This year's NCAA men's basketball tournament features several locals who have played vital roles for their teams. Here are the area standouts to watch this week.
F Kevin Knox, Fr., Kentucky
Round 1: Thursday vs. Davidson (Boise/South Region)
The former Tampa Catholic standout is the most decorated player of the Wildcats' stellar freshmen class. The five-star recruit was named Mr. Florida last year as the top high school player in the state after averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds and leading the Crusaders to the Class 5A state title game. The accolades have continued at Kentucky. Knox was a first-team all-SEC selection and was the co-conference freshman of the year.
Kevin Knox is the eighth freshman in nine seasons under @UKCoachCalipari to win SEC Freshman of the Year. Co-SEC Freshman of the Year First Team All-SEC All-SEC Freshman Team pic.twitter.com/APYj2haSKR— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 6, 2018
He also was selected to the conference tournament team after helping the Wildcats win their fourth straight SEC tournament title. Knox is averaging a team-leading 15.9 points per game and will be counted on to provide points in the tournament.
G Barry Brown, Jr., Kansas State
Round 1: Friday vs. Creighton (Charlotte/South Region)
The former Gibbs standout has had a stellar career with the Wildcats. Earlier this season, he surpassed the 1,000-point plateau and is averaging 16.5 points per game. Brown, who was a second-team all-Big 12 selection, helped Kansas State get off to a strong start in the conference tournament, scoring the winning layup in overtime to beat TCU in the semifinals.
He left the Wildcats' semifinal game against in-state rival Kansas with an eye injury. Brown is expected to be back for the opening round of the NCAA tournament this week.
Thanks for all the support and prayers, the injury to my eye is going well and my vision has improved a lot. Can’t wait to suit back up and play for all the fans!— Barry Brown (@barrybrown05) March 10, 2018
G Anthony Lawrence Jr., Miami
Round 1: Thursday vs. Loyola-Chicago (Dallas/South Region)
The Lakewood grad followed the same path as his father, Anthony Lawrence Sr., who played for the Hurricanes and is now the coach of the Spartans. The younger Lawrence's role has increased dramatically in his three seasons at Miami. He now is an every-night starter and is averaging 8.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. In February, Lawrence posted career highs with 25 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Virginia Tech. He tweaked his ankle in a loss to North Carolina in the opening round of the ACC tournament but is expected to be back this week.
G Justin Gray, Sr., Texas Tech
Round 1: Thursday vs. Stephen F. Austin (Dallas/East Region)
The former Berkeley Prep standout overcame a knee injury his freshman season to become a solid contributor for the Red Raiders. As a sophomore, he helped the Red Raiders make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007. Last season, Gray averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds . His stats are down this season (5.1 points per game) but he has been one of the team's top defenders and played a key role in Texas Tech leading the Big 12 in team defense this season.
C George Brammeier, Sr., Lipscomb
The former Bloomingdale standout has been a solid contributor throughout his career. This season, he is averaging 2.5 points per game.