Transfer Station

Player of the Week

Bryce Dejean Jones - Iowa State

Bryce Dejean JonesBryce Dejean JonesWith Iowa State being his third collegiate stop in his young career, Bryce Dejean-Jones is no stranger to meshing with a new team, and he’s not wasting any time as a member of the Iowa State Cyclones. After an early loss to Maryland, ISU was looking to bounce back, and Dejean-Jones played some excellent basketball in wins over Lamar, and #18 Arkansas, as a part of the Big12/SEC Challenge.

Bryce flirted with a triple double in only 27 minutes against Lamar. The senior swingman netted 12 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out 8 assists as the Cyclones rolled to a double digit victory. Two days later, he went a perfect 8 for 8 from the field, including 4 for 4 from downtown in route to 27 points on only 8 shots. His only miss came at the line, where he went 7 for 8. His weekly averages reflect both his well rounded production last Tuesday, and his supreme efficiency showcased against the Razorbacks. Dejean-Jones averaged 19.5 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists on 68% from the field, 50% from beyond the arc and 89% from the free throw line. With Bryce-Dejean Jones providing the Cyclones with a dynamic 2nd offensive option, they appear to be back on track as ISU prepares to finish up their non-conference schedule over the next couple weeks.

Who’s Hot

Cliff Alexander - Kansas

Last weeks’ co-player of the week, Myles Turner earned recognition on this blog by excelling in a reserve role despite being a highly touted high school star. This week, a similar case emerges with Kansas freshman, Cliff Alexander. In his his only game this week, Alexander notched a 12 point, 10 rebound double double in a come from behind victory over the Florida Gators, as a part of the Big 12/SEC Showdown. A crucial part of Kansas’ surge that eventually over powered the Gators, Alexander seemingly snatched every rebound, often with one hand and being held onto by an opposing player. He was also key in slowing down Chris Walker, who had a huge first half. Almost more importantly, Cliff went an impressive 8 for 8 at the charity stripe despite coming into the game a sub 70% free throw shooter. Notching a double double in 19 minutes against a team coached by Billy Donovan is not an easy feat, especially when your fighting from behind most of the contest. A high production player in his role, Cliff’s performance Friday night now projects him hauling in 14.11 rebounds per 40 minutes.

Karviar Shephard - TCU

The Horned Frogs of TCU were the ultimate Big 12 bottom dweller a season ago, so even if their time atop the conference is short lived, I feel I must give some props to a player from Texas Christian as they currently sit at 8-0 and are coming off back to back non-conference wins against major conference schools. Karviar Shephard was Coach Johnson’s highest profile recruit of last season, and early into his up and down sophomore campaign, the 6’10’’ center found his groove Thursday night on the road against Ole Miss. Scoring 14 points, and catching fire in the early 2nd half, Shephard utilized both his low post arsenal and top of the key jump shooting to go 5-8 in the last 20 minutes of the contest. In addition to providing needed offense as TCU’s leading scorer of the game, Karviar snatched 9 rebounds, including 4 offensive ones and was active on defense, altering a number of Ole Miss shot attempts. With the tough part of their non-conference schedule out of the way, the new and improved Horned Frogs could very well cruise into Big 12 play 13-0, but Shephard’s play in the middle will be a key factor in how far they can climb from their place holder from a season ago.

Who’s Not

Johnathan Motley - Baylor

A player I mentioned just two weeks ago for coming out of the gate hot, has hit an early season freshman wall. Baylor’s 6’9’’ redshirt freshman, Johnathan Motley, has struggled mightily with foul trouble over the past two weeks. Motley is currently sporting a streak of fouling out of two consecutive games in an average of just 13.5 minutes. The young stretch 4 must to continue to adjust to the speed and physicality of the collegiate game in order to showcase the talent he’s been wasting on the bench. Despite a quick start, Johnathan still has quite a bit of growing to do before he can be relied upon on a regular basis, and despite a 7-1 start against a tough schedule ranked 35th in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) according to ESPN.com, Baylor will need his production and energy when the Big 12 season kicks off in less than a month.

Wesley Iwundu - Kansas State

After losing 4 out of their last 6 games, the Kansas State Wildcats are not off to the start they had hoped for after a very solid 2013-14 season. Since putting together an encouraging freshman season, Wes Iwundu, the Wildcats’ 6’7’’ defensive ace, has not been able to find his shot through the first 8 games of his sophomore season. After sporting solid shooting percentages as a frosh, Iwundu has seen his shooting numbers plummet across the board. Shooting just 40% from the field, and 55% from the line, Wes has just started off much slower than he did straight out of high school. Although he’s a reliable defender, and still a guy who can impact the game without the ball in his hands, for K-State to have success this season, they’ll need guys outside of Marcus Foster and Thomas Gipson to step up and score. Just 2 for 15 in his last three games ( two being losses ), Iwundu does’t have to drop 15 a night, but 5.6 points on 40% shooting isn’t an example of a promising sophomore living up to his potential.

Top 5 Early Season Observations

1. Texas is going to be very good when Isaiah Taylor returns to the lineup.

After watching both Texas and Kansas take on the platooning powerhouse that is the Kentucky Wildcats, I have to say, the 2014-15 Longhorns have a real chance to thwart Kansas of their 11th straight Big 12 regular season title. Possessing a lineup that boasts three players with confirmed 7 foot 4 inch wingspans is something that would be unheard of in any other college season that didn’t include this years UK team. Texas isn’t just all bulk. Jonathan Holmes is a polished, two position collegiate forward, and had he not drawn that controversial flagrant 1 in the first half against the Wildcats, the score differential when time expired might have been a little closer. All this to say, Texas is playing well, without their starting point guard. They bring, Myles Turner, a potential top 10 NBA draft pick off the bench. Demarcus Holland is a rock solid guard, and Javan Felix, despite his erratic play at times, is a major threat to go for 20 if he’s feeling the hot hand. The Longhorns are good, but with a healthy Isaiah Taylor, in January, they could be a real force to be reckoned with.

2. Monte Morris takes care of the basketball.

Last season the Iowa State Cyclones were loaded with talent. Melvin Ejim took the award for the Big 12’s top player, DeAndre Kane was a dynamic floor leader for ISU, and Georges Niang scored over 16 points per game as a third banana for Fred Hoiberg’s squad. Among all those big names, it was freshman point guard, Monte Morris, who lead the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio with a eye popping 4.79 mark. Morris, entering his sophomore season, now has a little less help on offense, and a few more eyes on him to see how he’d handle a larger role. Six games in, he has not disappointed. The 6’2’’ point guard has upped his gaudy number from last year to an even 6.0. Morris has dished out 36 assists ( good for the Big 12 lead in assists per game ) and only turned the ball over 6 times. In back to back wins over Georgia State and Alabama, he racked up 21 assists without a single turnover. Although not the most praised statistic, like it’s cousin in the points per game column, this kind of care with the ball is an absolute coach’s dream, and crucial for winning basketball games. As the season goes forward, keep an eye on the assist-to-turnover ratio stats, Monte Morris could do something special in 2014-15.

3. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is Mr. Intangibles.

After representing the Ukraine in the FIBA World Championship Tournament this past summer, 17 year old Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk came to Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks as both the youngest, but also one of the more experienced guys on the roster. Already seizing a role larger than many had predicted, Svi, as he’s known to his teammates and coaching staff, has not really dazzled from a statistical standpoint, but in terms of intangibles, he’s so advanced for his age, there’s an element of excitement around almost the most mundane acts performed on the college hardwood. Whether it’s zipping a pass around the perimeter, a sound defensive rotation, or pushing the ball up the court after a missed shot, Svi’s understanding of the game is the catalyst behind his potential. Players are often viewed as having great physical tools, or athletic ability and imagined with advanced polish and feel, but rarely do you get a 6’8’’ kid, not old enough to buy a lottery ticket, with feel and understanding a lot of 22 year olds would benefit from having. Still a little reliant on his perimeter shot, and with plenty of room to grow, the little things, the intangibles of Mykhailiuk make him a very unique player, and one with sky high potential on the court.

4. Zach Smith could be the most explosive athlete in the Big 12.

Now that I’ve given you some insight on a couple players excelling in areas as dazzling as assist-to-turnover ratio, and as show stopping as a sound defensive read. As jaw dropping as knowing when to push the ball up the court. I feel like I need to maybe push the tempo myself, and talk about a guy with pure, unbridled, natural athletic ability.

When discussing the most athletic players in a conference as prolific as the Big 12, you wouldn’t expect a former 3 star recruit who quietly signed with Texas Tech to be atop the list, but I think the Red Raiders’ 6’8’’ freshman, Zach Smith could very well have the most athletic ability in the conference. If you’re familiar with the Faith 7 Bowl All-Star game, meant to showcase the top high school players in Oklahoma and Texas, then you might remember Smith sailing over 6’10’’ Oklahoma Sooner freshman, Jamuni McNeace, to take the crown of the annual dunk competition, but Smith has been able to translate his athleticism to the court early in his collegiate career. Averaging 2.2 blocked shots and 6.5 rebounds per game, as a 6’8’’ freshman is no small feat, and although his offensive game has a long ways to go, his ability to seemingly explode off the floor makes him an interesting name to follow as he grows as a player under Coach Tubby Smith.

5. The middle of the Big 12 is wide open.

After being widely touted as the deepest conference in college basketball last season, one that took 7 teams to the NCAA tournament, and 1 to the NIT, the Big 12 is back and as deep as ever. Teams like West Virginia, who had looked to be a major victim to losing talent via transfers are off to a 8-1 start and arose the victors of the Puerto Rico Tip Off Tournament. Baylor who lost their starting front court, has put together a 7-1 start against a very respectable schedule, and Oklahoma State, also with a different look, suffered their first loss Saturday after reeling off 6 in a row to start the year. More interestingly are the teams in purple. A team I picked to finish 5th, K-State, is really struggling, and looks like a team still searching for it’s identity, while TCU, who just last year owned of the most abysmal conference record of recent memory has started off 8-0 against a top 50 RPI schedule. The top 4 teams in the conference look a bit like a cut above at the moment, but the rest of the Big 12 looks wide open, with virtually the entire middle to bottom of the league capable of beating each other on any given night. It should be really fun to see who rises above the rest, and who makes it to post season play as the season rolls forward.

barbabodom
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Svi

Well, this kind of report is exactly what you want to read for someone who´s being compared to Manu.