Mo Offense

Player of the Week

Mohamed Bamba – Texas

Mohamed BambaMohamed BambaMo Bamba has been one of the few bright spots on Texas in the past few weeks after the team lost 4 of its last 5 games. Bamba posted an impressive 23 points in a game TCU, although he did grab a season-low in rebounds with just 5. The 7’0” freshman followed that performance with a 16-point, 16-rebound game against Baylor. His overall efforts earned him this week’s player of the week honors.

As of late, Bamba’s game has become more interesting. At the beginning of the year, everyone saw the Harlem native as defensive monster and an offensive project. Now as the season has progressed, Bamba’s offensive game has looked more and more ready for the NBA. However, as his offense has improved, his defense has shown a slight decline. Sure, he’s a huge body with a 7’9” wingspan that everyone has their eye on when driving to the basket, but his blocks per game have shown a dip.

Don’t get me wrong, he alters a ton of shots and makes everyone think twice about attacking the rim, but after having no games with less than 2 blocks all season, Bamba had three straight games with just one block. Regardless, Bamba is improving tremendously and while he is likely only scratching the surface of his ability, he is starting to show everybody what the hype was all about.

Who’s Hot

Cameron Lard – Iowa State

Iowa State’s leading rebounder, Cameron Lard, had a week to remember. In what looked like a tough set of games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, Lard had no problem putting up numbers against the Big 12’s best. The 6’9” forward shot 10-11 from the field for 22 points in just 20 minutes and was the only bright spot in a game against Texas Tech. Lard kept his hand rolling into the Oklahoma matchup and posted 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Lard’s performance awarded him Big 12 Newcomer of the week for the second time this season. The freshman might actually be one of the best young players in the Big 12 despite not getting much national recognition. He’s averaging 12.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and is also sending away 2.2 shots per game. Lard ranks 5th amongst freshman in PER in conference games, behind only top prospects Jaren Jackson, DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, and fellow Big 12 standout Mohamed Bamba. Iowa State’s season hasn’t been the most impressive, but their future is bright with guys like Cameron Lard in the program.

Devonte Graham – Kansas

Devonte Graham has been a workhorse for Bill Self this season. On a team with little depth in the forward positions, guard play needed to be huge for this Kansas team to succeed. He’s relied heavily on his senior point guard this season and has played him all 40 minutes in their last 8 games. That means Graham hasn’t been on the bench in over a month! Despite the heavy tread on the tires, Graham has continued to be a leader for the Jayhawks.

This week Graham had 24 points in a win over TCU and 23 points against Baylor. Even though Kansas as a team has been a bit shaky here and there, Graham has been solid as the teams go-to offensive option. He earned himself a spot on the final 20 Wooden Award contenders due to his efforts as the leader for one of the better teams in the country.

Who’s Not

Oklahoma Sooners

The Trae Young Show that is Oklahoma has struggled mightily over the past month or so. The Sooners have dropped four of their last five and six of their last eight games. Trae Young has slowed down a tad, but has still been superb, but the team as a whole has struggled. To be fair, five of their six losses in this streak have been by less than 10 points, so they’re playing competitive basketball. Nonetheless, not being able to finish games or claw back into games in a serious issue Oklahoma needs to correct before the tournament starts.

Every college basketball fan would love to see Trae Young and the Oklahoma roster make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament because they are an electrifying team to watch when they’re hot. The NCAA Selection Committee seems to have faith in Oklahoma as they ranked them as the number 16 overall seed in their first Bracket Preview. Although they are receiving a lot of heat for putting them that high due to their lack of physicality and fundamentals but the thought of Oklahoma being alive in the Final Four is realistic enough to not rule them out just yet.

The Big 12

This entire season top ranked teams have been losing at an unprecedented rate, and the Big 12 is no exception. The Big 12 has been beating up on each other which shows the all-around talent of the conference but is also worrisome for the top teams. The entire conference is within five games of each other, the closest of all conferences.

The Big 12 has garnered respect from the nation as their RPI’s is the highest amongst the conferences as a whole and has a number of teams in the AP rankings. The Big 12 might not have the outstanding favorite that everyone looks at as a favorite to win it all, but they have a handful of teams that could easily make a deep run in the tournament.

Top Five Most Exciting Players

1. Trae Young

I mean was there another option for number one? The freshman is the frontrunner to win the Wooden Award and has drawn comparisons to two-time MVP, Steph Curry. That alone could earn his title as most exciting player in the Big 12, even the NCAA. Lead the NCAA in scoring, lead the NCAA in assists, multiple 40+ point games, set an NCAA record for assists in a game. You name it, Trae Young has done it. Young truly is the most exciting player in college basketball and has been absolutely electrifying every time he steps on the court.

2. Mohamed Bamba

A 7’9” wingspan on an athletic body is a scary thought. A 9’6” standing reach that can spread the floor and shoot the deep ball a little, Mohamed Bamba looks like your ideal NBA2K create-a-player. On some of his dunks, Mo Bamba seems like he could dunk the ball over the backboard. And defense is a whole different story. Bamba can send opponents shots soaring into the stands on a consistent basis. Mo Bamba truly is a highlight waiting to happen.

3. Jevon Carter

This spot could easily be reserved for the entire West Virginia team. Their press defense is spectacular. They rank #1 in steals per game among Power 5 conferences and Jevon Carter is #2 in the country for steals per game. Bob Huggins constantly has one of the most exciting defenses to watch and this year was no different. Carter’s defensive prowess and offensive abilities are very compelling to watch.

4. Manu Lecomte

Baylor’s senior leader is just 5’11”, but Manu Lecomte can ball. One of the more craft players in the conference he constantly finds ways to get the ball in the bucket despite his size disadvantage. As a guy who’s got half a foot on Lecomte I marvel at how he’s able to play at a high level against guys so much bigger than him. Lecomte might not have much NBA potential but he is a star collegiate player than catches many eyes with his game.

5. Sagaba Konate

I’ve raved on this blog about how I’ve fell in love with Sagaba Konate this season. In my opinion the only play more exciting than a poster dunk, is meeting someone at the rim to deny their poster. Konate has shown the ability to protect the rim at an elite level. Despite being just 6’8” he is 5th in the NCAA in blocks per game and a solid portion of his blocks on dunks. He elevates with the best of them and makes highlight reel blocks on what seems like a daily basis.

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