Player of the Week:
Samir Doughty (Auburn)
This past week the Tigers matched up with New Mexico and Richmond; both resulting in double-digit wins for Bruce Pearl and his team. The largest contributor was unquestionably the 6-foot-4, Senior guard out of Philadelphia, PA: Samir Doughty. In the first game against New Mexico, he boasted a crazy performance from beyond the arc in which he hit five 3-pointers helping to extend Auburn’s lead throughout the game. Along with this, he shot 50% from the field and snatched up 3 steals as well. Against Richmond, Doughty kept the hot hand as he put up 22 points and once again lead the team in scoring. He also added 3 assists to his stat-line against the Spiders.
In just two games Doughty managed to pile up 41 points off of 7 threes as he shot 46% from deep on top of shooting just under 50% from field goal range. Seemingly, almost every other shot ended up in the bottom of the basket for him. Samir out-performed his veteran role for this team, but I don’t think any of his teammates and coaches are complaining. As for his future, I have already witnessed lots of growth and maturity in his game from last year. His PPG has nearly tripled this season and it looks like he’s going to go back-to-back in leading the team in 3-Point Percentage. If Doughty can continue putting up big numbers both inside and outside, he can become a major threat moving forward and even at the next level.
Florida Gators: After winning the Charleston Classic, UF was named the National Team of the Week by Andy Katz and NCAA March Madness. This is probably due to the fact that despite dropping two losses to Florida State and UConn, they were able to bounce back and win four consecutive games including being crowned champs of the Charleston Classic. As a team, they are collectively shooting 43% from the field and averaging nearly 38 rebounds per game. Defensively, the Gators have kept opponents around 60 PPG, allowing their slow-pace style to continue to work in their favor.
Keyontae Johnson (Florida): The 6-foot-5, 231-pound forward averaged 16.3 points and 8 rebounds in guiding the Gators to the Charleston Classic title with wins over Saint Joseph’s, Miami (FL) and No. 18 Xavier. Rightfully so, Johnson was named MVP of the tournament after missing just 13 shots from the field out of 33 attempts (60.6%). He recorded his fifth career double-double pumping in 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against Saint Joseph’s. He scored 15 points and snagged 5 boards in taking down a previously undefeated team in Xavier. In my opinion, the most dangerous part of all this is that he’s only in the beginning of his sophomore campaign.
Texas A&M Aggies: In Buzz Williams first year as head coach of the Aggies, it’s been kind of a rough beginning. It is no easy task to play top-ranked Gonzaga at the start of any season, but A&M got absolutely worked in losing to the Zags by 30. This team has also dropped bad losses to Harvard, Temple, and Fairfield recently while displaying a horrifying field goal percentage. Cold shooting seems to be the largest negative impact: Against Harvard, they shot 31% and in the ensuing game against Temple, the shot 22.4%. Also in their matchup against the Owls, they chucked up 33 attempts from 3-point land with just 6 of those shots scoring. Their last performance against Fairfield showed a glimpse of a bounce back with their team stats not being as awful, but still couldn’t muster up a win against the 1-6 Stags.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. (Florida): Despite the amount of praise I have given to the Florida Gators, there was a chip in the armor that I’d like to point out. Projected to be the 2019-2020 SEC Player of the Year, the Virginia Tech transfer was expected to have a breakout year. His stat-line is not up to par; as his game averages aren’t on pace to match those from previous seasons. College basketball goes deeper than just points and the obvious stuff though: Blackshear received a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected within the first two minutes of second half in the first round of the Charleston Classic opener in South Carolina. The elbow he threw at Taylor Funk’s face was uncalled for and in no way an athletic play. I want to see UF’s star big man excel this season but if impulsive actions like this continue, he can kiss the NBA goodbye and the rest of the Gator’s hopeful season.
Top 5 SEC Players to watch this season:
1. Anthony Edwards (Georgia): The Bulldogs have an absolute beast in Edwards as he comes onto the NCAA scene appearing as the most exciting recruit Athens has seen in years. With multiple early references as being a one-and-done talent, he holds loads of potential in altering the fate of the Bulldogs this season. He will have a mass of weight to carry and higher expectations to meet as Georgia plays this season without Nicolas Claxton who was drafted this past year to the Brooklyn Nets. Edwards’ essentially makes Tom Crean’s team a must-see throughout the season and places them in contention for a top spot in the SEC.
2. Ashton Hagans (Kentucky): The 6-foot-3 sophomore serves as a rare returning point guard for the Wildcats: Despite a slightly rocky start, this team is obviously projected to go deep come tournament time. Hagans has developed into a young leader throughout the back half of last season and seeks to fully embrace the role this year. You can count on this kid to fill the stat sheet in various areas and with higher numbers than last season. Avoiding turnovers will be a massive factor in Kentucky’s success this year and that will all start with their leading guard.
3. Andrew Nembhard (Florida): Another sophomore guard here that made the choice to return to play for a second year. At 6-foot-5, Nembhard is a big-time shot creator and scorer, who undoubtedly proved it with a huge win over LSU in the SEC Tournament last season. This season, the Gators are easily the top contender to down Kentucky in the SEC rankings. The Nembhard-Hagans matchup at the guard position should be one you mark on your calendars for sure. Florida has the skill at each spot to push for the SEC title, but no role is more vital to a team than the point.
4. Skylar Mays (LSU): As a senior, Mays will be the clear leader of the Tigers this year. Although only averaging 13 PPG in the 2018-2019 season, he possesses a skill set that will improve even further as he accepts more responsibility. LSU has successfully brought in another extremely talented recruiting class that Mays will be able to mentor as the Tigers search for a deep tournament run come March.
5. Austin Wiley (Auburn): Also entering his senior campaign, the 6-foot-11 Center has an opportunity to dominate as one of the best big men in the SEC. I have a feeling that the Tigers won’t shy away their 3-point shooting offensive scheme, but their backcourt is new for the most part. As a result of that, they may need to rely on their experienced frontcourt headed by Wiley. If Auburn wants to succeed in March, they need to effectively implement the 3-point shooting needs to compliment Wiley in the paint.