Player of the Week
Mohamed Bamba – Texas
Mo Bamba earns Player of the Week honors after putting up a string of impressive performances. To start off the week he put up 15 points, 11 rebounds, and recorded 5 blocks in an upset win over Texas Tech. The 7-footer then had 9 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks against West Virginia. Bamba finished up his week with possibly his best performance all year. He recorded a season-high 24 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and knocked down both of his three-point attempts in a win against Iowa State.
Bamba’s offensive performance was impressive to say the least. He averaged 16 points per game on 65% shooting. The Harlem native was his normal self on the boards and now has four straight 10+ rebound games. Overall, Bamba averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks in what was debatably his best stretch of games on the season.
Texas’ star freshman has been unbelievable on the defensive end this year. He has used his 7’9” wingspan to record at least 3 blocks in 16 of his 18 games this year and ranks second in the NCAA in that category. As Bamba’s offensive game grows, scouts are raving about the freshman even more than they were before. We might be starting to see that “potential” grow into fruition faster than most thought.
Sagaba Konate – West Virginia
Possibly one of the most underrated defenders in the NCAA, Sagaba Konate has been on a mission in terms of protecting the rim this season. As of late the 6’8” sophomore has made a handful of highlight reel blocks against dunks. Devonte Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and Kerwin Roach have all been victims of Konate’s defensive prowess.
However, the big man does more than just block shots, he is an efficient rebounder and contributes on the offensive end as well. Konate had five straight game of at least 10 rebounds going into the game versus TCU where the streak ended. In the last 3 games, Konate is averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks. His game has been impressive and has been scoring more consistently as of late, despite his relatively flat jumper. The Mali native is becoming one of the more intriguing players to watch in the Big 12, especially because he didn’t start playing basketball until 2011.
Trae Young – Oklahoma
The story of college basketball continues to make headlines week-in and week-out. Trae Young was able to put up a career-high 48 points on Oklahoma State in his third 40+ point effort of the season. And after facing criticism for ball-hogging and tunnel-vision style of play, Young was able to turn right around and silence his doubters. He recorded 26 points on just 9 shots in a win over Kansas.
Young’s 9 shots were the fewest he’s taken in a game all year. Also, his 3 three-point attempts are half as many as his previous season-low. Young made an incredible turnaround in this effort. Instead of playing strictly though the freshman, Young played through his teammates. He was highly efficient, knocking down 7 of his 9 attempts and more importantly, the team played well. Young also was creating for his teammates when it mattered most, setting up Christian James for a dagger corner-three yet again. Young’s unselfish play and ability to fix his weaknesses should lock him in as a high-lottery pick.
Trae Young – Oklahoma
The omnipresent Trae Young finds himself on both the Who’s Hot and Who’s Not this week after a crazy series of games. While everything mentioned before is absolutely true and Young deserves a ton of credit, there was a lot to critique.
Young’s week started off rough to say the least. He recorded another double-double, except this time it was a points-turnover double-double. Young’s 12 turnovers set a Big 12 record and it was the most in a major conference since 1999. Young was able to bounce back with 48 points the next game, but it wasn’t the prettiest.
The freshman guard took 39 shots, including 20 three-point attempts. He shot just 36% overall from the field and still turned the ball over 7 times. Young did flip the script for the last game of the week, but his performances leading up to it was poor enough to raise concerns about Trae Young.
Baylor started off the year with a 10-2 record, including two 5-game winning streaks. Since then, they have lost 6 of 8 and have fallen to a 12-8 record. Baylor hasn’t been getting blown out but their inability to win close games is definitely a concern.
In a tough Big 12 conference, many game are going to be decided in the final minutes. If Baylor wants to become competitive they need to work on their late game execution. If they don’t turn things around quickly, the Bears may find themselves as one of the worst teams in the conference.
West Virginia Mountaineers
After 15 straight wins for Jevon Carter and the Mountaineers, West Virginia has dropped 3 of their last 4 games. West Virginia was able to climb all the way to a #2 ranking but the wheels fell off the bus are on the verge of dropping out of the Top-10.
West Virginia remains near the top in both the Big 12 rankings and AP rankings but their recent struggles and inconsistency has been worrisome. The return of Esa Ahmad has been rough as team chemistry has taken a hit. Jevon Carter has been struggling with his shot as of late and Carter’s struggles are certainly a large part in the overall team result. Carter and Ahmad will surely get things rolling soon, but until then it could remain a bumpy road for the Mountaineers.
Top 5 Big 12 Coaches
1. Bill Self – Kansas
Bill Self has had the Big 12 in the palm of his hand for years, 13 years to be exact. Kansas is in the midst of trying to win its 14th consecutive regular season Big 12 title. There hasn’t been a run like this in basketball since UCLA back in 1960’s-1970’s. Bill Self has had to deal with losing stars like Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, and Mario Chalmers but hasn’t let his team skip a beat. Bill Self always finds his team in the national conversion and is one of the elite coaches in all the country.
2. Shaka Smart- Texas
Shaka Smart was able to turn VCU into a national contender and even led them to a Final Four appearance one year. Smart exceeded expectations in his first year at Texas and has broken into the national recruiting conversation after landing recruits like Mo Bamba and Gerald Liddell. Smart seems to be a poor man’s Brad Stevens, which still is an extremely high rated coach.
3. Bob Huggins – West Virginia
Bob Huggins has kept West Virginia relevant every year and his unorthodox style of coaching keeps his as an elite coach in the NCAA. The full court press that Huggins preaches has worked wonders for the Mountaineers, they force turnovers at a high rate and capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes better than any team in the country. Huggins always keeps his players conditioned and disciplined, which is a recipe for success at the collegiate level.
4. Chris Beard – Texas Tech
Chris Beard is doing, debatably, the best coaching job in the country this year. Texas Tech has been a top tier team in the country, cracking a Top-10 ranking, despite not having a nationally known player. Keenan Evans has done much of the heavy lifting for the Red Raiders but coaching has been a major factor in the team’s success along the way. Beard in a firm believe that basketball is just as much mental as it is physical and his players have bought into his ideas and the benefits are now on national display.
5. Scott Drew – Baylor
Scott Drew is tied for the longest tenured coach in the Big 12 with Bill Self. Drew has kept Baylor as a competitive team despite the struggles this season. Similar to Self, Drew faces players leaving on a pretty consistent basis but has found ways to build around his team’s strengths. Drew’s one weakness has been is inability to land top recruits but that is also a part of the reason he is viewed as a good coach, succeeding with less talent.