The Other Jabari
Player of the Week
Jabari Brown - Missouri
If the SEC had a Most Improved Player award, Jabari Brown would have already locked it up. The junior has really come into his own this season and has gone from fringe draft pick to potential first round talent in just a matter of months. He came into the season known mostly as a shooter even though he only his three's at a pedestrian 36% his sophomore campaign. This season he has improved on every aspect of his game and has stopped relying so much on his long range jump shot even though he's still on pace to lead the SEC in three point attempts and makes.
He has NBA level athleticism and is finally using it to his advantage. He's become much more active on the glass, on the fast break and just on the offensive end of the floor in general. He's attacking the basket more and getting better shots for himself as well as become more of a playmaker overall and setting up his teammates. He's not a lock down defender but he's quick enough and athletic enough to be a good enough defender on the wing at the next level. He is single handedly making the plays at the end of games to get this team in the win column. He's a large reason why they are still a tournament team to this point and if they intend to stay that way then he will have to continue his stellar play as they wind down the final and easier part of their schedule.
Scottie Wilbekin - Florida
Wilbekin has been outstanding lately and is making a late push for SEC Player of the Year honors. He's averaging just over 17 points per game for the month of February and his this Gator team ranked #2 in the country behind currently unbeaten Syracuse. Wilbekin is known more for his on ball defense than anything but he has really increased his offensive output lately due in large part to his getting to the charity stripe. He's gotten to the line over 11 times per game over his last four which is an uncanny amount for a player that does most of his damage on the perimeter. He's getting his shot to knock them down in key situations late it games and is coming through in the clutch
He was the best player on the floor the entire night when the Gator's took it to Kentucky on Saturday night. He outplayed both Harrison's all night long and was the difference maker that the Gators needed in the end. His free throws late sealed the win and earned Wilbekin player of the game honors. Wilbekin was suspended early on and then suffered an injury as well but he looks like he is completely healthy and has his mind right for the first time in a long time and his team is reaping the benefits. This team has Final Four written all over it and Wilbekin is a huge reason why they will be on of the favorites to make it all the way to Arlington in April.
Jeronne Maymon - Tennessee
Tennessee has been one of the more disappointing teams in the SEC this season. With the talent coming in and coming back, this was a team that most thought would be in the top three or four teams in the SEC at season's end. At the moment they sit at 15-10 overall and 6-6 in conference which puts them tied for fifth place along with three other teams. Inconsistency has been this team's Achilles heel for most of the season and no player has escaped it. The team can't seem to play well together. When Maymon is on, Jordan McRae is off, when McRae is on, Jarnell Stokes is off. Maymon, who redshirted with an injury during the 2012-2013 season is one of those talented players that the Volunteers planned to lean on this season. He averaged over 12 points and 8 rebounds as a junior and has seen those numbers drop off this season, specifically in conference play.
He just doesn't look like the same player that we saw two seasons ago and while you would give him a free pass early on in the season due to him trying to get back into game shape, he still doesn't seem to have turned the corner four months into the season. If you look at the Vol's splits, it is easy to see that when Maymon is a force down low on the glass that the team is that much better. He and Stokes make up one of the shortest frontcourts in the conference but also one of the strongest and best on the glass. The Vols have a favorable schedule down the stretch and could still make the NCAAT if they can win out and win at least one game in the SEC Tournament but they will need more consistency from all of their players and for them all to play well on the same night.
Chris Walker - Florida
Walker, who was finally cleared to play earlier this month after sitting out for most of the season due to eligibility issues, has gotten some in game action recently and while he hasn't shown much in regards to filling the stat sheet, he has made a few plays that make you realize how good he can be and why the team and Billy Donovan fought so hard to get him eligible. He's a long athletic forward that is still extremely raw but is dangerous on the fast break and versatile enough to guard multiple positions. Walker improves the Gator's depth which is the lone question mark for this team as we head into March. He likely won't see a ton of minutes this season but in a pinch he needs to be ready to step in at a moment's notice. His suspension will likely cause him to come back for his sophomore season with the Gators which could be a blessing in disguise for the team and for Walker as he isn't skilled enough, yet, to really make any noise at the next level. One more year of physical growth as well as mental maturity will go a long way in his development.
James Young - Kentucky
James Young continues to be one of the more frustrating freshman in the country. There are times when he looks like he could be a top five pick and then times where he looks lost on the court and like he needs two or three more years of teaching. He was benched for foul trouble and what looked to be a lack of interest against Mississippi State and then had one of his worst games a few days later against Auburn. Then he turns around and has one of his best all around games against the Gators on Saturday. I know freshman struggle with consistency but it almost looks as if he struggles with energy which leads to his inconsistency. He seems to play well against better teams and then takes games off when playing against a team that the team should beat.
He has a great jump shot and can score from anywhere on the floor and has all of the tools that GM's and coaches want at the next level but I need to see more energy and consistency from him, especially on the defensive end of the floor. As I've said many times, he gets lost on defense and relies too much on his shot blocking big men down low to help when he gets beat off the dribble. He is without a doubt one of the most talented freshman in the country and a worthy lottery pick but he still has a way to go before he reaches his true potential.
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he has made a couple of plays that make you acknowledge how great he could be and why the group and Billy Donovan contended so energetically to get him qualified thesis help. He's a long physical send that is still to a great degree crude however is unsafe on the quick break and flexible enough to protect different positions.