Player of the Week
LeBryan Nash – Oklahoma State
Since entering college with extremely high expectations, Nash has struggled a bit to figure out how to use his athletic gifts to their full potential. He’s been rather "spacey", yet, he’s beginning to show signs of putting things together mentally. Nash still hasn’t reached his ceiling, but he’s taking major strides as a two way wing this year. Along with good defense, Nash has increased his shooting percentage from 39% his freshman year to 54% this year. In Nash’s two games this week he averaged 19 ppg and 6.5 rpg, but more importantly he looks more comfortable on offense, letting the game come to him and not forcing shots.
Capping this week with a double double, tallying 22 points and 10 rebounds against Louisiana Tech, Nash also went for 16 against South Carolina on only seven shots. His defense has been ahead of his offensive game the last few years, and this week he filled the defensive stats too, as he averaged 1 block and 2 steals in two games this week. These strides are not only good signs for OSU’s season, but for Nash’s NBA stock as well.
Cameron Ridley – Texas
Cameron Ridley was a guy I called out a few weeks ago for lackluster play, especially against smaller schools that couldn’t field a player even close to his massive size. Ridley has turned it around in the last few weeks, including an 11 point 8 rebound 3 block performance against Temple and a 22 point 11 rebound 2 block game against Texas State. Now the Big 12’s 2nd leading shot blocker, Cameron has averaged 13.6 ppg 8.8 rpg and 2.6 blocks over his last five games as the Longhorns sit at 9-1 on the season. Texas’ schedule has been relatively weak thus far, but continued good play by Ridley is a key to their success going forward.
Andrew Wiggins – Kansas
Coincidently, Andrew Wiggins also made my Who’s Not list a couple weeks back, and since his underwhelming performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Wiggins has strung together some really nice games. Although in losses, Andrew hit back to back 20 point games for the first time this season and over his last 3 appearances he’s averaging 19.6 ppg 6.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg and I think most importantly 7.6 trips to the charity stripe per game. Wiggins has already had an up and down season, but being aggressive and getting to the line is only going to continue to help him produce at the level expected of him. Even with a subpar game versus New Mexico this has easily been Andrews best three game span this season.
Robert Turner – Texas Tech
Since joining the Red Raiders as a junior college transfer, Robert Turner has played a major role at the guard position. After a very solid start, Turner has really struggled to find his shot over the past few games. He’s managed only 25% shooting over his past 5 games and only 18% from downtown. In his first major conference season, this is most likely just a shooting dry spell. Turner has found other ways to help his team; however, when playing for a team currently ranked 173rd in scoring, TTU would be relieved to see Turner find his shot again.
Devin Williams – West Virginia
Devin Williams has really shown some promise, especially on the glass, in the early stages of his freshman season, but he’s currently finding himself right in the middle of a shooting slump. Over his last 5 games, Williams, has only mustered 32% shooting from the floor and 41% from the free throw line. Devin has been as steady as ever on the glass, but this shooting slump has sunk his field goal percentage down to 41% on the year, and as a 6’9’’ power forward, this kind of efficiency is something he’ll have to improve going forward.
Top 5 Juniors
Here’s a look at the top performing juniors of the Big 12 this season.
1. Juwan Staten – West Virginia
This season, Juwan Staten, has really taken advantage of the new foul calls and it has taken his offense to a new level. Averaging over 7 free throw attempts per game, Staten, is averaging a career high 16.6 ppg on 49% shooting. More impressively, Staten is leading the league with over 6 assists ( 6.5 ) and pulling in over 6 rebounds ( 6.2 ) per game. As a 6’1’’ point guard Staten ranks 16th in the Big 12 in rebounding and is the shortest player among the top 40 league rebounders. Now, hitting the glass isn’t something particularly heralded among point guards, but it’s just another impressive element of Staten’s great non-conference season.
2. Dustin Hogue – Iowa State
Since joining Iowa State as a junior college transfer, Dustin Hogue has continued to prove he was ready for the jump in competition. Through the first month of the season, he remains the sole Big 12 player averaging a double double ( 12.6 ppg 11.1 rpg). Dustin punished in state rivals Northern Iowa and #23 Iowa to the tune of 14.5 ppg and 15 rpg in his last two games and his ferocity on the glass meshed perfectly with Melvin Ejim’s transition to a more wing oriented player. Hogue is number two on my list of the league’s top juniors, but it was a tough call. He’s been playing as well as just about anyone in the conference over the past two weeks.
3. LeBryan Nash – Oklahoma State
Since I discussed him earlier, I won’t elaborate too much, but Nash, is putting together a nice junior season. Making major jumps in efficiency. Players with his size, length, and athletic ability don’t come around every day, and it’s nice to see Le’Bryan making strides this season.
4. Jonathan Holmes – Texas
Jonathan Holmes is a guy who has seen his fair share of court time since his freshman year at Texas, but his junior campaign is really when he broke out as more than a glue guy. On excellent shooting percentages ( 51/48/85) Holmes is averaging 12.9 ppg to go with 6.8 rpg while also swatting shots to the tune of 1.7 bpg, which is good for 6th in the Big 12. At 6’8’’ 240 lbs, he is a playing the role of a stretch 4 who’s still not afraid to enforce defensively in the paint, and guys like Jonathan Holmes are a nice luxury.
5. Kyan Anderson – TCU
As a sophomore starter last season at TCU, Kyan Anderson showed he had the potential to catch fire. Outbursts of 35 and 29 were highlights in a somewhat inconsistent but productive second season. As a junior, Anderson has really upped his game in terms of efficiency and his ability to run an offense, as his 5.3 apg ranks third in the Big 12. Kyan is also averaging 13.9 ppg on 50% shooting, which is a major jump from the 40% he shot last year. Anderson just seems to just be getting started, as he appears to be heating up. Over his past 3 games he’s averaged 17.3 ppg for the 6-3 Horned Frogs.