Player of the Week
Anthony Cowan, Maryland
Averaging 24 points per game this week, Cowan has been unstoppable shooting around 50% from the field. While also dishing out around 4.5 assists per game with 1.6 assist per turnover. After focusing on adding strength during the off-season, he has shown a better ability to stay on balance to finish off plays after contact.
This senior is a polished scorer, who can put the ball in the hoop virtually at will. Currently sitting at number 4 in the Big Ten in points per game, Cowan has consistently shown his ability to perform throughout the season. He has the Terps out to an early (9-0) undefeated season and ranked third in the nation.
Daniel Oturu, Minnesota
A sophomore center has been playing very solid all season averaging 17 and 11 on 62% shooting. This week he has been playing very solid basketball, averaging 20 point, 11 boards, and 4 blocks per game. While Minnesota has a 4-4 record, Oturu has solidified himself as a force to be reckoned with. It will be interesting in their next matchup against Iowa and their junior center Luka Garza who is also having a standout season. A number of NBA teams showed up to the Clemson-Minnesota game specifically to watch him.
Mike Watkins, Penn State
Over the last week, Mike has averaged 16 points and 14 rebounds while also averaging 6 blocks and 3 steals a game. While it was only two games, Watkins has been great on both sides of the court. The effort has been there, as a big man Watkin’s hustle has been great this season. Whether running in transition or getting after loose balls, Watkins has done it this season. The talent has always been there for Watkins but off the court issues put a damper on his season last year. It seems like he finally put it all together and is extremely focused on the court. If Watkins keeps up his solid play look for the Lions to continue to play well.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
Trayce got off to a great start to his freshman year averaging 15 points and 9.5 boards, while also rejecting over 2 shots a game. He has been a huge contributor right away for the Hoosiers. This week he has continued to build off a hot start, totaling 17 points, 11 boards, and 3 blocks a game. His draft stock will continue to rise as he continues to impress. His offensive game is very solid especially for a freshman, but defensively he has also been a force. Especially inside the paint, sending shots back left and right.
The Nittany Lions are off to a red-hot start. Besides a heartbreaking brutal second half against Ole Miss that saw a 20-point halftime lead turn into a 2-point loss, they are currently 6-1 and are playing incredible defense overall. Offensively, they have been led by senior Lamar Stevens who is second in the Big Ten in scoring at 18 points per game while also grabbing about 8 boards a game. Another player leading them is senior Mike Watkins, who has been a force on both offense and defense.
Rocket Watts, Michigan State
Rocket Watts has been struggling to hit shots all season. His struggles continued last night versus Duke posting 4 points on 1-7 shooting from the field and 2-4 from the line. He has really struggled while still playing about 25 minutes a game. The shooting numbers are terrible at 27% from the field this season. The freshman has not proved to be able to score at this level yet, which is disappointing for a recruit of his caliber.
Aaron Wheeler, Purdue
Playing double the minutes he played his freshman year, Wheeler is only averaging 1 more point per game. That is a disappointment that he has not shown much improvement. He is also shooting 28% from the field which is not good which is almost 20% lower than last year. In both games this week, playing 27 minutes each contest, he shot 16% both games. If Purdue is going to win, they need him to step up his shooting numbers.
Top 5 Freshmen Performers So far
5. Joe Toussaint Point Guard, Iowa
While his averages are not that high, Toussaint only plays 15 minutes a game. In those 15 minutes, he is very productive, averaging around 8 points, 2 assists, and a steal. His shooting numbers have been really impressive through the first 5 games, shooting 58% overall from the field, but he has struggled the last few games, dropping his percentage to 35%. He has been great from the line shooting 81%, while consistently getting there 27 times in only 108 minutes. His per 40 minute stats show why he belongs on this list, averaging 20 points per 40 while also dishing out 6 assists, grabbing 5 boards, and 3 steals. For not playing many minutes, he is very active on both sides of the court with an offensive rating of 104.8 and defensive rated at 97.9. If he continues to play strong, expect his minutes to rise as well as his draft stock.
4. CJ Fredrick, Guard, Iowa
CJ has decent size for a guard, standing at 6’3”. Playing about 22 minutes a game, Fredrick averages 11 points and 3 assists each game. He is very efficient when on the court, not wasting any opportunities. He is shooting over 58% from the field, 56% from 3, and 73% from the free throw line. He is shooting at an impressive rate and it will be interesting to see if he keeps it up throughout the season. His offensive rating per 100 possessions is sky high at 137.2, while his defensive rating can use some improvement at 104.2. Keep an eye out for Iowa’s freshman guard duo, they are both highly skilled and seem to play well together.
3. DJ Carton, Guard, Ohio State
The highest rated recruit in the Big Ten, D.J. was the face of the top class in the conference. His shooting percentages are very solid. Shooting 54% from the field, 66% on 2 point shots, and 31% from 3. He has not shot well from the free throw line and it is concerning for a guard to be shooting around 58% from the line. He needs to take advantage of these free points. While his steals average does not stand out, he has posted an 80.7 defense rating to go with a 115.3 offensive rating. His per 40 minutes’ stats are very balanced at 18 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists to go with only 3 turnovers.
2. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Forward, Indiana
A 6’9” forward who has shown a lot of promise through 7 games, averaging just over 15.5 points and 9 boards, while shooting an impressive 66% from the field and 76% from the line. Defensively Davis has also impressed, averaging 2 blocks a game while staying out of foul trouble, averaging only 2.2 fouls per game. His offensive rating is almost unbelievable at 148.6 while his defensive rating sits at 82.2. It has become apparent that he is not an outside shooter and does all of his work inside. If he can eventually add any kind of outside shot, Davis will be a special player. He does all this in about 26 minutes, so his per 40 minutes’ stats are very high at 23 points 14 boards and 3.5 blocks.
1. Kofi Cockburn, Center, Illinois
While only a freshman, this 7-footer has shown so much potential through his first 7 games. His turnover numbers are a little high, averaging almost four a game, but he’s also averaging 15 points and 12.5 boards per game while shooting 57% from the field. His best game so far was against The Citidel, where he compiled 18 points and 17 rebounds in 24 minutes! If he could improve his free throw percentage from 50%, which he is shooting so far this season, he will take his game to the next level. Cockburn has blocked 10 shots through the first 7 games, averaging almost a block and a half a game, 1.4 to be exact. His per 40 minutes’ stats are also very impressive at 23 points, over 18 rebounds, and 2 blocks. These numbers are very impressive for the freshman big man. His points per 100 possessions is 31.7 points, which is very close to what last year’s Big Ten player of the year Cassius Winston put up (34.7), all without attempting a three. Kofi has a 113-offensive rating with an 84.4 defensive rating. If he can improve defensively and use his height to alter more shots, he will be a force to be reckoned with not just in the Big Ten, but at the NBA level as well. It will be very intriguing to continue to watch him grow as a player.
Rocket Watts, Point Guard, Michigan State
The number one player in the Big Ten’s second ranked recruiting class. Rated the number 39 player overall in last year’s recruiting class, Rocket has had a really hard time shooting the ball. He is very talented, but has really struggled to get comfortable shooting the ball. He easily could be the best freshman in the Big Ten but due to his terrible shooting numbers, he just misses being in the top 5. There is plenty of games left for Watts to turn it around and by the end of the season, I expect his numbers to improve. Despite his struggles from the field, Rocket is still averaging 23.5 minutes a game, which shows that Tom Izzo believes he will turn it around. But for him to only be averaging 6 points in 23.5 minutes on a disgusting 29% from the field does not accurately display his potential. This has really disappointed overall, however, from the line, he is shooting 83% on free throws. If Rocket figures it out and bounces back from a really rough start, expect him to climb to not only the top of this list, but on the draft boards as well.