Busting Brackets

2024 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the Top 20 Players from the South Region

Feb 24, 2024; Waco, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars guard L.J. Cryer (4) and guard Jamal Shead (1) react
Feb 24, 2024; Waco, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars guard L.J. Cryer (4) and guard Jamal Shead (1) react / Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
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14. DJ Horne (NC State)

There are many reasons why NC State is miraculously here in the NCAA Tournament and Horne is certainly among the headliners. He spent two seasons apiece putting up numbers at Illinois State and Arizona State before opting to end his career with the Wolfpack. All things considered he’s certainly going out on a high note, not just putting up the best numbers of his career but leading NC State to that unbelievable ACC Tournament title.

Horne averaged 16.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in this his fifth collegiate season while shooting 41% from long range. Both he and the Wolfpack flew under the radar at times this season, though Horne had a great stretch back in February that included a 31-point effort against Wake Forest. Nothing compares to that five-day run in Washington DC, during which Horne battled nagging injuries, yet still dropped 29 points on North Carolina in the ACC Tournament finale.

13. Kam Jones (Marquette)

There’s no shortage of talent on this Marquette team that earned a 2-seed in the region, though Jones has certainly asserted himself as one of the most important factors. Jones really took a step forward last season as a sophomore on a Big East champion team and was even better this season as a junior. The Golden Eagles fell short in the Big East but ride into the NCAA Tournament with heightened expectations, especially seeing how Jones played when Tyler Kolek and others weren’t playing.

Jones has averaged 16.8 points per game while making 41% of his 3-pointers on the year, becoming a promising shooter and offensive weapon for the Golden Eagles. He put up decent numbers across the board and was a consistent scorer for Marquette. He’s better than 50% from long range in the last four weeks and has several 30-point outings since the beginning of February. If Kolek is limited or unavailable, then Marquette can win games by leaning heavily on Jones’ output.