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Player of the Week

Keenan Evans

Keenan EvansKeenan EvansKeenan Evans is one of the 20 finalists for the Wooden Award this year. He has lead Texas Tech, along with freshman standout Zhaire Smith, to a Top-10 ranking with his consistent and dominant play throughout the season. The 6’3” guard continued his impressive play this week. Evans dropped 38 points (on just 13 shots) on Texas in an overtime win in what was his second consecutive game with over 30 points.

The senior has been on quite a hot streak as of late. Evans is shooting 56% from the field over his last four games and has been drawing fouls at a high rate and making the most of his opportunities. Evans is 44-50 from the stripe over those four games including a 18-20 performance.

Evans is averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and field goal percentage despite getting less minutes than a year ago. Texas Tech has been on Evans shoulders all year long and has quietly been making a very strong case to be a part of the All Big 12 team. Texas Tech will probably be able to go as far as Evans takes them, which could be deeper than most expect given the way he has been playing.

Who’s Hot

Sagaba Konate

West Virginia’s rim protector has become one of my favorite players to watch this season in the Big 12. Sagaba Konate is averaging just 10.7 points per game on the year, but has put up double figures in 7 straight games. That alone is more than the rest of the season combined.

Not only has Konate been better on the offensive end, but he’s been rebounding at a higher rate also. After grabbing 10+ rebounds just twice in his first 12 games, he has done so six times in his last 10 games. The 6’8” sophomore has shown tremendous growth in his game since the beginning of the season, his post moves are better, his physicality has increased, and most importantly his jumper has improved. Konate has been exciting all year in terms of blocking shots, but now he has become intriguing as an all-around player.

Kendall Smith

Kendall Smith has been a reliable weapon all year long for Oklahoma State this season. This week, Smith was able to put up 24 points in a big win over Kansas after putting up 20 points in a win over Oklahoma a week ago. Smith’s season has been streaky. He’s had stretches of greatness followed by stretches of disappointment.

Despite Oklahoma State being Smith’s third collegiate team, it seems to be a good fit for him. He and Jeffrey Carroll shoulder most of the workload and Smith seems to thrive in his role. He’s shooting 51% over his last five games and helped Oklahoma State bounce back from their 3-game skid with his best performance of the year. Smith seems to show up the most in the biggest games which is hopeful for Oklahoma State’s schedule down the road.

Who’s Not

Jevon Carter

It’s tough to put someone on the Who’s Not list when they put up a near triple-double, but Jevon Carter finds himself here despite his 18-point, 9-assist, 7-rebound performance. Carter has been the anchor on the West Virginia defense, and on offense as well but to a lesser degree.

Carter has had games where he’s struggled shooting the ball, and actually it’s been a long stretch of struggles lately. It’s no secret that West Virginia has been off lately going 3-5 in their last 8 games, and Carter’s shooting is a large factor in this drought. Carter hasn’t shot 50% in a game since December 5th and is shooting just 37% from the floor since the WVU struggles began.

As the senior leader on a contending team, Carter either needs to change his shot selection or just find his rhythm. Although the Mountaineer’s roster is loaded with talent, Carter is the driving force. WVU needs Carter to pull it together in order to succeed.

Baylor Bears

It’s honestly embarrassing how fast the Baylor season has fallen apart. I mean, they went from 10-2 to 13-10. Dropping 8 of 11 including losses to every team in the Big 12 minus Kansas State is not something to be proud of. Baylor had high expectations at the beginning of the season and they have failed to live up to it, to say the least.

Baylor’s duo of Manu Lecomte and Jo lual Acuil hasn’t even been that bad. They have held up their end of the bargain but their teammates have been underwhelming. Long story short, losing 8 of 11 games is well worthy of being on the Who’s Not list.

Top Five Frontcourts in the Big 12

1. Texas Longhorns

Between Mohamed Bamba and Dylan Osetkowski Texas has a dynamic frontcourt. Mo Bamba is the not only the best shot blocker in the Big 12, but probably the whole NCAA. As his offensive game has evolved he has become even more feared as a player. His counter piece, Osetkowski, leads the team in scoring and also grabs over 7 boards a game. Despite Osetkowski’s questionable hairstyle, he is a dynamic player than is a big part of the Texas offense.

2. TCU Hornfrogs

TCU has Vladimir Brodziansky, a big man that can shoot the deep ball and score from the low post. His versatility has been huge for him, as he leads the team in scoring despite playing only 27 minutes a game. Kenrich Williams is more of a small-forward but he plays big. He averages 9.7 rebounds per game and is second on the team in scoring. Between the two of these guys, they make up a large part of the TCU offense and defense.

3. Baylor Bears

Big Jo, Jo Lual Acuil, is a double-double threat every time he steps on the court. Averaging 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds, Lual-Acuil is a very solid offensive player who is starting to learn how effective he could be on defense. Nuni Omot has shown glimpses of being a real baller with some further development, but as he is, he is a freak athlete with highlight reel material. Baylor has struggled, but as has had consistency out of their big men.

4. West Virginia Mountaineers

Sagaba Konate, as highlighted above, is a great talent to have on your team. He plays with a high motor, blocks shots, and can contribute on offense as well. Konate leads the team in rebounding and field goal percentage and has been a big part in WVU’s success. Lamont West and Esa Ahmad help fill out the forward positions for West Virginia. While, they both are more of a 3, WVU plays the modern “position-less basketball.” West is a reliable player and has serious 3-and-D potential at the NBA level. Ahmad is more of a slasher, but possibly even more impactful.

5. Oklahoma Sooners

On a team that plays strictly through their guard, Trae Young, Oklahoma has pretty solid bigs as well. Brady Manek can catch fire and shoot the lights out of the ball and is a perfect compliment to Young. Khadeem Lattin is also a big body who provides value. He leads the team in rebounding and has also shown the ability to score near 20 points on any given night. Oklahoma does play almost exclusively through Trae Young but these forwards provide meaningful value that they would miss.

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