Player of the Week
Isaac Okoro (Auburn) – Auburn’s freshman forward, a 6-foot-6, 225-pounder posted career marks in scoring (18 Pts) and rebounding (9 Rebs), as well as three assists and one block in the Tigers overtime win against Furman. In the 5-minute extra period, he tallied a team-best six points which included shooting 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Okoro’s final two free throws iced the game, elevating Auburn’s lead to three with just 1.6 seconds remaining. He led Auburn in completing a 14-point comeback in the second half; easily the largest second-half deficit they’ve faced this season.
Despite being in his first year of college ball, Okoro is showing surprising consistency averaging 13.9 PPG. Standing as the team’s 2nd leading scorer behind Samir Doughty, he’s put up double-digits in every game but one in which he scored nine against Richmond. He is also ranked 2nd on the team in field goals made (44), and field goal percentage (60.3%). He appears to be one of the more impactful freshmen this season, and definitely one to keep an eye on.
Saben Lee (Vanderbilt) – We saw the 6-foot-2, 183-pound junior guard go off in the Commodores latest matchup against Buffalo. Lee pumped in 25 points for Vandy as well as adding four rebounds, four assists and two steals in leading his team to a 90-76 win over the Bulls. He shot 8-of-15 from the floor and 100% (8-for-8) from the charity stripe in the win. Lee leads the team as a distributor as he upholds 50 total assists (6.2 APG) this season. Additionally, he boasts a team-high 35 made free throws for the Commodores so far this year.
Tennessee Volunteers – After dropping a tough loss to a solid Florida State team, Coach Rick Barnes and his 7-1 Volunteers are fresh off back-to-back wins against No. 20 VCU and Florida A&M. Their last win marked the 31st straight home victory for Tennessee and helped Coach Barnes get within one game of becoming the 7th active head coach to earn 700 Division 1 wins. This would place him on the same list as Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari, and some more extremely notable names in college basketball. The Vols are defensively loaded when they play together on that end of the court as they’re ranked in the top 3 in the SEC in points against (55.9 AVG), defensive rebounds (31.1 AVG), and blocks (6.0 AVG). Looking to advance their record to 8-1, Tennessee takes on No. 13 Memphis this weekend in an underestimated Top 25 matchup.
Savion Flagg (Texas A&M) – Well it’s quite simple; the Aggies don’t have much muscle to flex at the moment. It doesn’t help that their leading scorer in Savion Flagg is only producing 10.4 points per game as this is not his only stat that is down from last season. In addition, he has less assists, a lower free throw percentage, and more turnovers than last season. It is understood that it’s still early in the season but for a player who declared for the NBA Draft at the end of last season, he just isn’t performing anywhere close to where he needs to; not only to help the Aggies, but to get him to the next level too. Hopefully, Coach Buzz Williams can spark a fire under Flagg and the rest of the team to get their 3-5 record back on track.
Mississippi State – After 11 days of no games, the Bulldogs suffered their first home loss of the year. Actually, not a bad start for this team, but they dropped a bad loss to Louisiana Tech. As a team, Mississippi State shot 47.2% from the field and made 11 of 23 attempts beyond the arc. The Bulldogs also coughed up 13 turnovers and making a horrid 50% of their foul shots (6-for-12). After letting up 10 unanswered points, State was never able to regain their lead and the closest margin following this run was six points. This was not the only time they lacked efficiency in this game, and if they want to bounce back from this upset they need to improve their consistency.
Top 5 Sophomores
1. Ashton Hagans (Kentucky) – On an extremely talented team, some names go unnoticed. In this case it’s the 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard that seems like he’s developing beyond the role-player that he was last season. Hagans is 3rd on the team in points per game and total points, but also leads the Wildcats in assists per game (7.0) and total steals (14). Nearly every scoring stat is elevated from last season and he is clearly out-performing what Coach Calipari and the media had expected before the start of this year.
2. Andrew Nembhard (Florida) – This 6-foot-5 guard is an astounding facilitator with the rock in his hands. He’s chalked up a team-high 47 total assists so far this season and averages 5.2 per game in which his role is vital to the Gators’ success. Nembhard’s versatility is apparent; along with being able to pass the ball with perfection, he is 3rd on the team in points and is 2nd for three-pointers-made. Definitely a menace to defend against, he can dish or score at his leisure.
3. Kira Lewis (Alabama) – The obvious star for the Crimson Tide. If you want to talk about someone who can fill the stat sheet this is your guy for sure. Lewis guides this team leading them in points per game (18.6), assists per game (4.4), and steals per game (1.8). Almost forgot to mention that he’s also 2nd on the team for rebounding with 43 total boards averaging 5.4 a game. Absolute stud thus far, can’t wait to see how he plays for the rest of the season.
4. Isaiah Joe (Arkansas) – Another player with a wide skill set; at a lanky 6-foot-5 and 180-pounds, Joe is able to handle the ball all over the floor and loves to spread the wealth as he ranks first in assists for the Razorbacks. Also a threat from beyond the arc, he paces the team in three-pointers-made and is in 2nd for both total points and field goal percentage. Joe currently has the hot hand, putting up double-digits in his last four games all resulting in wins except the most recent overtime loss to Western Kentucky.
5. Reggie Perry (Mississippi State) – A real glass cleaner here at 6-foot-10, 250-pounds. Perry is a beast down low for the Bulldogs collecting 9.5 rebounds per game and 76 total boards. Also coming in at 2nd on the team in scoring, his aggression matched with his size turns the paint into a field day for Perry. In addition, he is 2nd in both total blocks and total steals. He’s listed as a forward due to his athleticism, but anyone coming across him thinking they can box this kid out will be painfully wrong.