I wish I had nothing to do this week. Why? Because if you like local basketball, you could spend three straight days watching several of the players below on the cheap.
Iona (Tuesday) and Vermont (Wednesday) both will start the tournament in the play-in games in Dayton. Then you have Kansas State, Syracuse, West Virginia and Loyola all scheduled to play in Pittsburgh on Thursday. That’s three days of basketball, eight NCAA tournament games and eight LoHud-area players dancing. Not bad.
Anyway, here’s a look at all of the local players who will participate in the NCAA tournament:
West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and Jabarie Hinds (Mount Vernon): The Mountaineers (19-13) were a young team that finished 9-9 in the Big East and lost to UConn last week in the conference tournament. They received an at-large bid into the field on the strength of one of the best non-conference schedules in the country.
West Virginia earned the No. 10 seed in the East and will play No. 7 Gonzaga Thursday night at 7:20, but will be in nearby Pittsburgh.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward, established himself as a future NBA draft pick as a senior. He was first-team all-conference and a Wooden Award finalist. He became just the third player in Big East history to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding in the same season and he joined NBA legend Jerry West as the only players in school history with more than 1,700 points and 1,000 rebounds. He averaged 20.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg and shot 51.3 percent from the field and 78.1 from the line, leading the team in all categories.
Hinds, a 5-foot-11 freshman, started all 32 games at point guard. He averaged 7.6 ppg and led the team with 3.3 apg and 1.4 spg.
Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick (White Plains): The Bearcats (24-10) upset Syracuse to reach the Big East tournament final where they lost to Louisville. They earned an at-large bid.
Cincy is the No. 6 seed in the East region and will play No. 11 Texas on Friday at 12:15 p.m. in Nashville.
Kilpatrick, a 6-foot-4 sophomore shooting guard, followed the long road to the Bearcats, playing a year at Notre Dame Prep and redshirting another season. But he has developed into one of the top shooters in the Big East. He went 6 for 9 from 3 in the upset of Syracuse and ranked fifth in the conference with 2.3 3-pointers per game. Kilpatrick led the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg and averaged 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.3 spg. He shot 36.8 percent from 3-point land.
Kansas State’s Jordan Henriquez (Port Chester): The Wildcats (21-10) earned an at-large bid after finishing fifth in the Big 12. That included two wins of Missouri, the conference tournament champ, and a regular-season split with Baylor.
K-State earned a No. 8 seed in the East and will play No. 9 Southern Miss Thursday at 12:40 p.m. in Pittsburgh.
Henriquez, a 6-foot-11 junior, played at The Wichendon School after leaving Port Chester, and has developed into one of the leading shot blockers in the nation. He averages a team-best 2.4 bpg (No. 2 in the Big 12) to go with 7.2 ppg and 5.3 rpg, mostly off the bench, in just 19.5 mpg.
Vermont’s Brian Voelkel and Sandro Carissimo (Iona Prep): The Catamounts (23-11)made the Dance by winning at top-seeded Stony Brook in Saturday’s America East Conference championship game. The versatile Voelkel, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, was named the tournament MVP despite attempting just one shot in the final. He had 15 rebounds and seven assists in the game.
Vermont plays Lamar Wednesday night at 6:30 in Dayton in one of the play-in games. The winner will earn the No. 16 seed in the Midwest region and will play No. 1 North Carolina at 4:10 p.m. Friday in Greensboro.
Voelkel, the conference’s rookie of the year as a freshman and a third-team all-star this season, averaged just 4.8 ppg but a team-best 8.6 rpg, 5.2 apg and 1.7 spg. He and Carissimo, the team’s point guard, started all 34 games. Carissimo, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, averaged 6.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.5 apg and 1.2 spg. He shot 34.1 percent from 3-point land.
Iona’s Ra’Shad James (White Plains): The Gaels (25-7) were somewhat of a surprise to make the tournament after losing in the MAAC semifinals to Fairfield, a team Iona beat twice during the regular season that played without its second-best player. But the non-conference strength of schedule inflated its RPI of the MAAC regular season champ and helped it make the tournament as the final at-large team selected.
The Gaels will play BYU in Dayton Tuesday at 9 p.m. in a play-in game. The winner will be seeded No. 14 in the West region and play No. 3 Marquette in Louisville at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
James, a dynamic 6-foot-1 reserve guard, played 7.6 minutes per game in a crowded backcourt this season, his first since transferring from St. Thomas Aquinas. He averaged 3.0 ppg and 1.5 rpg and shot 52.4 percent from the field.
Lehigh’s Conroy Baltimore (Stepinac): The Mountain Hawks (26-7) upset top-seeded Bucknell to win the Patriot League tournament championship and earn an automatic bid. They earned the No. 15 seed in the South region and will play No. 2 Duke Friday night at 7:15 p.m. in Greensboro.
Baltimore, a 6-foot-6 freshman from the Bronx, played in 29 of Lehigh’s 33 games and averaged 4.9 minutes per game. He averaged 1.4 ppg and 1.7 rebounds.
Loyola’s J’hared Hall (Blessed Sacrament): The Greyhounds (24-8) earned the No. 15 seed in the East after winning the MAAC tournament. Loyola will play No. 2 Ohio State Thursday at 9:50 p.m. in Pittsburgh.
Hall, a 6-foot-2 guard from Mount Vernon, has seen his role decrease this year after playing major minutes off the bench the last two seasons. The senior has averaged 5.0 minutes per game and logged 1.7 ppg and 0.5 rpg.
Syracuse’s Matt Lyde-Cajuste (Iona Prep): The Orange (31-2) have been one of the top-ranked teams in the country all season and grabbed the No. 1 seed in the East region. Syracuse will play No. 16 UNC-Ashville Thursday at 3:10 p.m. in Pittsburgh.
Lyde-Cajuste, a 6-foot-4 forward, is in his third season as a walk-on at Syracuse. He’s played nine games off the bench this season.
(Peekskill’s Mookie Jones played for Syracuse this season but left the team earlier this winter.)