With the 2015 NCAA Tournament set to commence , here’s a quick look at 10 Latinos expected to play a role in the success of their teams during March Madness.
Last season, Shabazz Napier singlehandedly led Connecticut to an NCAA championship. This year, Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky will play pivotal roles for their team's potential undefeated, championship season. Other Latinos who took part in last year’s tournament and are returning this season are Emmy Andujar of Manhattan, Eric Garcia of Wofford and Angel Nunez of Gonzaga. With that said, here’s a look at the Latinos in March Madness, in alphabetical order:
Emmy Andujar; Manhattan; Senior; Forward; 6-foot-6; Puerto Rican
2014-2015 stats: 16.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.1 spg, 51 fg% in 32.0 mpg
First Game: vs Hampton in the First Four
Andujar has gone from sixth man last season to the focal point of the Manhattan offense, as his statistics have dramatically improved this season (8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 spg in 2013-2014 compared to 16.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.1 spg this season). Although he’s a bit undersized for a power forward, Andujar stuffs the stat sheet as faceup four man adept at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim/free throw line. Andujar is also a solid defender (7.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals) as well as strong facilitator for a forward (3.5 assists). Manhattan’s first opponent will be Hampton in the First Four. If the Jaspers can defeat Hampton, they’ll face a tall task: undefeated Kentucky night.
Devin Booker; Kentucky; Freshman; Wing; 6-foot-6; Puerto Rican
2014-2015 stats: 10.5 ppg, 47 fg%, 42 3fg% in 21.8 mpg
First Game: vs winner of Hampton/Manhattan
Coming into the season, Booker was the least heralded newcomer of Kentucky’s highly-regarded freshmen class. But as the season progressed and forward Alex Poythress suffered a year-ending injury, Booker stepped up and provided Kentucky with their most potent threat from beyond the arc. Booker is second on the team in scoring (one of only two double-digit scorers) and leads the Wildcats with 53 3-pointers at a 42% rate. Kentucky boasts the best frontcourt in college basketball, but their X-factor is Booker with his ability to connect from three. He’ll continue to play an important role for Kentucky going forward in their quest for an undefeated season.
Gary Browne; West Virginia; Senior; Guard; 6-foot-1; Puerto Rican
2014-2015 stats: 7.0 ppg, 1.1 spg, 36 3fg% in 19.9 mpg
First Game: vs Buffalo
Browne has been a solid role player for West Virginia this season in a starter/reserve role. He’s shown the ability to score in limited time, as well as provide a solid threat from beyond the arc. But Browne has missed the last three games due to injury, yet appears to be ready to go against Buffalo.
Joey De La Rosa; St John’s; Senior; Center; 6-foot-11; Dominican
2014-2015 stats: 0.5 ppg, 0.9 rpg in 4.8 mpg
First Game: vs San Diego State
De La Rosa has been seldom used by St John’s since his transfer from Florida International. But De La Rosa appeared in both of St John’s Big East Tournament games, playing 19 minutes off the bench in two games. With standout big man Chris Obekpa suspended for the next two weeks, De La Rosa will likely hear his name called off the bench against San Diego State.
Eric Garcia; Wofford; Sophomore; Point Guard; 6-foot-1; Mexican
2014-2015 stats: 7.8 ppg, 2.6 apg, 37 3fg% in 26.9 mpg
First Game: vs Arkansas
Garcia returns to the NCAA tournament, once again as the starting point guard for Wofford. Garcia has posted similar statistics to last season, but he stepped up immensely in Wofford’s championship game against Furman. He scored 15 points and connected on 4-7 from beyond the arc, stamping Wofford’s ticket to the tournament. With Arkansas likely game-planning to limit teammate Karl Cochran (team-leading 14.6 points), Garcia should get his fair share of looks from deep.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea; Indiana; Junior; Center; 6-foot-9; Colombian
2014-2015 stats: 6.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 60 fg% in 19.4 mpg
First Game: vs Wichita State
Mosquera-Perea is Indiana’s starting center and the lone big man in the lineup when he’s on the court. That alone makes him a key player, especially against a very good Wichita State team. Mosquera-Perea leads Indiana in blocks and is third in rebounding, despite limited playing time. The key for him will be the health of his right knee, which he re-injured against Northwestern and caused him to miss the game against Maryland.
Angel Nunez; Gonzaga; Redshirt Senior; Forward; 6-foot-8; Dominican
2014-2015 stats: 3.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 59 fg% in 7.1 mpg
First Game: vs North Dakota State
Nunez is stuck in a log-jam on a talented frontcourt at Gonzaga. When he does get playing time, he’s pretty effective in limited stints off the bench. Nunez possesses a nice skillset for 6-8 forward, and may get some playing time if Gonzaga’s bigs get in foul trouble.
Anthony Perez; Ole Miss; Junior; Forward; 6-foot-8; Venezuelan
2014-2015 stats: 2.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg in 10.9 mpg
First Game: vs BYU in the First Four
Perez has seen his playing time go down considerably compared to last season. If his name does get called on off the bench, Perez is a viable threat from beyond the arc, and can really heat up in a moment’s notice.
Chris Reyes; Utah; Redshirt Sophomore; Power Forward; 6-foot-7; Mexican
2014-2015 stats: 4.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 47 fg% in 15.9 mpg
First Game: vs Stephen Austin
Reyes had started Utah’s first 30 games at power forward, but was moved to the bench during Utah’s two Pac12 Tournament games. But his playing time stayed the same, so whether he starts against Stephen Austin or not won’t matter since he’ll play the same minutes. Reyes has been a solid defender/rebounder in limited playing time and most importantly, knows his role on the team and doesn’t stray away from that.
Karl-Anthony Towns; Kentucky; Freshman; Center; 6-foot-11; Dominican
2014-2015 stats: 9.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 55 fg% in 20.7 mpg
First Game: vs winner of Hampton/Manhattan