Nation's most underrated players

Eric Atkins, Otto Porter among college basketball's most undervalued

Updated: January 7, 2013, 1:37 PM ET
By Jay Bilas and Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Eric Atkins and Otto PorterUSA TODAY SportsEric Atkins is an underrated college player, while Otto Porter should have higher NBA draft value.

During college hoops season, Jay Bilas and Chad Ford will start the week off by addressing a big question, evaluating NBA prospects on the rise and looking ahead to the next week.

The discussion: Who are the five most underrated players in college basketball?

Jay Bilas: So often, we discuss and dissect prospects based on their NBA futures. In doing so, we sometimes lose sight of the outstanding college careers unfolding before us, and forget to enjoy the ride in favor of thinking solely about the destination. Here are five underrated, underappreciated and underpublicized players who are having a heck of a ride this season in the college game.

1. Eric Atkins, G, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Atkins is one of the most efficient point guards in the nation. A junior, he plays with tremendous poise and pace, and it is very difficult to speed him up and force him into mistakes. Atkins is a good shooter, knocking down 49 percent of his field goals and 44 percent of his 3-point shots. He's also an excellent passer who ranks seventh in the nation in assists and has a 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Coach Mike Brey has referred to Atkins as among the best point guards in the country. He is right.

2. Ryan Kelly, F, Duke Blue Devils

How can a player from Duke -- who we see on television more often than Wolf Blitzer -- be underrated? Kelly's contributions to Duke's success and the way the team plays is not often discussed -- and is often misunderstood. Kelly is a true "stretch 4," which is a term that is often misused to describe a forward who can make a perimeter shot. A lot of teams have great spacing, but floor spacing is only worth something if the defense goes with each player. If you can stretch the defense, you've got something, and Kelly can stretch the defense. He is a terrific shooter, can drive and is a good ball handler and passer. Even though he is not a great run-and-jump athlete, he is a very good defender who can block a shot and defend a post or perimeter big.


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Jay Bilas

College Basketball analyst

Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider