Player of the Week
TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA
In a game that featured as much talent on the court as any game all season on the college level, TJ Leaf was the best player on the floor in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday. He put up a monster 17 point, 13 rebound and 5 assist stat line and outplayed his Kentucky counterparts. In the process he proved that his gaudy 17 and 9 averages on the season are no fluke. The Bruins are out to a 9-0 record and while much of the credit has been heaped on freshman Lonzo Ball, Leaf deserves a lot of credit in his own right. His baseline drive around Bam Adebayo for a dunk punctuated his and the Bruin's arrival on the national level. They appear here to stay as they have moved up to 2nd on national polls and become a legitimate Final Four and National Title contender. Leaf's ability to rebound and his polished offensive game make him an intriguing prospect for the next level. He has excellent touch and shows a very good face the basket game with range out to the 3 point line. He'll need to get stronger and improve defensively, but his competitiveness and intelligence give him a lot of promise and has him rocketing up draft boards.
Ivan Rabb, Forward (California)
Rabb missed the two first games for the Golden Bears, but has been a dominant force since the moment he stepped on the court. Rabb has not only scored in double figures in every game he has played, but he has also recorded ten or more rebounds in four of the five games he has played. In two games this week Rabb scored 25 and 26 points respectively, while also corralling 13 rebounds on Wednesday against Louisiana Tech. He also shot a scorching 19-24 from the field in those two games. Rabb is showing that he made a wise decision in returning to Cal for another season. He looks bigger, stronger, and more skilled in the post than he did a year ago. If he can continue to extend his mid-range jump shot, he can challenge to be a lottery pick in this year's draft.
Isaac Hamilton, Guard (UCLA)
So far this season, most of the talk about UCLA has revolved around the implementation of Lonzo Ball into the backcourt. While Ball has been vital in the Bruin’s offensive potency this year, it is hard to ignore Hamilton’s play off the ball. Hamilton is currently averaging 18.1 points per game and shooting 45.3 % from three-point territory. He also made 10-17 threes in his last two games, while also shooting 57.1% from the field. He played an important role in knocking off top-ranked Kentucky on the road, with 19 points and 3-5 from deep.
Kyle Kuzma, Forward (Utah)
Kuzma flirted with a triple-double on Thursday night against Montana State, with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists. Kuzma is averaging 18.3 points per game over his last three and has been a consistent go-to option for the Utes. Kuzma has showcased his versatility on offense to begin the year, leading Utah to a strong 5-1 start. He needs to improve his shot from the perimeter to take the next step forward, but nonetheless, he will be a dependable offensive player for the Utes this season.
Sam Cuncliffe, Guard (Arizona State)
The sharpshooting freshman guard has scored in double figures in every game this season so far for the Sun Devils. However, after a torrid start, Cuncliffe struggled to find the same rhythm offensively this week that he did to start the season. While he did score 14 points against both Kentucky and UNLV this week, Cuncliffe shot just 8-28 from the field and 4-13 from three-point territory. He’s also struggled a bit defensively, as has the entire Arizona State team, as the Sun Devils watch the outstanding guard trio for Kentucky light them up on Monday. Cuncliffe has the ability to fill up the stat sheet in a hurry from deep, but teams are starting to figure him out already, and he will need to find ways to score more efficiently.
Updated Power Rankings
1. UCLA Bruins
UCLA is at the top of the conference now after their impressive victory over top-ranked Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday. Many were skeptical about how UCLA would fare against better competition, and if their subpar defense would hold up against the high-flying Kentucky Wildcats. The Bruins made a statement on Saturday and proved they could score against anybody in the nation. They also did a great job of limiting the talented backcourt for Kentucky. This team has so many weapons offensively and is as talented as anyone in the conference. Right now, the Pac-12 looks like UCLA’s to lose.
2. USC Trojans
Everyone was excited to see how Andy Enfield’s high-octane offense would be this year. So far, they’ve been terrific, starting 8-0 this season. The Trojans have scored over 80 points four times this season, while twice eclipsing the 90-point mark. They haven’t played against great competition yet, but it is pleasing to see them take care of business in games they are favored. The MCL injury to Bennie Boatwright will test the Trojans, but they have a talented group of guards and a lot of athleticism.
3. Oregon Ducks
The Ducks got off to a rocky start after losses to Baylor and Georgetown. They have a lot of talent and depth, but they don’t seem to be playing as one cohesive unit right now. Easing Dillon Brooks back into the lineup should help them improve as the season progresses, but for Oregon to take the next step, they need to start playing more together.
4. Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats lack of depth and abrupt roster changes are appearing to have a major impact on them. With Ray Smith retiring due to knee injuries and the Alonzo Trier ineligibility issue still lingering, Arizona hasn’t been able to adjust yet. This team is very young and talented but has lost to two ranked opponents already in Butler and Gonzaga. They have three stud freshman in Lauri Markkanen, Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons, but they have yet to live up to their potential as a unit. Arizona has a chance to be a really good team by the end of the year, but they have got to resolve their issues with depth.
The Buffaloes have challenged themselves early with a tough non-conference schedule, but they’ve proved they can compete against top competition. A couple weeks ago, they knocked off a talented Texas team, and there two losses have been to tough Notre Dame and Colorado State teams. Xavier Johnson and Derrick White have stepped in and done a terrific job. Colorado is experienced and athletic top to bottom. They have a chance to be a sleeper in the Pac-12 this season.