Player of the Week
You really can’t give this award to anyone but Sean “K.O.” Kilpatrick (a nickname of my own invention) even if his team lost a nail-biter at home to Louisville. I’ve been slower than most to jump on the bandwagon this year because of his occasional struggles with inefficiency, but he truly is a stud. He’s scored 22+ in each of the Bearcats’ last five games, a feat no other AAC player has come close to matching this year. He’s continuing to put up a mind-boggling volume of shots, with varying degrees of accuracy from game to game, and generally, it’s been paying off. In the one-point loss to Louisville, Kilpatrick’s 28 points came on 9/26 shooting, which wasn’t stellar, but he made 8/16 against UCF, including 6/12 from deep.
There’s no denying that Kilpatrick is confident, after he took 26 total threes (with nine makes) in Cincy’s two games this week. His lead for the conference scoring title continues to expand, as he now sits 2.7 PPG (with 20.5 PPG) ahead of next-highest scorer Shabazz Napier. The Bearcats fell on Saturday, but they continue to hold a half-game lead in the conference race over Louisville and an immeasurable amount of the credit goes to the play of Sean Kilpatrick.
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
Harrell had the second-best week in the conference. His team got a couple of wins, including a huge road win over conference frontrunner Cincinnati, and he played strong and hard and efficient. He shot 7/9 for 14 points against USF, then recorded 21 and 10 against Cincinnati, his seventh double-double of the season. He’s looking like a guy who could be a very capable NBA power forward right now and his motor rivals that of any other player in the conference.
Austin Nichols, Memphis
Going into Saturday’s contest against Temple, Nichols had had a series of efficient, if not remarkable games (he only missed one shot in each of his previous three games). On Saturday, however, he exploded. He scored 17 points and recorded 12 rebounds and seven blocks, both career highs for him by a good margin. He got an extra five minutes to record stats as the Tigers got an overtime scare against Temple, but it was still his first double-double and his best college game to date. He’s shot 18/25 (72%) in his last four games and is developing into a key piece for the Tigers. Nichols could very well be the best freshman in the conference.
Yanick Moreira, Southern Methodist
Before I continue, let me add that this selection comes with an asterisk because Moreira hasn’t necessarily been all that bad. He has simply taken a while to get back into form after battling with injuries halfway through the season. After a string of six consecutive double-digit scoring performances in November, it looked like Moreira would play a big role for this team. But it’s been Markus Kennedy has had the bigger impact of the two transfer big men this year. Moreira was out for a month with a sprained MCL, came back for a pair of games, and then missed another couple games. In the four games he’s played since January 4th, he’s scored a mere eight points in twenty minutes. He’s struggled to get back in the rotation and just hasn’t had the season he probably thought he’d have in November. Even after that double-digit scoring streak, he started falling off the wagon prior to his injury. He had six straight games leading up to the injury in which he had mild single-digit scoring outings. Hopefully for him, the junior big man can get things back on track in time for SMU’s postseason run.
Top 5 Post Player NBA Prospects
1. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
As mentioned above, Harrell looks like a man among boys at times when playing in the AAC. He’s got great measurable, great athleticism, and a great motor, and he continues to improve and has age (He just turned 20) on his side.
2. Shaq Goodwin, Memphis
Though a bit undersized, Shaq Goodwin is an explosive athlete who plays with a certain ferocity. He’s great in transition and he’s got a great wingspan and he won’t turn 20 until August. Memphis’ success is in large part due to his play and all he’s done to expand his game.
3. TaShawn Thomas, Houston
While playing in the Conference USA the past couple years, Thomas has quietly become one of the better double-double threats in that time. Now, he’s gone toe to toe with big time opponents and he’s looked very solid. He’s a bit short and slight for an NBA power forward, but he gets a big lift from his large. He’s averaging 15.9 PPG, first among AAC big men, 8.4 RPG (second in the AAC), 2.9 BPG (second in the AAC), and 1.2 SPG. He could come off an NBA bench and be a tough role player on both ends of the floor.
4. John Egbunu, South Florida
Egbunu isn’t as renowned as the rest of the guys on this list and that’s because he’s a freshman on a struggling team who’s still struggling for playing time and is still finding his way on the college level. He’s a 6’10” center, but he could still be growing. His numbers aren’t yet eye-popping, but he’s a key guy for USF win they’re winning and he’s currently shooting a very solid 58%. His game needs diversifying, but has a lot of natural talent.
5. Justin Jackson Cinci, Cincinnati
Jackson is a bit of a long shot to get drafted as he’s a senior who just came onto the scene this season with his drastic improvement from last year, but without him, Cincinnati wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are now as he’s been the #2 option to Sean Kilpatrick. But he could be that big man who comes along every year and gets a chance in the NBA after being a secondary option to a more scoring-minded wing player (a la Josh Harrellson, Miles Plumlee, Hilton Armstrong). He’s averaging 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks on the year.
Power Rankings (Last Week in Parentheses)
With their victory over Cincinnati on the road, there is no questioning that Louisville is the best team in this conference. With the success they’ve had, particularly without Chane Behanan, it’s been another great coaching job by Rick Pitino.
The Louisville-Cincinnati contest was so evenly matched that it would be hard to argue that it was anything but the conference’s best two teams on the court. They’re still the conference frontrunners, as well as the team that has Sean Kilpatrick, scorer extraordinaire.
3.Southern Methodist (5)
The Mustangs made up for a bad loss to Temple with a highly impressive road win over UConn. They’re dangerous and are among the conference’s elite without a doubt.
The Tigers did a lot of surviving this week. They got a five-point victory over Rutgers, and then eked out an overtime win over Temple. Those performances won’t fly against the three teams mentioned above.
The Huskies got an expected road win over Temple, but proceeded to struggle on their home court against a balanced SMU attack. They’re a great team when Shabazz Napier gets help from his teammates; not so great when he becomes a one-man show.
The Cougars are finally starting to get their act together and are distancing themselves from the dregs of the conference. They beat UCF and looked competitive in road losses to Cincinnati and SMU prior to that. Danuel House seems to be back to 100% health and this could be a dangerous team next year as TaShawn Thomas and House return.
Their near-victory over Memphis and their victory of SMU last week put them at #7. They have scorers but their defense still leaves much to be desired.
Their losing streak, compared to the losing streaks of USF and UCF, consists of three losses to ranked teams, including a competitive game against Memphis, putting them in eighth.
9.Central Florida (7)
The Knights stay out of last due to their tight game against Houston and their recent victory over USF, the last team on our list.
10.South Florida (9)
Sometimes the Bulls just don’t come to play, and exactly that happened against Louisville and Connecticut in the past couple weeks. They’re on a four-game losing streak and that could extend to the end of the season.
I was very impressed with the spirit and style of his play. I wish he would be more successful this year.
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I was very impressed with the spirit and style of his play. I wish he would be more successful this year.kizi2
Thank you for sharing information. I like Montrezl Harrell and his knockout, so very strongly
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