Enrique Freeman of Akron is one of the best players in the country!
Enrique Freeman of Akron is one of the best players in the country!

5 Small School Players to Know for 2024 March Madness

This post takes a look at some of the best small school players in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Each of these guys may be from smaller schools, but they know how to play BIG!

Happy March Madness to all of the college hoops lovers out there! The First Four gave us a small taste of things to come on Tuesday evening. Though the Virginia vs. Colorado State game was a snoozefest, Howard vs. Wagner was a thriller that came down to the final possession.

In yesterday’s column, we talked about 5 small schools that could do some damage in this year’s NCAA Tournament. To follow up on that, we’re doing a deep dive into 5 of the best small-school players to look out for during 2024 March Madness.

Enrique Freeman (Akron Zips)

Freeman and the Zips are from the MAC, and neither of them gets the publicity that they deserve. Freeman, a 6’7” forward, is a big reason why Akron made the Big Dance. The Cleveland native leads the team in points (18.6), rebounds (12.9), and blocks (1.8).

Just to give you some context, Freeman leads the nation in rebounds per game and ranks a respectable 22nd in field goal percentage (59.3%). The Zips have a tough matchup on Thursday with No. 3 seeded Creighton, but Freeman has the chops to give the Bluejays a good scare!

Melvin Council, Jr. (Wagner Seahawks)

Folks who watched the Wagner vs. Howard game on Tuesday night won’t be surprised to see this name on our list. Council is a do-everything type of player who scored 21 against Howard in that First Four opener. The 6’4” guard leads the team in points (14.8), rebounds (5.7), and steals (1.4).

As a reward for their win, Wagner gets a rough matchup with North Carolina on Thursday afternoon at 2:45 Eastern. The Tar Heels are favored by 24.5 points, so this should be the end of Wagner’s run. Nevertheless, fans will enjoy watching Council in that contest.

Riley Minix (Morehead State Eagles)

Not a lot of folks have heard of Minix, but he may just be a second-round NBA Draft choice in a few months. He’s got great size for a guard at 6’7” and 230 pounds, which will make him a matchup problem for No. 3 Illinois on Thursday at 3:10 Eastern.

Minix led the Eagles to an OVC Title this season and was a key factor in them getting a No. 14 seed. The Vero Beach, Florida native leads Morehead State in points (20.8), rebounds (9.8), and steals (1.3). The Eagles are currently an 11.5-point underdog against the Ilini but Minix has enough scoring ability to keep this game close.

Jalen Blackmon (Stetson Hatters)

Here’s another guy who can score on just about anyone! You probably don’t know that Blackmon ranks 10th in the country in scoring, as he averages 21.5 points per game. The scary thing is that this kid is only a junior and his field goal percentage has steadily increased each year.

Stetson competes in the ASUN, so Blackmon doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his pinpoint shooting accuracy. The Hatters draw No. 1 seeded UConn on Friday afternoon, which is a matchup that shouldn’t be close. That being said, don’t be surprised if Blackmon struts his stuff quite well against the defending champs.

Don McHenry (Western Kentucky Hilltoppers)

Man, this WKU team is incredibly fun to watch! They love to play at a lightning-fast pace, and McHenry does a great job of running the show. At 6’2” and only 160 pounds, McHenry is a little sparkplug who isn’t shy about hoisting up three-pointers.

McHenry, a junior point guard, averages over 15 points and 3 rebounds per game. The Milwaukee native led the Hilltoppers to a Conference USA Tournament championship by putting up 25 points against UTEP on March 16. Marquette is heavily favored over WKU on Friday afternoon, but McHenry should still fill up the stat sheet.

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