Pac-12 Basketball Blog: Week One
Player of the Week: Allonzo Trier, Guard, Arizona
It would be difficult to argue that there was a better player in college basketball through the first week of the season. Trier could have easily decided to leave for the NBA Draft and be a potential first-round pick after last season, but he came back for his junior year. Through his first three games, he has posted point totals of 28, 30, and 32. What is more impressive is that Trier is shooting 70 percent from the field and has made 58 percent of his three-point attempts during that stretch. Last year his scoring ability was obvious as Arizona received a huge offensive boost when he returned from his long PED suspension at the beginning of last year. However, he already looks to be even more multidimensional, and his efficiency has been incredible. He has become a truly lethal perimeter shooter, but he can also create his own shot with a multitude of moves inside the arc. Trier also looks more comfortable as a playmaker off the bounce, averaging 3.3 assists per game. He is a bit undersized for an NBA two guard, but early on it appears that another year to round his game out in college basketball may help him provide an immediate impact at the next level. His draft stock will be on the rise if he can continue this level of play.
McKinley Wright IV, Guard, Colorado
The Pac-12 has a lot of talented freshmen this season, and Wright was not one of the first players mentioned in that discussion. He looks like a guy to keep an eye on though. Through his four games, Wright has gotten better each time to lead Colorado to a nice 4-0 start. His performance in two games in the Paradise Jam included back-to-back 21-point games, including a game-winning three at the buzzer on Friday night against Quinnipiac. Wright clearly is not afraid of the big moment even as a freshman. He has also been very efficient, shooting 58 percent from the field. Wright has shown he is a capable playmaker as well after recording nine assists to just one turnover against Drake on Saturday. Colorado lost a lot of production from last year’s team, but if Wright and other guys can put the pieces together, this team can surpass expectations.
David Crisp, Guard, Washington
Crisp so far has struggled to take the next step in his game as the primary ball handler for Washington without Markelle Fultz. The sweet-shooting lefty has not been lighting it up from the outside like he is capable of, having made just nine of his 26 attempts from three so far. He has never been the most efficient scorer over his first two seasons at Washington, but his numbers have been abysmal through four games. His scoring numbers are down to 11.3 points per game, but he is also shooting only 28 percent from the field overall. Crisp also has basically the same assist to turnover ratio as he did last season with 2.8 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game. It is still very early, but the lack of improvement is concerning. Crisp will need to turn things around quickly and emerge as more of a leader for Washington to be competitive in the Pac-12 this year.
Top Five Freshman
1. Deandre Ayton, Center, Arizona
Ayton has all the tools to be one of the most dominant frontcourt players in all of college basketball. His combination of size, length, and fluidity is rare. Defensively he can anchor the paint with his shot blocking ability or step and switch onto guards in pick and roll situations. On offense he is s skilled low post scorer but also has advanced face-up skills for his age. He can also dominate the glass on both ends when motivated. Ayton has recorded three double-doubles in as many games, while showing the whole package.
2. Troy Brown Jr., Guard/Forward, Oregon
Brown still needs some polishing as a scorer, but his upside is immense. He has excellent versatility on both ends of the court and can impact the game in a variety of ways. His three-point shooting needs some improvement, but he is still a capable perimeter shooter. Brown’s flashes of playmaking really stand out, as he is averaging 2.7 assists per game. He has also been steady as a scorer, posting 18, 17, and 13 points in three games. The Ducks, meanwhile, are 3-0 and have scored over 100 points in two of those games.
3. Jaylen Hands, Guard, UCLA
Hands is not the same player as Lonzo Ball, but he is a special talent in his own way. His ball handling is elite for his age, and he can operate in transition with his passing in a Lonzo-like manner. He’s not transcendent with his vision the way Ball was, but Hands is still an excellent playmaker. He is entertaining to watch, and UCLA fans will love his creativity and command with the dribble. He is also a much more capable half-court scorer than Ball, as he has scored in double figures in all three games, including 22 points on Friday.
4. Kris Wilkes, Forward, UCLA
Hands and Wilkes will be one exciting duo to watch in the Pac-12 this season. He is a streaky scorer, but he has the ability to go off on any given night. He is nightmare to stop in transition with his size, length, and athleticism for a wing player. Wilkes has a soft touch around the basket and is improving with his ball skills in the perimeter. Through three games, he is averaging 17.3 points per game and has made seven of 13 threes. He could improve as a playmaker, but he gives the Bruins an explosive offensive weapon.
5. Charles O'Bannon Jr.., Forward, USC
O’Bannon missed USC’s first two games of the season, but he should be an integral piece for a team that returns basically all of its production from last year. O’Bannon is a rangy wing player that can score at all three levels and can finish at the rim with either hand. With his length and athleticism, he also has the tools to be a disruptive multi-positional defender.