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Player of the Week

Trae Young

Trae Young / Photo Eric EvansTrae Young / Photo Eric EvansOklahoma freshman Trae Young put up video game numbers this week for Oklahoma. He averaged 34.7 points per game in the PK80 tournament. The 6’2” point guard put up 28 points, 33 points, and 43 points in games against Arkansas, Portland, and Oregon respectively.

Not only was Young scoring in bunches, but he was doing it effectively. Young shot 52% from the field while shooting 39% from deep. Young has showed his scoring prowess this season by lighting it up behind the arc, getting to the basket, and drawing fouls.

The Norman, Oklahoma native’s arsenal was on full display Sunday versus Oregon where he had a season high 43 points. Young knocked down 4 three-pointers and proved he can give defenders trouble off the dribble by drawing fouls and getting to the line where he went 17-18. Young punctuated the performance with a MJ patented pivot-fadeaway and shoulder shrug in the same city (Portland) that Jordan had.

His scoring outbursts (28.2 PPG) may have overshadowed his all-around ability. Young has been an excellent playmaker for others so far at Oklahoma, averaging 8.6 assists per game. He also has been contributing on the glass as a point guard by grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game. Lastly, he has been a pest on defense with 2.2 steals per contest. He has been highly efficient shooting all season as well, 48% from the field, 39% from three and 89% from the line, seriously contending to join the 50-40-90 club if he continues.

Young has exceeded expectations so far, this season. As competition picks up and conference play begins, we will see if Young can keep up his efficiency as a scorer and playmaker.

Who’s Hot

Kenrich Williams

TCU improved to 6-0 this week with help from senior Kenrich Williams. The 6’7” wing had 23 points and 17 rebounds against New Mexico and 17 points and 12 rebounds against St. Bonaventure. Williams is finally starting to hit his stride after a slower start to the season where he was averaging 8.8 points per game through 4 games.

Williams brought his season averages up to 12.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game while dishing out 3.8 assists per game. Williams has also been picking pockets and jumping passing lanes rewarding him with 2.7 steals per contest. Expect these last two games to become more and more normal for Williams as the season progresses and he finds his stride even more.

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas jumped up to #2 in the national rankings by improving to 5-0 on the year with wins over Texas Southern and Oakland. Listen, I know these aren’t the most impressive wins, as a matter of fact, they’re not impressive at all, but what happened within the games is impressive.

Kansas was able to beat both teams by 43 points and had 7 players score double-digit points in both games. They also set a school record in three-pointers made with 19 while shooting a 53% clip against Texas Southern.

The Jayhawks have 5 players averaging at least 12 points per game. This shows that Bill Self doesn’t have to rely on one guy to get buckets. When one guy is off, someone will be there to pick up his slack. At the beginning of the year I claimed this is one of the least talented teams Bill Self has had to play with and honestly, it might be a good thing.

The defense has to worry about all five players on the court instead of the usual one or two superstars. Kansas usually can’t afford to have a leader play poorly and still come out with wins, but this season might change that.

Who’s Not

Mohamed Bamba

Mo Bamba came into this season with as much hype as anyone in the NCAA. Yes, Bamba is a top recruit for multiple reasons, but the biggest reason is potential upside. Nobody is saying he’s a better offensive weapon than fellow freshman center DeAndre Ayton but Bamba still has extremely high expectations.

Bamba is averaging 10.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game which is respectable, but there have been reasons for concern. Bamba has been in foul trouble pretty often in his time as a Longhorn. He has had 3 fouls once, 4 fouls twice, and fouled out once.

The game he fouled out was against Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and the Duke Blue Devils, which can be seen as concerning. When matched up against other top prospects like in the Duke game, he has seemed a bit overwhelmed. Bamba needs to start using his size and strength more to be a dominant force on the offensive end.

Don’t get me wrong, Bamba is still a deserving top 5 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, he has been a force on defense as a rim protector, highlighting that aspect of his game by sending a Marvin Bagley attempt into the bench. However, he proves to be a project on offense. His finishing at the rim leaves a lot to be desired, but he is a freshman in his first 5 games at the college level and I expect him to improve immensely by the season’s end.

Top Five Point Guards in the Big 12

In the NCAA it is extremely important for teams to have a quality point guard. Having a floor general gives coaches an advantage throughout the season and when tournament play rolls around. Virtually every national champion has had a point guard as one of the team leaders.

1. Devonte Graham - Kansas

Graham is the point guard and senior leader on the best team in the conference. The Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year currently leads the conference in assists per game with 9.2 and has made a concerted effort to spread the ball around the court. Graham’s scoring hasn’t been up to par with what many expected, but I’m sure he will pick it up as the season progresses.

2. Jevon Carter – West Virginia

Similar to Graham, Carter is the senior leader for West Virginia at the point guard position. He is a two-way guard who is probably better on defense than offense which says something considering he is 4th in the conference in scoring. The reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year is also top five in the Big 12 in assists per game and leads all conference members in steals per game with 4.0.

3. Trae Young - Oklahoma

Young is the lone freshman on this list. The Oklahoma native is leading the conference in scoring by over 9 points per game with 28.2 and is behind only Devonte Graham in assists per game. Young has already showed he can score at will, create shots for his teammates, and even play a little defense.

4. Manu Lecomte - Baylor

Manu Lecomte has been everything Baylor has asked for so far this year. The senior is behind only Trae Young is scoring per game and has been shooting efficiently with a 43% three-point percentage. Lecomte just plays the game the right way, doesn’t make many mistakes and knows how to get wins.

5. Jaylen Fisher - TCU

Jaylen Fisher is a TCU fan favorite and has been playing very well. Fisher is top five in assists per game and is one of the Big 12’s best shooters with a 44% three-point percentage. He creates open looks for his teammates with his ability to collapse a defense and keeps defenders on their toes with his ability to shoot. Look for Fisher to be a key part in how far TCU can go in the NCAA Tournament.

Under the Radar Prospect

Udoka Azubuike

On a team with Devonte Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick, and Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year Malik Newman clearly it can be easy to overlook some other players on the team. The 7’0” Nigerian big man has fallen victim to exactly that.

Azubuike is third on the team in scoring per contest with 16.8 and also grabs 7.0 rebounds per game. The sophomore has been off-the-charts efficient this year with a .776 field goal percentage. He also has been reliable as a rim protector with 1.8 blocks per game.

Azubuike has limited range on offense, at 280 pounds, he is an old fashion strength and power center. Free throws have been a struggle for Azubuike as he shot 38% last season and is at 40% this year. As one could probably guess, Azubuike hasn’t even attempted a three-pointer in his college career and probably won’t while he’s at Kansas. His inability to spread the floor could limit his NBA potential, but many believe Azubuike is only scratching the surface of his ultimate potential which is intriguing for NBA scouts.

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