Player of the Week
Melo Trimble, G, Maryland
Tournament MVP of the CBE Classic and knocking off the #13 team in the nation? What a great start for Melo Trimble and the Maryland Terrapins. I didn’t have a recap last week, so it’s also important to highlight the true freshman’s 31 point outburst in a win against Arizona State.
So far this year, Trimble has logged as many minutes as Dez Wells (146/29.2 per game average). He’s attempted the most free throws for Maryland and has made the most from the charity stripe as well. That tells me he’s being aggressive and not settling for outside jumpers even though he’s shooting 46% from beyond the arc.
He’s good at using his left hand to finish around the rim, and he can throw up some acrobatic but not wild layups that convert.
He plays at a pace where he always seems in control and not rushed. His jump shot form is picturesque and doesn’t change if it’s a set shot off a screen or a pull-up.
Vince Edwards, F, Purdue
The athletic forward took advantage of BYU’s bigger, slower front court players Em route to 25 points. The 6’7" Edwards made his first seven shots, including three 3-pointers.
He has a pretty slow release, but he’s quick enough to get to open spots in the offense before a slower defender comes to close out.
His aggressiveness was very impressive in two aspects. First, he crashed the boards hard, finishing with nine rebounds. Second, the freshman went eight for nine from the free throw line and also had nine attempts from the field. That balance in field goal and free throw attempts illustrates that Edwards has a diverse game that isn’t predictable when watching on film.
He’ll run into better athletes that are forwards in the Big Ten. However, it’s a great showing by Edwards to gain some confidence early in the year, helping Purdue get a quality non-conference win.
Gavin Schilling, F, Michigan State
Setting career highs in both points (14) and rebounds (11) Monday night, the 6’9" showed growth in his game from last year.
Albeit early in the season, you have to be impressed by Schilling’s 76.5% field goal percentage so far this year. He’s a pretty good rim protector and is strong enough where he could body up some 5’s throughout the year.
His efficiency will help him argue for more playing time, but with front court veterans like Branden Dawsen and Matt Costello, I can’t see him averaging more than 18 minutes per game. Yet if Sparty runs into foul trouble, they have a solid backup that knows his abilities both offensively and defensively.
Hammer Mosquera Parea, F, Indiana
Mosquera-Parea played just 11 minutes and had loads of trouble playing post defense. It’s become such a liability that Tom Crean can’t keep him on the floor even if he’s producing offensively. Mosquera-Parea only attempted one field goal on the night.
From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t had much success rebounding the ball either. For a man of his size and athleticism, tallying one rebound is unacceptable. There’s not that much front court help that Indiana can rely on, putting added pressure on Mosquera-Parea. Still, he needs to dig deep, diagnose his defensive problems and fix them quickly.
Derrick Walton, G, Michigan
Is Walton a point guard that John Beilein can rely on? During Michigan’s thriller against Villanova, three things stood out that concern me about Walton.
First, Walton was too disrupted and unaware of how to break Villanova’s three-quarter 2-1-2 press. He continually broke many of the cardinal rules when it comes to press breaking: getting into corners, jump passing, and playing Hero Ball by wildly dribbling through it. That can (and will) be addressed and fixed during film session this week.
Second, he has a habit of inefficient dribbling. Too often, the ball is bouncing in Walton’s hand with absolutely no purpose. He’s not rotating the ball to flip sides of the court. He’s not putting himself in a position to effectively use a ball screen. He’s taking the air out of the ball, and that’s the best way to make an offense anemic and teammates apathetic.
Third, I believe it’s imperative that a point guard is a vocal, demanding leader. Unquestionably, Caris LaVert is the best player on Michigan and the one teammates rely most on. But I want a point guard who’s going to pull the ball out, know everyone’s position, run over to a coach and get the play call instead of burning a timeout, and establish order on both ends of the floor. I’m not sensing that with Walton now. I hope it happens because he has all the ability to be a fantastic floor general.
Top 5 Freshmen to watch this year:
1. Melo Trimble, G, Maryland
2. D'Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
He’s averaging 18/5/5 so far this year and is producing offensively at a very high level from all areas of the floor. Ohio State relies on him to grab some offensive rebounds, hit threes,bring the ball down the floor, and be the inbounds passer for baseline out of bounds plays. That’s a TON of responsibility for a freshman to have. It speaks volumes to Russell’s basketball IQ and his ability to pick up on concepts very quickly.
At 6’5” and 180 pounds, Russell is a shifty guard who already has a developed midrange game. His pull-up jumper is fantastic, he has a running floater in his arsenal, and he can still come off screens and shoot well from deep. He’s tall enough and his release is quick enough that even though there’s not much lift on his jump shot, he’s got no problem getting it off. Maybe it’s because he’s a lefty, but Russell’s shot reminds me of Chris Mullin.
There’s spells where Russell shows lack of interest in getting back on defense, and he’ll have to improve his on-ball defense by the time conference play comes around. Nonetheless, a player with his size, shooting ability, and great decision-making means D’Angelo Rusell is the freshman to watch in the Big Ten this year.
3. Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
This is my favorite NBA upside guy in the 2014 Big Ten class. There is major, raw basketball talent in Bates-Diop. Take note of this: in 2007, a 6’7” high schooler transferred from Montrose Christian School to play basketball his senior year. That player? Kevin Durant.
The ball handling, back-to-the-basket offense, and Inspector Gadget-like arms screams young Durant. Don’t conflate this idea. I am not announcing that Bates-Diop will become a perennial NBA All-Star. The elements of his mid-range game are what excite me most. There’s a reliable turnaround jumper in his arsenal. He’s got quick, choppy feet in that area which makes him very elusive. His ball handling comes from one or two efficient dribbles that puts him in a great position to score.
This year, his production will not pop off the page, and that’s because of limited playing time. Barring injury, I can’t reasonably see him playing more than 18 minutes per night.Bates-Diop will learn a lot come conference play, especially how he’ll have to adjust his long, lean body to continue operating in the midrange offensively and whether he can withstand the constant blows of bigger offensive rebounders.
4. James Blackmon Jr., G., Indiana
The pride of Marian High School, Blackmon will be getting lots of playing time for the Hoosiers, and he’s sure fun to watch. Add him to the list of guys who seem to run faster and really be in the game flow when the ball is in his hands. He’s solid driving left or right and has more athleticism than it would appear, especially regarding his vertical. Maturity wise, he’s even more locked in than Russell. When you combine that much talent with a great work ethic, good basketball things will happen.
Blackmon can absolutely stroke it. It’s not textbook form, especially with his quick, somewhat awkward release when shooting free throws. He’s very good at rising up over a defender and even looks very comfortable shooting the fadeaway. Currently, the 6’4” guard’s shooting splits are bonkers: 54.5% from the field, 64.3% from deep, and 92% from the free throw line.
5. Leron Black, F, Illinois
Even before I saw him play, I typed the ten letters that make up his name into Google. The result on the right side of the page:
Leron “Savage” Black is – Sold. Sign me up. Some kid that plays basketball whose nickname is Savage? Yes.
At 6’7” and 225 pounds, Black makes his living on the glass. His high motor is well chronicled. What also helps is that motor coupled with a seven-foot wingspan.
There’s nothing really that quick about him, whether it be him running down the floor or making a post move. However, that size and his awareness to create separation from a defender means that it’s tough to stop him offensively.
He does wonders inside of six feet. He’s good at straight line drives from the top of the key all the way to the hoop, but he can pull up for a floater or push shot and succeed because of his length.
He is the definition of a power dribbler when grabbing offensive boards. For any rebound, he does so well using his broad shoulders and built frame to remove defenders from the space and attack the ball. The man lives for contact, so he’ll be in Heaven after non-conference play.