garner national attention, but that shouldn’t matter. Peterson has been a star since his first game back in 2013-14, and it’s about time people take notice.
Oh, and Peterson scored 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting in his NCAA debut against The Citadel Bulldogs back on November 8th, 2013. He also started his collegiate career with 11-straight double-digit scoring games.
Peterson has averaged at least 19.0 points per game in each of his three seasons, including 19.8 points per game a year ago. He added 6.3 rebounds, and shot an impressive 90.5% from the free throw line.
If you’re a fan of offensively-gifted guards who can score in bunches and seize control of seemingly any game, look no further than QJ Peterson.
Keon Johnson – Winthrop Eagles
While Keon Johnson may not be the tallest player in the NCAA, he has some of the most talent on the market for guards. Despite standing at just 5’7”, and weighing 160 pounds, Johnson has been a star for the Winthrop Eagles from day one, and helped lead the team to the 2016 Big South regular season conference title with a 13-5 record.
Over his three-year career at Winthrop, Johnson has been a model of consistency and efficiency for the Eagles. He’s averaged at least 11.5 points per game, while shooting at least 40.2% from the field and 83.0% from the free throw line in each season. With the way his career has gone so far, expect more of the same for Johnson this season.
This may be the year that the WInthrop Eagles get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, and the play of Johnson will be a big reason for their success.
Charles Cooper – Green Bay Phoenix
In just his first season as the Division I level with the Green Bay Phoenix, forward Charles Cooper took little time to get accustomed to the highest level. He scored 19 points in his debut against the Stanford Cardinal, and while there were some games over the course of the year that weren’t as strong as others, Cooper’s transition to Division I was relatively smooth.
Down the stretch, Cooper was a big factor in the Phoenix’s run to the Horizon League tournament title and the NCAA Tournament. He scored in double-figures in 11 straight games to close out the regular season and in the Horizon League tournament. Over the four games at #MotorCityMadness, Cooper averaged 16 points per game, including a 24-point effort in their upset win over the Valparaiso Crusaders in the semi-finals.
With Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse having graduated, Cooper becomes the go-to guy on offense for the Phoenix. He’s a threat in the paint, and should thrive as the big man on campus.
Antonio Campbell – Ohio Bobcats (17)
Across the entire NCAA, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who came into their own in 2015-16 more than Ohio forward Antonio Campbell. He showed flashes in 2014-15 of what type of player he could be, but he became a dominant forward in 2015-16 as a junior.
As Ohio went on a run to the semi-finals of the 2016 College Basketball Invitational, Campbell was a big reason for the Bobcats’ push all season long. He recorded 17 double-doubles on the year, finishing the year with an average of 17.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Late in the 2015-16 season, Campbell was being projected by many as a front-runner for the MAC Player of the Year in 2016-17. He is a threat on both ends of the floor, and his size (6-8, 260) makes him a tough body to move out of the paint.
As Campbell continues his development into one of the nation’s top forwards, check him out if you’re in the Athens, Ohio area.
You won’t be disappointed.
Jeremy Morgan – Northern Iowa Panthers
In the 2016 NCAA Tournament, the Northern Iowa Panthers were one of the darlings of the opening round, as Paul Jepserson‘s half-court shot at the buzzer fell to send the Panthers to the upset win over the Texas Longhorns. While they lost a double-digit lead in the Round of 32 to the Texas A&M Aggies, the Panthers still pulled off one of the best moments of the tournament.
Jesperson, Wes Washpun, and Matt Bohannon have all graduated following the 2015-16 season, leaving guard Jeremy Morgan as the focal point of the team in 2016-17. Last season, Morgan averaged 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per contest on a strong Panthers’ team. As the main attraction this time around, expect Morgan’s production to rise.
He can shoot the ball well, evident by the fact that he hasn’t finished a season with a field goal percentage below 42.2% in his collegiate career. Morgan is a top-tier talent in the Missouri Valley Conference, and will look to keep the Panthers near the top of the conference this season.
Taylor Barnette – Belmont Bruins
Belmont’s ‘Big Three’ of Craig Bradshaw, Evan Bradds, and Taylor Barnette have been wreaking havoc on the rest of the Ohio Valley Conference for the past three seasons. They made three post-season appearances during their time together, two in the NIT and one in the NCAA Tournament.
Bradshaw graduated following the 2015-16 season, leaving Bradds and Barnette to lead the way in 2016-17. Both are seniors, but Barnette is the lesser-known member of the pair, and fans everywhere need to know his name.
In 2016-17, Barnette should get more opportunities in the back court with the departure of Bradshaw, meaning his production will see an increase from his 10.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game a year ago. He’s shown that he is an effective three point shooter in his two seasons with Belmont, making a combined 37.9% of his attempts from beyond the arc.
As Taylor Barnette ascends to stardom in the Ohio Valley Conference as a senior in 2016-17, check out the Belmont Bruins before it’s too late.
Jimmy Hall – Kent State Golden Flashes
When Jimmy Hall declared for the NBA Draft following the 2015-16 season, Kent State fans everywhere were preparing themselves for life without their star forward. Hall was a First Team All-MAC selection following another strong season with the Golden Flashes, and while many thought he’d be back for his senior year, the thought of him leaving school early was in the back of everyone’s mind.
In the end, Hall decided to return to Kent State for his senior season, and fans let out a collective sigh of relief. While Galal Cancer and Khaliq Spicer have both graduated, Hall makes Kent State a contender in the MAC in 2016-17.
Hall has had himself quite the collegiate career so far, averaging at least 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and shooting at least 48.8% from the field in each of his three seasons. With the way things have gone so far for Hall, another season of close to 16 points and 8 rebounds per game is what people think they’ll see from him in 2016-17.
He is an offensively-gifted forward who has shown flashes of being able to stretch the floor and shoot the three every once in a while.
Dequon Miller – Missouri State Bears
He may only have one season under his belt for the Missouri State Bears after transferring from Motlow College in Tennessee, but guard Dequon Miller has given Bears’ fans plenty to be excited about in 2016-17.
In his first season at the Division I level, Miller showed that he wasn’t intimidated from the outset. In just his second game, he put up 15 points on the road against a talented Butler Bulldogs team. He closed out the year by scoring in double-figures in three straight games, and six of the last seven. Miller was the team’s top scorer last season, averaging 12.7 points per game to go along with 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Alongside sophomore forward Obediah Church, Miller gives the Bears a formidable tandem on offense.
Like fellow Missouri Valley Conference guard Jeremy Morgan, Miller has the potential and talent to be among the conference’s best players in 2016-17. His production should increase, which is a big boost for a Missouri State team that said goodbye to Camyn Boone following last season.
Don’t sleep on Dequon Miller and the Missouri State Bears this season. He’s a can’t-miss talent in his final collegiate season.
Five more to keep an eye on:
DeWayne Russell – Grand Canyon Antelopes
Returns to lead Antelopes alongside fellow guard Joshua Braun; 27 wins last season a Division I high for program
Ethan Telfair – Idaho State Bengals
Second season out of Redlands CC; led Bengals in scoring (20.2 ppg) last season
Casey Jones – Chattanooga Mocs
2015-16 Preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year; Medical redshirt after suffering season-ending ankle injury
Lis Shoshi – Little Rock Trojans
One of several members from last year’s Sun Belt champions to return; underrated forward who can stretch the floor
Spencer Weisz – Princeton Tigers
Weisz-Caruso duo could lead the Tigers to the Ivy League title in 2016-17 and back to the NCAA Tournament; 10.8 ppg for Weisz in ’15-16
– T. Bennett