Player of the Week
CJ Wilcox, Washington Huskies
The Huskies are off to an impressive 3-0 start, although they haven't been truly tested against a top team yet (that will come December 6th and 10th when they play back to back games vs top 25 programs Marquette and Duke). There is plenty of praise to spread around about their players at this point, but the player who has stood out above the rest has been sophomore wing man CJ Wilcox. Wilcox leads the team at 19.3 ppg, as well as 5 rpg and just under 3 steals per as well. But it is his shooting that truly stands out. I stated in my Conference preview that Wilcox was the Pac 12's top 3 point shooter and so far, he's making me look good. He has hit 11-18 threes (61%) and his misses are off by centimeters. With all the great ball handlers on Washington, Wilcox represents easy offense with catch and shoot instincts after the likes of Gaddy, Wroten and Ross break opponents down off the dribble.
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State Beavers
Consider Cunningham as player of the week 1b. He is off to a great start with 22ppg and is continuing to make a run at Oregon State's all time steals record, he is currently at 2.7 per game. And all while leading the Beavers back into relevancy at 3-0 so far. Cunningham is a high flyer who plays above the rim, and is as good an athlete as there is in the Pac 12. He can take his man iso off the dribble and he really benefits from the team's defensive philosophy of trapping and attacking the opposing ball handlers to create turnovers using sound basic defensive fundamentals which allows him to get into passing lanes and play in transition.
Lazeric Jones, UCLA Bruins
It was well known that the preseason top 25 ranked Bruins were mediocre on the perimeter. But after 2 games, mediocrity would be an improvement. Lazeric Jones is a senior who started every game last year and was solid. But to start this season he is 3-20 from the field (1-7 from three) and is making as many turnovers as assists. And considering he is averaging 33 minutes a game and is leaned on to create halfcourt offense when the bigs get doubled, it's no surprise the Bruins are struggling. Jones starting backcourt mate sophomore Tyler Lamb has not been much better shooting 5/18 from the floor and has yet to hit a three while playing 28 minutes per.
Top 5 breakout candidates
Brock Motum, Washington State- Motum is averaging 20ppg and 8 rpg and shooting a blistering 67% from the field. He is a skilled big man who can step out to three point land and does a good job of making himself available and finishes well in traffic catching passes from his penetrating teammates.
Jesse Perry, Arizona- Perry has recorded 4 double doubles in 5 games for the 4-1 Wildcats. He is the inside enforcer for a small, perimeter oriented Arizona squad. He fits in well because he is also able to get out and run, play on the perimeter and guard multiple positions during switches which allows him to stay on the court with his fast paced teammates.
Aaron Bright, Stanford- At 4-0 somebody from Stanford deserves a shout out. Bright is a sophomore who wasn't expected to be the Cardinal's leading scorer, which he has been thus far as well as the teams leading assist man. He is shooting lights out, playing very efficient ball: 49% from 2, 52% from 3 and 80% from the foul line.
Aziz NDiaye, Washington- With all the perimeter talent for Washington, it's N'Diaye who will have as big an impact as any of them determining how far they go. The 7 foot center must protect the paint and establish some sort of inside presence. So far he has stepped up to the challenge averaging 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks per contest.
Josh Watkins, Utah- The numbers might be somewhat bittersweet as the Utes have not looked competitive yet, but don't take anything away from Watkins. He is shooting over 50% from the floor and averaging 21 ppg while also dishing out 5 assists. He can only do so much for his team though and will need some support if they want to win games.
-The 4-0 Stanford Cardinal are using a deep and balanced attack with 10 guys getting double digit minutes and only 1 getting more then 24 minutes.
-Cal was my preseason pick to win the conference and after a week of basketball I'm sticking with them, with Washington right on their heels. Allen Crabbe is leading them in scoring as expected and Jorge Gutierrez is the overall MVP of the team at 13ppg, 6rpg, and 5apg as well as guarding the other teams best wing every night.
-I finally got to see Colorado's Andre Roberson in action and I liked what I saw in terms of potential. He is an excellent athlete and has a decent handle. He attacks the boards and the rim hard where he is currently getting 13 rebs a night. But his jumpshot needs tons of work and he doesn't look comfortable shooting, with a very mechanical looking release.
-Reeves Nelson has got to channel his emotions correctly. And by channel I dont mean become a choir boy because it is his attitude and intensity that make him unique. But his teammates have to know he is there with them and standing outside huddles and pouting every time he gets taken out is not leadership.
-DeWayne Dedmon has a lot of tools. The size and athleticism are there. He very well may be drafted in the first round on potential alone. And considering this guy hardly even played highschool ball, there are some very intriguing skills there. He had one play vs Nebraska where he came up with a loose ball on defense and then pushed it in a 2 on 1 all the way himself and as the defender committed to him at the last minute he dropped off a nice no look touch pass to his teammate for the layup looking very smooth the entire time. He has to stay out of foul trouble though.
-Speaking of USC, don't give sophomore pg Maurice Jones too much flack for his 29% fg shooting or his pedestrian 3 assists per game. The fact is, the Trojans offense is going nowhere fast without Jones playing for his own shot and being aggressive and the team will be better off with him forcing shots over deferring to lesser skilled teammates.