Most SAS controllers today use a SFF-8087 type connector normally called mini-sas. This can then plug directly into backplanes, SATA hard drives, SAS hard drives and other connections. For you to use a SAS hard drive without a backplane you will need this cable. (or one like it)
Go to this link and scroll downhttp://www.adaptec.com/en-US/products/cables/cables/sas/
There are a few different SAS cards listed there. But you can use any SAS controller you want either RAID or not. I would stick to Adaptec, 3ware, or Intel/LSI. If you get a really old controller in may have a different interface and you would need that cable type accordingly, which is most likely also listed on that page above.