Player of the Week
Tony Mitchell , Alabama
The hyperathletic forward spearheaded the Crimson Tide's charge to a decisive title in Puerto Rico, earning most outstanding player honors for the tournament. During the three-game run (wins over Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue)he averaged 19 points on 56% shooting, drained 6 threes, collected 29 rebounds (9.7) and swatted 5 shots. The length, strength and athleticism of Alabama is frightening to the point of outright intimidation. If opponents attempt to match wits with them in a 94-foot battle, they face a losing proposition. Mitchell is beginning to creep up draft boards (#41, 2013) despite being a definite tweener at the next level. His perimeter game is on the incline, but most of his playmaking is still a result of defensive disruption and transition throwdowns.
The Bulldogs were victorious in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, taking down ranked teams in Texas A&M and Arizona on back to back nights. They were far and away the most visually impressive team in the field, holding a +11 rebound margin and limiting the opposition to 40% field goals. Significant contributions were made by all eight members of the team's regular rotation, including a breakout performance by 5'11 freshman Deville Smith (7.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2 APG). Forward Arnett Moultrie took down tournament MOP honors, scoring 19 points (8/9 FG) and grabbing 10 boards in the championship game. Can the Bulldogs maintain this high level of execution and effort for the duration of the season? If so, they have the pieces to be a major factor in the SEC and have the look of a dangerous postseason unit.
Remember last week when I praised SC for 51% shooting in their opener? Well, that praise will be short-lived. The Gamecocks had a crippling week, suffering a home loss to Tennessee State and a road defeat at Elon. In the two losses they shot a combined 35% from the floor and a staggering 19% (10/51) from distance. Freshman Damien Leonard and Sophomore Brian Richardson were the main culprits. Leonard connected on 3/22 FG's and 2/16 three's, while Richardson shot 2/17 from the field and 0/11 from deep. Quite simply, no one on South Carolina's roster can create easy shots and heaving treys is the result. It's going to be a long year.
The Rebels have size and athletes, but it's hard to be less fundamentally sound than they are. They were extremely fortunate to escape their opener in the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam against Drake, in which they shot 37% FG, 18/38 FT and turned the ball over 20 times. That level of play was harshly in exposed in a 30-point drubbing at the hands of Marquette. They shot 32% from the field, 3/23 (13%) from the three-point line and turned it over 19 times. Lack of a true point guard continues to haunt their half court offense. Dundrecous Nelson took 28 shots (made 7) and 15 threes (made 2) in the two games, while assisting on only 3 buckets. Ugly.
Player of the Week
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Marist’s meager front line is hardly a veritable measuring stick, but Davis “looked the part” in his first taste of D1 hoops. Limited to 23 minutes in a 50-point second-half thrashing, he scored 23 points on 10/13 field goals (3/3 FT) with 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 assists. His advanced skill level, game changing defensive presence and agility at 6’10 continue to astound. A more legitimate test will come Tuesday when they clash with Kansas, albeit a diminished version, in the backend of a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Davis, welcome to the big stage.
Trae Golden, Tennessee
In his handful of minutes as a Freshman, Trae Golden was expected to run the team and distribute the rock (3 points on 29% shooting) while the scoring burden fell elsewhere. With much of that scoring punch having exited the program, Golden orchestrated an offensive eruption in his first game as a Sophomore. He poured in 29 points in 27 minutes versus UNCG, connecting on 10/14 field goals, 5 of 9 three-pointers and 4/5 free throws. The powerful lead guard wasn’t done, dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds for good measure (2 steals and 1 block). His poor shooting numbers in 2010-2011 were an obvious aberration and it’s encouraging to see him splash the nets.
Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
The mystery that is Jeffery Taylor never seizes to boggle the mind. Taylor looked phenomenal in the Friday night opener versus Oregon, overmatching the Ducks with his athletic ability en route to 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. But true to form with his up and down collegiate career, he was invisible in a shocking home defeat at the hands of Cleveland State (despite the absence of Ezeli). Taylor scored 9 points on a just 8 field goal attempts, turning the rock over six times against the Vikings pressure style. Passivity, poor ball handling and lack of range continue to obstruct his rise to elite status.
Player of the Week
Player of the Week
Co-Players of the Week
Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, Kentucky
The comforts of Rupp Arena and a light schedule were welcome sights to the Wildcats, and their freshman duo in particular. Kentucky scored 85 points and shot 56% in a victory over Mississippi State (trailed 40-39 at halftime), and scored 90 on 50% field goals in a thrashing of hapless South Carolina. Jones was at his versatile, controlled best, notching 18 points (54% FG, 9-12 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the two home wins. Knight's distribution skills were on full display, dishing out 8 assists per game (2.5 turnovers) to go with 18 points, 4.5 rebounds and 50% shooting from the floor. The 'Cats will be seeking their first conference road win at Arkansas on Wednesday, and the composure of the freshmen will once again be put to the test.
Honorable Mention: The third freshman piece, Doron Lamb, deserves considerable recognition. He averaged 19 points nailing 12-19 field goals, 6-8 three pointers and 8-10 free throws.
Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
"Inspired Scotty" showed up this week, demonstrating his unique scoring ability and athletic prowess. Hopson scored 23 points in a home victory over South Carolina, cashing in 3 trey's and 6 of 7 free throws, while also posterizing the Gamecocks Brian Richardson. He poured in 32 of the Vols 63 total points in a home loss versus Georgia, converting 12 of 19 field goals and getting to the charity stripe on 10 occasions (6 makes). Outside of Hopson and Tobias Harris (18), no other Tennessee player chipped in more than three points. The Volunteers travel to Memorial Gymnasium for a bout with Vanderbilt on Tuesday, however, at this stage they are simply playing for seeding (6-6 in SEC).
Honorable Mention: John Jenkins continues to stroke it, scoring 21.5 per game on 10 composite three-point makes. He scored all 21 of his points in the second half of Wednesday's road triumph at Georgia. CLUTCH. UK's Darius Miller averaged 17.5 per game (including a career-high 22 versus SC) knocking down 9 of 15 from beyond the arc and swatting 5 shots (1.2 on the season).
Player of the Week
Player of the Week
Chandler Parsons, Florida
Parsons' play prior to the New Year was marked by inconsistency and passivity. Frustrating Gator fans and basketball purists alike, he attempted double-digit field goal attempts only twice and hit double figures in rebounds just once. He's flipped the switch on the aggression meter in recent weeks, playing like a man possessed and leading his team to the apex of the loaded SEC East at 7-2. Parsons has recorded four consecutive 10+ rebound games (15, 12, 11, 10) and eyed the rim 46 times during that stretch. In Florida's two nail biting victories over conference stalwarts Vanderbilt and Kentucky this week, he clicked in at 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, shooting 52% from the floor (12 makes) and 50% from downtown (3 makes). At 6'10 220, Parsons is eating up the glass like a man born to bang on the interior (which he's not). He's moved up quite a few spots on the big board from the tail end of the draft to #45.
Reginald Buckner, Mississippi
While most associate highlight reel plays with offensive ingenuity, Mr. Buckner is doing his best to alter that perception. His jaw-dropping rejections are starting to make the social media rounds, and they are bountiful. He's currently 6th in the NCAA in shot blocks, swatting away 3.3 attempts per contest in just 23 minutes of action. Mississippi engineered a 360-degree bounce back performance this week, and Buckner's dynamite play was the preeminent reason for the Rebels resuscitation. In an essential home victory over Kentucky he posted 12 points (6-9), 5 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals. He was far from done, however, putting up 11 points (5-5), 12 rebounds and 8 blocks in a win at Arkansas. The 6'8 sophomore is still an extremely raw product, but his length and athletic prowess make him a force to be reckoned with. He's blocked 5 or more shots eight times this season in 22 games.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Price, Georgia- 16.5 points, 13 FT makes, 10.5 rebounds, 2 blocks.
Player of the Week
Dee Bost, Mississippi State
Prior to Bost's return on January 8th, the Bulldogs were thoroughly non-competitive. Controversy was their only path to headline news, and team chemistry was a distant memory. By no means is this MSU club suddenly tournament caliber, but as they proved this week, with their leader back in the fold they are now a dangerous foe. In a tough seven-point defeat vs. Vanderbilt (led by four at half) Bost scored 18 points, albeit on 5-16 FG and 3-10 from downtown, with 6 assists 5 rebounds, 5-5 FT and just two turnovers. He followed up that effort by guiding the way to a 71-64 upset win over red hot Florida, scoring 24 points on 8-14 FG, 4-8 treys and 4-5 FT, dishing out 5 assists against one turnover and grabbing 3 boards. Bost has quickly regained sophomore season form, and has nearly single-handedly transformed Mississippi State into a .500 team in the SEC.
The Razorbacks shot 57% from the field in a stunning 89-78 road victory at Vanderbilt (13-point underdogs). Rotnei Clarke, who had been producing reserved efforts for the better part of a month, finally put forth one of his trademark explosions. Clarke scored 36 points in 33 minutes, knocking down 12-16 field goals, 6-8 trifectas and 6-7 from the charity stripe. Given the quality of competition, this performance likely supersedes his 51-point outburst (15-21 FG, 13-17 3PT) to open the 2009-2010 season vs. Alcorn State. However, his teammate Michael Sanchez didn’t allow him to steal the show entirely. After missing well over a full season with chronic foot problems, Sanchez's 9th game back in the rotation was a momentous one. He scored a career-high 20 points on 8-12 shooting, adding 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. His 33 minutes of action doubled his previous season-high court time of 14. Despite a 14-6 overall mark and 4-3 in conference play, Arkansas remains in a precarious position with an 82
Player of the Week
Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt
The 6'8 junior from Brooklyn, NY has been invaluable to the Commodores 14-4 mark. Since entering the starting lineup on December 8th he's scored nearly 10 points and grabbed nearly 10 boards a night. In Vanderbilt's two wins this week over Mississippi and St. Mary's CA he averaged 14.5 points, 13 rebounds and 3.5 assists (3 turnovers), draining two threes and 11 of 13 free throw attempts. He notched a pair of double-doubles this week, the first two of his collegiate career. A solid athlete with tremendous versatility, length and quick leaping ability, Goulbourne is finally playing a role that suits his strengths. His reputation as a three-pointer marksman is quickly fading as he continues to make massive forward strides in his all-around game. On a negative note, while he's making plays, his ball handling woes are peaking. Goulbourne has committed 14 turnovers in his last four outings.
Tony Mitchell, Alabama
Mitchell has quietly produced a big time season and deserves more national recognition. The Tide's frontcourt, spearheaded by Mitchell and JaMychal Green, has turned the fortunes of Alabama's season. They've won 7 of 8 contests including a home victory over Kentucky and road win at Auburn this week. In the two triumphs Mitchell scored 15 points per game on 12/20 shooting (60%) from the field and 3/7 from behind the arc, tallying 6.5 boards, 2.5 steals and a block. The 6'6 small forward is all over the court and his athleticism never fails to wreck at least a segment of the game. His defensive prowess leads to fast break offense, where he and his teammates excel. The Tide has an excellent chance to reach 6-1 in conference play with home bouts versus LSU and Mississippi State upcoming.
Honorable Mention: Sam Muldrow, South Carolina- 21.5 points (61% FG), 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and 3 three-pointers.