Fresh faces of the 2013 NCAA Tournament: Ben McLemore, Shane Larkin, Gary Harris
This post is sponsored by Dove, which asked us to come up with some of the fresh faces to watch for in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Dove is encouraging you to end the face torture by taking better care of your face. Our list of fresh faces to watch includes four freshman and one sophomore. All five players are appearing in the tournament for the first time.
Below are some fresh faces you should keep your eye on during the 2013 NCAA Tournament:
Ben McLemore, Kansas – McLemore is a 6-foot-5 freshman from St. Louis and one of the top shooting guards in the country. He averages 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. McLemore’s shooting percentages are among the strongest you will find from a guard: he’s shooting 50.7 percent from the field, 43.7 percent on threes, and 86.7 percent from the free throw line. Though he was somewhat quiet in Kansas’ last two games of the Big 12 tournament, McLemore has the ability to carry his team like few other players. He went off for a season-high 36 points against West Virginia in March, and 30 against Kansas State the month before. He’ll be a huge factor during the tournament.
Shane Larkin, Miami – Larkin is a sophomore and will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The son of Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, Shane averages 14.6 points, 2.09 steals, 4.4 assists, and nearly two threes per game. Larkin led the Hurricanes to their first No. 1 ranking in school history, and he has been particularly hot lately. He averaged nearly 24 points per game during the ACC tournament and had exceptional shooting numbers. Larkin won’t let Miami make an early exit from the big dance.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State – A five-star recruit from Flower Mound, Texas, Smart has lived up to the high expectations for the Cowboys. Smart averages 15.4 points and an incredible 2.9 steals per game. His skills were best on display during a February win over Kansas when he had 25 points, nine rebounds, and five steals, including a steal that lead to a dunk over Jeff Withey:
Oklahoma State will have a tough test in its first-round game against Pac-12 tournament champion Oregon Thursday.
Anthony Bennett, UNLV – This 6-foot-7 power forward was one of the top recruits in the country, and he stayed home going to UNLV. Bennett has led the Rebels to a 25-9 season and is the top player in a deep rotation. He leads the team with 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He and Khem Birch have combined to give UNLV nearly four blocks per game on the interior. UNLV will be looking to defeat Cal for the second time this season when the teams meet on Thursday.
Gary Harris, Michigan State – Harris was bothered by shoulder problems early in the season, but the shooting guard still managed to be named Big Ten freshman of the year. Harris averaged 12.9 points per game while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 41.3 percent on threes. A streaky shooter, Harris has been cold lately only making 30 percent of his threes in his last seven games. No surprise, the Spartans went 3-4 in that span. He’ll need to get his stroke back for Michigan State to do damage in the tourney. Michigan State faces Valpo on Thursday, and the winner of Saint Mary’s-Memphis in the second round.