Monday, March 2, 2015

Freshmen Tracker: March Edition

One week remains in the college regular season for this year’s impact freshmen to make their move. Okafor and Russell have the top two spots locked up, but Melo Trimble jumps up to No. 3 and Winslow goes from outside the Top 10 to number six on the Freshmen Tracker.

1.       Okafor, C, Duke
18.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 66.3 FG%

Okafor needed a game to recover from his ankle injury suffered during the UNC game and he scored 30 points in his return in a close overtime win at Virginia Tech. Okafor only scored 13 on Saturday against Syracuse but added 14 boards. The top rated recruit in the 2014 high school class has also been the top freshmen throughout the year and is in the front running for ACC Player of the Year and also the National Player of the Year. The only down fall for Okafor right now comes at the charity stripe. He’s shooting 52.5% and is just 5-22 in his last three games.

2.       D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
18.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.4 apg

Russell has gone the last five games shooting under 50% from the field, but spurred the Ohio State comeback on Sunday night against Purdue. The 6’5” freshman finished with 28 points and seven rebounds and was fantastic in the second half. Despite the low shooting percentage, Russell has still knocked in two or more three’s in 11 of his last 12 games. He’s scored in double figures in every game this year besides his second game of his career against Marquette and has been one of the best players throughout Big 10 play.

3.       Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland
16.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg

The Terps have quietly won five in a row in Big 10 play and they just notched a pair of home wins against Wisconsin and Michigan in the past week. During the winning streak, Trimble has been scoring just under 20 points per game. He struggled for a few games in the middle of conference play, but Trimble has helped revitalize the Maryland program in their first year of Big 10 play.

4.       Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
14.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Playing for one of the top teams in the country, Stanley Johnson took over the early role as Arizona’s leading scorer. He’s had significant struggles from the field in two of his last three games, but managed to grab double-digit rebounds in both. In the primetime Saturday match-up, Johnson went just 3-19 from the field just one week after going 1-9 against UCLA. Despite the poor performances, Johnson is a lock for first team all Pac-12 for an Arizona team that is looking for their first final four appearance under Sean Miller.

5.       Karl Anthony-Towns, PF, Kentucky
9.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 56.0 FG%

Anthony-Towns is still only playing 20 minutes per game on an undefeated Kentucky team, but with his play he is starting to get more consideration for the No. 1 pick in this summer’s draft. Over his last five games, Anthony-Towns has missed just three shots (20-23) and sits at No. 5 in the Ken Pomeroy player of the year ratings due to his 121.2 offensive efficiency rating. He also put up double-doubles in wins over Auburn and Mississippi State.

6.       Justise Winslow, F, Duke
12.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.9 apg

Justise Winslow makes the biggest leap from the last Top 10 rankings as he previously just missed the cut. Winslow made a key defensive stop against Brice Johnson in the final minutes of Duke’s comeback win and then subsequently took advantage of his offensive miss-match by hitting an open three and a driving and one. Winslow then went for 20 points and 13 rebounds against Clemson, 15 points and seven rebounds at Virginia Tech, and 23 points and nine rebounds against Syracuse.

7.       Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
12.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg

The Milwaukee native hasn’t recorded a double-double since UCLA’s win over Oregon; however the lanky freshmen is still a double-double machine. Over his last six games, Looney has been on a quiet tear from three going 10-16 from behind the arc making him a viable pick and pop threat. Looney recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in his last game as UCLA moved to 10-7 in Pac-12 play.

8.       Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
11.1 ppg, 43.6 3PT%

Booker has come down back to earth a bit over the last few games; however the freshman reserve is still the co-leading scorer for the top ranked Wildcats at 11.1 points per game in just under 22 minutes. He’s scored in double figures over his last four games and is shooting 43.6% from behind the arc and 83% from the line.

9.       James Blackmon Jr., SG, Indiana
15.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 82.4% FT’s

The sweet shooting Indiana guard has teamed up with Yogi Ferrell to re-unite the Bloomington faithful. He struggled in an upset loss at Northwestern going just 1-10 from the floor, but Blackmon is hitting 39.4% from three and just put together a 17 point, seven rebound performance against Rutgers.  

10.   Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
11.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.7 apg
Yes, having Tyus Jones on the list gives Duke three players in the top ten; however the highly regarded freshman has lived up to his billing as the best pure point in the freshman class. Jones keyed Duke’s comeback win against UNC recording 22 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists including the game winning lay-up. His turnovers are up as are his minutes. Will his legs start to go over the next few weeks?
                
Daniel Hamilton, SF, UConn
10.8  ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.6 apg

By no means is Daniel Hamilton having an efficient freshman season (94.9 ORTG) and he certainly isn’t shooting well from the field (40%), but he is certainly filling up the stat sheet. The 6’8” Hamilton put together a strong February in AAC play highlighted by a 25 point, 13 rebound, seven assist performance against Memphis and a 16 point, seven rebound game in a win against SMU. Despite the lackluster field goal percentage, Hamilton is hitting three’s at a 35% clip.

Players that just missed the cut:
·         Eric Paschall (Fordham)
·         Myles Turner (Texas)
·         Riley LaChance (Vanderbilt)
·         Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga)
·         Schadrac Casimir (Iona)

Who did I miss? Send me a tweet @seanmohoops


Keifer Sykes Analysis

This past Wednesday night, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay point guard Keifer Sykes returned home to Chicago. The soon to be two time Horizon Player of the Year had a career day at UIC and went over the 2,000 point mark for his career in the process.

Keifer Sykes, PG, 6’0”, Senior
18.5 PPG, 4.5 RBG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 46.0% FG’s

UWGB 72 UIC 67

Stat Line: 36 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 TO’s, 13-23 FG’s (1-5 3PT)

The dynamic and diminutive point guard was dominant in the first half against UIC scoring 21 of his 36 points. He scored on a lay-up two minutes into the game and quickly added two more lay-ups to his total before the first TV timeout. Sykes was the shortest player on the court, but with his explosive leaping ability he was able to finish with ease down low amongst taller defenders. With less than 10 minutes to go in the first half, Sykes started knocking down deep jump shots within the arc. He hit four jump shots in total showing good form and a soft touch after quickly rising from his spot on the floor. In addition, the 5'10” guard added in a powerful one-hand dunk on the break after overpowering a defender and a three pointer to close out the half.


It looked to be more of the same in the second half with Sykes opening the stanza with an and-one jump shot. Green Bay followed with a three to stretch their lead out to 46-29 and the route was on. Sykes got out of attack mode and started settling for deep jump shots and three’s instead of driving to the rim and as his missed shots began to pile-up the lead also started to shrink. UIC eventually tied the game up at 61 but then Sykes came back to life out of a timeout and recorded a hard-cutting lay-up and subsequent steal with 2:05 remaining. As a 77% free throw shooter, Sykes iced the game from the line going 7-8 down the stretch. He tallied 15 points in the second half, but for Sykes it was a tale of two halves.

Analysis:

As a senior, where will the game of basketball take Keifer Sykes next? He is currently No. 96 on the DraftExpress Top 100 and had several NBA scouts in attendance for his performance in Chicago.

Playing at the mid-major level, Sykes put his stamp on the game early and had a dominant performance. Sykes is strong, extremely explosive, and quick, all of which makes him a very tough cover in the college game. With his leaping ability Sykes finished in the paint and created separation with his quickness. He was mentally locked in the game with positive body language throughout the first half and created several steals with his quick hands and quick feet. As noted above, Sykes displayed nice form and lift on his jump shots but struggled from outside the arc going just 1-5 from the three point line.

In the second half, Sykes went into cruise control and started to settle for deep jump shots. He was unassertive on the few pick and roll plays his team did run and instead of putting pressure on the opposing defender with a sharp and quick move he let the defender off the hook. For the most part Sykes made good decisions with the ball in his hands and while he only ended up with three assists he made several nice passes that created open looks for his teammates.

The knock on Sykes will always revolve around his size. He is listed at 6’0”, but that might be generous. He is also hurt by his short wing span and compact body. His quickness and leaping ability are his biggest strengths, but that will be less of an advantage on the next level. Can Sykes turn into a spark plug off the bench for a team in the NBA? Given the situation, it’s definitely a possibility. The athleticism is there and with the success of smaller guards like Isaiah Thomas the lack of height does not have to be a deciding factor. What will be a deciding factor is the shooting ability of Sykes. As a sophomore, he shot 41% from behind the arc but only attempted 72 shots. As a junior, his attempts increased 34%, but his percentage fell to 31%. This year Sykes has attempted 4.3 three’s a game (129 overall) and is knocking them down at a 32% clip. Extremely comfortable at 18 feet, Sykes will need be comfortable from the NBA three-point line.


In person, Sykes is worth the price of admission and his athletic exploits were chronicled earlier in the year on Grantland. The Horizon League conference tournament starts this week and Green Bay will need their two time player of the year playing at a high level in order to capture the championship. If Sykes can lead his team to the Promised Land, he could easily turn into the newest darling of March.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

PAC-12 Focus

In a weekend void of upsets, Oregon came through on Sunday with a home victory over the favored Utah Utes. Meanwhile, ESPN spent the weekend in Tucson for their game of the week which featured Arizona as a 14 point favorite over the visiting UCLA Bruins. Two weeks remain in conference play as teams battle for conference tournament seeding. Arizona sits all alone at the top but they travel to the Rocky Mountains to face off against Colorado and then Utah, which sits one game back in the loss column. Oregon has won eight out of their last 10 games and sits comfortably in third place.

Player of the Year:

Joseph Young, SG, Oregon (19.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.3 apg)

Oregon Live photo - Joseph Young
Predicted to finish eighth in the conference in the pre-season, senior guard Joseph Young has led the Ducks to a 10-5 conference record and a third-place standing. Young did not have his best game of the year in the Utah upset this past weekend but he has been the toughest cover in the Pac-12. He is second in the conference in scoring at 19.3 points per game and has scored in double figures in 14 out of 15 games. To go with his scoring exploits, Young added six assists against both Colorado and UCLA. Young is tops in the league in free throw shooting at 92.9% and is ninth in three point shooting at 40.7%.


All-Conference:

Delon Wright, PG, Utah (12.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.5 apg)

Wright is a leader for All-American honors despite a dip in his personal statistics. Last year Wright averaged 16.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in conference play but with a stronger team this year his assist numbers have rose and the talented point guard comes in just behind TJ McConnell. Despite the most recent loss to Oregon, a game in which Wright scored 20 points in 40 minutes, a golden opportunity awaits this week when the Wildcats come to town. In an earlier loss, Utah hung around for the first half, but now the All-American candidate will look to improve on the 10 points he previously scored. A win here would be significant for both the Utes and Wright as well.

Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona (13.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.14 spg)

The top freshmen in the Pac-12 had his worst shooting performance of conference play on Saturday against UCLA, but he still managed to contribute in other ways grabbing 10 boards in 32 minutes. Johnson has put up double figure games in all but four and is also averaging close to seven rebounds a game from the small forward spot. In a Thursday night blowout of USC, Johnson went for 13 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in just 25 minutes. 

T.J. McConnell, PG, Arizona (12 ppg, 5.71 apg, 56% FG)

Arizona’s point guard makes his first appearance on the All-Conference list during his Arizona tenure. McConnell’s scoring is up this year at 12 points per game and he also leads the conference in assists and is third in assist to turnover ratio. In addition, McConnell is also fifth in field goal percentage. In the Wildcats last loss, a rivalry game at Arizona State, McConnell scored a season high 25 points. His assist numbers are up and McConnell is playing at a very high rate having recorded an offensive efficiency rating of 100 or more in all but his first conference game.

Chasson Randle, SG, Stanford (20.3 ppg, 3.07 apg, 1.36 spg)

Randle is the leading scorer in conference play at 20.3 points per game and most recently scored 19 points in a rivalry win over California. He’s struggled shooting the ball over the past three games, but he has Stanford at fourth place in the conference (barely). The senior has also scored in double figures in every conference game and is also seventh in steals.

On the Verge: Anthony Brown (Stanford), Tyrone Wallace (Cal), Gary Payton II (Oregon State), Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington), Norman Powell (UCLA)

Freshman of the Year:

Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona


Other Top Freshmen: Kevon Looney (UCLA), Dillon Brooks (Oregon), Jordan McLaughlin (USC)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Introduction: Alonzo Verge Jr.

The hype around Alonzo Verge Jr. is growing in the Chicago area and the wiry sophomore certainly lived up to the billing on Tuesday night in front of a packed house. Just days after the Chicago Sun-Times did a glowing feature on the high-scoring guard, Verge went out and scored 41 points in a 96-94 win over conference foe Proviso East.

Last year Willowbrook won just two games on the season, but with their latest victory they now have reached the 20 win mark and have won 14 in a row. The turnaround is primarily due to the scoring exploits of one of the top sophomores in the state. Two years ago it was Jalen Brunson who slowly built a local buzz as a sophomore before exploding onto the national scene during the spring. Now it’s Alonzo Verge Jr. who is building the buzz. He came into the Proviso East contest averaging 22.5 points which included multiple 30 point and 40 point outbursts.


An Inside Look:

Scoring comes naturally to Verge Jr. His father was a standout scorer at Proviso West in the late 1980’s and finished on the All-State third team in 1987-88 (take a look at this list and see what names pop out). The 6’0” guard was famous for his own 30 point and 40 point performances as he won two straight scoring titles in the West Suburban Conference. His son, Alonzo Verge Jr. stands 6’3” with a lanky frame, long arms, and braids falling down below his eyes but likes to score just like his father.  

First Half Scoring:

Verge Jr. started the game in attack mode and after missing his first shot of the game hit a driving lay-up from the right side off of a steal to kick things off. The quick first step was evident as Proviso East was forced to put their smallest and quickest defender on Verge Jr when they weren't running double teams at him. He added in another driving lay-up in addition to a pull-up three from the right wing to finish with nine points in the first quarter. His scoring slowed down in the second quarter as he forced the issue at times but he still ended the half with 14 points.

14 points, 5-11 FG’s, 1-4 3PT, 3-4 FT’s


Second Half Scoring:

The second half began just like the first half did with Verge Jr. pushing the tempo and looking for cracks in the defense. He found a few as he made two driving lay-ups early on in addition to a deep three from the left wing. After an offensive put-back he ended the quarter missing his final three shots. Another nine point quarter gave the sophomore 23 points heading into the fourth quarter of a tightly contested game.

Without wasting words, Alonzo Verge simply dominated the fourth quarter. In a matter of possessions Verge Jr. hit a three off of a left to right cross, converted a driving lay-up, and added in another NBA range three from the right wing. He was perfect from the line down the stretch going 8-8 and also added in a highlight reel lay-up where he did his best Steph Curry dribbling impersonation on his way to the basket. He scored 18 points in the final stanza and did not miss a shot as Willowbrook held on for the win.

27 points, 8-12 FG’s, 3-4 3PT, 8-8 FT’s


Areas for Improvement:

Verge Jr. is both blessed and cursed with an innate ability to score and get a shot almost any time he wants. It’s easy for Alonzo to free himself of his defender and rise up for a shot, but this also leads to forced / difficult shots at times. When he caught the ball on the perimeter with his feet set, he knocked in both of his three point attempts that were well behind the line. When he was shooting off the dribble, his shots usually came off-balance while drifting to the right or the left (even though he still went 2-6 from three in these situations). His fancy ball-handling skills allow him to attack from both sides of the court while also single handedly breaking a man-to-man press; however he over-dribbled at times which led to a high turnover rate. Alonzo recorded seven steals, but he was also always on the lookout for an easy run-out or fast break situation which often left him in a compromised defensive position or resulted in an easy offensive rebound for his opponent.

Strengths:

Quickness and scoring ability. Despite being the focus of Proviso East’s defense, Verge Jr. still scored 41 points. At times he was a little out of control, but he took over in the fourth quarter and created for himself or his teammates at almost any time. His long and quick first step allows him to get by defenders where he utilized both hands in the paint to score. He has a quick triggered release which combined with his range makes him a threat starting with the NBA three-point line.  Not just a scorer, Verge Jr. dropped off several nice passes to teammates resulting in easy lay-ups and used his long arms to create steals. He likes to talk trash, but does so with a smile on his face at all times and might be the most jovial basketball player around. There’s no doubt that Alonzo Verge Jr. is one of the top sophomores in the state and he will most likely begin garnering national recognition when AAU play starts up in the spring.

Monday, February 16, 2015

College Freshmen Tracker



There are only a few weeks left in the regular season and the current freshmen are no longer considered freshmen. So far several of the elite newcomers have made their impacts known throughout conference play and will be up for Player of the Year honors. The big name players and big name schools dominate the list, but several “lesser” known freshmen are ready to break into the first installment of the Top 10.

1.      Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
18.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 66.5 FG%

The top rated recruit in the 2014 high school class has also been the top freshmen throughout the year. Okafor is currently in the front running for ACC Player of the Year and is also in contention for National Player of the Year talks. The future top draft pick is fourth in the ACC in scoring, third in rebounding all while leading the league in field goal percentage. In addition, he’s scored in double figures in every game so far this season. With a plethora of post moves, Okafor is looking to lead Duke to a number one seed.

2.       D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
19.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.5 apg

Russell was expected to do big things in Columbus due to the significant departures in Columbus, but nobody expected him to do what he is currently doing. Russell has made a charge up the mock draft rankings and is now considered a potential top five pick. The well-rounded guard finally gets to run a team after sharing the reigns with such players as Kasey Hill, Ben Simmons, and Joel Berry in high school and AAU play and is averaging 20.5 points, 7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.5 steals. Two weeks ago Russell recorded a rare triple-double against Rutgers with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

3.       Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Playing for one of the top teams in the country, Stanley Johnson took over the early role as Arizona’s leading scorer. The powerful Johnson has scored in double-figures in nine conference games and is shooting 74% from the free throw line and almost 40% from three which was his primary weakness coming into the college season. While other players are putting up more points, Johnson is doing his damage on a team that returned numerous key parts from its Elite 8 run last year.

4.       Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
12.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg

The Milwaukee native has turned into a double-double machine in sunny Westwood. Looney took advantage of the immediate playing time offered to him and also raised his draft stock significantly. Looney is second in the Pac-12 in rebounding and has put up double-doubles in half of his league games. He is versatile enough to take big men off the dribble and is also shooting 13-34 from three after a 4-6 performance against the two Oregon schools this past week. Looney’s best statistical game came in a win over Stanford with 27 points and 19 rebounds.

5.       Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland
15.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 apg

After struggling to a 9-9 record in their last season in the ACC, the Terps currently sit at 9-4 in the Big 10 and are tied for second place. The main reason? The play of Melo Trimble, the Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year. Melo is seventh in the Big 10 in scoring and despite going 0-13 in a two game stint has rebounded to score 58 points in his last three games.

6.       Karl Anthony-Towns, PF, Kentucky
9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 52.3 FG%

Anthony-Towns is only playing 20 minutes per game on a loaded Kentucky team, but sits at No. 6 in the Ken Pomeroy player of the year ratings due to his 116.7 offensive efficiency rating. Towns put together 12 points and 13 rebounds in a close win at LSU and has scored in double figures in four out of his last five games. NBA teams are salivating at a chance to get Towns on their team next year due to his size, length, and agility.

7.       Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
10.8 ppg, 47.3% 3PT%

In the Nike EYBL, Booker always had the ball in his hands and while his athleticism made a jump from his junior to senior year, his proficiency decreased. Now Booker comes off the bench for Kentucky but is the team’s second leading scorer. His pure stroke is shining through and he’s hitting 47% from deep while sporting an outstanding 127.6 offensive efficiency rating.

8.       James Blackmon Jr., SG, Indiana
15.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 83% FT’s

The sweet shooting Indiana guard has teamed up with Yogi Ferrell to re-unite the Bloomington faithful. Blackmon is hitting almost 39% from three and just put together a 24 point, 7 rebound performance against Minnesota including 6-10 from three.

9.       Eric Paschall, F, Fordham
17.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg

Fordham might sit in last place in the Atlantic 10, but freshman forward Eric Paschall is lighting up the scoreboards and is second in the league in scoring with 18.6 points per game in conference play. Paschall scored 31 points in his first college performance and has scored in double figures in every league game so far.


10.   Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
11.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.3 apg, 3.1 A/TO

Tyus Jones was known as the best pure point guard in high school for the last few years and he was handed the reins in Durham from Day 1. Jones is second in the ACC in assists per game and has started to come into his own after a slow start to conference play. Beginning with a win at Louisville, Jones has scored in double figures in nine out of ten games and while he made clutch three’s to hand UVA their only loss of the season, Jones also just recorded a 16 point, six rebound, 12 assist performance on the road in Tallahassee.

Players that just missed the cut:
·         Justise Winslow (Duke)
·         Myles Turner (Texas)
·         Riley LaChance (Vanderbilt)
·         Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga)

Who did I miss? Send me a tweet @seanmohoops

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

BIG XII & Big East Awards

BIG 12:

Halfway through conference play and once again the road to a Big 12 championship runs through Lawrence. After a split with the ISU Cyclones the Kansas Jayhawks lead the Big 12 with a 8-2 record and a game lead over the Cyclones. Besides ISU there are three other teams within two games of first place.

Player of the Year: 

Buddy Heild (Jr. - Oklahoma) – 19.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg

One of the best pure scorers in college basketball, Heild has turned his game up lately as the Sooners have won five in a row and moved into second place after a big win against Iowa State. The athletic wing also averages 1.6 steals per game and leads the conference making 2.7 threes per game in addition to his league leading 19.5 points per game which is almost three points higher than the next closer player.

All Conference Team: 

Georges Niang (Jr. - Iowa State) – 14.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.1 apg

Mr. Consistency. Georges Niang has been very reliable as the Cyclones have won three of their last five to take third place in the conference after a 94-83 loss to Oklahoma. Despite having his worst game against Oklahoma, Niang scored 20 points twice go along with 19 against Texas in Iowa State’s latest run.

Perry Ellis (Sr. - Kansas) – 12.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg

As the Jayhawks have won 5 of 6 to wrest control of the Big 12 Perry Ellis and Frank Mason III have been there to lead the very balanced Jayhawks. In a big win over ISU last week Ellis went for 17 points, six boards, and four assists He then put up a double-double as KU was upset on the road by Oklahoma St.

Rico Gathers (Jr. - Baylor) – 10.7 ppg, 13.3 rpg

Mr. Gathers is a beast. Looking more like a NFL defensive lineman the junior for Baylor has owned the boards and started scoring more than in past years. In the Bear’s current three game win streak he has pulled down 15, 17, and 16 rebounds to go with two double-doubles. He is first in the Big 12 in rebounding at 13.3 per game and he is also second in the country with 12.6 overall.

Juwan Staten (Sr. – West Virginia) - 11.9 ppg, 4.7 apg

Staten has continued to be the top performer for Bob Huggins’ surprising Mountaineers. The team has dropped two in a row which erased them from the polls and will need Staten to lead his team to wins in order to keep his spot on the first team.

On the Verge – Monte Morris (So. – Iowa St.), Devin Williams (So. – West Virginia), Le’Bryan Nash (Sr. Oklahoma State), Ryan Spangler (Jr. – Oklahoma), Kenny Chery (Sr. - Baylor), Frank Mason III (So. – Kansas)

Freshman of the Year:

Myles Turner (Texas) – 9.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 blocks/Kelly Oubre (Kansas) – 9ppg, 5.5 rpg

The two potential top 10 picks in the upcoming NBA draft have both flashed the potential scouts love but have been inconsistent which has driven fans of their respective teams crazy. In Kansas’ last game, Oubre had only 1 point and 3 rebounds but in the game in the big win over Iowa State Oubre went 16, 5 boards, and 3 assists. Similarly, Turner hasn’t been able to consistently perform up to expectations. He hasn’t broken double-digits in his last three outings but he does lead the conference at 2.9 blocks per game.

Big East:

As we pass the halfway mark in conference play no team has stepped up to separate themselves from their conference foes. Villanova is leading the pack a half game up on Butler. Only two other teams having winning conference records but eight of the ten teams in the conference are battling for NCAA tournament berths. Similar to their teams, no player has distinguished themselves last year, like Dougie McBuckets and Bryce Cotton did last year. Check below for the first team all-conference players.

Player of the Year:

Kris Dunn (So. - Providence) – 17.2 ppg, 8.1 apg, 6.8 rbg

Kris Dunn is the most complete player in the Big East. As a PG, he is partially judged by wins and losses and he has led the Friars to the third place record in the conference, 1.5 games behind Villanova. In addition to winning, Dunn continues to put up big numbers. In a win against Georgetown last week, Dunn had 12 points and 9 rebounds while throwing in 6 steals. He leads the league in assists and steals, is 5th in scoring, and 4th in rebounding.

All Conference Team: 

Roosevelt Jones (Jr. – Butler) – 15.2 ppg, 5.5 rbs, 3 apg
The surprising Bulldogs have been led by the combination of Jones and Kellan Dunham. The 8-3 Butler squad went 2-0 this week to jump into second place. Jones averaged 17 per game in the two wins. Roosevelt is 8th in scoring, 9th in assists while also throwing in 1 block per game.

LaDontae Henton (Sr. - Providence) – 23.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg

Part of Providence’s dynamic duo, Henton has been on the receiving end on a lot of the Kris Dunn assists. The highly skilled wing leads the conference in scoring pouring in 20.8 per game in conference. Henton shoots the three well making 2.8 a game in conference play and also chips in nearly 6 boards. He averaged 20 a game in a 1-1 week in a tough road trip at Georgetown and Xavier.

Ryan Arcidiacono (Jr. - Villanova) – 12.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.0 spg

“Arch” as he’s known to fans is one of three or four guys from the balanced Villanova team deserving consideration for this spot. Arch has a 2.1/1 Assists to turnover ratio and has been very consistent in leading the top ten ranked Wildcats. As he’s recovered from a wrist injury Ryan has tightened up his three point stroke and is now shooting 47% in conference from distance.

Sterling Gibbs (Jr. - Seton Hall) – 18.7 ppg, 4.6 apg

Gibbs, like the Pirates, has struggled over the past two weeks. A big game coming up for the Pirates this week when they play another team headed in the wrong direction, the Hoyas of Georgetown. The hall welcomed back Isaiah Whitehead last week and hope he can work with Gibbs to address some of the offensive issues challenging the Hall. Gibbs has been the one bright spot for the Pirates – putting up 18.5 per game last week to go along with 4 steals.

On the Verge –D’vauntes Smith-Rivera (Jr. - Georgetown), Rysheed Jordan (So. - St. John’s), Darrun Hilliard (Sr. – Villanova)

Freshman of the Year:

Angel Delgado (Seton Hall) – 9.6 ppg, 10.1 rbg,

Delgado has seen his rebounding drive his offense, as the Pirates have struggled integrating him. In response, Delgado has increased his energy and focus on rebounding; contributing more put backs while shooting 56% from the floor.