Player of the Week
Jordan Clarkson – Missouri
It is hard to believe that a team like Missouri could be a better team in the backcourt this season after losing guards Michael Dixon (transfer) and Phil Pressey (pro) but that’s exactly what they are. Clarkson, the transfer from Tulsa is half of that backcourt that has the Tigers on their way to another NCAA Tournament berth. Clarkson, who leads the team in scoring, has been vaulting himself up draft boards ever since he stepped foot on the floor for the Tigers earlier this season. One of the question marks for Clarkson was consistency and being able to maintain his high level of play but he has continued to lead his team in scoring even through the beginning of SEC play as the competition has gotten more stiff. He still has a way to go when it comes to keeping his teammates involved and evolving into more of a true point guard but he can score with the best of them and gets to the rim whenever he wants to.
He is averaging just over three assists per came which can be concerning for a lead guard but he has the length to play the two spot at the next level if he needs to. Clarkson will have a chance on the big stage against Kentucky this Saturday where there will be numerous NBA scouts watching. If he can have a solid game against Kentucky’s backcourt on National TV then he will almost assuredly solidify himself a first round and potential lottery spot in this June’s draft.
.Michael Frazier – Florida
Over the last few seasons, the Gators have been a team built on defense and long distance shooting. They’ve had a number of good shooters over the last few seasons from Bradley Beal to Mike Rosario to Kenny Boynton but current sophomore and sharpshooter Michael Frazier might be the best pure shooter of them all. After not seeing much run during his freshman campaign, injuries and suspensions have forced Donovan’s hand to play the Tampa native significant minutes this season. Frazier hasn’t disappointed becoming one of the SEC’s most feared shooters and giving Donovan another weapon on the offensive end.
Frazier has scored at least 15 points in 6 of his last 8 games including a 18 &17 point outings this past week in the team’s wins against Alabama and Tennessee.With this team’s defensive prowess, depth and play making ability on both ends of the floor, having a guy like Frazier to stretch defenses is just what this team needs. Now if they can get Chris Walker eligible then this team will be a favorite to get to the Final Four.
Jordan McRae – Tennessee
McRae is coming off of a five game stretch where his point totals were 9, 21, 17, 34 & 5. The Vol’s win/loss record during that time is L, W, L, W & L. Safe to say that as McRae goes, so does Tennessee. And while his scoring average for the season isn’t anything to laugh at, his consistency has been just like the rest of his team. Against the Gators on Saturday McRae shot an abysmal 1-15 overall and that one make was a three pointer. He was 0-9 from inside the arc on the game and looked nothing like the Jordan McRae that fans have come to know over the last four seasons. The Gators’ defense can do that to even the best players but what Tennessee needs is a consistent scorer and one that doesn’t have games like the one he had on the big stage Saturday. McRae’s shot has been off for close to a month now and it keeps getting worse. Aside from his 34 point outburst against Arkansas where he went 4-8 from three point range McRae has gone 4-22 from three over the last five games. McRae is the most talented player on the Vol’s roster but as a senior leader for this team that has hopes of making a run at an NCAAT berth, he needs to play with more consistency on both ends of the floor and when his shot isn’t falling, do all of the little things to help his team win.
Top 5 Wings
1. Casey Prather – Florida
There were worries about whether Prather’s early season success would continue once SEC play began. He has since put those worries to rest as he has continued to be the team’s number one option on offense become a well rounded offensive player to go along with his solid defense on the wing. Prather is a senior and that alone with hurt his draft stock come June but he keeps making his case for a first round selection and in my option deserves one.
2. James Young – Kentucky
Young, like Poythress has to learn how to be a more well-rounded and consistent player. It was on display in the Arkansas game where he hit a game tying three in OT one one play and then didn’t box out and gave up the game winning put back on the next play. He has the offensive skill set to play at the next level but it is his defense that is the most lacking right now. He consistently gets beaten off the dribble and relies on the help defense of Willie Cauley-Stein more than he should. He’ll still likely be a lottery pick but he along with a couple of other Kentucky freshman would benefit from another year in Lexington.
3. Alex Poythress – Kentucky
Poythress continues to be an enigma showing flashes of his great ability and then looking like the inconsistent player he was for much of last season. He won’t be able to get by on potential and athleticism forever but he needs to find more consistency. On the bright side, he has elevated his level of play lately and seems to have shaken off the rust that he showed for most of the early part of the season. At some point Poythress will have to put it all together and become a complete basketball player. The moment he does he will be an instant first round pick.
4. Jordan McRae – Tennessee
As I wrote above, McRae is without a doubt the most talented player on Tennessee’s roster and he is one of the better players in the SEC but he is wildly inconsistent and a bit undersized to be a first round pick at the next level. He had what looked to be an improved jump shot earlier in the season but he has lost his confidence of late and that has caused his stock to drop. He’s still worthy of a second round selection based on his length, athleticism and overall game but that could be in question if his team continues to under perform due to his inconsistencies.
5. Jabari Brown – Missouri
Brown has the body and shooting stroke to play at the next level and is a good enough athlete to do so as well. Brown’s problem is that he doesn’t do anything outside of shoot the three ball really well. If there was one more aspect to his game that wow’d scouts on a consistent basis then he could easily be a first round pick. As it currently stands, he’s a player that needs another year under his belt to refine the rest of his game.
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