Player of the Week
Carrick Felix, Arizona State
In 2 wins this past week over the Los Angeles schools, Felix averaged 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds to go along with his as always stout defensive effort. Felix is a senior swing man who is recently climbing onto draft radars as a potential second rounder while
He continues to help lead a solid under the radar Arizona State Sun Devil team. Felix has always been known as a good athlete who leaves it out there on the defensive end where he guards the other teams best perimeter player. But now in his senior season, he has also established a more consistent and well rounded offensive repertoire. Carrick is averaging 15 points on the year and has scored in double figures in all but 2 games for the 16-4 Sun Devils. And at 6-6 200lbs, he does an admirable job hitting the boards where he averages just over 8 per game. He wont take guys off the dribble much, but he will makes the opposition pay if they forget about him.
Mike Ladd, Washington State
Ladd is a 6-5” senior shooting guard who has been coming on strong for a struggling Washington State squad in need of playmakers. After only averaging 5 points per contest a year ago, Ladd was viewed as a serviceable role player coming into this his final year of college ball for the Cougars. And early on he appeared content with that role not taking more then 10 field goal attempts in any of the clubs first 13 games. But in the last 8 games, Ladd has shown much more aggression as he has put up 17 points and 7 rebounds per contest while attempting more then 10 field goals in all but one of those contests. In his most recent outing, a 3 point victory over Oregon State, Ladd scored 23 points on 10-11 field goal shooting. While it doesn’t appear that Mike Ladd will graduate on a particularly successful team, he at least will go out swinging and showcasing that he is capable of being a difference maker in the pac 12.
Abdul Gaddy, Washington
Unless things change dramatically over these next few months, it appears that the legacy of the once highly touted recruit Abdul Gaddy will come to a rather disappointing end. Gaddy has not taken the steps in is senior year that some anticipated with more freedom to run the show as the primary ball handler and playmaker. Gaddy got off to a decent start scoring double digits in 10 of the teams first 12 games. But things have slowed down considerably since with him hitting double digits in only 2 of the last 8 games with an average of 8.5ppg on 35% shooting. And its not like he has made up for the lack of scoring with more assists as he’s only handing out 3 of those per game in this 8 game stretch as well. It is perplexing to watch as I have followed gaddy’s career since high school and I have always been a believer in his abilities. The torn ACL that cost him half his sophomore campaign certainly didn’t help things, but it is still difficult to see how such a skilled ball handler with terrific pg size at 6-3 and 200lbs could struggle so much in what should be his breakout season.
Upcoming game of the week
Colorado at Oregon, Feb 7th
At 7-1 in conference play, Oregon is off to a strong lead in the Pac 12 race for the regular season championship. They already knocked off Arizona and do not have to play them again. The Ducks reeled off 9 straight wins to climb all the way to #10 nationally only to lay an egg vs. Stanford this past Wednesday losing by 24 points. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks overcome an embarrassing loss going forward in these next few games. It wont be easy for them as a very solid Colorado Buffalo team will be coming into town on February 7th. The Buffaloes are 14-6 on the year and battling week by week to keep their tourney hopes alive. Colorado actually has a very strong rpi of 19 which is higher then that of Oregon’s so the numbers certainly will help Tad Boyle’s group but a signature win over a ranked team would be nice. Both teams like to get up and down the court and are excellent rebounding squads who take care of the glass. It might come down to which team does a better job taking care of the basketball for two squads that can be a little turnover prone at times.
Top 5 Big Men
1-Brock Motum, Washington State
Motum is averaging 19 points and 6.6 rebounds while carrying the load for a mediocre Cougar squad that relies heavily on the 6-10 Aussie big man to create offense in half court sets. Motum’s field goal percentage has dropped considerably from seasons past as he has had to settle for more long range and off the dribble shots then he would ideally like to in this his senior year.
2-Travis Wear, UCLA
Travis has come on really strong scoring in double figures in 9 straight games for the Bruins and his absence was felt strongly in a recent loss to Arizona State where Wear had to sit due to a concussion. Travis is an excellent spot shooter where he his hitting 53% of his shots on the year and making teams pay who sag off him to help out on the perimeter players of UCLA.
3-Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State
Jordan is a 7-2 big man with legit post skills who can alter games at the defensive end as well as anybody in the pac 12 where he blocks over 4 shots per game. Jordan recently had a monster night in a win over UCLA where he posted 22 points 15 rebounds and 6 block shots. Bachynski has soft hands and demonstrates a lot of patience when he gets the ball down low throwing 2 to 3 moves at opponents in hopes that they bite and commit. Only a junior, it will be interesting to see if he tests the draft waters this summer.
4-Dwight Powell, Stanford
Powell has long intrigued scouts with his versatile perimeter skills to match his long 6-10 frame. He has been largely a project of sorts in his first few seasons at Stanford but has been emerging as a junior showcasing a stronger frame and more assertive moves attacking the basket. He has excellent shooting mechanics where he shoots 38% from three and 80% from the ft line. His averages are just a shade under 15 points and 8 rebounds a night. His stock as an NBA candidate might not be very high right now, but he is a guy who could really impress with individual workouts as scouts get a view of his solid skill set.
5-Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon
Kazemi is a bit undersized at just 6-7, but despite his modest frame, he still finds a way to grab almost 10 boards a night for the top 25 ranked Oregon Ducks. Arsalan has tremendous footwork where he moves around the court laterally like a guard and gets to the right spot on the court and uses his high IQ and soft hands to get rebounds and loose balls despite not getting off the ground too high. Almost unselfish to a fault, Kazemi rarely forces anything on offense but provides for a great relief point in half court sets as he can handle the ball and make the smart pass with his advanced perimeter skills for a big man.
Freshman starting point guard Dominic Artis has missed the last couple games for Oregon with an ankle injury. And while it doesn’t excuse getting blown out like they did, his absence was sorely felt in their recent loss to Stanford where backup Johnathan Loyd took over the starting spot and put up 0 points and 0 assists versus the Cardinal in 26 minutes of play.
-After climbing back into the top 25, UCLA has lost 3 of 4 relinquishing all of their momentum and putting them squarely back into the bubble mix of teams around the country. The one win in that stretch was against top 10 Arizona in a game that was probably more indicative of the Bruins playing above and beyond themselves in their most impressive game to date rather then a true indication of who they are as a squad at this point.
-As I continue to watch the Pac 12 race unfold, I still believe Arizona is the best team in the conference. Oregon fans might disagree, but Arizona still has a more impressive resume to date and on a neutral court, I think they beat anyone else more times out of 10.
-At 13-8 overall, Stanford has come up well short of the pre-season expectations I had for them which included thinking they were the third best team in the pac 12 and capable of having a top 25 season. But despite the teams poor shooting struggles that have existed all year, this team still has a chance to beat anyone on any given night as evidenced by the beat down they gave Oregon on Wednesday. In fact all but one of their losses have been close games decided by single digits including coming up short in out of conference games against ranked opponents like Missouri, NC State and Minnesota. Keep an eye on this team going forward.