Player of the Week
Joel Embiid – Kansas
This week’s POW is being graded on a curve as Smart’s 39 point effort really should have sealed the award. Embiid gets the nod based on buzz from the scouting contingent and the fact that his game is progressing so quickly. The Cameroon native Embiid, has been a player regarded as having immense potential, and this week we got an up close glimpse on what kind of abilities he really has. Joel averaged 12 ppg 10.5 rpg and 2.5 bpg, on 11 of 12 shooting in two wins versus Iona and Towson. Embiid showed us some nimble face up moves, and that he’s making strides on the defensive side of the ball. His agility and ability to stick with players on the perimeter during switches, make it very easy to imagine him being a great pick and roll defender at the next level. Embiid will continue to be tested as the Jayhawks’ schedule gets tougher, but the 19 year old big man made his mark this past week and has started to generate #1 overall pick buzz from some NBA scouts.
Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State
Smart certainly deserved the POW award, but we’re guessing he’s going to take the honor more than once again. After a lackluster start, Marcus Smart exploded for 39 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals against #11 ranked Memphis on Tuesday night. Smart’s points came in a number of ways, including a career high 5 three pointers, that helped improve his season clip to 38%. Smart’s 39 point outburst nearly topped his total from the three prior games ( 41 ) before his demolition of the Tigers.
Smart was almost considered a lock for the All-American team, as he entered his sophomore year, but his long range game has always been a major criticism when looking at his skill set. His size, and strength at the point guard position make him incredibly hard to handle, but if his sharp shooting from deep continues, Marcus’ effectiveness as well as his appeal to pro teams could both see a jump.
Juwan Staten – West Virginia
The Mountaineers’ junior point guard, Juwan Staten, has had a very productive week as he guided West Virginia to two early victories in the Cancun Challenge. In Cancun, he’s filled the stat card, averaging 18 ppg 5 rpg 8 apg while shooting 67% from the field and only turning the ball over once. Although both games were blowouts, Juwan, the Big 12’s third leading scorer, had no trouble doing whatever he wanted on the court, and hopes to pick up where he left off as WVU picks up tournament play Tuesday vs. Old Dominion.
Shane Southwell – Kansas State
One of my pre-season All-Big 12 picks, Shane Southwell, has not started off the season
with the impact I expected. A 44% shooter from downtown as a Junior, Shane is really struggling with his shot, hitting only 17% (3-28) from 3 this year. This past week Southwell’s scoring was down to 6.3 ppg in three games vs. UNC-Charlotte, Georgetown, and LBSU ( 1-2 ). K-State is only scoring 62.7 ppg this year, good for 326th in the NCAA, and if they have any hopes of turning their season around, Southwell needs to improve on the 7.8 ppg on 33% shooting he’s posted in their first six games.
Cameron Ridley – Texas
Former McDonalds All-American, and 5 star recruit Cameron Ridley has not started off his sophomore season the way many had speculated. At 6’10’’ and around 285 lbs, Ridley possesses the size and bulk to dominate at a college level, but has yet to even establish himself as much more than a big body and occasional shot blocker. Monday’s game vs. Houston Baptist, he was hardly as imposing as he should have been while playing a team who’s starting center was 6’8’’ 220 lbs . Ridley only managed 5 points, 5 rebounds off 1/3 shooting and a horrid 3/11 outing from the free throw line. Texas’ first four games have come against very small teams with very little national clout. If they hope to do anything against major conference teams, Ridley’s play needs to pick up.
Top 5 Transfers
With no movement in the top 5 prospects this week, here is a look at the Big 12’s top performing transfers.
1. DeAndre Kane – Iowa State
Already a high volume scorer and versatile wing at Marshall, DeAndre Kane came to Ames with some pretty lofty expectations. Kane has not failed to produce in his first few games in the Big 12. Standing 6’4’’ and a sturdy 200 lbs, DeAndre has the strength to glass at a high level for a guard. Add in his ball handling and playmaking abilities ( 7.1 apg his Jr year at Marshall ) and you have a very hard to guard collegiate veteran. He’s currently averaging 15.5 ppg 8.5 rpg and 5 apg for the undefeated Cyclones, including two double doubles and a 13 point outing against #7 Michigan.
2. Dustin Houge – Iowa State
With Fred Hoiberg’s success luring in big name transfers, it’s no surprise to see another Cyclone high on the list of top performers. A transfer from Indian Hills Community College, Houge, a 6’6’’ small forward, has started the season by averaging a near double double. Dustin is scoring 10.8 ppg and 9.3 rpg for Iowa State, including a double double against #7 Michigan and another 10 rebound game against BYU. Houge is a player reminiscent of P.J. Tucker. Dustin has some guard skills, and decent range, but has the gritty nature to go in among the trees to haul in rebounds and his performance against a very big Michigan team was a perfect example.
3. Ryan Spangler – Oklahoma
Former Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year, and Gonzaga commit, Ryan Spangler, has returned to his home state and has made an immediate impact for the Sooners. After sitting out last season, the 6’8’’ Spangler has made his presence felt on the glass ( 7.8 rpg ) as a defender ( 1.6 bpg ) and as an efficient finisher close to the basket, scoring 10.2 ppg on 69% shooting. Ryan still has some room to grow, especially on the offensive end, but being big and strong is a commodity in college ball, and Spangler is making the most of his physical gifts.
4. Kenny Cherry – Baylor
Kenny Chery had some big shoes to fill when he replaced another junior college transfer as Baylor’s starting point guard. His predecessor, Pierre Jackson, was an electrifying player who played his way into a 2nd round selection in the 2013 NBA Draft. Kenny Chery has not disappointed. Leading the Bears in assists, at 4 per game with an impressive 3.2 A/TO ratio, Chery is also Baylor’s 3rd leading scorer at a 11.8 per game clip. He posted 14 points 4 rebounds and 4 assists against 6-1 Colorado, and hung 20 on UL-Lafayette. As the Bears enter the Maui Invitational, Kenny Chery has established himself as an able point guard who takes care of the ball and who can get to the hoop.
5. Robert Turner – Texas Tech
Texas Tech’s 6’3’’ combo guard, Robert Turner, has been a bright spot in their solid 4-1 start. A transfer from New Mexico Junior College, and an All- WJCAC Honorable Mention player as a sophomore, Turner has started off his 2013-14 season by scoring 12.8 ppg to go with 2.6 apg and an impressive 1.6 steals per game. A key player in Texas Tech’s balanced scoring attack, Robert posted a 21 point outing against Northern Arizona and has scored in double digits in 4 of the Red Raiders 5 games. Robert Turner has made the jump from the junior college ranks, and going forward he looks to be a major player in Tubby Smith’s journey to turn the Red Raiders around.