Player of the Week
Marcus Smart - Oklahoma State
With his fellow conference point guards DeAndre Kane and Juwan State, getting a lot of attention lately for their well rounded play, the Big 12’s resident star point guard was not about to let himself be overshadowed.
Marcus Smart was flat out dominant in two games this week against Texas and West Virginia. Smart averaged 23 points 5 assists and an amazing 13 rebounds to go with 3.5 steals per game in this two game stretch. He logged two consecutive double doubles in which he also tallied 5 or more assists and in the Cowboy’s win over Texas he chipped in 6 steals giving him an impressive 20+ 10+ 5+ 5+ game. It was last year during conference play when Smart really hit his stride, and after a rough start in a loss against Kansas State, Marcus seems to be coming back with a vengeance.
Buddy Hield - Oklahoma
Another top performer early in the Big 12 season is Oklahoma’s 6’4’’ shooting guard Buddy Hield. Hield is putting up 20.6 ppg 5.6 rpg in his first three conference games, which include a 22 performance in an upset victory against #9 Iowa State. The Sooners’ greatly benefitted from his well balanced scoring. Buddy hit a team high six three pointers, scored in transition, and tossed a crowd erupting oop to teammate Cameron Clark as Oklahoma defeated their first ranked opponent this season. Hield’s stellar play not only bumped himself up to 7th place (16.8 ppg ) on the conference scoring list, but helped deliver OU a nice resume booster for when NCAA tournament time comes along.
Wayne Selden - Kansas
Kansas freshman, Wayne Selden Jr. made an emphatic debut in the first two Big 12 conference games of his young career. In wins over Oklahoma and #25 Kansas State, Wayne scored 22 points per game and he hit eight three pointers on 53% shooting as the Jayhawks jumped out to a 2-0 start in conference play.
Selden’s sharp shooting came as a relief to a Kansas squad that has struggled from long range all season. Wayne broke his previous career high by 10 points in his 24 point outburst on Wednesday and backed it up with 20 more the following Saturday in Lawrence. Not only does this mark the first time Selden has gone for back to back 20 point games, but marked the first time he’s strung together two double digit scoring outings. Selden’s hot conference start will continue to be tested as Kansas plays top 15 schools Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor consecutively in a seven day span.
Karviar Shepherd - TCU
TCU big man, Karviar Shepherd, proved to be one of the conference’s top rebounders during the non-conference season, but he’s having a rough introduction to Big 12 play as he’s seen his rebounding numbers plummet in the Horned Frogs first three conference games. Shepherd came into the Big 12 season averaging 8.6 rebounds per game, but has just mustered 3.67 rpg in losses against WVU, K-State and Baylor. Even with the return of power forward Amric Fields, the Horned Frogs are going to need Karviar’s production on the defensive glass if they hope to improve on their dismal conference record from a year ago.
Will Spradling - Kansas State
The Kansas State Wildcats are one of the top defensive teams in the conference, but also a team that struggles with scoring outside of Marcus Foster and Thomas Gipson. Although Will Spradling is a reliable ball handler and low turnover point guard, he’s sporting the lowest shooting percentages of his career. Will is currently riding a 5 game stretch in which he’s only shooting 29% from the field and 25% from three. Despite being an 80+ % free throw shooter through three college seasons, Spradling is even struggling from the line this year as his free throw percentage has fallen over 20 points from last season. With a lot of high scoring teams in the conference, the Wildcats would greatly benefit from their senior starter to find his stroke again and regain some shooting confidence.
Top 5 Senior Prospects
The Big 12 has a lot of really good senior talent this season, and here is a look at my top 5 senior NBA prospects
1. Markel Brown - Oklahoma State
Range: Late 1st to early 2nd round
Oklahoma State is often regarded as having one of the best backcourts in the nation, and Markel Brown is a major reason why. Despite being a tad short for a shooting guard, Brown is an elite athlete who measured a 6‘7.5’’ wingspan at the 2013 Kevin Durant Skills Academy. He has a very versatile skill set that includes ball handling, driving ability and he’s developed his long range game over the years as well.
Markel is an improved defender, and although he still has room to grow on that end his length and athleticism allows him to block 1.2 shots per game which is very impressive for a 6’3’’ player. With many combo guards being offensive specialists, with some continued work, Brown’s athletic ability and length give him the potential to be a well rounded two way combo guard.
Range: Late 1st to early 2nd round
Not only is Cameron Clark the leading scorer in the Big 12, but also one of the most improved players in the country. At 6’7’’ Clark possess the size and skill level to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions and plays a variety of roles in Oklahoma’s 4 guard lineups. He is an excellent mid range shooter, and a very efficient one at that. Clark is shooting 47% from inside the arc, 42% from beyond and is an 82% free throw shooter.
Clark is very creative in getting his shots off. Although an average athlete by NBA standards, Cameron is great shooting off the dribble, off a screen and displays an array of step backs, post ups and is great at drawing fouls. He is an average defender, but his appeal at the next level is his scoring ability and fantastic mid-range game. It’s unsure how much upside Clark has, but he’s reserved his best games while matched up against other pro prospects has he torched both Michigan State and Kansas to the tune of 32 points a piece.
Range: Early to mid 2nd round
Efficient, hard working, and athletic, Cory Jefferson has a lot of tools that NBA GM’s look for. He is a terrific athlete at a chiseled 6’9’’ 220 lbs with a wingspan that appears to be over 7 feet. Jefferson is a good shot blocker and post defender, and is a perfect guy to plug into your lineup and have produce without making mistakes. He’s putting up 13.5 ppg 8.8 rpg and 1.7 bpg for the Bears this year, and his hustle plays and altered shots are some of his strengths that don’t show up on paper.
At 23, he isn’t a very high upside player, and despite some work on his shot he’s still a guy who is best used close to the basket. Cory is also a little light for an NBA power forward, but his strength and length may help neutralize his lack of bulk. Still, in the 2nd round he’s a good option because he knows who he is as a player, is a steady producer, and has NBA caliber athletic ability and length.
4. Melvin Ejim
Range: Late 2nd round to undrafted
Melvin Ejim really looked to expand his game from his Junior to Senior seasons and as a result I feel he did wonders for his pro appeal. At 6’6’’ 220 lbs, Ejim played the role of an undersized power forward last year, and actually lead the league in rebounding. He has worked on his handle, shot and has played small forward this season. Ejim is an elite athlete, with a quick jump, and explosive first step. Now that he’s improved his ball handling, he can use it off the dribble to great success. He’s also a 35% three point shooter, a 76% shooter from the free throw stripe and averaging 18 ppg for the 14-1 Cyclones.
Ejim still needs some more polish on his ball handling and long range game, but I feel his athletic ability make him an intriguing option. He hasn’t been playing his new position long, and I feel there is still some room for him to improve as a player and possibly fill the role of a 3 and D player in the NBA.
5. DeAndre Kane
Range: Late 2nd round to undrafted
DeAndre Kane has been one of the Big 12’s most well rounded and top performers this season. Kane is 6’4’’ a very strong 200 lbs. and he uses this to his full advantage going up against other guards. He is an good athlete and his strength is at an NBA level. DeAndre is a creative scorer, who attacks the rim and has a nice post game as well. I feel could give minutes at the point guard position as well as the shooting guard spot at the next level. Kane is averaging 16.5 ppg 7.3 rpg and 6.1 apg this season and barely missed out on a 30 point triple double against Baylor as he went for 30 points 8 rebounds and 9 assists.
Kane will turn 25 this summer and that may hurt his draft stock, and he’s an improved long range shooter, but still not that great. He’s also only a 65% shooter from the free throw line, which is below average for a guard. Still, Kane is physically ready to make the jump, is an intense competitor and his experience running the point guard this year I feel has helped him out as he could catch on as a 2nd or 3rd point guard even if he isn’t drafted.
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