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The Lo-Down: Top mid-major players in men’s college basketball

In November last year (it feels weird saying that), I talked about a few unheralded stars in mid-major basketball. However, as the men’s college basketball season has progressed, more players have made their case to be known as more than just hometown heroes or potential bracket busters.

One of my favorite things about mid-major basketball compared to its high-major counterpart is the uniqueness of the stars. The top players possess more varied skill sets, body types and athletic traits than anywhere else in college basketball. The players I will be shouting out in this article get their work done in unorthodox ways and may even look unorthodox on the court, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that these guys are stars.

Robbie Avila, Indiana State

2023-24 stats (per game): 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists

Possessing a 6-foot-10 and 240-pound frame to go along with some sick goggles, Robbie Avila is one of the most unorthodox stars in the NCAA. Although on the surface, he might be considered “doughy” by some, Avila is smooth, able to handle the ball and be his team’s primary playmaker.

Indiana State, the alma mater of NBA legend Larry Bird, is 11-2 this season and tied for first in the Mountain Valley Conference; both of its losses came from matchups against successful high-major programs, Alabama and Michigan State. Avila has played no small part in his team’s success, leading the Sycamores in rebounds, assists and blocks while being second in points per game.

Ajay Mitchell, UC Santa Barbara

2023-24 stats (per game): 20.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists

Ajay Mitchell is one of the top 15 scorers in the country in points per game. While he has a less-than-modern style of getting to his offense, Mitchell is more than effective. He rarely shoots 3-pointers, a trait that very few guards possess nowadays. Instead, Mitchell gets his work done inside the arc with a versatile driving game and an efficient mid-range shot. 

That scoring ability at 6 feet, 5 inches as the Gauchos' primary offensive option hasn’t led to in-conference success early in the season, but Mitchell and his teammates arguably possess more talent than any other team in the Big West. 

Dillon Jones, Weber State

2023-24 stats (per game): 18.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists

Hailing from the alma mater of future Hall of Famer Damian Lillard, Dillon Jones is one of the most dominant forwards and players in the entire country. Jones ranks top 100 in the country in points (61st), rebounds (7th), and assists (tied-97th). Despite this, Jones is undersized for his role in terms of height at just 6 feet, 6 inches. He makes up for it in spades, though, with his athleticism, toughness and ability to handle the ball.

Jones’s dominance across the stat sheet has been a spectacle to watch, and his improvement could have him drafted in the first round of the NBA draft come July of this year. An NCAA tournament bid would also help improve Jones’s stock. As of right now, Weber State is on pace to bulldoze its way to a spot among the top 64 teams in the country, as it has a solid lead over its opponents in the Big Sky conference.

Logan Adams is a sophomore studying journalism. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Logan know by tweeting him @LoganA_NBA.

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