Player of the Week
Mark Lyons, Arizona Wildcats
Mark might not have the best stats over the past two weeks, but he showed his confidence in a win over #5 Florida. Down the stretch, he hit the game winner and gets the nod this week for his leadership and clutch playmaking. Lyons has averaged 17 points per game on 58% shooting to go with 4.3 assists while the team has gone 3-0, remaining undefeated. In the aforementioned Florida game, Lyons showed supreme confidence in the final minutes. After taking and missing a three point shot late, he remained aggressive going one on one with under 10 seconds left, down one he drove the lane to hit a tough running contested bank shot from 6 feet. The move snatched the win from the jaws of defeat and gave Arizona the victory after trailing by 6 with under a minute to go.
Roberto Nelson, Oregon State Beavers
Nelson has shown stretches of offensive brilliance in each of his three seasons of college ball in Corvallis with occasional scoring outbursts often followed by rough stretches. Count this past week up as one of those impressive stretches as he has helped lead the Oregon State Beavers to a 4-0 record over the past two weeks while scoring 23 points per contest on 56% shooting from the field. Nelson has a variety of offensive tools at his disposal from the sg position. He can create space using the dribble and has the unique skill to hit contested shots from an assortment of angles that you usually see from NBA caliber wings. He has good size and strength and if he ever shows a level of consistency he could get some looks as a possible NBA player.
Jio Fontan, USC Trojans
After missing all of last season, I had very high expectations for the senior point guard including him amongst my all conference predictions. But Jio has struggled thus far averaging 9.1 points on just 30% shooting from the field. The senior has never been a high percentage shooter in college, but this year he has failed to show the dynamic play making ability of seasons past and it has translated to lack of team success where the Trojans currently sit as the only Pac 12 squad with a losing record at 4-6. Jio is coming off a serious injury, so he may still get his groove going in conference play which the Trojans will desperately need from their leader if they plan on being a competitor in the Pac 12 this year.
Team of the Week
As was noted above with Lyon’s player of the week nod, The Wildcats stole a win over a top 5 team and helped heal some serious bleeding for the conference as whole after recent years of inferiority on the national stage. Now the Wildcats represent the conference with a legit title caliber squad and present an opportunity for a quality win for any team capable of knocking them off in Pac 12 play. The Wildcats also knocked out Clemson and Oral Roberts over the past two weeks to go 3-0 over the stretch. The roster is deep with three quality starting perimeter players in Lyons, Nick Johnson and sf Solomon Hill. Hill continues to show his all around skill set by stuffing the box scores to the tune of 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks over the past 3 games. The inside play is led by three outstanding young freshman in Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett. All three guys provide a solid combination of skills and size to make it tough for opposing teams to establish themselves down low playing against the trio who are almost interchangeable in the lineup without losing production or quality of play.
Top 5 Rebounders
Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon Ducks
10.3 rpg in 25 minutes
Kazemi is a tough physical presence who likes to get up close and make opponents feel him while leaving a few bruises along the way. He goes hard after loose balls and is not afraid of hitting the floor. At 6-7, he plays a below the basket game and does most his work without having to get high off the ground.
Eric Moreland, Oregon State Beavers
10.7rpg in 27 minutes
Moreland is a long and lean 6-10 weighing in at just 210 pounds. He uses his length and long arms to take care of the boards as well as protect the paint where he blocks over two shots a night. Moreland can run the court and slide his feet well on defense where he can show hard on screens and still get back to his man covering ground quickly. Only a sophomore, he is a guy who might climb into draft consideration going forward.
Andre Roberson, Colorado Buffaloes
12.3 rpg in 34 minutes
At 6-7 and around 210 pounds, Roberson is the smallest of this list. He is a natural sf who is all about effort and hustle. Opponents always have to locate him no matter how far he wanders from the rim as Andre has a knack for crashing the paint with a running start when teammates get shots up. He has a long wing span and great soft hands where once a ball is within reach, he rarely allows it out of his grasp.
Aziz NDiaye, Washington Huskies
9.5rpg in 32 minutes
Aziz is more of typical big man than the others on this list as he is a large 7 feet and 265 pounds. He doesn’t have the best of hands nor is he particularly agile. He is by all facets, a traditional NBA sized big who uses his strength and length to control the backboard and defend the post. N’Diaye shows no interest in roaming out from the rim, he likes to plant himself down low and battle for position which is a comforting site considering the lack of true bigs in college ball.
Dewayne Dedmon, USC Trojans
7.9 rpg in 23 minutes
Dedmon has not broken out as the elite NBA caliber talent that his coach’s praises had many anticipating. But he is a unique 7 footer with great athleticism, who can run the court and occasionally shows flashes of promise with his footwork and decent shooting stroke. Getting 8 boards a contest in just over 20 minutes a night is very solid and there is still some intrigue with Dewayne among scouts.
-Stanford’s Dwight Powell has shown some serious development this season in terms of body strength and aggressive play around the basket. Dwight has averaged 24 points per contest over the last 3 games and has dropped 20+ in 4 of the last 5 games. He is great at facing up his man and using his quicknesss to get into the lane. His frame is much stronger then seasons past and I’m really liking him in terms of an NBA prospect.
-USC is off to a bad start to the year at just 4-6 overall. But it should be noted they have played as tough a schedule as anyone in the Pac 12, having faced 4 currently ranked top 25 teams in Illinois, San Diego State, New Mexico and Minnesota.
-Former UCLA big man Joshua Smith is strongly considering Washington, Kansas and Georgetown as his future destination. He just finished visiting Georgetown this week and rumors are that the Hoyas could be in the lead for his services.
-UCLA has shown solid signs of improvement in recent weeks with the freshman trio of Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams leading the way with all of them finding their groove. Shabazz and Jordan are both pure scorers with excellent mid range games and are both averaging over 18 a night. Kyle has found success playing in the middle of the zone where he can use his length to read defenses and hit the open man or take the shot himself. He is averaging 12 points 7 rebounds and 4 assists over the last 3 games, all wins. And not to leave out senior point guard Larry Drew, Drew is averaging 8.4 assists a game to go with just 1.6 turnovers.
-Speaking of UCLA, they have the Pac 12’s only remaining opportunity to get a quality top 25 win before conference play begins when they take on #12 Missouri on December 28th.
-I was unimpressed with the intensity level I have seen from Washington this year. They played lackadaisical ball for the majority of 40 minutes versus an 0-8 Jackson State squad giving up easy looks on defense and throwing lazy passes on offense where it was a tight game until the final couple minutes where the Huskies pulled it out late. Romar has got too much talent to watch this team play the level of ball I witnessed in that game.
-Cal had the opportunity to get some quality top 25 wins this past week but came up short losing to both UNLV and Creighton. In fact, the Bears have dropped to 3-9 versus top 25 teams under coach Mike Montgommery.
-Utah has been a pleasant surprise at 7-3 and coming off a solid win over an 8-2 SMU team. Combo guard Jarred DuBois is leading the way at 14 points per contest. This team is still a ways away from being a real factor in the Pac 12, but the rebuilding phase in head coach Larry Krystowiak’s second season at the helm.
-Oregon lost a tough game versus UTEP to fall to 9-2 on the season. The Ducks were on the cusp of entering the top 25 prior to the loss where they received the 26th most votes in the associated press’s top 25 last week.