Saved by the Bell
Player of the Week
Villanova’s rise in recent polls has a lot to do with James Bell’s performance in last week’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The guard led the Wildcats to an upset over then-No. 2 Kansas on Nov. 29 and averaged 14.5 points over the week. In the championship game against No. 23 Iowa, Bell scored 20 points and also pulled down nine rebounds. The Wildcats eventually outlasted the Hawkeyes and prevailed 88-83 in overtime.
DAngelo Harrison St. John’s went 1-1 in the past week, but junior D’Angelo Harrison stood out in both of the Red Storm’s games. Against Penn State on Nov. 29, the guard went for 20 points and grabbed six rebounds as St. John’s lost to the Nittany Lions 89-82 in overtime. The next day, Harrison went for 21 points in a win over Georgia Tech, as he converted 12 of his 13 free throws.
DVauntes Smith Rivera The sophomore guard continues to be an offensive force for Georgetown, finishing with 17 points in both of the Hoyas’ wins last week. Against Lipscomb on Nov. 30, Smith-Rivera shot 6-of-10 from the field and finished with eight rebounds and seven assists. The Indianapolis native’s hot hand continued on Dec. 5 as he shot 6-for-12 from the field in an 80-45 win over High Point. Smith-Rivera also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists in the game.
Sterling Gibbs Seton Hall’s Sterling Gibbs has struggled shooting in the last week, going 4-for-22 from the field in two games. Against Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 1, the guard missed all seven of his shots and finished with just three points in the 58-54 loss. On Thursday, the sophomore finished with 16 points in a win over LIU-Brooklyn, but was 4-for-15 from the field. On the year, Gibbs is shooting just 34 percent, and 28 percent from behind the arc.
Kadeem Batts The senior forward certainly gets a lot of opportunities to score, but had a rough week converting his chances. In three games, Batts shot 10-for-35 from the field, and averaged just 9.3 points. Against No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 1, the Powder Springs, Ga., native fouled out after registering just eight points on 3-of-14 shooting in the 79-65 loss.
Top 5 Seniors
1. Doug McDermott – The two-time All-American shocked many basketball fans across the country we he announced that he would be returning to Creighton for his senior year. With a complex inside-out game, McDermott is a nightmare for defenders and continues to be one of the highest scoring players in the country. So far this year, the forward is averaging 24.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game for the 6-2 Bluejays. Unlike Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, McDermott’s return to school was not necessarily seen as a move to improve his game. It seems as though his draft stock is already set, as scouts have already seen his high-level of play in his first three seasons.
2. Bryce Cotton – Bryce Cotton is the floor general for his 8-2 Providence team and continues to be a high-volume scorer in his final collegiate season. While his scoring is down from last season, the guard is averaging 18.6 points per game, third in the Big East. Cotton is also averaging five assists per game, tops in the conference.
3. Khyle Marshall – Khyle Marshall has improved leaps and bounds in his final year with Butler. Entering the season, the forward never averaged more than 10 points per game, but is currently contributing 16.9 a night for the Bulldogs. Marshall is also a very efficient player, shooting over 50 percent in all four years, including 55 percent in 2013-2014. The Florida native is also force on the boards, pulling down seven rebounds a game.
4. Markel Starks Markel Starks is a part of the best backcourt in the league with sophomore Smith Rivera, but the senior is clearly Georgetown’s leader on the court. The guard has gotten better every year and is playing at an all-conference level this season. Starks is averaging 15.4 points per game while also dishing out almost five assists. The versatile senior is a solid shooter from the perimeter and spreads opposing defenses that open lanes for teammates.
5. Cleveland Melvin – The forward is leading DePaul with 17.4 points per game and is gifted with superb athleticism. Often seen making highlight reel dunks, Melvin has been a high-volume scorer since his freshman year. The Baltimore native has not averaged less than 14 points per game in his entire career with the Blue Devils. He came to DePaul as a predominant low-post player, but has evolved his jump shot and become an all-around offensive threat.