Player of The Week
Jalen Smith, Forward, Maryland
Jalen has been playing tremendous all season, and the past week was mosr of the same. In their blowout win over Notre Dame he led the team in scoring with 15 while also securing 16 rebounds and rejecting 5 shots. “Stix” followed that performance up with a 14 point 13 rebound performance, where he also sent 3 shots away and had 2 steals. Maryland as a team struggled versus Penn State, but Smith still had a solid game. Posting 12 points and 11 rebounds on only 5 shots, while shooting 60% from the field and 83% from the line. His weekly averages are 13 points, 13 rebounds and over 3.5 blocks per game.
Ohio State- The Buckeyes are off to undefeated start at 9-0. Ohio State played two game this week, one was an impressive 22-point victory at home against a 7-1 Penn State team. Leading the way was Kaleb Wesson with 28 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. The other a blowout win in North Carolina. They beat the Tar Heels 74-49. Leading the way was Duane Washington Jr. scoring 18 points in 24 minutes. Also, providing a spark off the bench was E.J. Liddell who scored 12 on an efficient 4-6 shooting.
Luka Garza, Center, Iowa
In a Matchup versus #4 Michigan, Garza dropped 44 points on 17-32 shooting. While also grabbing 8 boards. Iowa lost but Garza’s scoring made the game a lot more interesting. In Iowa’s 3 games this week Garza averaged 29 points and 9 rebounds per game. Garza’s scoring lead Iowa to a 2-1 record this week.
Aaron Wiggins, Guard, Maryland
While his rebound numbers have been solid this week at 6 a game, he has really struggled from the field. Shooting 27% from the field in both matchups this week. His percentages for the season are also way down from his freshman season. Field goal % dropped from 38% to 35%, his 3-point percentage dropped from 41% to 31%, and his free throw percentage dropped from a respectable 86% to 70%. His struggles continued against Penn State where he shot 3-12. His overall numbers are up this season, but he has also played 6 more minutes per game this year than last. Despite playing more minutes, he has really struggled to put the ball in the hoop.
Ron Harper Jr.- Guard, Rutgers
In three games this week Harper’s field goal percentage was not great. In a matchup versus Pittsburgh, he shot 6-15. He did score 14 points to tie for Rutgers’ leading scorer and grabbed 10 rebounds, but the shooting percentage was nothing to write home about. Harper followed this performance up with a 4-12 performance against Michigan State. He also missed both his free throw attempts in the game. In Rutgers’ matchup against Wisconsin, Harper shot 2-8. For the week, he shot 34% from the field. If Rutgers hopes to compete in the Big Ten, he needs to become a more efficient scorer.
Top 5 Centers in Big Ten
Jon Teske, Michigan
Standing at 7’1”, Teske is a true center. He possesses the size to disrupt shots at the rim and to score around the basket. As a senior, he has raised his free throw percentage from 50% as a freshman to around 69%, if he can continue to improve from the line as well as expand his range on offense to outside of the paint, he will be a solid player at the next level. This season his points per game has raised almost 5 points from 9.5 last season, to 14.3 this year while playing almost the same number of minutes per game. His rebounding numbers are also very solid at 9 per game which is top ten in the conference. The biggest part of his game is his impact on defense, averaging 2.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per game he has been a nuisance to opponents trying to score in the paint.
5. Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State
Standing at 6’9” Wesson is not a true center, but plays the 5 for Ohio State. His best performance of the year was his last game against Penn State. Wesson dropped 28 points on 9-16 from the field going an efficient 4-6 from 3. Wesson is the perfect stretch 4 at the next level. At 270lbs he has the size to play down low and this season he is shooting a career high 44% from 3 showing he can step outside and score as well. Overall his shooting percentage is down this year, but his percentage from behind the 3-point line is up 10 percent this season at 45%. His free throw percentage is also up this year at 81% which is impressive for a big man. His season averages are solid at 14 points and 9 rebounds per game. He ranks 7th in the Big Ten in rebounds per game. Wesson’s block totals are up this year as well averaging 1.6 blocks per game.
4. Mike Watkins, Penn State
Standing at 6’9”, senior Mike Watkins is a little undersized for the 5, but he is a very talented player. His biggest issues throughout his college career have been off the court, which affected his play on the court. This season Watkins has been focused on basketball which is obvious by his solid play on the court. Defensively this season Watkins has been a force averaging 3.8 blocks and 1.2 steals while only playing 23 minutes a game. In a huge upset over #4 Maryland, Watkins was sensational, leading the Nittany Lions in scoring with 15 points on an efficient 7-11 shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds. He also had 4 blocks in the game and held Maryland standout Jalen Smith to 12 points on just 5 shots, with most of his points coming from the line. For the season, he is averaging a career high 9.4 rebounds a game as well as 11 points on 59% from the field. His best defensive game was definitely against Ole Miss, where he racked up 8 blocks and 4 steals, while he also had 18 points and 12 boards. Watkins ranks 6th in the Big Ten in rebounds per game and leads the conference in blocks per game.
3. Kofi Cockburn, Illinois
The 7-foot Freshman currently is second in the Big Ten in rebounds per game at 10.6 and is also 6th in points per game at 15.8. Kofi is also shooting a sky high 59% from the field ranking 6th in the Big Ten. In a huge Illinois upset over Jon Teske and #5 Michigan, Kofi posted 19 points and 10 rebounds as well as rejecting 4 shots. His most impressive performance came against The Citadel, where he posted 18 points and 17 rebounds. He has been a monster on the boards all season and his numbers should continue to improve as his game grows. Kofi is a true center and is not a threat from behind the arc, but he does all his work on the inside
2. Luka Garza Iowa
The 6’11” Junior has been scoring the ball at will all season. Leading the Big Ten in scoring at 22.5 points per game on an efficient 55% from the field. His best game was by far against Michigan where he dropped 44 on the #5 team in the Country. Shooting an efficient 17-32 from the field. He is also averaging 9.8 rebounds per game which ranks 4th in the Big Ten. Garza is also shooting an impressive 43% from behind the three-point line. Not much of a shot blocker, averaging only 1.3 for the year and only .7 for his career. If Garza can become a more intimidating presence in the paint defensively, he will take his game to the next level. The offensive side of his game is already elite for the college level, if the he can start imposing his will more on defense he will be a high pick.
1. Daniel Oturu Minnesota
Oturu currently leads the Big Ten in rebounds per game at 11 and is second in scoring at 18 points per game. Oturu also ranks number 3 in field goal percentage at 65% and second in blocks per game at 3.6. He has played incredible basketball so far this season. Playing 7 minutes more per game, Oturu has added 4 more boards, 2 blocks, and 8 points to his averages from last season. He has played his way into being the best center in the conference and hopefully continues to improve throughout the rest of the season.