Player of the Week
[player: Allen Crabbe], Cal Bears
Crabbe has had very high expectations each of his first two seasons of college ball but has been streaky with hot games followed by some head scratching off nights. But make no doubt about it, this guy can flat out score the ball. While the Bears haven’t played a particularly tough first three games, Crabbe has been lights out with 27 points per contest on a blistering 57%fg, 94%ft and 59%3pt shooting. If he keeps this up, expect his name to start gaining some more national attention and for his draft stock to rise. It should also be noted that his fellow backcourt mate [player: Justin Cobbs] has been just as good with 21 points per on 69%fg’s, 92%ft’s and 50%3’s. Those are staggering numbers from the conferences best perimeter duo. While they can’t possibly keep those percentages going for long, if they can continue the high level of play, The Bears will be one of the better teams out west.
Jordan Adams, UCLA Bruins
Adams was the least heralded of the top ranked incoming recruiting class for coach Ben Howland. But he has so far proven the most ready to step in and make an impact from day one. Jordan scored 20 or more in each of the team’s first 4 games with a combination of quick trigger releases from the outside and finding seems along the baseline attacking the hoop. He has a natural knack for scoring. He did no show in the teams 5th game of the young year and it is possible that the arrival of Shabazz Muhammad will eat into Adam’s touches and shot attempts.
I stated in the conference preview that Stanford was a top 25 caliber squad that was led by their outstanding guard play. So far, it has been the guards for the Cardinal that have been underperforming collectively and will need to get it going if Stanford is to live up to the early season hype. Lead guard Aaron Bright (26% fg) Shooting guard [player: Chasson Randle] (31%fg) and swing man Anthony Brown (20% fg) are all struggling early. Each are expected to be leaders on this team and the shots must start falling if the boys from Palo Alto are to be successful.
Top 5 Freshmen
[player: Shabazz Muhammad], UCLA Bruins
It has been a wild week for the much heralded frosh who was waiting right up until tip off of the season opener to find out if he was cleared to play only to be told at the 11th hour he was ruled ineligible. But a week later he was reinstated and immediately made his debut vs. Georgetown. The Bruins lost that contest and Shabazz was not able to have the immediate impact everyone had been anticipating. It wasn’t all bad as he showed some strength around the paint and finished with 15 points on 5-10 shooting. He then followed that performance up with 21 points in a winning effort the following day, once again showing the scoring ability that has pro scouts salivating. Things should only head north for Muhammad going forward.
[player: Jahii Carson], Arizona State Sun Devils
Carson has been as good as advertised and worth the wait for fans as he has gotten out of the gates with 19 points per game to go with 5 assists for the 3-0 Sun Devils. He is a speedster who can create off the dribble and get into the lane as well as shoot from deep. He is going to be relied on heavily all season and it will be interesting to see how he responds as the opposition gets tougher and more focused on limiting him. The good thing is that Jahii loves to push the tempo so he will keep those defenses on their heels and will gladly hit the open man so teams will have to play him honest.
[player: Brandon Ashley], Arizona Wildcats
Ashley has averaged 14 points 8 rebounds and 2 block shots on 65% fg shooting in the early going while playing just over 20 minutes a contest on a very deep and talented Wildcat team. Much like this past summer’s over seas tour, he is once again demonstrating that he is the most ready of the highly touted recruiting class to contribute right away for Sean Miller’s group. Ashley has excellent bounce in his step and attacks the rim hard. The 16th ranked recruit in the nation, Ashley is the first freshman among the top 100 to post a 20-10 game this season.
Jordan Adams, UCLA Bruins
Adams is leading the Bruins at 20 points per contest. He has done so without starting a game yet and not really having the offense ran for him when he is on the court. But the guy is just a natural scorer who shows supreme confidence whether attacking the paint with floaters or shooting from outside. He runs the baseline well and stays active without the ball making himself available. For only being 6 foot 5 inches, he has a knack of getting inside and grabbing rebounds and finishing in traffic.
Josh Scott, Colorado Buffaloes
Scott brings some much needed length to a short Colorado team at 6-10. He is however much more of a finesse/athletic type as opposed to a physical banger. He can step outside and knock down the medium range jumper and run the court hard making himself available in transition. He is currently averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds and will need to continue bringing a consistent inside offensive presence to take the pressure off the guards. He will get plenty of opportunities playing off his teammates and does a nice job finishing when he is set up in close range.
-Oregon senior transfer big man Arsalan Kazemi has been declared eligible and he has immediately made his impact felt for a 4-0 Ducks team with his tough inside presence and rebounding where he currently leads the team in boards.
-USC’s senior lead guard Jio Fontan has gotten off to a very slow start shooting the ball in the low 20’s percentage wise. He has enough help around him that he doesn’t have to force the issue but Jio was anticipated to lead the way and his lack of production severely limits the Trojans ability to climb into the conference’s upper half.
-I might have slept on Oregon State’s [player: Devon Collier] during my conference preview by not listing him on any of the all conference squads after he made all pac 12 second team last year. Watching Collier play this year in Madison Square Garden, he is an intriguing player. He has big man skills with his length and size, but plays primarily at the sf position where he has the speed and athleticism to run with wings. He creates matchup nightmares and currently leads the Beavers in scoring at 16 per game.
-I was at UCLA’s season opener showcasing the opening of the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. The arena was shut down all of last season while undergoing a 140 million dollar renovation project that has made great improvement to the overall atmosphere of the arena bringing fans closer to the court and adding to the college feel.