Player of the Week:
Russ Smith, Louisville
Agent Smith is averaging 21 points a game to start the year, making over 4 three-pointers a night on 48% from downtown. He continues to play in fast-forward, jacking up shots at a ridiculous pace. He's attempting nearly 16 shots a game in only 24 minutes, and remains Louisville's top candidate for instant offense. When he's on, it gives the Cardinals the offensive firepower to complement their suffocating defensive pressure.
Shabazz Naper, UConn
Napier has appeared to step in as UConn's top offensive option, averaging 21 a game through his first five. He dropped 29 in a double-OT win over Quinnipiac, playing with confidence after getting the green light from his new coach. Napier is a legitimate second round prospect because of his ability to handle the ball, shoot and defend the perimeter.
DAngelo Harrison, St. Johns
Harrison has scored 20 or more in four of his five games, attempting over 17 shots a night as the Johnny's first scoring option. He'll continue to dominate the ball as long as he's in the lineup.
Bryce Cotton, Providence
Cotton is actually the top scorer in the conference despite Providence losing twice already. He's averaging 24 a game without Vincent Council in the lineup, and hasn't sat a minute in four games played.
Sean Kilaptrick, Cincinnati
Kilpatrick dropped 8 threes on North Carolina A&T, and is shooting nearly 45% from downtown on the year. He's also averaging 19.5 points a game, and looks to have taken the next step as a shot-creator, fulfilling the role as Cincinnati's go-to scorer.
Luke Hancock, Louisville
While it's unethical to celebrate one's failures, Hancock's shooting numbers are so bad that it's necessary. Through four games he's shooting 17% from the floor, and is averaging seven missed three-pointers a night. Hancock bypassed cooling off and went straight to frozen.
Mike Poole, Rutgers
Poole couldn't find the bottom of the net if he was standing under it. He's 3 for 22 to start the year, and 0 for 7 from downtown. There is good news, however: he's 5 for 6 from the foul line.
Top Five Breakout Candidates
1. Michael Carter Williams, Syracuse
Carter-Williams gets his chance this year after studying from the bench as a freshman. His physical tools for a point guard make his job a whole lot easier, with a quick first step to get into the lane and the size and length to operate in traffic with comfort. He's got a soft touch on the move, which makes him a multidimensional threat as a scorer and playmaker. MCW should establish himself as a first round prospect with the late lotto a ceiling in terms of landing spots.
2. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Depending on your definition of breakout, Kilpatrick might have had his last year. But I'm expecting bigger things this season. His confidence and expanded offensive game should lead to more plays called for him as the team's top option. He's an excellent shooter from both long and midrange, and now with added upper body strength is a threat to score inside. With a deadly stroke and north/south driving capabilities, Kilpatrick could end up scoring close to 20 a game on a nightly basis. He's now an NBA prospect to keep an eye on.
3. Chane Behanan, Louisville
Behanan scored in double figures in all five of Louisville's NCAA tournament games last year, making him the breakout player to watch in a deep, talented rotation. At 6'6 he's your typical overachieving power forward who's always in position to rebound despite playing under the rim and being undersized. He's got real soft hands and is capable of scoring in variety of different ways in the paint. Behanan could be a double-double machine playing starter minutes as a sophomore.
4. Kadeem Batts, Providence
Batts' playing time is likely to skyrocket, and so should his production given more opportunities. At 6'9 he's a long and athletic, and is easily the Friar's top front court scoring option. He missed the first 11 games last season with eligibility issues, and never really got going upon his return. Look for Batts to explode for some highlight plays at the rim, and breakout for Providence offensively as a junior. Batts is averaging 17 and 9 through his first five games.
5. Phil Greene, St. Johns
Greene is getting more opportunities to play on the ball, and will be relied on to provide St. Johns with secondary scoring responsibilities in the back court. He's sharp in the midrange, and despite lacking special quickness of the bounce, does a nice job of recognizing when the lane is open for him to attack. Greene's ability to put the ball in the hole will be a valuable asset to the St. John's offense.