Forever Young

Trae Young - Oklahoma

Trae YoungTrae YoungTrae Young continues his outstanding season by adding a win over #3 ranked Wichita State team. Young was scoring early and often against the Shockers, putting up 21 points and 7 rebounds in the first half alone. The freshman sensation finished with 29 points, 10 assists, and 4 rebounds; becoming the first player to have 25+ points and 10+ assists against an AP Top-3 team since Jonny Flynn did it in the Syracuse vs. Georgetown 6 OT classic. Young did it in regulation time.

Young followed up the win against Wichita State with another legendary performance. The Norman native put up 26 points and tied an NCAA record with 22 assists against Northwestern State. Young showcased his playmaking ability by recording 22 of 27 of his teams assists while still getting his own share of the scoring. He has shown his versatility this year on the offensive end scoring in a variety of ways, even hitting a defender with a Shammgod on his way to a layup, and being an elite playmaker for his teammates.

Young has been nothing short of spectacular this season exceeding expectations in every form. Young remains the top scorer in the nation on a points per game basis and has now become the leading player in assists per game. He has become an absolute nightmare for opponents and has sprung Oklahoma into the national conversation.

Who’s Hot

Jo Lual Acuil - Baylor

Big Jo had a career week against Texas Southern and Savannah State. Lual-Acuil had a respectable 18 points on 9-15 shooting and 5 boards against Texas Southern but broke out against Savannah State. The senior big man posted career highs with 31 points and 20 rebounds on 10-15 shooting.

The 7-foot Aussie shot over 63% on the week and has been a centerpiece on Baylor’s roster. Lual-Acuil has been increasingly involved on the offensive end and has been becoming a force on defense as well. In his last 3 games, the senior had had 3 blocks, 2 blocks, and 3 blocks; numbers he hasn’t been reaching much all season.

As Lual-Acuil continues to gain confidence, the Baylor roster becomes even more daunting. Manu Lecomte and Nuni Omot along with Lual-Acuil are a force to be reckoned with not only in the Big 12, but in the NCAA Tournament.

Udoka Azubuike – Kansas

Kansas hasn’t been playing necessarily well as of late, but Udoka Azubuike has been a bright spot for the Jayhawks. Highlighted by his best game of his career, the 7-footer has really started to close in on his potential. Azubuike led the team with 26 points and 10 rebounds in a 1-point win over Nebraska. He also posted a season high in rebounds with 12 against Omaha.

Azubuike just doesn’t miss shots. His worst shooting performance of the year was 10-16. He is shooting 78% on the year, good for 2nd best in the nation and has just been a spot a reliability on a relatively inconsistent Kansas offense. Kansas’ big man will be crucial for Kansas’ long term success.

Who’s Not

Malik Newman - Kansas

After starting off the season as a consistent performer for Kansas, putting up at least 12 points in his first 6 games, Malik Newman has seen a drop off. Newman’s last few have been underwhelming. He’s put up 2 points, 8, points, 13 points, 0 points and 14 points. Newman shot just 34% from the field and 26% from three over those 5 games and has been a reason why Kansas has been struggling.

As a transfer from Mississippi State, Newman was the Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and had high expectations. He was a Top 10 recruit coming out of high school and will look to fulfill his potential with the Kansas Jayhawks under Bill Self. One thing is for sure, if Kansas is going to be a legit contender for the crown this year, Newman will need to play like he did at the beginning of the year.

Kansas State and Iowa State

There really should be an asterisk next to these teams being on the who’s not list. It’s not even that they’re not hot, it’s just that the rest of the Big 12 is lighting it up. There are 6 teams in the conference ranked in the AP Top 25 and two other teams are receiving votes to join them. The Big 12 is looking like the deepest conference in America.

I mean really, Iowa State has won 9 straight games and are on the Who’s Not list? The Big 12 has been debatably the best conference top to bottom this year with no clear weak team. It’s honestly become increasingly difficult to put any team on the Who’s Not list due to the Big 12 being on fire. Honestly, the entire Big 12 could be on the Who’s Hot list.

Under the Radar Prospect

Nuni Omot – Baylor

Most of the hype surrounding Baylor has been attributed to Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil but Nuni Omot deserves recognition. After an iffy start to the season, Omot has hit his stride and is scoring well for the Baylor Bears. The 6’9” senior has shown his athleticism throughout the season highlighted by an early entry for Dunk of the Year (, but has shown he is more than a leaper.

Omot has proven he’s a reliable 3-point shooter, shooting about 44% from behind the arc on the season. Over the last four games, Omot is averaging over 21 points per game, highlighted with a 30 point performance. Omot is a reliable catch and shoot wing who can also create for his teammates. He has good size and skills that could one day earn him a spot on an NBA roster.

Top Five Defensive Players

1. Jevon Carter – West Virginia

Jevon Carter is the reigning Big 12 DPOY and is the likely candidate to repeat. Carter leads the NCAA in steals per game and is the anchor for the West Virginia press defense. The senior averages just under 4 steals per contest and has even grabbed 9 steals in a game earlier this season. When you play against Carter, you must be careful with every pass and every dribble because he’s waiting to capitalize off of your mistakes.

2. Mohamed Bamba - Texas

Mo Bamba uses his 7’9” wingspan to protect the rim at an elite level. Bamba’s 4.1 blocks per game are good for 3rd in the nation and best in the Big 12. The 7-foot freshman has been a model of consistency this season only having less than 4 blocks in one game, in which he fouled out. Bamba has left a lot to be desired on the offensive end this year, but has been as effective as expected on defense for the Longhorns.

3. Sagaba Konate – West Virginia

While Jevon Carter gets the steals for the Mountaineers, Sagaba Konate brings the blocks. Konate, a sophomore, is behind just Mo Bamba in blocks in the Big 12. The 6’8” forward has recorded at least 4 blocks in half his games this season while also contributing with steals as of late. Konate uses his athleticism to close gaps quickly and protect the rim with force.

4. Jamuni McNeace - Oklahoma

Jamuni McNease is 3rd in the Big 12 in blocks per game despite playing just 14 minutes a game. The 6’10” junior averages 5 blocks when he gets over 20 minutes playing time but has been effective each second he is on the court. McNease is a valuable player for Oklahoma as he can check in and provide a defensive spark plug. Given the opportunity, McNease could be one of the elite shot blockers in the nation.

5. Kenrich Williams - TCU

Kenrich Williams uses his athleticism and anticipation to jump passing lanes and pick pockets. Williams is 2nd in the conference in steals with 2.5 per game. The 6’7” senior also leads his team in rebounding and is near the top in all of his team’s major stat categories. Williams is the defensive leader of the team but participates in a variety of ways.

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