The NCAA tournament is an excellent platform for athletes to showcase their abilities. It provides future NBA players an opportunity to strengthen their resumes and allows unheralded prospects a chance to shine on the national stage.
For Xavier Thames, the Big Dance has serviced him in both aspects.
The San Diego State senior guard has had the best performances of any player in the tourney. He has been the engine of SDSU’s drive through the tournament.
In three of his last four games, Thames scored 20 or more points. He dished out five or more assists in four of the last six games. Not only did Thames continue his torrid play from the regular season, he improved upon it.
As the star of a mid-major program it is often difficult to garner the national acclaim of a Marcus Smart or Melvin Ejim. Thames took advantage of one of his few opportunities to be on an equal platform with college basketball’s elite. As the lifeblood of his team’s offense, he has been reliable despite opposing teams’ game plan to contain him.
It is arguable that no player increased his draft stock more than Thames. It is less arguable that any player utilized the exposure of the tournament more than he. He is an instant-offense type player, but he will have to increase his strength to match the physicality of NBA guards. Thames may never be a star in the league, but he can provide a nice scoring-boost of the bench for any team.