The start­ing five

Play­ers, teams and matchups you need to have on your radar as the NCAA tour­na­ment ap­proaches

The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - Mar­shall has an in­ter­est­ing story, one very much still be­ing writ­ten. He was an in­tro­verted kid who vastly pre­ferred play­ing with com­put­ers in his mom’s base­ment to play­ing bas­ket­ball, but she en­cour­aged him to put his un­usual size to good use on the cour

Get to know th­ese guys

Fea­tured player

ZEKE MAR­SHALL, Akron Se­nior cen­ter; 7-0; 235 pounds; 12.6 ppg; 6.8 rpg; 3.5 bpg; 65.5% FG

Five quotes from Mar­shall:

On Akron’s ul­ti­mate goal: “We, as a team, want to win at the Fi­nal Four, we want to be — we don’t want to be sit­ting — we want to be the team that no­body thought would be there, and will be there, and will win. And even dur­ing the off­sea­son, that’s what we were gonna do, we were gonna be the team that con­tin­ues to push for that goal of get­ting to the Fi­nal Four, and this is a frag­ment of the spoils that we’re get­ting from it, which is this win­ning streak. . . . As a team, we be­lieve we shouldn’t even be in this con­fer­ence, so we’re gonna de­stroy this com­pe­ti­tion, then when we get to the NCAAs, we’re gonna de­stroy that com­pe­ti­tion, too.” On his con­fi­dence in the Zips (who are 0-3 all-time in the NCAA tour­na­ment): “I be­lieve that ev­ery­one on our team has that mind-set that, what do we have that the pow­er­houses don’t have? . . . The only dif­fer­ence be­tween us and them is that they have the con­fi­dence to know that, “We’ve been do­ing this, we’ve been in the NCAA Fi­nal Fours four of the last seven years, and we know how to get there, and we’re gonna do it.” That is the only thing that is sep­a­rat­ing us, be­tween the high-ma­jors and us. I hon­estly be­lieve that we have the tal­ent, we have the skill, we need the con­fi­dence. And I be­lieve, you know, a lot of the mid-ma­jors lack that. A lot of the mid-ma­jors are scared, and we’re coming in, we feel like we’re not go­ing to come out and be in­tim­i­dated by it all. We’re gonna come out there and we’re gonna spank y’all, and then we’re gonna move on.”

On whom LeBron James would root for if Akron played Mi­ami, given his pub­lic

dis­plays of fan­dom for both schools: “I think, hon­estly, he would root for Akron, be­cause that’s where he’s from. But, I mean, who knows who he would root for? I mean, I hope he would root for Akron, be­cause I be­lieve we will win and he won’t end up dis­ap­pointed when we win. ”

On whether he’d rather at­tain success in the NBA or in a dif­fer­ent field: “I’d rather do well [in the NBA], be­cause if I can do well there, by the time I’m done and re­tired, I’m set to be able to do what I dream of do­ing, be­cause I have the money to do it. . . . I want to ul­ti­mately open a gam­ing com­pany, I want to get into com­put­ers in gen­eral, I want to see if I can get into Cisco, even though that’d be hard, but I really want to see if I can get into com­put­ers as much as pos­si­ble. I want to open a game soft­ware, a com­puter game soft­ware com­pany, I really do.”

On what he does best, apart from bas­ket­ball: “I’m a gamer, I def­i­nitely play video games well, but one thing I will say is learn, I love to learn. I would learn about th­ese weird things that peo­ple would just look at me and say, ‘Why do you even know that?’ ”

Other no­table cen­ters (all statis­tics through Thurs­day)

ISA­IAH AUSTIN, Bay­lor Fresh­man; 7-1, 220; 13.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 46.8% FG

Im­pres­sive ar­ray of skills, but not yet mak­ing im­pact that many pre­dicted.

MARK DUN­CAN/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Akron cen­ter Zeke Mar­shall claims the 22-4 Zips have the tal­ent to go deep in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

TED S. WAR­REN /AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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