share

Art Work

Player of the Week

Jamel Artis, Pittsburgh

Jamel ArtisJamel ArtisA few weeks ago, Jamel Artis was starting to break out as one of the better scorers in the conference. I discussed how important his development was for a Pittsburgh team that lacked a go-to scorer, and noted that the team would be significantly more dangerous if his play continued. Well, his play continued. Artis has led the Panthers in scoring in each of the team's last six games. During these past three weeks, he's averaged 21.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Don't think he's only putting up numbers because he's forcing things either. He's actually shot at least 50% in every one of those games. If all of that wasn't impressive enough, he had to produce those numbers against some of the best talent in the conference, as Pittsburgh faced three top-ten teams (Duke, Louisville, and Notre Dame) during that time-frame. Artis' top performance, however, was during the team's most recent with against Bryant. Jamal scored a career-high 32 points on 11/17 shooting, making 3/4 from outside and 7/10 from the stripe. Artis has always been an athlete, capable of slashing off-the-ball and being a threat in transition. It's his newfound shooting ability though, that's taken his offensive ability to another level. Last season, Artis only shot 29.6% from outside, making an average of 0.2 per game. This season, he's upped those numbers to 41.2% and 0.9 respectively. How the sophomore improves over the next couple years will certainly be exciting to watch. As he's shown over the last few weeks, he has the potential to be an excellent scorer in Jamie Dixon's system. In fact, it may not be long before we're discussing his potential as an NBA draft prospect.

Hot

Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

Montrezl Harrell is one of the most exciting players in the ACC to watch, and if this week didn't convince you of that, then you should probably stop reading this blog and go do something that would stimulate you, like get tased or eat a ghost pepper. Harrell led the Cardinals to a dramatic overtime win against North Carolina last Saturday, scoring 22 points and pulling down 15 rebounds, 8 of which were offensive. He was a huge presence down the stretch, making free throws and coming up with big defensive plays. When Louisville played Miami in their next game, Harrell appeared to go down with an injury and then quickly left for the locker room. Despite throwing up, he immediately returned to the game, helping his team secure another victory. He finished the game with 18 points and 9 rebounds in 39 minutes of play. That's right. He only missed one minute in a game that he threw up in. Nobody was in a position to question Harrell's toughness anyway, but stories like this just add to his legacy. Louisville plays Virginia this Saturday, in what's sure to be a gritty, grind-it-out, defensive showdown. Can't wait to see what Harrell shows us in that game.

Justise Winslow, Duke

All of Duke's recent headlines have been on Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his seemingly infinite parade of historical milestones. While it won't be remembered for anywhere near as long, freshman Justise Winslow breaking out of his recent slump is also noteworthy. Over the past week, Winslow averaged 15.0 points (on 54.5% shooting), 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.5 steals, and only 0.5 turnovers per game. These numbers suit the potential lottery pick much more than what he was putting up in weeks prior. Shoulder and rib injuries were cited as holding the forward back, but evidently he became healthy at some point in the last couple weeks. Excellent timing, as Winslow helped lead the Blue Devils to a big win over the previously undefeated Virginia Cavaliers. Justise scored 15 points, but his defense on Justin Anderson was a huge factor in the win. Obviously, all of this bodes well for his draft stock. The stat-sheet stuffer often draws comparisons to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for his defensive ability and on-court emotion. Winslow has all the tools to be a tremendous role-player at the next level, and the potential to perhaps be even more.

Trevor Lacey/Anthony Barber, NC State

NC State's a deceptively competitive team. Their 5-6 conference record doesn't reflect that, but it takes talent to knock off Duke, and the Wolfpack were only one possession away from victories against North Carolina and Notre Dame. Now, you don't have to tell me -- or the Wolfpack for that matter -- that a miss is as good as a mile. Thanks to Trevor Lacey, that phrase doesn't apply to the team's game last weekend against Georgia Tech. Lacey hit a buzzer-beating, go-ahead, 25-foot three-point basket to give the Wolfpack an 81-80 overtime victory. His remarkable shot did not win the game alone though. Anthony "Cat" Barber certainly put his work in, scoring 23 points on 9/12 shooting (4/5 from deep) and dishing out 7 assists. The point guard rode that momentum to a career-high 28 point performance in his following outing. Both Lacey and Barber have proven to be explosive scorers, and should be valuable pieces for NC State moving forward.

Cold

Jahlil Okafor, Duke

I suppose there has to be a disclaimer in front of this one. Jahlil Okafor has only been playing "cold" relative to his previous standard. He hasn't been awful lately, and his draft stock hasn't gone anywhere. It's just that he's usually on the short-list for Player of the Week. This week, Okafor averaged 12 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 4.0 turnovers in Duke's two wins. The 10 points he scored against Virginia tied his season low, though that really says more about how good he's been this season than how mediocre he's been the last week. Truthfully, there's not much to make of this mini-slump. Everyone has off-days (especially when they play Virginia) and it's not like this slight drop in production cost Duke any wins. Look for the Player of the Year candidate to bounce back against Notre Dame this weekend. The Fighting Irish don't possess a lot of size, and Duke's star has already posted a 22 and 17 game against them.

Top 5 Transfers

1. Trevor Lacey, NC State - Lacey (coming in from Alabama) has been one of the more underappreciated players in the conference this season. He's putting up great numbers, averaging 16.7 points (making an average of 2.4 triples on 42% shooting), 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists; but outside of the Duke upset and recent thriller against Georgia Tech, the team hasn't turned a lot of heads. Lacey is 23 years old, but still just a Junior. Perhaps he'll get more national publicity in his senior season.

2. Sheldon McClellan, Miami - Relative to the rest of the team, McClellan has been fairly consistent this year. The transfer from Texas is averaging 14.1 points on 50.2% shooting and 5.0 rebounds. He's a good athlete that can shoot the ball, which will make him interesting in the eyes of the NBA.

3. Angel Rodriguez, Miami - Rodriguez joined McClellan in transferring to Miami from the Big 12 (Kansas State). Unlike his teammate, however, Angel has been anything but consistent. This is apparent when looking at his 32.9% field-goal percentage. Rodriguez is a better player than that, but has only managed to show us that in flashes this season.

4. Aaron Brown, Boston College - Brown came to Boston College from Southern Miss. Before that, he was at Temple. Lots of transferring for Brown, but it seems like he's found a nice place to settle. With the Eagles, he's become a decent scorer, averaging 14.7 points per game.

5. Charles Mitchell, Georgia Tech - Mitchell isn't a star by any means, but the transfer from Maryland is an effective rotation player for the Yellow Jackets. A big body, at 6'8" 269 lbs, Mitchell can score (9.7 PPG) and rebound (7.1 RPG) at a solid rate. As a bonus, his free-throw shooting has more than doubled (32.9% to 71.2%) since his last season with the Terrapins.

RSS: Syndicate content