These five have helped shake up the bracket

Originally Published: March 22, 2006
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

These five players aren't All-Americans. None is even the best player on his team. They have emerged, though, as critical components of clubs that have given us a Madness Makeover. Watch for these five in the regionals:

Patrick O'Bryant, Bradley
The NCAA Tournament creates stars every March, and there is always at least one player who makes himself millions of dollars in the process. Well, the makeover being done by Patrick O'Bryant is nearly complete.

Patrick O'Bryant
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesHas Patrick O'Bryant played his way into first-round consideration?

"We turned him into a lottery pick,'' Pitt's Jamie Dixon said after O'Bryant scored 28 points and grabbed seven boards in Bradley's second-round upset of Pitt.

In one weekend, O'Bryant, a 7-foot, 260-pound sophomore center, might have played himself into declaring for the NBA draft. Bradley coach Jim Les will have to recruit O'Bryant as hard as any potential incoming player this spring.

O'Bryant, who was suspended for the first eight games this season, continued to improve throughout the season, averaging 13 points and eight boards. Against Pitt, he showed his improved ability to get fouled -- and he knocked down the free throws. A 61 percent free-throw shooter, O'Bryant made 8 of 9 free throws against Pitt.

"His length is really impressive,'' Dixon said. "He was dunking everything. He has good hands and runs well.''

If O'Bryant keeps this up, he might play his way onto the sport's biggest stage at the Final Four and then onto the podium in New York at the NBA draft in June.

Sean Williams, Boston College
When NC State blitzed BC back in January, Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan wrote about the Eagles' fraudulent top-15 ranking, centered largely on the Eagles' invisible man. The Eagles were a trendy pick in the preseason to finish second in the ACC, but that's because Williams, a shot-blocking stud, was expected to be a factor throughout the season.

Williams, though, was suspended for the first semester for marijuana possession last spring. He spent the fall in Houston, going to school, working out and getting focused -- and, boy, is he ever now.

Williams was one of the most dominant defenders through the first two rounds, changing and altering numerous shots. He had only one block against Pacific, but his dunk in the second overtime when -- as the trailer on a three-on-two break -- he finished with an explosive thunder slam, legs extended. The dunk symbolized the Eagles' authority. He followed that up with five blocks against Montana in the second round.

BC coach Al Skinner is still bringing him off the bench, but once he enters the game, he changes everything. If the 6-10, 230-pound Williams ever learns consistent low-post moves, he has the NBA draft's first round in his future.

Darrel Mitchell, LSU
We know Mitchell is a senior, so this is it for him. We know he's not likely heading to the NBA. But how many folks nationwide had heard of Mitchell before he stuck a game-winning 3-pointer on Texas A&M in the second round to send LSU to the Sweet 16? Probably very few outside the SEC.

While Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Tyrus Thomas -- the SEC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, respectively -- get all the publicity, Mitchell has been the glue for LSU. Mitchell would have had a season-long following had his potential game-winning shot gone down against Connecticut in Hartford back in early January. Tigers coach John Brady said Mitchell's 3-pointer against the Aggies was essentially the same shot he took against UConn. One went down, one didn't.

Mitchell was thrust into a leadership role once point guard Tack Minor couldn't play this season because of injury. Billed as a shooting guard more than a playmaker, Mitchell made the smooth transition. He still was able to average 17.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the SEC regular-season champion Tigers. Throughout the first two rounds, Mitchell has been rock-solid -- 19 points against Iona and 16 against A&M, including the most important shot of his life.

Jai Lewis, George Mason
Just get a look at Lewis this week when George Mason plays, and you judge if this guy has the skill set. He's a block of a man at 6-7 and 275 pounds, eating up space in the paint and imposing his will to score on others.

Jai Lewis # 55
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesEven Tyler Hansbrough was taken aback by Lewis' size and skill.

Lewis has been like the high school kid who looked like he was in college in the ninth or 10th grade. He's a specimen. And throughout his career at Mason, he's been a tough matchup. Now, the likes of Michigan State's Paul Davis and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough are learning how difficult it is to hang with him.

He's not a dominant scorer, but he's consistent, scoring 13 points and grabbing eight boards against MSU, and then nine and eight against the Tar Heels. His nimble feet and soft hands will get him a look from the NBA this spring.

If George Mason advances to the Elite Eight and were to face Connecticut, Lewis would have his toughest test yet, but his wide base could be just as problematic for the Huskies' imposing, but much leaner, frontcourt.

Kyle Wilson, Wichita State
If you're looking for a reason this might not be a one-year run by the Shockers, lock in on Wilson this week in Washington, D.C. The junior small forward is shining this month, providing the perfect complement to senior big man Paul Miller, the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year.

Wilson's prolific shooting from mid-range and deep as well as his ability to finish in transition make him a tough matchup on the wing. He's not the fastest afoot, but he doesn't need much to get a good look. His 17 points against Tennessee in Round 2 were critical in helping the Shockers get a lead and hold off the Vols.

Wilson has a low-key look about him but is about as driven as any player in this field. He's extremely confident, and that comes across when talking to him. Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon has trusted players such as Wilson to lead his team to the Sweet 16. Wilson has been a steady presence all season as Wichita State won the MVC regular-season title.

Miller might be the MVC cover boy, but Wilson is the kind of glue guy who holds programs such as Wichita State together -- a player who understands the system and helps communicate instructions to his teammates on the court.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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