Player of the Week
DeAndre Kane - Iowa State
This week as the Iowa State Cyclones won the Diamond Head Classic, it was senior guard, DeAndre Kane, coming up big and taking home tournament MVP honors. Kane was huge in the championship game against Boise State, scoring 23 points, and sparking a crucial run that helped seal the game for ISU. DeAndre showed uncharacteristic long range shooting. He hit 4 three point shots, after hitting only 5 on the season before the Boise State game, along with his usual array of rim attacks and post ups against smaller guards.
In addition to a fantastic display against Boise, Kane averaged 17 ppg 7.6 rpg and 5 apg in the Diamond Head Classic and remains one of the most well rounded producers in the conference. Since coming over from Marshall, he has really benefitted from being able to play with a more talented squad and not be relied on as much. Look no further than the major jumps in shooting efficiency as well as major drops in turnovers. This week’s performance was just another example as he shot 54% from the field, 50% from three point range and sported a 2.14 assist to turnover ratio.
Cory Jefferson - Baylor
With conference play right around the corner, the Baylor Bears find themselves ranked 9th in the NCAA (AP) and right up there with the best teams in the Big 12. Senior forward Cory Jefferson, Baylor’s leader in points and rebounds per game is a major reason why. Jefferson has been steady all year. He was expected to play a major role as a senior after a breakout junior season, and he’s taken his play up another notch since the end of November. Over his last 5 games he’s put up 16 ppg 8.2 rpg on an extremely efficient 61% shooting, including two double doubles in that five game span.
Markel Brown - Oklahoma State
Markel Brown, the other half of Oklahoma State’s stellar backcourt, has really upped his game over the past few games. All-American, Marcus Smart, has hit a rough patch, and super athletic sharp shooter, Brown, has picked up the slack. Over his past two games, Marcus has put up 20.5 ppg, 7 rpg and 3 rpg on 54% shooting. He went for 23 points and 11 rebounds against fellow top 25 school, Colorado, and 18 against Robert Morris Monday night. Brown isn’t your average combo, he throws down above the rim slams along with coming off screens and hitting long range jumpers. Brown’s great play has vaulted him to 6th in the conference in scoring (16.5 ppg ) as Smart has fallen from 1st to 4th (17.2 ppg) as the Cowboys wrap up their non-conference schedule.
Demarcus Holland - Texas
Since coming up big in the Longhorns impressive win over then 14th ranked North Carolina, sophomore guard Demarcus Holland has bit a bit of a rough patch. Holland had a tough game against a talented Michigan State squad, and another in a blowout win against Rice. In his last two contests he’s mustered just 5 ppg 3.5 rpg and 1 apg on just 16% shooting from the field. Having a key non-conference win, the Longhorns look to surprise some people as conference play begins. They’re going to need Demarcus Holland to step up as the face 12-2 Oklahoma on Saturday.
Top 5 Centers
As non-conference play draws to a close, here are a look at the conferences top performers at the five spot. The Big 12 boasts a couple non-traditional big men, and although not projected as centers at the next level, they’re making their mark at the college level.
1. Joel Embiid - Kansas
19 year old phenom, Joel Embiid, has really made a name for himself during the non-conference season. A player few expected to start until late in the year, if at all, quickly beat out college veteran Tarik Black and has been putting up numbers impressive for a player of any age and experience level. A difference maker on both ends, Joel leads the Big 12 in FG percentage (.667%) and is tied for 3rd in blocked shots per contest (2.33). He’s upped his play of late too, averaging 13 ppg and 8.8 rpg in his last 5 games against opponents that all project as NCAA tournament teams. As Big 12 play starts, I wouldn’t be shocked to see his numbers continue to climb.
2. Georges Niang - Iowa State
If this were a draft prospect list, Georges Niang would be lower, but Iowa State’s stretch big man has played great the first couple months of the year. Georges can step out to the college three, and is a reliable offensive player. His (16 ppg) ranks 8th in the conference and his versatility is evident as soon as you look at the conference’s top playmakers. Niang’s 3.5 apg ranks 9th in the conference. The Cylcones are the conference’s only unbeaten team, and Georges Niang’s superb sophomore campaign is a major reason why.
3. Cameron Ridley - Texas
Texas’ sophomore, Cameron Ridley, has no shortage of size to play the college five spot. A 6’9’’ 285 lbs and with a large wingspan, Ridley has made his presence felt blocking shots ( 2.38 ) and rebounding ( 7.2 ) ranking him 2nd and 9th in the conference, respectively. Ridley was a tad slow out of the gate, but his play late has been very solid. During his last 5 contests, Ridley has averaged 14 ppg and 6.8 rpg and has helped the Longhorns put together a nice early season start. Looking forward to the next level, some better conditioning and increased speed would make Cameron a more appealing prospect, but his sophomore production has been a nice step forward in his development when comparing him to a year ago.
4. Isaiah Austin - Baylor
I truly expected Isaiah Austin to be higher on the list when the season started, but a shoulder injury in the off-season seemed to hinder much development since last year. Still, Baylor’s 7’1’’ face up center has taken new interest in protecting the rim as he leads the conference in blocks per game (3.17) despite his rebounding and scoring numbers taking a dip since last year. I’m unsure what to expect from Austin going forward. He has elite length at the college level, he has good a good shooting touch, but remains rail thin and is rebounding at a rate that is just a little over half of what he did last season. He was a 13 and 8 player as a frosh, and could easily raise his game, but with his best games coming against his smallest opponents, I suspect that his conference play might be as up and down as his non-conference performance.
5. Karviar Shepard - TCU
Long and rangy freshman, Karviar Shepard has been a pretty quick study on the defensive end for the Horned Frogs of TCU. Ranking 4th in the conference in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and tied for 3rd in blocked shots (2.33) Karviar has even shown surprising touch from the foul stripe (69%). His best game of the year came against Mississippi State, as he hauled in 16 rebounds, blocked 3 shots and scored 9 points in one of TCU’s tougher games in a relatively weak non-conference schedule. The 6‘10’’ Karviar has a very bright future ahead of him. He must continue to add weight to his 225 lb frame, work on getting better position, and taking better shots on offense, but I suspect Karviar Shepard will be climbing the list of the league’s top centers, and draft boards in the years to come.