Player of the Week
Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The freshman has become a more productive all around player for the Wildcats as the conference season comes to an end. He has found ways to contribute on offense by setting screens and spacing the floor even if he’s not scoring much. The forward also plays outstanding defense, turning opponents away constantly and making it hard to score in the paint against him.
In the victory over California, Gordon recorded 13 points on 4-7 in field-goals and 5-6 from the free-throw line. The freshman also added four rebounds and a steal against the Golden Bears. In the following game against Stanford, Gordon registered a double-double ending the game with 19 points and 15 rebounds. He shot 8-13 from the field and added two assists, a block and a steal in the win. The high flier averaged 16.0 points and 9.5 rebounds while sporting a .593 field-goal percentage and a .666 percentage from the charity stripe in the two victories.
Gordon brings a lot of effort and energy to the floor when he’s out there. He entertains with a lot of dunks, but can also create for himself against the right opponents. He’s gotten better at being an effective player without scoring by using his versatility and passing well near the interior of the defense. The freshman has posted eight 20-point games on the season and leads the Wildcats rebounding the ball, averaging 8.0 rebounds per game.
Mike Moser, Oregon
The transfer from UNLV does most of his damage around the paint, but is also a great rhythm shooter. He can even knock down the 3-point jumper if the defense is slow on getting out defending him behind the arc. In the double-overtime victory against UCLA, Moser recorded a double-double with 12 points and 20 rebounds. The senior also added five assists, a block and a steal in win. Against USC, Moser flip-flopped his stats, posting another double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds this time. He went 9-15 from the field and 2-5 from behind the 3-point line while adding four assists, a block and a steal in the victory. The Duck forward averaged 16.0 points, 16.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the two road wins. Moser leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.8 per game. He has five double-doubles and seven 20-point games up to this point.
Jermaine Marshall, Arizona State
Marshall is a great shooter and is exceptional at getting in good position without the ball for a good look at the rim. He is also athletic on defense, usually guarding the wing player of the other team. In the win against Stanford, the senior scored 16 points on 6-12 shooting from the field while adding two assists, two steals and a block in the victory. Against California, Marshall dropped 22 points while shooting the lights out and helping his team win the game. He went 7-11 in field goals and 6-8 from downtown, also making his only two attempts from the free-throw line. The Sun Devil guard averaged 19.0 points while shooting .568 from the field, .541 from beyond the arc and .833 from the free-throw stripe in the two wins.
The transfer from Penn State is a confident scorer and has been huge in big games this season, especially down the stretch of the conference schedule. He leads the team in 3-point shooting with a .425 percentage from beyond the arc and has registered 11, 20-point games on the year.
Askia Booker, Colorado
Booker’s biggest problem this season seems to be his consistency. At any point he can come out and perform so well by making good decisions and taking good shots. At the same time, he can come out and do the complete opposite of what is considered good basketball. In the loss against Utah, the junior scored four points on 1-8 shooting from the field (0-3 3-point) and finished the game with four turnovers. He contributed six assists and two steals, but if his shots were falling along with his other contributions, the Buffs’ would have had a legitimate chance to win the game.
Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State
The usually reliable center has hit a small rut in his production the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t scored in double figures since the double-overtime win over Arizona on February 14. In the Sun Devils two home victories he averaged just 5.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game and was hampered by foul trouble throughout. The most noticeable drought is his shot blocking as he averaged only 2.0 blocks per game (he leads the conference averaging 4.2 per game). In the win over Stanford, he actually finished the game without recording a single block. Bachynski, usually an efficient shooter (.552 FG %), seems to have lost his touch as of recently. The senior shot a miniscule .283 from the field and didn’t make it to the free-throw line for a single attempt in the two wins.
Top 5 2014 NBA Draft Prospects
1. Zach LaVine, UCLA
LaVine has had an up and down season. He went scoreless in a recent game and obviously will need some time before becoming a consistent contributor at the next level. But the NBA draft is all about potential, and LaVine has more than any player in the Conference. Despite a recent shooting slump, he’s still shooting over 40% from 3 and averaging over 10 ppg, despite limited minutes. He really wows in warm ups as he gets great elevation and almost never misses with his picture perfect form. Throw in his insane vertical, and some intriguing possibility as a point guard, and you’ve got a prospect with immense boom or bust potential.
2. Kyle Anderson, UCLA
The 6-9 point guard does it all for the Bruins. His versatility on offense makes for a tough outing for any opponent matched up against him. The sophomore is ranked in the top 5 in the conference in assists (6.8, 1st), rebounds (8.6, 4th) and steals (1.8, 4th) per game. Anderson took a big step in maturity this season and has done a good job running the offense each game. He’s the only player in the conference averaging at least 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game and has recorded 14 double-doubles and eight 20-point games. I expect him to be a lottery pick in this draft to a team that is looking to add a little versatility to their offense.
3. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
It might have taken longer than expected, but the freshman has finally started to live up to the hype that was surrounding him early in the season. Gordon is averaging 12.2 points per game and leads his team on the glass, averaging 8.0 rebounds per game. His offensive game remains extremely limited and may always, yet his energy and athleticism is where he makes his living. He’s great at making plays down low and picking up fouls, but unable to cap them off most of the time by missing his free-throws (.434 FT %). From a developmental standpoint, I think it would be best for Gordon to stay in college one more season to fine tune his skills, but with the ability to play both forward positions, I can see a team taking a chance on him in the mid to late first round of this year’s draft.
4. Justin Cobbs, California
The senior is a true point guard with all the right intangibles to succeed at the next level. He makes smart decisions each outing and keeps everything running smoothly on the offensive end for Cal. Cobbs is second in the conference in assists, averaging 5.8 per game while averaging just 2.6 turnovers per game. He also leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.8 points per game. The aspect of Cobbs’ game I admire the most is his efficiency both scoring and distributing the ball. He is shooting .471 from the field and is great at converting at the charity stripe with .818 free-throw percentage. Cobbs can provide solid minutes and keep the offense in tact in a reserve role in the pros. He’s a potential second round pick in this year’s draft with solid upside as a backup NBA PG if given the right opportunity in the NBA.
5. Nick Johnson, Arizona
The guard is as clutch as anyone this year in the conference. With the game on the line and the team needing a bucket, Johnson is that man to take the shot almost every time in this situation. He also plays lockdown D on the perimeter and comes up with big plays on the defensive end in the waning minutes of a game. The junior leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.0 points per game and has cashed in nine 20-point games on the season. Like Gordon, I think Johnson could use one more season at the collegiate level. He’s made big strides from his sophomore season to this season, but one more season at Arizona could be the icing on the cake. If a team does decide to take a chance on him, they would be getting a good leader and someone with the composure to make plays in the final minutes of the game. If anything he will be a second round pick in this year’s draft.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Carson has improved greatly from his freshman year up until now. He’s fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 18.4 points per game. The guard also leads his team in distributing the ball with 4.4 assists per game on the season. In his freshman season, Carson had trouble using the left hand and it troubled some of his other abilities. This season it seems like he’s taken care of that problem and he now has the ability to do different things on the court. His 3-point game is what really standout about the sophomore this season. He’s shooting .407 from 3-point land, which is a big improvement over last year. The Sun Devil is an explosive player, and if he’s drafted by the right organization that can properly develop him in the next couple years, he can be a solid role player coming off the bench. He’s a projected second round pick in my opinion.