Bey Watch

Pac-12 Player of the Week

Tyler Bey, Colorado

Tyler BeyTyler BeyThe sophomore forward has led the Buffaloes to six straight wins with the help of playmaking teammate McKinley Wright IV, who is second in the Pac-12 in assists with six per game. On December 8th vs. UIC, Bey scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds on an efficient 6-9 shooting. He also played well on the defensive side recording two steals.

In Colorado’s most recent matchup on December 11th, Bey topped his previous performance in a nail-biting victory on the road against New Mexico. The 6’7 Las Vegas native recorded another double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with an impressive five blocks and two steals.

Bey’s versatility on both ends of the floor and overall tenacity makes him one of the most talented, forwards in the nation, let alone the Pac-12. This kid can do it all, but if he improves his long range shooting, the Pac-12 outta watch out. With its sixth consecutive win in the bag, it will be interesting to see just how far Bey and Wright can take this Colorado team. He is a combo forward with the length to be a small ball four at the next level if he gets stronger. Despite flying under the radar on a national level, Bey is beginning to make a name for himself with his versatile and athletic play for the Buffs.

Who’s Hot

Washington State Cougars

The Cougars have improved to 7-3 on the season after beating SIU-Edwardsville Wednesday. In a 14 point victory over Rider the Monday prior, senior forward Robert Franks had an impressive statline with 25 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, sinking three of his six three pointers. Sophomore Marvin Cannon also had his breakout game scoring 23 points making 15-16 free throws. In addition, nothing is surprising about CJ Elleby and his consistent production as he scored 18 points with three steals to go along.

Both Franks and Elleby scored 18 Wednesday in the 89-73 victory over SIU-Edwardsville. Franks added 12 rebounds and five assists to help the Cougars to its second straight victory. If Elleby and Franks remain consistent with their production in all facets of the game, it is up to the supporting cast of this team to provide the push this team needs to be a top team in the Pac-12.

Who’s Not

UCLA Bruins

The Bruins suffered an upset to Belmont Saturday 74-72. They had no problem getting to the free throw line this game, however, they could not convert from the line. 12-28 from the foul line is the perfect recipe to lose a basketball game and UCLA did just that. The Bruins were looking to bounce back Wednesday but had their butts handed to them 93-64 by a hungry Cincinnati team. The Bruins were exposed defensively as Cincinnati was allowed to shoot over 57 percent from three point range. Despite Kris Wilkes being able to score 21 points, Jaylen Hands was held to a measly three points on the night. If the Bruins want to turn their season around before it is too late, Hands needs to be able to score consistently, which he has shown he is capable of. He may lead the Pac-12 in assists but that may not be enough for this UCLA team to be where it wants to be.

Top 5 Sophomores in the Pac-12 not named Tyler Bey

1. KZ Okpala, Stanford

The 6’9 forward has helped this Stanford team win four of its last five matchups. To be fair, the only loss in the last five games for this team was in overtime against number two ranked Kansas. Okpala scored 25 on 3-6 shooting from downtown in the Cardinals five point win over San Jose State. He also was a problem on defense for San Jose State as he recorded five steals in the game. At 6’9, Okpala has shown that he can shoot the deep ball, be a playmaker, get his own shot, and defend at a high level. His versatility and size should be very attractive to NBA lottery teams come draft time.

2. Jaylen Nowell, Washington

The 6'4 combo guard out of Seattle has been even more efficient in his second season with the Huskies. He's knocking down field goals at nearly a 10% greater clip at 54.4% on the year. He's also been more efficient behind the three point line at 45%. Nowell has the ability to drive and kick and has improved in his ability to create shots within the flow and not force things too often. He still needs to improve upon his assist to turnover ratio which is at 1:1 at 3.1 per game. He's given a lot of the scoring responsibility and driving and handling the ball as much as he does, without having a ton of high level teammates leads to turnovers. Averaging 18 ppg, he should be in the running for Pac 12 Player of the Year.

3. Kris Wilkes, UCLA

Unfortunately, the Bruins lost their last two matchups, but Kris Wilkes scored 20 in each of those games both on 50 percent shooting. A 6’8 guard who can shoot the deep ball the way Wilkes can is automatically valuable. His skills go beyond just that though as this young man can also shoot off the dribble as well as penetrate defenses to get to the foul line. Wilkes is the perfect piece for this UCLA team as a scorer to go alongside Moses Brown, who is an excellent defensive presence and Jaylen Hands who has been a phenomenal playmaker.

4. Brandon Randolph, Arizona

The Arizona Wildcat from New York has been able to score in double figures in every single game this season. In Arizona’s last three matchups, Randolph has been able to record six steals as well. Randolph is a strong two way player who can score in multiple ways from different spots on the court. He can get his own shot, get to and convert at the foul line, and shoot the deep ball. At 6’6, this shooting guard has the tools to play in the NBA as he has the makings of a young three and D guy who can ball handle as well.

5. Jaylen Hands, UCLA

Hands can help his team in a multitude of ways. If he is held to a low scoring output, he is probably dishing out double digit assists. He leads the Pac-12 in assists with 7.3 per game. The 6’3 point guard also gets it done on defense averaging over a steal per game. It is so valuable having a player who will do exactly what you need of him on any given night. Some nights he can get to the free throw line and shoot 8-8 from there as he did against Loyola Marymount. Other nights he may only take five shots or less but he gets his teammates involved with 12 assists like he did against Cincinnati. If he continues with the exceptional playmaking, look for Hands’ teammates to all improve as scorers as he gets them multiple looks a game.

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