Player of the Week
Tyler Lewis - NC State
The Wolfpack had a rough week last week as the team lost close games to Virginia and Miami. Both games came down to the last shot with the Pack coming up short in both games. Point guard Lorenzo Brown went down in the first half against the Cavaliers and sat out the game against the 'Canes as well. With Brown hobbled, Mark Gottfried turned to a talented but seldom used freshman in Lewis. The former McDonald's All-American played extremely well against Miami and had the Pack in a position to steal a win against the #1 team in the conference. He had 16 points on only 8 shot attempts to go along with 5 assists to only 1 turnover. It was on the defensive end that most felt Lewis would struggled but he held his own against Shane Larkin, one of the better young guards in the ACC. The Pack face Duke on Thursday night and with Brown's status still up in the air, there should be no shortage of opportunities for Lewis to prove himself worthy of more playing time going forward.
Mason Plumlee - Duke
Plumlee's stock continues to skyrocket this season. Over his last three games, the big man has shot a ridiculous 81% from the field and has really stepped us his play since the team suffered their worst loss of the season against Miami in late January. He scored 32 points and hauled in 9 rebounds to go along with 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals on the road against Wake Forrest last week. He battled some early foul trouble in that game and completely took over in the second half. Wake had no answer for him on the defensive end. Duke has an abundance of talented guards who can shoot the lights out and at times during games, the team gets away from dropping the ball into Mason on the low block. But let's not forget that it is his emergence this season as more of a low post threat that has opened up the perimeter for guys like Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon.
[Player: Pe'Shon Howard] - Maryland
With the departures of Sean Mosley and Terrell Stoglin from last year's squad, Howard was supposed to be a key contributor this season. He had an injury riddled Sophomore campaign that only saw him appear in 14 games. He just doesn't seem like the same player that he was during his first two seasons on campus. Tearing an ACL takes time to recover from and maybe that's why Howard hasn't played well thus far. He's been held scoreless in 5 of his last 7 games and has seen his minutes dwindle as a result. The Terps have a talented roster and could make a run come Tourney time but they struggle offensively and Howard's poor play is a big reason why. He has got to start knocking down shots and/or dishing out assists like he was doing earlier in the season for this team to take the next step.
Top 5 Incoming Recruiting Classes
When Coach K wants a player, he usually gets him. That's exactly what happened with Parker, a consensus Top 3 player no matter who you ask. In Parker, the Blue Devils get on of the best all-around and most versatile players in the country. He is likely a one and done player which Coach K has shied away from in the past but when a player is this talented, does it really matter? Jones and Ojeleye are both top 50 players in their own right. Both guys are wing players that will provide much needed depth after the team loses 4 seniors off of this year's squad.
Last season, Ole' Roy missed out on the top players but still managed to haul in a top 15 class even without the star power of prior seasons. This year is much the same as none of the players that the Heels are bringing in are game changing, one and done type talents. Still, all three are very solid players and will just add to the tremendous depth that Carolina is developing. Hicks and Meeks are two front court players that will step in and contribute right away and Britt is a point guard who has struggled a bit during his senior season but who likely won't be called upon to run the show until after Marcus Paige bolts for the NBA.
People were wondering if the Wolfpack's success on the recruiting trail last season would carry over to this one. It has and with it, Mark Gottfried has brought in a very solid class. Barber is a lightening quick guard cut in the Allen Iverson mold and will push Tyler Lewis from day one for the starting point guard position. Anya is a relentless rebounder with a wide frame and improving offensive game. Washington is a long athletic forward who can step out and play outside of the paint. The Pack are in deep with Julius Randle as well and if he commits to the Pack then this class will vault to the top of this list.
Florida State Seminoles - [Player: Xavier Rathan-Mayes] and Jarques Smith
The Noles' class isn't particularly deep but the only player that the team is losing will be Michael Snaer. His replacement comes in the form of Rathan-Mayes who can step right in and providing the scoring that will be lost with Snaer's departure. Smith is a big who will provide depth next season but should blossom into a solid contributor in Leonard Hamilton's defense going forward. The 'Noles are also in with Andrew Wiggins and are in his final list. If they can turn his relationship with Rathan-Mayes into a commitment then, like the Wolfpack, this class will move up in the rankings.
The Terps are like the 'Noles in that they aren't losing much after this season. Peters is a guy who should come in and help with the Terps scoring problems right away. He has an all-around offensive game and can score from virtually anywhere on the floor. Dodd is a big man with tremendous upside. He likely won't see the court for much of his freshman season but should develop into a solid rotation player for the program.
Parker, Randle,and Wiggins all being in the same conference next year has me salivating.
I love the way that Mason has stepped up this year - he is no longer waiting for the offense to come to him. He is asserting himself as Duke's #1 offensive threat. He and Quinn play really well together too. That being said - team's need to work on doubling him more. He truly gets confused when he is doubled, often resulting in turnovers.
On to Jabari - as a Duke fan, I am hesitant to be too optimistic. #1 with that class coming in and how deep we are coming into next year; with Rodney Hood being eligible and the potential of Andre Dawkins returning to the team after his year off, there will most likely be a transfer. #2 Will Duke be getting a team-player one and done like Kyrie Irving OR will they be getting a locker room prima-donna like Austin Rivers. I am hopeful that Jabari will not be a toxin to the team like RIvers was.