Busting Brackets

2024 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the Top 20 players from the East Region

Nov 15, 2022; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) and guard
Nov 15, 2022; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies center Donovan Clingan (32) and guard / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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18. Fousseyni Traore (BYU)

Traore is a talented big man originally from Mali who has carved out an important role while at BYU. He arrived on campus back in 2021 and was mostly a full-time starter in his first two seasons in the WCC. He’s dealt with nagging injuries this season, forcing him to miss several games, but is perhaps BYU’s most important weapon when he’s healthy and on the court.

Traore has started just eight games and is playing less minutes, but he’s still averaging 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds this season. His play down the stretch has been more impressive, as Traore has settled into a role off the bench and had multiple 20-point performances in conference play. We could’ve easily highlighted several weapons on this balanced BYU squad, but Traore is the big man who’ll be most important for a team that largely depends on jump shots to win ballgames.

17. Keshon Gilbert (Iowa State)

After a pair of seasons at UNLV, including a starter in the backcourt last year, Gilbert arrived at Iowa State this past offseason and has become a key cog for T. J. Otzelberger’s program. Iowa State has had a magnificent season and it’s been a team effort without major star power. All things considered Gilbert is playing some of that starring role himself.

He’s averaging 13.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, taking a major step forward as a player despite playing in a much tougher league in the Big 12. Gilbert was among the conference’s leaders in steals and assists and nobody got to the charity stripe more often than him. He actually had a triple-double against New Hampshire much earlier in the season and played well during the Big 12 Tournament, with a few 20-point performances in recent weeks.