Texas Basketball: Top 10 Players in the Midwest Region

Texas basketball enters the 2024 NCAA Tournament as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region. Where do the top Longhorns stack up against the rest of the talented region?

Mar 2, 2024; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas longhorns forward Dylan Disu (1) and guard Max Abmas (3)
Mar 2, 2024; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas longhorns forward Dylan Disu (1) and guard Max Abmas (3) / Austin American Statesman-USA TODAY

The 2024 NCAA Tournament is here, and like everyone else on the internet, I wanted to get in on some of the breakdowns. No, I am not writing about my bracket predictions (head over to YouTube for those).

Here, I am breaking down the ten best players in the Midwest Region.

March is the time when the best players in the sport shine. Below, I have detailed those guys and how they fit into the mold of the Midwest Region. Some of the names even the most casual college basketball fan will recognize; Others may help guide some upset picks.

Let's get into the madness.

Honorable Mentions: Max Abmas (PG, Texas), Enrique Freeman (PF, Akron), Great Osobor (PF, Utah State), Reece Beekman (SG, Virginia), Ryan Kalkbrenner (C, Creighton), Emanuel Miller (SF, TCU), N'Faly Dante (C, Oregon), Meechie Johnson (SG, South Carolina), Graham Ike (C, Gonzaga)

Top Ten Players in the Midwest Region

10. Hunter Dickinson, C, Kansas

2023-24 stats: 31 G, 18.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.2 APG

The fourth-year Michigan transfer seamlessly fit into the Bill Self system in Lawrence. Dickinson was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and selected as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. He averaged 18/10.8 with 16 double-doubles. Although his three-point percentage took a seven-point dip from last season (42.1% -> 35%), he still is a threat to knock down the trey and helps Kansas spread out the defense.

Dickinson missed the Big 12 Tournament after suffering a shoulder injury in the Jayhawks' regular-season finale loss at Houston. However, on Sunday, Coach Self said Dickinson is "doing great" and is on track to play in their NCAA Tournament opener on Thursday.

9. Braden Smith, PG, Purdue

2023-24 stats: 33 G, 12.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 7.3 APG

Smith's jump in consistency from his freshman to sophomore season is arguably the most significant reason I trust this Boilermaker team in the tournament. Smith increased his PPG from 9.7 to 12.5, RPG from 4.2 to 5.8, and APG from 4.4 to 7.3. He knocks down the three-ball at a 44.8 percent clip on 3.2 attempts per game.

His growth as a point guard has helped Purdue earn another No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will be a reason they stick around. Smith has learned when (and how) to feed his big man while forcing defenses to stick on the bevy of Boilermaker shooters.

8. Shahada Wells, PG, McNeese State

2023-24 stats: 32 G, 17.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.8 APG

Shahada Wells is one of the most electrifying mid-major players in the country. After stints at Tyler (TX) Community College and UT Arlington, Wells spent the last two seasons at TCU before taking his grad year at McNeese State. The Southland Player of the Year led the Cowboys to their best season in program history.

Wells can score at all three levels and is incredibly quick off the bounce. If McNeese State is to make a run, the fifth-year Amarillo, TX, native will be at the center of it.

7. Dylan Disu, PF, Texas

2023-24 stats: 23 G, 15.8, 5.0 RPG, 1.6 APG

After missing the first nine games of the season recovering from an offseason foot surgery, Dylan Disu hit the ground running as one of the best players in the Big 12. Disu, an All-Conference First Team selection, led the Big 12 at 17.2 PPG and 48.6% shooting from deep.

Disu averaged 17.8 points and nine rebounds in five postseason games last season before suffering a foot injury in the Sweet 16. Texas will need Disu to play at that level (and stay healthy) if they want to make some noise in the tournament.

6. Trey Alexander, SG, Creighton

2023-24 stats: 32 G, 17.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.8 APG

Trey Alexander is sneakily one of the toughest shooting guards in the country to play against. The junior has improved his game year over year and has firmly established himself as an elite two-way player. Alexander can play with the ball in his hands or off of it. He has an uncanny ability to get to a 15-foot pull-up whenever needed.

On the defensive side of the ball, he typically matches up against the opposition's best guard. He is an active and tenacious defender who causes issues for even the best guards in the sport. Alexander averaged 13/5/2.5 in Creighton's six postseason games last season. He must play even better if the Blue Jays want to return to the Elite Eight.

5. Kevin McCullar Jr, SF, Kansas

2023-24 stats: 26 G, 18.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.1 RPG

Kevin McCullar Jr's health may be the biggest question mark of the Midwest Region. The fifth-year senior was an All-Big 12 First Team selection and is the most dynamic shotmaker on the Kansas roster. McCullar told the media this week he is good to go, but just how effective can the swing man be?

When fully healthy, McCullar is an active force on both ends of the floor. He can score at all three levels and plays well off the pick-and-roll duo of Dajuan Harris and Hunter Dickinson. If McCullar is 100%, the Jayhawks could be an under-the-radar pick to win the region.

4. Baylor Scheierman, SF, Creighton

2023-24 stats: 32 G, 18.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.0 APG

This season, Creighton's Baylor Scheierman was named to the All-Big East First Team and All-American Third Team. The do-it-all point-forward helped propel the Blue Jays to its highest NCAA Tournament seed (#3) since 2014.

Scheierman just knows how to score. He finished fourth in the Big East in PPG at 18.4 while knocking down triples at a 37.2% clip. He is a crafty veteran who knows how to draw fouls and will not wilt under the pressure of the NCAA Tournament. Look for the Aurora, Nebraska, native to have another strong tournament run.

3. Isaiah Stevens, PG, Colorado State

2023-24: 34 G, 16.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.0 APG

Isaiah Stevens is criminally underrated on the national landscape (as seen by his All-American snub). The fifth-year Colorado State point guard is the first player in Mountain West history to receive All-Conference honors in five seasons. He led the Mountain West in assists per game (7.0) and is one of the purest passers in the country.

Stevens is a three-level scorer who loves to get to his mid-range pull-up but is equally adept at knocking down the three-ball (44.7% on 4.1 3PA). He plays with the ball in his hands all game long and really dictates the success of this Rams team. Stevens and the Rams open up their tournament in the First Four on Tuesday night. For everyone's sake, I hope they advance and the nation can see the maestro play a few more collegiate games.

2. Dalton Knecht, SF, Tennessee

2023-24 stats: 32 G, 21.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG

Knecht went from a Second-Team All-Big Sky selection last season to an All-American First-Teamer in 2023-24. The Colorado native is likely to be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and has set the college game aflame with his poster dunks and lightning-quick release from beyond the arc.

At 21.1 PPG, Knecht was the fourth-highest high-major scorer this season. He had seven games where he scored over 30 points, including a 40-point outburst earlier this month against Kentucky. Knecht is a gifted three-level scorer. His defensive prowess lags, but if the Vols are to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history, it will be on the back of Knecht.

1. Zach Edey, C, Purdue

2023-24 stats: 33 G, 24.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.1 APG

Zach Edey is all but a lock to win Naismith National Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, marking the first back-to-back winner since Ralph Sampson of Virginia in the early 1980s. That said, the general public does not seem to like watching the 7-foot-4 big man play.

Edey is on pace to shoot the most free throws in a college basketball season in 70 years. Big Ten refs do not seem to know how to officiate someone who stands at least a head above most defenders. The public opinion of Edey does not change the fact he is the most dominant player in college basketball. The Toronto native is one of three high major players to average at least 24 PPG and 11 RPG in a season this century (Kevin Durant 2006/07, Michael Beasley 2007/08).

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