The NCAA Tournament always features prominent New Jerseyans. This Big Dance is no exception. Here are 12 to watch, starting with guys who grew up in the Garden State, followed by out-of-state ones who attended Jersey schools. They are ranked in terms of impact on their respective teams.
1. Tucker Richardson, Colgate
The postgrad guard from Hunterdon Central High School, who was Patriot League Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year, averaged 13.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Colgate (26-8) earned the No. 15 seed and opens against Texas Thursday.
2. Isaiah Wong, Miami
The senior guard, who grew up in South Brunswick and attended Notre Dame High School, was named ACC Player of the Year after averaging 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists for the Hurricanes (25-7), who got no. 5 seed in the Midwest Region and opens against Drake Friday.
3. Seth Lundy, Penn State
The senior wing, who grew up in Paulsboro but attended high school in Philadelphia, is averaging 14.4 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range for 10th-seeded Nittany Lions (22-13), who open against Texas A&M Thursday.
4. Darnell Brodie, Drake
The postgrad center, Newark East Side alum and transfer from Seton Hall averaged 8.8 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 53.1 percent from the field for Drake (27-7), which earned the No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region and opens against Miami Friday.
5. Jahvon Quinerly, Alabama
The senior guard from Hackensack, a Hudson Catholic alum, is averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 assists off the bench for the top-ranked Crimson Tide (29-5), which opens Thursday against either Texas A&M-Corpus Christi or Southeast Missouri State.
6. Jamir Watkins, VCU
The sophomore forward, who played high school ball at Mater Dei Prep and Trenton Catholic, averaged 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds off the bench for the Rams (27-7), who earned the No. 12 seed in the West Region and opens against Saint. Mary’s Friday.
7. Osun Osunniyi, Iowa State
The postgrad forward from Pleasantville, who starred at Mainland High School and later at St. Bonaventure, averaged 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 58 percent from the field for the Cyclones (19-13), who are No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region and open against Mississippi State or Pittsburgh Friday.
8. Zach Martini, Princeton
The junior forward from Warren in Somerset County, who attended Gill St. Bernard’s, came off the bench as a 3-point specialist for the Tigers. He shot 36.1 percent from deep and scored 12 points on four shots against Penn in the Ivy League semis. He is recovering from a collapsed lung suffered in October.
HONORARY NEW JERSEYANS
The following impact players came from out of state but spent time at New Jersey high schools.
1. Markquis Nowell, Kansas State
The postgrad guard and Patrick School alum made first team All-Big 12 and is a candidate for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation’s top point guard. He averaged 16.8 points, 7.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds for the third-seeded Wildcats (23-9), who open against Montana State Friday.
2. Adama Sanogo, UConn
The junior center at Patrick School averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 59.4 percent from the field. He was named first-team All-Big East. The Huskies (25-8) are the No. 4 seed in the West and open against Iona Friday.
3. Ansley Almonor, Fairleigh Dickinson
The sophomore forward, who attended St. Joseph-Montvale High School, averaged 13.9 points and 4.7 rebounds and was named Northeast Conference Most Improved Player. The 16th-seeded Knights (19-15) open in the First Four against Texas Southern Wednesday.
4. Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee
The sophomore guard, who attended Immaculata Conception High School in Montclair, is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 assists for the fourth-seeded Volunteers (23-10), who open Thursday against Louisiana.
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball scene since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.