Commentary

Unsung players who make an impact

Updated: March 20, 2009, 4:22 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

We often see stars shine in the NCAA tournament, guys you don't expect to post big numbers.

Here are five guys that are unsung heroes, players to keep an eye on in the rest of the big dance as they help their teams march on.

Let's start with Jeff Adrien of Connecticut. Fans hear more about Hasheem Thabeet and A.J. Price, but Adrien does the dirty work on the glass. He had 16 boards in the opening-round win over Chattanooga. He's a baseline beauty who can score inside too.

Josh Heytvelt has been a big factor for Mark Few's Zags, winners of 19 of their last 20 outings. Heytvelt is not afraid to step outside and hit a jumper, or go to the basket.

Lazar Hayward put up big numbers as Marquette came through its battle against Utah State. Hayward is often overshadowed by Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James before an injury ended James' season. Hayward scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Utah State.

Dwayne Anderson had injury problems earlier this season and is playing well now. He picked a good time to post a season high with 25 big points in a win over American.

James Anderson, a second-team All-Big 12 selection, was held to 10 points by Tennessee in an opening-round win. Anderson is a PTPer who can flat out play. He doesn't get enough exposure for Travis Ford, whose stock is going up and up.

There you have it, five guys who survived and advanced through the first round. Each of them deserves more publicity, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.