March Madness 2024: Melvin Council Jr., other Rochester area players to watch

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – March Madness is a glorious time. It’s my favorite time of the year. I might get emotional writing this, but that’s okay, because this tournament is all about emotions.

The highs of advancing, the agony of defeat, the shock when a Cinderella beats your favorite team (or when an unworthy Virginia team steals Seton Hall’s bid). I’m still salty, you guys.

The 5-8-5 might not have a specific team to root for, and with Syracuse and St. Bonaventure not making this year’s tournament, the closest team would be Colgate. But there are a few local guys playing in March Madness and that’s an accomplishment worth paying attention to.

Melvin Council Jr. is the first name to watch and if you watched Wagner’s First Four game with Howard, you already know why. He led the way with 21 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, as the Seahawks won their play-in game to advance to the main bracket. Winners of four straight, they’ll take on 1-seed North Carolina on Thursday at 2:45 p.m.

A 16 seed has only beat a 1 seed twice, but it’s worth nothing Fairleigh Dickinson did so last year when they took down mighty Purdue. Wagner plays in the same conference (NEC), so if you think that’s enough of a reason to call that upset, go right on ahead. (I do not endorse this pick, by the way.)

One local player who might be in for a longer run in March Madness is Noah Waterman. The Savannah native plays for BYU, who are a 6-seed taking on Duquesne in the first round. Waterman is fifth on the Cougars in scoring at 9.7 points per game and second with 5.5 rebounds per game. Like Council, he’s a crucial part of his team and must play well if BYU wants to advance in the tournament.

And then there’s Jaden Bradley, who was born in Rochester and lived in the area for a while, before moving out and playing high school ball at Cannon School (NC) and IMG Academy (FL). Bradley averages 6.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 2.0 APG on Arizona, who are one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Phoenix.

While he doesn’t start, he plays about 20 minutes per game for the 2-seed Wildcats, so Bradley is another key player in his own right.

So there you have it. A trio of Rochester kids playing on the big stage in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, Syracuse women’s Saniaa Wilson and Dyaisha Fair are also dancing as the Orange start tourney play on Saturday. With a win, they could potentially take on arch rival UConn in the round of 32, so stay tuned for what could be an awesome battle in Storrs, CT.

March Madness. There’s nothin’ like it.

Until 4 p.m. on Thursday when my bracket is busted.

But until then, let’s put on those dancing shoes and watch some of Rochester’s finest go to work!