Busting Brackets

2024 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the top 20 Players from the West Region

Feb 26, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5)
Feb 26, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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12. Oumar Ballo (Arizona)

Originally a Top 100 prospect from Mali who went to school in Spain, Ballo committed to Gonzaga in 2019 because of assistant coach Tommy Lloyd and would follow him to Arizona two years later after playing sparingly for the Bulldogs. Ballo had a small impact in his first season with the Wildcats but has developed into a fantastic center these last few seasons and is a massive part of this program’s success.

Ballo averages 13.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Not only is he one of the top rebounders in the nation but he leads the Pac-12 in field goal percentage at nearly 65%, playing an important role on both sides of the ball. Ballo ranks highly in many efficiency metrics and has been a double-double machine. He accumulated a career-high 21 rebounds against Florida Atlantic earlier in the season and plays an important role down low for the Wildcats, now shooting over 80% in Arizona’s last nine games combined.

11. JaKobe Walter (Baylor)

Considered among the top recruits from the Class of 2023, Walter is a 5-star guard from McKinney, Texas who opted to stay in his home state and play for Scott Drew at Baylor. Big things were certainly expected out of Walter and he’s had quite the season, claiming Big 12 Rookie of the Year honors and boosting a new-look Bears backcourt.

In this first collegiate season Walter is averaging 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, shooting 34% from outside the arc while being a major contributor all over the court for the Bears. He’s among the best offensive players in a strong Big 12 and has done fantastic work as a true freshman, including a 28-point effort in a win over Auburn in his first collegiate game. He’s contributed to a host of success for Baylor this season and looks to keep that up for the 3-seed Bears.