Player of the Week
Brock Motum, PF Washington State
It would be entirely justifiable to give this award to Arizona's Kyle Fogg, who averaged 18.5 points in two huge victories over the bay area schools this past week, due to team success. But I just can not ignore the outstanding individual play of Wazzu's junior 6-10 big man Brock Motum. Washington State lost their leading scorer in senior SG Faisal Aden two weeks ago to a season ending injury, and the team desperately needed someone to step up in his place and assume a greater scoring role. In the three games since Aden's loss, Brock has scored 25, 26 and 34 points doing everything in his power to put the Cougars on his back. In that three game stretch, he shot 65% from the field, grabbed 9 boards per and showed his perimeter versatility by stepping out and connecting on 5 of 9 three point attempts. The team is struggling in the win/loss column, but they are competitive and a tough game for opponents primarily due to their star big man.
Josh Smith, UCLA
After pointing how Smith was sliding in terms of minutes and production in my last blog, we have since been given a glimpse of the tantalizing skilled big man that many expected to be a key piece in leading the UCLA program towards success. Josh was dominant inside this past week vs the Washington schools to the tune of 21.5 points on 17 of 22 field goal attempts and 7 boards per. The defense has looked helpless once Smith seals his man deep and the help has to get to him before the ball or risk being pushed around. It remains to be seen if Smith can turn this into some momentum and grow from these games showing consistency, but the manner in which he played with passion and aggressiveness is promising.
Abdul Gaddy, Washington
It might be unfair to list Gaddy as cooling off while his team is in the midst of winning 8 of their last 9 games with him getting 35 minutes per as the floor general. Gaddy is a true pass first PG who doesn't force the offensive issue. But with that said, I have been relatively unimpressed with his play as of late. I had high expectations for him since his high school days. But he just has not displayed the level of one on one quickness to be a game changing guard nor has he consistently shown the ability to knock down the open shot. During the aforementioned 9 game stretch of Husky success, Gaddy has only reached double digit scoring once and has shot a low percentage, particularly from three point range. So take this criticism for what it is, Gaddy is a very solid college point guard, just not looking like the elite top 20 player he was ranked coming out of high school with first round aspirations.
Top 5 Under the Radar Sophomores
Here are 5 sophomores who get very little recognition or hype. But all of these guys are solid contributors for their teams right now and have the chance to really emerge as all conference talent next season.
Devon Collier, Oregon State Beavers
Collier is an athletic 6-7 wing man who does most his damage around the paint. He is a solid rebounder and shot blocker who is able to get out and use his speed to run the court and guard multiple positions on defense. For the year, he is averaging 13ppg, 5rpg and 2apg.
Tyler Lamb, UCLA Bruins
Lamb is a 6-5 shooting guard who can hit off the dribble and is improving leaps and bounds with his confidence as the season has progressed. He is averaging 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists and will combine with incoming top ranked recruit Kyle Andersen next year to create a scary perimeter duo.
Josh Huestis, Stanford Cardinal
Huestis has, in my opinion, surpassed fellow more hyped Cardinal sophomores Anthony Brown and Dwight Powell in terms of current contribution to the team and might potentially have the best career at Stanford of the three when all is said and done. Josh's offensive game is well rounded but raw. His true value comes at the defensive end where he is the teams best defender, and at 6-8, can guard multiple positions and brings toughness around the paint.
Kyle Cain, Arizona State Sun Devils
Cain is one of the very best athletes in the Pac 12. At 6-7 and under 220 pounds, he plays primarily on the inside where he gives up some size but more then makes up for it with his ability to play above the rim. His skills are a work in progress, but he has a tough mind set and competes hard and brings an up tempo presence to a Sun Devil squad that doesn't get too many easy baskets in the open court.
Justin Cobbs, California
Cobbs is averaging 13 points and 5 assists running the pg spot for one of the top teams out West. Justin has shown flashes of brilliance with season highs of 11 assists vs Utah and 25 points vs UC Santa Barbara. He is going to have the keys to the show even more next season after senior Jorge Gutierrez has moved on.
Upcoming Game of the Week
Washington at Oregon
The Huskies are currently sitting atop the pac 12 standings at 9-2 but are still trying to assert themselves in the eyes of the national media as a team to respect out west. Going on the road to take on the Oregon schools is the next task at hand starting with the Ducks at Mathew Knight Arena on Thursday. For the Ducks, they can cut their 2 game deficit to Washington in the standings in half and climb back into the Conference race. Also, at 16-7 overall, every game is a chance to climb into the at large pool and improve their resume.
-yet another bad string of hits for the conference over the past two weeks for anyone keeping track. Wazzu senior Faisal Aden, USC sophomore DeWayne Dedmon and Cal sophomore big man Richard Solomon, who was leading the team in boards, have all had their seasons come to an abrupt end. Aden and Dedmon due to injury and Solomon for academic reasons.
-On the bright side, Arizona State's go to wing man Trent Lockett is expected back this week after missing the past 6 games with an injury.
-Colorado forward Andre Roberson leads the conference in rebounds at just over 11 boards per. He also gets 2 blocks a night and has tremendous defensive potential. He's the type of athlete that will make it in the league because of his athleticism and motor whenever he decides to come out. But if his skills catch up to his physical abilities, then he can truly be a scary pro prospect.
-I listed the Stanford Cardinal in my last blog under the "cooling down" category as a team collectively. Well they have lost 3 of 4 since then and have for the first time this year most likely fallen out of the tournament field. They better get things turned around quickly before things spiral completely out of control. Upcoming road games this week at UCLA and USC are must wins.