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.
Today’s Man of Mystery is Wisconsin-Green Bay senior point guard Keifer Sykes. Now when you think of Green Bay you probably think of the Packers first and foremost, and probably cheese not long after that. However the Phoenix of the University of Green Bay have quietly put together a very good season that has a chance to be special, and it is all thanks to Sykes being at the helm. Keifer was a lightly recruited player out of high school with his only offer coming from Green Bay, so he arrived on campus with a big chip on his shoulder. Sykes was thrust, into the line of duty out of the gate as a freshman playing 29 minutes a game, and has played at least 34 every night since he was a sophomore.
This year is no different, and 18 games into the season he is playing 34.8 minutes a game while averaging 19.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists and leading his team to a 14-4 record. The Phoenix are receiving votes in the latest polls and are ranked fourth in the mid-major top 25. The most intriguing thing about Sykes is his ability to sky to the rim for such a diminutive guard. I mean, who doesn’t like seeing a 6-foot guard soar through the air and finish an ally-oop? Aside from his dunks he is also equally proficient on the drive and from behind the arc, making him a true do-it-all player for his team.
If Green Bay wants to make the tournament for the first time since 1996 it will all come down to how Sykes plays. As of January 15, Joe Lunardi has the Phoenix as a 12-seed in the South Region playing Wichita State. Since 2010, there have been 10 different 12-seeds to earn wins in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Could Keifer Sykes and Green Bay join that long list of first round upsets? Only time will tell.