Pac-12 Player of the Week
Tyler Bey, Colorado
This Colorado sophomore has led his team to three consecutive victories in conference play, and has managed to record a double-double in his last five games. Bey scored 27 points Thursday vs. UCLA on 13-20 shooting to go with his 13 rebounds. The 6’7, 218 lb. forward had another solid performance in a big win over the USC Trojans with 17 points on 7-13 shooting, 11 rebounds, one block and one steal.
For the season he is averaging 13 and nine boards per contest but as of late, he has been even more productive on both ends of the ball. Bey also gets to the foul line and convert there as well which is always a plus, especially for a team that plays physical in general like the Buffaloes. He is one of the exceptional rebounders in the Pac-12 conference, especially for his size which has been underestimated by opponents. The duo of him and McKinley Wright IV has proven to be and should remain a problem for teams they face.
Payton Pritchard, Oregon
The 6’2 junior has provided a massive spark for this Oregon team on both ends of the floor during the Ducks four-game win streak. Pritchard had excellent all around performances last week in two consecutive road victories over Washington State and then Washington. He scored 15 points to go with seven assists on 7-12 shooting from the floor. He also made it difficult for the Cougars on the defensive end recording three steals in the game as well.
The junior guard then topped his performance Saturday in the win over Washington when he scored 16 points on 5-10 shooting and had three each of assists and rebounds. Pritchard was again a nightmare defensively for the opponent recording five steals this time against the top team in the conference, Washington Huskies. Expect Pritchard to remain heavily relied upon by this Oregon team for the remainder of its season.
Washington State Cougars
The Cougars suffered two painful losses last week, first to Oregon on Wednesday and then Oregon State on Saturday. Washington State certainly did not take good care of the basketball against Oregon as the starting lineup alone combined for 15 turnovers, which simply isn’t winning basketball. Oregon also shot the 3-point shot as well exceptionally because a lack of perimeter defense from the Cougars. Both Victor Bailey Jr. and Paul White shot 4-5 from 3-point range and it surely hurt Washington State in the end. This team was not able to bounce back Saturday against Oregon State, even despite a 37 point outburst from senior forward Robert Franks. Defense was again an issue for the Cougars as the trio of Stephen Thompson Jr., Ethan Thompson, and Tres Tinkle simply had their way on the offensive end. Both Thompson Jr. and Tinkle had 26 points each and Ethan Thompson recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 assists.
Top 5 NBA Prospects in the Pac-12 other than Bol Bol and Tyler Bey
1. KZ Okpala, Stanford
At 6’9, 215 lbs., this sophomore forward is one of the most versatile and intriguing prospects in the Pac-12. He does just about everything on both ends of the floor for this Stanford team. He averages 17 points per contest this season with nearly six rebounds and over two assists. A player this size with this athleticism who can also shoot the 3-point shot is of such high value. The Cardinals may have lost their last game to Cal but that did not stop Okpala from having a sweet performance with 21 points on 9-14 shooting along with eight boards and two assists. If he can improve his outside shooting, he will prove to be an invaluable “3 and D wing” that is very desired in today’s NBA.
2. Kris Wilkes, UCLA
Wilkes is another guy with good size who too also averages 17 points per game. Wilkes has been a prolific scorer for this UCLA team all season playing off of Jaylen Hands freshman big man Moses Brown. At 6’8 Wilkes also has great potential with his versatility and outside shooting. This season, he has two 3-point shots made per game and opponents know that they must step out on him to defend his shot, thus opening up the drive to the basket for an athletic 6’8 guy who isn’t afraid of drawing contact. If Wilkes can improve defensively as well as his outside shooting, his name will be popping up more and more on NBA draft boards.
3. Jaylen Nowell, Washington
This sophomore guard has helped lead the top in the conference Huskies all season long and is averaging 16 points per game for the second year in a row. Nowell is a superb combo-guard who can score or get his teammates involved moving the basketball while also being effective defensively. At 6’4 and 200 lbs, Nowell can be put in more than one position and also has no problem with boxing out and grabbing rebounds. Another huge plus to his game is that this year he shot nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc and is a big reason why Washington has the best record in the Pac-12.
4. Matisse Thybulle, Washington
Thybulle has been a solid wing defender who can also shoot his entire college career, but this year which is his senior year, he has absolutely made a name for himself on the defensive end. His contribution helps the Washington team in just about every facet of the game and he does all of the dirty work. He averages 3.5 steals per game which is just ridiculous in and of itself but at just 6’5, he also averages an astounding 2.2 blocked shots per game as well. What does that mean? You want guys like him in the game setting the tone and leading your defense into battle. He averages just under 10 points per contest but with improved outside shooting, that number can certainly increase.
5. Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State
This 6’8 senior has been a consistent performer for this Sun Devil team all season long averaging a double-double while playing winning basketball. Cheatham is able to get to the foul line more than most players and it really helps his team with outside shooting since he is such a good penetrator. Cheatham is also very versatile at his size of 6’8 where he can battle with bigs down low for rebounds as well as defend on the perimeter. He is also averaging a career best 3.3 assists per game because he is able to kick it out to his teammates whenever he may face a double-team.