Player of the Week
Reggie Hamilton, Oakland, PG, Senior, 5-11 175 lbs.
The Chicago-born product has been on a tear during the month of February. In three games this past week, he scored over 30 points and shot 54.8 3P%, while also dishing out 4.0 APG. He led Oakland (15-13) to wins in each of those three games and the Golden Grizzlies are now in a tie for third place in the Summit League. Hamilton, the nation’s leading scorer, has scored over 30 points in 10 games this season, and he has scored over 40 points in two games. His ability to push the tempo and get to the basket is un-paralleled in the Summit League, and he is a tough guard for any opposing team. His style of play is reminiscent of a young, lean (and in better shape) version of Baron Davis. Hamilton’s stat line: 24.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.1 SPG, 43.7 FG%, 39.3 3P%, and 89.9 FT%.
T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State, PF, Senior, 6-8 205 lbs.
Most of the publicity surrounding Long Beach State (19-6) features discussion about the 49ers’ standout point guard, Casper Ware. A player is often looked over during those discussions is T.J. Robinson, a senior who is a double-double machine for Long Beach State and a vital part of the team’s potential to be a “bracket buster” in March. For the season, Robinson has posted 13 double-doubles, including three straight this past week during Long Beach State’s victories over UC-Davis, Pacific, and CS-Northridge, and he’s averaging 12.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG. The 49ers are on a 12-game winning streak and will face Creighton (22-5) on Saturday in what should be one of the most entertaining mid-major matchups of the weekend.
Wyoming Cowboys (18-7, 4-5)
After the first 15 games of the season, the Cowboys were 13-2 and appearing to be a contender for the Mountain West Conference crown. Misfortune has irked its way into the Wyoming locker room as the team has lost four of its last six games and now sits at 18-7. Wyoming lost its two games this week: one to Air Force, 58-53, and the other to a tough New Mexico (21-4) squad, 48-38. There is still time for the Cowboys to rebound as long as they can fix their shooting woes and stop giving up big plays down in the clutch.
Top 25 Teams
11. UNLV (22-5, 6-3)
UNLV beat #13 San Diego State (20-5) last Saturday, 65-63, and followed up that key victory with an overtime loss on the road against TCU (15-10). Despite all five UNLV starters scoring in double figures for the game, UNLV could not pull out a win. TCU out-rebounded UNLV 43-31.
13. San Diego State (20-5, 6-3)
Two consecutive losses for the Aztecs this week: one to #11 UNLV (22-5) and the other to New Mexico (21-4). The Lobos shot 52.6% from three-point land while holding San Diego State to 21.4% in that game.
16. Murray State (25-1, 13-1)
Beat Southeast Missouri State (14-12) and Austin Peay (9-19). Donte Poole poured in 25 points and 4 rebounds against Southeast Missouri State. The Racers face #21 Saint Mary’s (23-4) on Saturday in what should be the best mid-major showdown of the weekend.
21. Saint Mary’s (23-4, 12-2)
Lost to Loyola Marymount (17-10) on Wednesday, 75-60, and beat Santa Clara, 82-67, last Saturday. In the game vs. Loyola Marymount, Saint Mary’s was held to 38.6 FG% and 21.4 3P% as Loyola Marymount stifled the Gaels in a 15-point victory.
24. Gonzaga (21-4, 11-2)
The Bulldogs look like the best team in the West Coast Conference one week, then they look like the second or third best team the next week. Curiously, they beat Saint Mary’s (23-4) by 14 points earlier this month, but in January they lost to Saint Mary’s by 21. This week, however, Gonzaga blasted Loyola Marymount (17-10), 78-59, and then beat Santa Clara (8-18), 73-62.
25. Wichita State (23-4, 14-2)
The Shockers made “some noise” on Saturday by beating then Top 25-ranked Creighton (22-5) by 21 points and holding the Blue Jays to 40.4 FG% and 21.7 3P%. Wichita State sits atop the Missouri Valley Conference, but they will no doubt be challenged by Creighton come conference tournament time.
Mid-Major Power Rankings
1. UNLV (22-5)
2. Wichita State (23-4)
3. Gonzaga (20-4)
4. Saint Mary’s (23-4)
5. San Diego State (20-5)
6. Murray State (25-1)
7. Temple (20-5)
8. New Mexico (21-4)
9. Memphis (19-7)
10. BYU (21-6)
Top 5 Under-the-Radar Players
1. Deonte Burton, Nevada, PG, Sophomore, 6-1 185 lbs.
The product of Los Angeles, CA has been the glue to the Nevada team this year and he’s a major reason why the Wolfpack are 22-4 and sitting atop the WAC. Nevada has also won 19 of its past 20 games. Burton can attack the hoop with the best of them and his three-point shooting ability is one of the main reasons why he’s considered a second round draft prospect for June’s NBA Draft. Playing at Nevada does not give him the national publicity that usually helps players with his type of talent rise on draft boards, but Burton is a “baller” and he’s shown that he can play with top competition. As one example, against Washington (18-8), Burton scored 31 points and collected 6 rebounds and 6 assists while connecting on 9-18 field goals and 4-6 three-pointers. For the season, Burton averages 14.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.2 SPG and shoots 42.3 FG%, 39.5 3P%, and 76.3 FT%.
2. Drew Viney, Loyola-Marymount, SF, Senior, 6-8 210 lbs.
Viney started his collegiate career at Oregon before transferring to Loyola Marymount in the 2008-09 season. Since transferring, Viney has been one of the most productive players in the West Coast Conference, averaging 16.7 PPG as a sophomore, 17.2 PPG as a junior, and 16.3 PPG this season as a senior. Viney combines a great shooting stroke with an ability to move without the ball, resulting in lots of open shots and excellent shooting percentages (48.4 FG%, 46.0 3P%, 79.0 FT%). His style of play is similar to Richard Hamilton’s, but with more range to his shot. For the season, Viney has scored in double figures in 15 games out of the 17 he’s played (he missed 10 games early in the season due to a foot injury) and he’s averaging 16.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, and 0.9 SPG.
3. Ray McCallum, Detroit, PG, Sophomore, 6-1 180 lbs.
McCallum has flown “under-the-radar” since being ranked the 17th overall recruit coming out of high school in 2010. He’s easily Detroit’s top-ranked recruit in the history of the program and high expectations came with that label. His numbers have been solid, but not incredible. The general style of play in the Horizon League does not cater to high points per game averages as most games end with the winners scoring in the 60s or low 70s, but McCallum has played well with what he’s been dealt. He’s scored in double figures in every game but three this season, including a 21-point, 4 assist performance against St. John’s (10-16) and a 20-point, 7 rebound, 4 assist performance against #23 Notre Dame (18-8). McCallum is quick, fluid with the ball, and he can penetrate against any defender. He struggles to shoot the “3 ball” and that may limit his attractiveness to NBA scouts. His play is comparable to a mixed version of Andre Miller and Tony Parker. For the season, McCallum is averaging 15.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, while shooting 45.5 FG%, 26.3 3P%, and 75.0 FT%.
4. Garrett Stutz, Wichita State, C, Senior, 7-0 255 lbs.
An unsung hero of the Shockers’ recent surge. Stutz is a quality big man among mid-major schools and his 7-0 255 lbs. frame helps him clear space in the paint and hold his own against opponents on the low block. He was a contributor during his sophomore and junior seasons, averaging 7.2 PPG and 7.8 PPG, respectively, but he has improved greatly this season. He has scored over 20 points in 6 games, he posted 29 points and 10 rebounds against Evansville (13-13) and posted 24 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks against Indiana State (16-11). In Wichita State’s conference games, Stutz has averaged 17.0 PPG and 9.1 RPG. Surprisingly, though, in two games against Creighton (22-5) he has averaged 6.5 PPG and 2.5 RPG.
5. LaMarcus Reed III, UT-Arlington, SG, Senior, 6-5 200 lbs.
Reed III is a solid wing player and an effective scorer. He doesn’t play in a well-known conference, and he doesn’t get many opportunities to showcase his skills on the nation stage, but he can score and he can be a game changer. His ability to shoot off the dribble and his consistency in taking good shots make him a prospect that scouts should take a look at when preparing for the NBA Draft. In UT-Arlington’s (20-5) conference games this year, Reed III has averaged 19.6 PPG and for the season he’s scored over 20 points in 7 games. One of his best outings came against #6 Baylor (22-4) when he finished with 21 points (7-13 FG, 4-5 3P) and 3 rebounds. His state line for the season: 16.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 46.0 FG%, 39.3 3P%, and 80.1 FT%.