Player of the Week

Monte Morris – Iowa State

Iowa State’s steady handed point guard, Monte Morris, has been a staple among the NCAA ranks in terms of taking care of the ball since he burst on to the scene in 2013. His care with the ball has always been among the forefront of his abilities, but over the year’s he’s slowly improved nearly every aspect of his game.

This week in the Big 12, Morris lead Iowa State to two victories over Illinois, and North Dakota State St, and in addition to a 6/1 assist to turnover ratio in this span, he filled up other statistical columns as well. In this week’s two game stretch, Monte averaged 19 points per game 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and shot a very impressive 14-25 from the field to boot. The Cyclone’s floor general is currently enjoying the best statistical season of his career, and somehow still maintaining his stalwart, and truly elite assist to turnover ratio.

Who’s Hot

Cheick Diallo – Kansas

After an arduous battle with eligibility, the NCAA finally relented and allowed Cheick Diallo to set foot on the court for the first time this season against the Greyhounds of Loyola. The young big man started out a little shaky, and understandably so, but managed to rally for a big 2nd half. Diallo logged only 16 minutes, but still managed 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in that short period of time. His activity was as notable as his length, and he capped the game off with a ode to the Mailman, Karl Malone, hand-behind-the-head dunk. Cheick certainly made his presence felt, and as he gains more experience, KU’s already stacked team is hoping to gain some more steam as they creep closer to the conference season.  

Johnathan Motley – Baylor

Much as Taurean Prince provided great energy off the Baylor bench last season, Coach Drew has opted to save Sophomore Johnathan Motley’s talent for a punch in the 2nd unit this year. The 6’9’’ big man is off to a great start in a reserve role, and this week posted a 23 point, 6 rebound, 3 assist game in only 22 minutes vs. Prairie View A&M. For the season, Motley is averaging 14.7 points, and 5.7 rebounds per game in only 21.2 minutes of playing time. His per 40 minute averages are 27.7 ppg and 10.75 rpg in the early stages of 15-16. Granted the Bears’ only major test thus far has been Oregon, but still Motley went for 17 points and 7 rebounds in only 24 minutes in that contest. Regardless of early season schedule strength, Baylor’s young power forward has made major strides since his freshman campaign.

Who’s Not

Barry Brown – Kansas State

Wildcat freshman, Barry Brown, made a name for himself early by dropping 17 points in K-State’s first game of the year, and another 18 in a game versus South Dakota just week later. The 6’3’’ point guard provided great energy, and showed the ability to catch fire from downtown. Brown has cooled off a bit in their last three contests, which includes an 0-6 performance in a hard fought game against the Tarheels of North Carolina. Since dropping 18 on South Dakota, Barry has shot just 2-16 from the floor, and has only amassed 1 more point than fouls in that span. This stretch is by no means unheard of for a young guard, but for the Wildcats to keep up their early season success, some improved consistency from Brown could play a factor.

Jeff Newberry – Oklahoma State

After Phil Forte’s name was added to the injury list last month, Oklahoma State was left in a predicament. Without their go-to scorer, senior point guard, Jeff Newberry was looked on heavily to steer the ship for the Cowboys. Newberry has done an admirable job in Forte’s absence, but when he struggles Oklahoma State struggles. In an in state game versus the Tulsa Hurricanes, Jeff couldn’t find his shooting stroke, and managed just a 3-9 performance from the field, and failed to hit a 3 point despite taking 4 attempts. While Newberry’s cold streak is in it’s infancy, the stakes are higher as he’s looked on heavily to provide buckets with Forte on the bench. Luckily 1-5 Missouri State comes to Stillwater on Saturday, so that could be a good confidence builder for the Cowboys’ floor general.  

Top 5 Rebounders

1. Rico Gathers – Baylor

When you say the word “rebound” to a Big 12 fan, the name Rico Gathers has almost become synonymous after the bruising power forward has put in three plus years of hauling in misses for the Bears. Listed at 6’8’’, Gathers averaged 11.6 boards per game as a junior, and is off to a double digit pace early into his last collegiate season as well. As Baylor begins to play more difficult opponents, and Rico’s minutes begin to climb, don’t be surprised if Gathers is the leader, or among the leaders of the entire NCAA.

2. Jameel McKay – Iowa State

From a stylistic standpoint, Jameel McKay is almost the exact opposite in terms of rebounding from Rico Gathers. McKay’s 7’3’’ wingspan, quickness, and leaping ability make him a terror on the glass. Averaging 11.8 per game early into the 2015-16 season, Iowa State’s post man corralled 19 against North Dakota State on Monday. Length and rebounding directly transfer to the NBA, so don’t be surprised if McKay’s name is tossed around as a second round possibility this spring.

3. Ryan Spangler – Oklahoma

Ryan Spangler has been a staple on Big 12 rebounding lists nearly as long as Rico Gathers. Since transferring from Gonzaga, he’s used his wide base, and defensive smarts to dominate his opponents on the defensive glass since he first put on a Sooners jersey. Averaging 9.4 this season, and after nabbing 14 boards versus Wisconsin, Spangler is a guy who’s proven ability to clean the glass make him a likely candidate to finish the year among the conference’s top rebounders, and possibly average a double-double.

4. Devin Williams – West Virginia

After starting the year on a 5 game double-double streak, Devin Williams finally was held to a single digit rebounding performance versus San Diego State. The 6’9’’ big man is quite possibly the strongest player in the Big 12, and has really made strides early into his junior season. He’s lower on the list purely because the guy ahead of him are more proven, but if Devin can keep hauling in boards at his current pace, he could be the Big 12 rebound leader at season’s end.

5. Cameron Ridley – Texas
At 6’10’’ and tipping the scales at 285 pounds, there are not a lot of players at the NCAA level capable of knocking Cameron Ridley out of position. Not to mention, his wingspan is a rumored 7’4’’ inches. This season Ridley is averaging 9.7 rebounds 6 games into his senior campaign. After hauling in 8.2 per contest as a sophomore, his production regressed as a junior, but blessed with tremendous girth, as well as length, Cameron has the ability to continue to flirt with a double digit rebounding average for the rest of the year.

Follow David Ray on twitter @DR_NBADraft