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Gift Giver

Player of the Week

Shannon ScottShannon ScottShannon Scott, G, Ohio State

It doesn't matter who you are playing - 8 points, 4 rebounds, 12 assists and 7 steals is one hell of a day at the office. Scott had a day against North Carolina A&T. He controlled all aspects of the game, including defensive pressure, pace, fast break opportunities, and offensive execution.

Scott's been fortunate enough to play on some Ohio State teams littered with great athletes. He's got excellent dribbling ability and is usually the catalyst for the Buckeyes' fast break. He's hovering around 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio which is tremendous. The biggest strength for Scott is his ability to balance an aggressive, fast-paced, up-and-down game plan while still making really good decisions with the ball. Scott doesn't put teammates in good positions; he puts teammates in GREAT positions. Attention to detail is customary for Scott. Chest passes are thrown right into the midsection and outlets are perfectly thrown to a streaking guard.

Currently, Scott is 3rd in the nation in steals, averaging three per game. I've previously discussed how good he is on defense, and historical Big Ten figures are also cementing Scott's place in conference history. Right now, Shannon Scott has the third best defensive rating in Big Ten history. I love that Thad Matta allows him to pick up full-court man whenever Scott sees an opportunity for a steal or the chance to cause trouble for an opposing point guard. Both his hands and his feet are lightning quick. Scott's ability to produce in so many different ways provides so much value. Ohio State depends on so many things from Shannon Scott, and all he does it keep exceeding expectations.

Who's Hot

Marvin Clark Jr., G, Michigan St.

A freshman transitioning from high school basketball to college basketball is such a crap shoot. For those freshmen that do find success their first year on campus, three things must occur.

First, a freshman must have a very short memory.Earlier this year, Clark Jr. was a non-factor in Michigan State's two biggest non-conference games against Duke and Kansas, going 1-10 from the field with 6 fouls total in those two games. From the lack of output in those games, Tom Izzo played Clark Jr. just 4 minutes in the Spartans' overtime loss to Notre Dame. However, Marvin Clark Jr. has done a wonderful job of forgetting about past games this year and focusing on the future. In his last 3 games, he is averaging 11 points per game and shooting better than 60% from the field. Every college player will go through ups and downs. It's been very impressive that Clark Jr. was able to bounce back, get right back into Izzo's rotation, and start playing about 15 minutes per game.

Second, a freshman has to quickly get accustomed to the physicality of college basketball. That's not a problem for the thick, well-built Clark Jr. He's listed at 6'6" and 225 pounds, but he throws his body around well enough that he plays closer to 235 or 240 pounds. He's good enough at the power dribble to get into open spots in the interior of the defense. Naturally, he plays well through contact and can finish around the rim while getting fouled.

Third, a freshman must adjust his game and find ways to contribute on both ends of the floor. My absolute favorite thing about Clark Jr.'s game so far this year is his transition from being primarily an outside shooter to now getting easier shots in the paint. In Clark Jr.'s first 6 games, he shots 18 three-pointers. In his last 5 games? Just 10 attempts from deep. Not only that, but of the 18 total free throw attempts he's had, 13 have come in the last three games. If he continues to alter his game and use his body to take higher percentage shots, Marvin Clark Jr. will have success scoring against other guards in Big Ten conference play.

Who's Not

Tre Demps, G, Northwestern

It's been a struggle so far for the 6'3" junior. With Drew Crawford departing and Vic Law discovering the pace and physicality of college basketball, Demps is taking on a bigger offensive role for Northwestern. The stats show Demps attempting two more field goal attempts this year while playing almost the exact same amount of minutes. This week, Demps went 4-17 from the field as the Wildcats dropped an ugly one at home against Central Michigan.

Last year for Northwestern, Demps carried the Wildcats to big conference wins against Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue. However, Demps normally got off to slow starts in those games. That's the same situation this year, and his attempt to play Hero Ball down the stretch is not working out.

For a Big Ten guard, Demps must exert every ounce of athleticism and skill he has to compete. Demps forces up many tough shots, and it's not necessary. Alex Olah is shooting better than 50% from the field and has really improved his outside game. Those two extra shots that Demps is taking should be apportioned to Olah or Bryant McIntosh.

Currently, Demps is shooting under 35% from the floor and under 28% from deep. While Chris Collins does not have a very deep team, Demps has to find more ways to contribute, as he averages less than 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game. He's an average defender at best, yet does a decent job at taking care of the basketball.

Top 5 Gift Givers/Assist Men in the B1G

These guys are the best at wrapping it in a bow and delivering it to you perfectly.

1. Shannon Scott. Ohio State

As chronicled above, he's the most reliable decision-maker with the ball in his hands. He does such a good job distributing to all his athletic teammates.

2. Travis Trice, Michigan State

For a guy that played so much off the ball last year and had a non-traditional point guard role, posting 63 assists with just 17 turnovers so far this year is unbelievable. Trice can get into the lane and distribute to the opposite block or kick opposite. His fundamental passing skills are right there with Scott.

3. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana

The master of the always dangerous jump-pass, Yogi is so good at getting to the hole and throwing the wrap around to a big man or getting an overhead toss out to the key for an open three-point shooter. There's always major pace on his passes.

4. Deandre Mathieu, Minnesota

He takes on the responsibility of being the Gophers' primary ball handler. For a guy who averaged 2.7 turnovers per game last season, Mathieu has improved so much at taking care of the rock. His physical ability has always been there; now that he's not turning it over, his game has gone to another level.

5. D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State

Despite having 32 turnovers already this year, Russell round out the five guys in the conference that is averaging more than 5 assists per game. To be honest, the point guard position is not a strength in the Big Ten this year. Other option were Mike Gesell, Myles Mack and Denzel Valentine, but they don't exhibit the qualities to be considered a quality gift-giver. Those three are more like when the Grinch is sloppily tossing jury duty and blackmail into people's mailboxes.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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