Hoops Artisan

Player of the Week

Jamel Artis - Pittsburgh

Jamel ArtisJamel ArtisArtis is currently the leading scorer in the ACC at 22 points per game and his 43 point outing last week in a loss to Louisville is a big reason why. Without Artis' performance for the ages, Pitt might have lost that game by 50. He was the only player that seemed engaged in that contest and he was one of the only Panthers to have any success. Michael Young was ineffective to say the least because of his new mask he's wearing for protection. Artis has been extremely effective this season even though he's playing out of position. He's being asked to play on the ball predominantly and while he has play making abilities, he's just not a true PG. He's improved upon every single aspect of his game so far this season under new Head Coach Kevin Stallings' system but while the results have been there in the stats sheet, it hasn't translated to a lot of wins now that ACC play has begun.

Who's Hot

Steve Vasturia - Notre Dame

Vasturia is one of those players that seems like he's been at Notre Dame for 10 years. He's been an impact player and a solid contributor since he walked on campus but this year he's being asked to be more than just a role player and he's really come into his own because of it. He might look like he's 14 years old, he's playing like the aged veteran that he is. He is second on the team in scoring, just less than a point behind Bonzi Colson and is one of the best three point shooters in the league. The Irish are a veteran team and have been tearing through their conference slate. They are the lone unbeaten team in conference play to this point and Vasturia is a big reason why. The team travels to Tallahassee on Wednesday night in what is the biggest conference game of the season so far.

Who's Not

NC State

The Wolfpack are reeling right now. After a big win at home against a ranked Virginia Tech team just a few weeks back, they've dropped three straight conference games to UNC, Boston College and Georgia Tech at home. The UNC win can be forgiven as well as the Heels have played lately but a team with the talent level of NC State should be losing on the road to a team like Boston College nor should they lose at home to Georgia Tech even though Josh Pastner's team has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. Defensive lapses, turnovers and a lack of ball movement on offense has plagued this team at times this season, and while they were able to overcome it against lesser competition earlier in the season, all of those things have come back to haunt them lately.

For everything that Dennis Smith is at this point, he's still far from a finished product and his shot selection and propensity to play what I like to call "hero ball" is still there. He draws comparisons to Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook and both of those guys have those same tendencies. But the Wolfpack have more problems than just Smith's poor shot selection. Mark Gottfried seems to have fallen in love with a four guard lineup that just doesn't work well on defense and on the glass. They don't close out to shooters very well and they get very little out of the post. They are still an extremely talented team, but one that needs to turn things around quickly if they want to keep their shot at making the NCAA Tournament.

Top 5 Surprise Teams/Players

1. Notre Dame

Losing Demetrius Jackson and Zack Auguste would be devastating for most teams. But this team has silenced the doubters to the tune of 5-0 and leading the ACC.

2. Luke Kennard - Duke

Leading the Blue Devils in scoring. On a team with the firepower that this one has, that's saying something. Especially for a guy who wasn't even projected as a starter once everyone got healthy. Now he's going to get first round looks if he decides to leave for the Draft.

3. John Collins - Wake Forest

Wake doesn't have very many ACC wins this season but that's more a sign of youth and inexperience than anything. They've played much better than I thought they would and a lot of that has to do with the play of Collins. He's averaging 15.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on the season to lead the Deac’s in all categories.

4. NC State

See above.

5. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is like the anti-NC State as far as this list goes. I had them as the 14th best team in the conference coming into the season and potentially winning 2-3 ACC games. They've already won three and we are barely halfway through January. Josh Pastner deserves a lot of credit for this team being where it is.

Follow me on Twitter @CCroweNBADraft

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