Player of the Week
Ryan Harrow - Kentucky Wildcats
It has been a roller coaster ride for Harrow in his first season with the Wildcats. He played sparingly in the season opener due to an illness that caused him to miss the next couple of games, followed by a family issue that forced him to leave the team for a week and then being in Calipari's dog house once he returned. Harrow's past has been marked by picking up and leaving when times get tough but he has persevered this season and now it is finally paying off. He had is best game of the season against the Thundering Herd as he led the team in scoring with 23 while pulling down 4 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. He has his biggest test of the season this week against Louisville's Peyton Siva which will tell us a lot about how far he has come.
Missouri Tigers - Since losing to Louisville back in late November, the Tigers have rattled off six straight wins and are beating their opponents by an average of 20 points per game during that span. Last week they took down then undefeated and top ten ranked Illinois in a game where they seemed to be in control from the opening tip. They got a big boost from Jabari Brown who became eligible after sitting out the first semester due to transfer rules. Adding a player of his caliber to a lineup already including Lawrence Bowers, Phil Pressey and Alex Oriakhi should vault this team into the top five in the country come SEC play. They travel to UCLA this week to face a struggling Bruin squad that features Shabazz Muhammad.
Kenny Boynton - Florida Gators
As we wrote earlier in the season, Boyton had an outside shot at becoming Florida's all-time leading scorer. He still could accomplish that feat but he will have to break out of his current slump that has seen him averaging 8.6 points per game over his last five games. Boynton's struggles have coincided with the team's as they have lost two of their last three after starting the season 7-0. Boynton's biggest issue seems to be his jump shot. He falls in love with it at times and tries to shoot himself out of his slump rather than getting some easy buckets or getting to the free throw line. His is shooting a mere 25% from the field during this drought including a paltry 12.5% from behind the arc. Billy Donovan's team needs him to be the scorer he showed through his first three seasons if they are going to be an elite team.
Top 5 Coaching Jobs
Frank Haith - Missouri
The loss of Michael Dixon Jr. cannot be understated. He was supposed to be one of the senior leaders of this team and he was suspended before ever playing a game this season. That combined with the talent he lost from last year's team and the mass amount of incoming transfers for this season, it is amazing that this team has gelled together so well and so fast this season. Haith deserves a lot of credit as it is his job to get this team playing at a high level even though they had not had much time together. They are a top 10 team with National Championship aspirations and a lot of the credit has to go to the head coach.
Johnny Jones - LSU
Jones is enjoying a lot of success in his first season with the Tigers. He inherited a roster that had some talent but that had been under performing over the last few seasons. They are playing to their potential this season as they sit at 7-2 with one of those losses coming at Marquette. [Player: Johnny O'Bryant] has come back from a minor injury and played well but this bright spot has been the play of Shavon Coleman and Andre Stringer. Coleman, a transfer leads this team in scoring off the bench and Stringer has come on of late with 39 points in his last two games. Jones deserves a lot of credit for finally getting this team to play at a high level.
Frank Martin - South Carolina
Can anyone outside of Columbia name anyone on the South Carolina basketball team? I didn't think so, which is why what Frank Martin has done in his first season with the Gamecocks has been great. This team was picked by many to finish dead last in the SEC because of a roster void of much talent. With two easy games on the schedule this week, the Gamecocks could enter SEC play with a 10-3 record which is about 7-8 more wins than most thought they would have at this time. With a solid recruiting class headlined by Sindarius Thornwell coming in next season, things are looking up for the basketball program.
Andy Kennedy - Ole Miss
Barring a home loss to Fordham, the Rebels will head into SEC play with a 11-2 record. They have played a fairly easy schedule with their best win coming against Rutgers but the team has played very well so far this season and are being led by senior Murphy Holloway and junior Marshall Henderson. Both players have played exceptionally well thus far and the team has played much better than expected. That being said, this team should be undefeated as they suffered two bad losses at Middle Tennessee State and at Indiana State in overtime. Those were very winnable games for the team.
John Calipari - Kentucky
As hard as it is to put Calipari's name on a list like this because of all of the talent he has on his roster, not enough can be said about a coach who can lose its top six scorers to the NBA Draft and still be considered one of the favorites to win the SEC and make a run in the tournament. The team has had its ups and downs on the young season but they are hitting their stride now that they are getting healthy and learning to play together. Saturday's game against Louisville will be huge for the team as well as Calipari.
Glad to see he's playing better! This is his best chance to make it to the league because once the twins come in he'll be on the bench. Eventhough that would give the Wildcats some crazy depth next season!