Player of the Week

Gabe Kalscheur, Iowa State Cyclones

After suffering back-to-back losses, the Cyclones needed a win to avoid spiraling out of control. Gabe Kalscheur, the former Minnesota Golden Gopher, had a great game to snap the mini skid. He scored 22 points on 50% shooting, including knocking down six of his 12 attempts from behind the arc. The 6’4 senior also helped in other areas, with three assists, two rebounds and two steals in the 79-70 win over No. 21 Texas. Kalscheur has had an uneven start in Aimes, as he dropped 30 points against Memphis, but is averaging just 11 points on 35% shooting this season. A massive game against a ranked team could help be the turning point for his and Iowa State’s season. He has the length and wingspan to be a disruptor on defense, with his shooting being a swing skill for his offensive production. With the 22 point outburst, and the great shooting percentages, his confidence has to be rocketing. That extra juice and confidence could help propel him forward to being a larger part of the offense moving forward.

Who’s Hot

Adonis Arms, Texas Tech

Arms started his collegiate career playing for the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders, a division II school. He transferred to Winthrop before finally landing at Texas Tech. Arms, a 6’5 guard has made the absolute most out of his opportunity. Despite having zero division I offers out of high school, he has clawed his way to a power five program, and started for the Red Raiders in their massive upset over No. 1 Baylor. Not only did he start, but he was the leading scorer for his team. He had 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks and just one turnover. Arms was the best player on the court, continuing to run the offense with poise and precision. He picked apart a really good Baylor defense with constant drives to the rim, and his continued assault into the paint opened lanes for his teammates to score. One of the best stories of the college basketball season, Arms has a tremendous story of determination and belief overpowering the doubt from others. He will play many important games for the Red Raiders, but there may not be a more special one than dethroning the reigning champs for Arms.

Who’s Not

Baylor Bears

In a few years, Baylor will be the answer to the trivia question “What is the only college basketball team to drop back-to-back home games as the No. 1 team in the country”. Baylor had one 21 consecutive games and hadn’t suffered back-to-back home defeats in six years. The Bears reached the mountain tops last year and seemed to be steadily heading that direction again this year. Instead, they will have to reevaluate and decide what to do differently moving forward. Two losses don’t ruin a season but letting them fester certainly can. Without Bonafide stars like last season, they are susceptible to off-nights on offense. Baylor is certainly one of the best teams in the country, but they just had their worst two game stretch in more than half a decade.

Top Five Seniors

Players who have spent four years (or five thanks to COVID) in college can play a huge role for their squads both on and off the court. Here are the five most impactful thus far.

Taz Sherman, West Virginia

The second leading scorer in the Big 12, Sherman has been most of the offense for the Mountaineers. After Deuce McBride left for the NBA, West Virginia needed more offensive firepower, and Sherman has provided that in a major way. He has poured in almost 19 points per game, plus had added three assists and rebounds per contest. A stout defender, Sherman can disrupt both guard positions, and has averaged 1.6 steals per game.

Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State

One of the bounciest players in the conference, Brockington can do a lot more than throw down powerful slams. He is fourth in the conference with 16.5 points per game and is second with 7.9 rebounds per game. His rebounding is especially impressive considering that he is a 6’4 forward who is rarely around the rim. He has been particularly effective from behind the arc, connecting on 39% of his threes. His long arms and active hands help him grab more than a steal per game.

James Akinjo, Baylor

Eighth in points per game and first in assists in the Big 12, the Georgetown and Arizona transfer has been really important for the Bears. His ball handling and creativity uplift an otherwise vanilla offense. He continually puts pressure on the defense and always has his eyes open for the perfect pass. Despite his smaller size, he has been a terrific defender, nabbing more than two steals per contest, good for third in the conference. Akinjo has made his presence felt on both ends of the court, and his decision to come to Waco should pay huge dividends come March.

Tanner Groves, Oklahoma

Groves, a 6’10 forward, has been a very efficient player for the Sooners. He has averaged 16 points and six boards, while connecting on 57% of his shots and 38% of his threes. The former Eastern Washington star has also been a useful passer out of the post, with two assists per game. His length and size can create mismatches against smaller forwards, and his outside shot can make defense difficult when he sets picks. Groves can roll to the rim or drop to the three-point line, and that versatility generates more space for the Sooner offense.

Sean McNeil, West Virginia

The second Mountaineer to crack this list, McNeil has been a solid player for West Virginia over his career. He has always been known as a great threat from behind the arc but has taken another step forward this season. The 6’3 guard has buried more than 40% of his attempts from deep, and that accuracy makes him a focal point for defenses. He doesn’t provide much as a ball handler or creator, but his consistency from behind the arc makes helping off of him extremely dangerous.

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