ESPN is a vast network, but even they can’t cover every inch of the college basketball landscape. Too often, some truly outstanding players will fall below the national radar. One thing is certain though: these players are making a big impact at the Division I level, so don’t be surprised when they show up again to spoil your bracket. Periodically throughout the rest of the season we here at Otto’s Grove aim to make you the know-it-all among your group of basketball friends by introducing you to some players from around the nation that aren’t exactly on the national stage, but could make a difference in your March Madness pool.
Position: Center/Power Forward
The next Below the Radar player we will look at will be the big man from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Alan Williams. Coming out of Phoenix, Williams had a couple of choices to go to college, but opted for the warm, sunny beaches of Santa Barbara, California. This choice turned out to be quite a good one, as the big man has logged a very impressive career in which he has averaged a double-double for the last three seasons and is among the nation’s leaders in rebounding this year.
From the start of his career at UCSB Alan has been a big factor for the Gauchos, and since his sophomore year he has been the centerpiece of the team’s offense. Williams stats are even more impressive when you factor in that only 15 other players in the entire nation average a double-double.
Alan’s big-time stats aren’t the only reason that he belongs the nations elite, as he also gets it done on the defensive side of ball. He is the only player in all of college basketball to average over two blocks and two steals. This is no easy task for a man who spends the majority of his time banging against other big bodies.
Unfortunately for Williams, his Gauchos have not looked great this season, with an underwhelming 8-9 record and a mark of 1-2 in conference play. Looks can be deceiving, however, with three of those losses coming in overtime to teams that are expected to earn berths in the Big Dance. The only way UCSB will get in is via their conference’s automatic bid, which will also be no easy task in a very underrated Big West. Do not be shocked if more than one team makes it into the big dance out of the conference, with multiple teams in the RPI top-100 as well as a few more in the 100-200 range to help keep those RPIs from falling too much.
If UCSB somehow fights their way out of this competitive league you better watch out, they will not go down easy to anyone and Big Al is a big reason why. Just ask Kansas, which had to fight for a 10 point victory over the Gauchos in their season opener, with Williams finishing with a game-high 22 points along with 13 rebounds and four blocks.
Williams’ basketball career may not end with his senior season, with multiple NBA scouts attending his games around the nation including Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo (who knows a thing or two about banging with the big bodies in the post), now a scout for the Miami Heat. More than one mock draft has Williams on the back end of round two thanks in large part to his production on the glass.