Path of Destruction

Player of the Week

Nick Weiler Babb, Iowa State

Nick Weiler-BabbNick Weiler-BabbAfter a tough 0-2 start to the season, Weiler-Babb and the Iowa State Cyclones have improved their record to 3-2 with three straight wins. In those three games, the 6’5” Arkansas transfer filled up the stat sheet. In points, rebounds, assists format, the shooting guard posted 23,7,7... 20,14,8 and 10,7,11. Averaging an impressive 17.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists.

Posting a near triple double in three straight games is something that doesn’t happen too often within the Power 5 conferences, much less on the college level. The red-shirt sophomore was also highly efficient, shooting over 50% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc. He's got a lot of matuirty for a sophomore, as he'll turn 22 on December 12th.

What makes his efficiency even more impressive is the little time he has had to rest. Over those three games he was on the bench for a combined one minute. His efforts earned him MVP of the Puerto Rico Tipoff at Myrtle Beach. Weiler-Babb will look to continue to "catch a fire" and keep Iowa State winning games.

Who’s Hot

Jo Lual Acuil

Baylor remains undefeated through four games and it has been in large part to their big man. Lual-Acuil had two double-doubles in as many games by posting 16 points and 12 rebounds and 19 points and 10 rebounds against Alcorn State and Wisconsin respectively.

Lual-Acuil has been a monster on the boards this season by having double digit rebounds in all but one game in which he had 9. In the game against Wisconsin, the 7-footer displayed his versatility by knocking down both of his three-point attempts.

Between Belgian guard Manu Lecomte and Aussie Jo Lual-Acuil, the two foreigners have formed what has turned out to be one of the more formidable duos in the Big 12. Lual-Acuil’s 19 points were a career-high for him, but if his progression is any indication, he should be able to eclipse the 20-point mark on multiple occasions this year.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech has started the season 4-0 despite Unanimous Preseason All-Big 12 selection, Zach Smith being underwhelming thus far. Smith was on my Who’s Not list last week and for good reason, 4 points through two games isn’t necessarily All Big-12 material. While Smith has picked up his game recently with 11 points in back to back games it has been Keenan Evans who has been the standout so far.

The 6’3” senior guard leads the team in scoring with 19.5 points per contest, doubling the next highest on the team. Evans was a serious candidate for Player of the Week putting up 29 points against Boston College and 25 points against Northwestern. Evans is shooting 58% from the floor and 41% from deep so far this season.

The reason why Texas Tech as a team and not just Keenan Evans makes the Who’s hot list is because of the convincing win against #20 Northwestern. The Red Raiders won by a score of 85-49, a 39-point victory over a ranked team is no small feat in the NCAA.

The Texas Tech defense held Northwestern to 27% shooting compared to their 60% shooting. They face one more ranked opponent before conference play starts in Seton Hall which should give us a better look into if this was a fluke performance or not.

Who’s Not

Devonte Graham

Kansas has started the season as expected; undefeated. However, expected leader Devonte Graham has been relatively quiet. He is 5th on the team in scoring per game with 9.7 despite leading the team in minutes. His lack of scoring can be explained by his poor shooting percentages. Graham is shooting just 32% overall and 25% from deep.

Graham is leading the team with 9.3 assists per game and also grabs 5.0 rebounds per game which isn’t meant to be looked past, but with the expectations that Graham had entering the season, the scoring troubles seem to outweigh the playmaking for teammates.

Big 12 Non-Conference Play

Everybody knows that the beginning of the NCAA basketball season is usually loaded with glorified exhibition games, but this season has seemed a little extra easy so far. Kansas vs. Kentucky was the only must watch game so far including a Big 12 team. Other than that, the only ranked teams the Big 12 has faced are Northwestern and Texas A&M.

Over half of the teams in the conference have yet to play a ranked opponent and a handful of them won’t play a ranked non-conference opponent at all. Listen, I’m all for teams using the first few games of the season to work out the kinks on offense and figure out what works on defense, but how much can you really find out when you’re playing teams that a lot of people didn’t even know existed.

Top Five Big 12 Player of the Year Candidates

1. Devonte Graham - Kansas

Although he is on my Who’s Not list this week, he is still the Preseason Player of the Year and rightfully so. Graham has the best opportunity to win as he is the leader on the best team in the conference. He plays with maximum effort and passion despite not being the quickest or most athletic player on the floor. He will look to follow in Frank Mason III’s footsteps and bring home some awards for himself.

2. Jevon Carter – West Virginia

Carter is the leader for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers. He is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for the Big 12 and in the press defensive system they play he is the frontrunner to repeat. Carter is an all-around player who can fill the stat sheet as he showed earlier this season posting 20 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 9 steals. If West Virginia is successful this season, Carter has a good chance of being the Player of the Year.

3. Jeffery Carroll – Oklahoma State

Carroll is the third unanimous preseason selection along with the two players mentioned above. Oklahoma State is, to be short, not very good. Carroll was able to average 17.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game a season ago and with only Kendall Smith looking like a reliable option, he should get plenty of touches to match, if not best, his numbers from last season. Oklahoma State will be towards the bottom of the Big 12 but Carroll could put up the numbers to make a run at the award.

4. Vladamir Brodziansky – TCU

Brodziansky is the go-to option on offense for the Horned Frogs as he can score with his back to the basket and from a face-up position on the wing. TCU is a team that could finish top 3 in the conference or bottom 3 depending on the depth of the team. Nonetheless, Brodziansky will be a reliable player night in and night out that can score effectively.

5. Manu Lecomte – Baylor

Manu Lecomte is looking like one of the best scorers in the conference this year. He has been putting up 20+ points seemingly every game. Baylor has been one of the more impressive teams in the conference and if they continue to play at a high level, Manu will be in line to make a run of the Player of the Year award.

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