Player of the Week
Buddy Hield – Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s junior swingman, Buddy Hield opened his 2014-15 season with a bang last week. Hield scorched Southeast Louisiana for 25 points which included a red hot 7 for 7 shooting night from beyond the arc. His long range outburst broke Oklahoma’s school record for three point attempts without a miss, and tied Dusty Hannahs’ Big 12 record, set just last year, for the same category.
Buddy’s hot start extends beyond his prowess as a marksman. Over his first three games, he’s averaged 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game to go with his 20.7 points per game. Hield has also been wreaking havoc in the passing lanes, and has tallied 5 steals in his first three games as well. Currently the Big 12’s second scoring leader, Hield’s well rounded start has confirmed his place among the best players in the conference, and a legit threat to take home some serious conference hardware.
Georges Niang – Iowa State
It’s no surprise that Niang has come out of the gate in 2014-15 firing on all cylinders. As a sophomore, he averaged a very impressive well balanced stat line, and he’s already off to a better pace. Looking noticeably better conditioned, Niang has put up 22.7 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game and 3.7 assists per game over his first three contests. After a rough 3 for 12 outing against Georgia State, he punished Alabama to the tune of 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, Monday night in Iowa State’s first major test this season. With the Cyclones topping 80 points on a nightly basis, Georges is very much a frontrunner for the conference’s scoring crown.
Jonathan Holmes – Texas
As Texas’ returning leading scorer, senior Jonathan Holmes’ experience has helped the Longhorns get off to a hot start despite losing point guard Isaiah Taylor to a wrist injury. Holmes has averaged 16 points per game, and is coming off back to back 19 and 21 point outings in which he shot a combined 13-23 from the field. Jonathan is not only leading Texas in scoring, but in rebounding as well. He’s hauled in 8.3 per game, including a season high 13 against Cal. His early season shooting numbers are likely to go down, but still are a very impressive .656% from inside the arc, .615% from downtown and .778% from the stripe. Holmes’ inside/outside skill set make him a tough matchup, and despite Texas’ fire power, I feel he’s the favorite to pace them in scoring once again.
Cameron Ridley – Texas
Texas big man, Cameron Ridley has come out very slow this season after putting together a breakout sophomore campaign in 2013-14. Over the Longhorns first four games he’s seen his points drop from 11.2 last year, to 7.0 this season, and more surprising his rebounds have been cut nearly in half from 8.3 to 4.3 this year. Cameron’s minutes have taken a bit of a hit, to make room for newcomer Myles Turner, but he’s been inconsistent when he’s been on the floor. As one of the biggest players in the Big 12, his pedestrian field goal percentage (.391%) doesn’t look like a number from a player that can out muscle most collegiate centers. Ridley did start out last season slow as well, but with the injury bug hitting Texas, they’ll need all they can get from their main low post presence.
Wayne Selden Jr. – Kansas
Sophomore, Selden Jr, has not really been the leader Kansas has needed three games into their 2014-15 season. Playing for a team that has struggled to score, Wayne has managed just 6.3 points per game, on shooting numbers that don’t measure up to his talent level. He’s shot .25% from inside the arc, .125% from 3 point land, and only .545% from the free throw line. Since last year, he has bumped his distributing up to a solid 4 assists per game, which may be what he’s being asked to do with Devonte Graham nursing a shoulder injury, but with Kansas lacking an experienced scorer outside of Perry Ellis, Wayne needs to be able to step up when his team is in a pinch.
Top 5 Freshman Debuts
1. Norense Odiase – Texas Tech
The Red Raiders may have lost a large portion of their production from last year, but Norense Odiase has proved he’s ready to jump right in and make a name for himself. Just a 3 star recruit according to Rivals, Odiase is a tough guy to handle, and force in the low post. A real physical presence at 6’8’’ and 265 pounds, Norense averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks over his first three games, and he notched a very impressive 16 point 10 rebound double-double against Loyola in his first NCAA game. Texas Tech is in a state of rebuilding, but Odiase seems to be a legit center piece going forward for Tubby Smith.
2. Johnathan Motley – Baylor
Since taking off his redshirt, Baylor freshman Johnathan Motley has shown an impressive array of skills that range from hitting face up jump shots, back to the basket moves, and being an active defender. Since he last played in the high school ranks, Johnathan has added some muscle and has come right in to help Baylor get off to a 4-0 start. The young big man, has shown real promise as a face up forward and has averaged 10.3 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per contest. In his first NCAA action, Motley has proved up to the challenge, and as the season progresses, I’m sure he’ll only continue to gain confidence.
3. Myles Turner – Texas
Top 10 recruit Myles Turner has just started to show Texas fans just why he was so highly regarded as a high school prospect. At 6’11’’ and possessing a 7’4’’ wingspan, Turner has immediately become a high level college shot blocker by swatting 2.5 shots per game in his early career, including a 6 block game against Alcorn State. Myles has also shown that face up game that few players his size and age have built up to such a high level. Being used off the bench, Turner has averaged 8.8 points on .538% shooting from the field, 6.3 rebounds and his aforementioned 2.5 shot blocks per game. Like many young bigs, he’s struggling with fouls at this point in the season, but when he starts to get the hang of the college game I only see his production raising.
4. Cliff Alexander – Kansas
Chicago big man, Cliff Alexander has really came into Kansas and produced at a high level despite his average looking statistics. In his first 3 games, Cliff has averaged 9 points, 5.3 rebounds and .7 blocks per contest, but when you factor in he’s only playing 14.7 minutes per game, then you can start to appreciate his impact. Being used as an energy big, Alexander has excelled, as his high motor makes his presence immediately felt on the court. Per 40 minutes Cliff is averaging 24.4 points 14.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest. His fouls, 2.3 per game (6.2 per 40 minutes), have limited his time on the court, but his energy has to have the Jayhawks excited for his continued growth.
5. Jeffrey Carroll – Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State was another team that lost a lot of production from last year’s squad and our list’s 2nd redshirt freshman, Jeffrey Carroll, has stepped in to contribute right out of the gate. The 6’6’’ swingman has acted as a nice complementary scorer next to Phil Forte and Le’Bryan Nash, and his 13 point 7 rebound 3 steal game against Oregon State was an impressive debut against the first major conference competition he’s seen this year. Over his first 5 games, Jeffrey has averaged 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and is shooting a very impressive 36% from three point range. At 6’6’’ and weighing in at 205 pounds, Carroll has a lot of potential as a swingman, and headed into the heart of the Cowboy’s non-conference schedule, they’ll need him to build on his hot start.