Player of the Week
[player: Jakob Poeltl] – Utah
There could be only one. With Utah on a massive tear, its ringleader and best player rightfully wins the player of the week. The Vienna, Austria native was a beast against USC on the road, in what could be Utah’s biggest win this year. The sophomore forward finished with 29 points on 11 of 13 shooting grabbed 13 boards had four assists and chipped in four steals and a block. In a romp against Arizona St. Poeltl didn’t put up the stats, but anchored the defense in literally holding the Sun Devils to 10 points at halftime. This is not a typo. The Utes are on a roll, winning their lost five games since losing to Oregon and are virtually a lock for the NCAA tournament. Honestly, I got to give them some credit. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Utah lately, but everyone seems to be playing well. [player: Brandon Taylor] is dishing the ball everywhere and even hitting a couple of threes and [player: Jordan Loveridge] seems to have found his confidence. The most important part for Utah now is the finish. The Utes have to finish strong and maintain this confidence level into the Pac-12 and NCAA tournament. Poeltl allows this team to contend with anyone in the nation.
[player: Tyrone Wallace] – California
Have to give a shoutout to one of my favorite players, who seems to finally be rounding back into from. Watching the team from the sidelines wasn’t ideal, but it seems to have reeled in Wallace. The senior doesn’t take as many bad shots anymore, and is looking to find his teammates and do the little things to win. The senior obviously brings great perimeter defense to every game, but his rebound is also something to watch. Wallace had 14 points 10 boards and six assists against UCLA. While he didn’t shoot that well, it’s fine everyone else on California picked up the slack. The Golden Bears are at their best when Wallace and [player: Jaylen Brown] are slashing to the rim and finding three point shooters. If California remains hot the rest of the regular season, the team will find itself playing in the NCAA tournament.
[player: Josh Scott] – Colorado
Scott had a rough game against UCLA, but carried the Buffaloes to their biggest win of the year against Arizona. The senior was great, never relenting against the imposing frontline the Wildcats throw at everyone. Scott finished with 26 points on 10 of 18 shooting, while also grabbing nine boards and blocking three shots. The win was massive for Colorado, who to me, was still on the bubble. It looks to lock them into the NCAA tournament. Scott is really fun to watch for everyone who enjoys those old school post up players. The senior has every trick in the book and can even face-up. While Scott can definitely improve defensively, the game against Arizona was good enough to keep the Buffaloes afloat. I really want to see Colorado win some games on the road, but a good showing in the Pac-12 tournament should be enough to make it to March.
Really rough week for USC with losses to both Utah and Stanford. I can understand the loss to Utah, Poeltl just straight up dominated, but the Cardinals might just be a travesty. Literally everyone on the team played terrible. [player: Jordan McLaughlin] shot 1-9 and everyone on the team shot a terrible percentage as well. Nobody was really passing the ball and honestly, it was a really odd game from [player: Julian Jacobs], who only took two shots. Jacobs is really the engine that makes this team go. The Trojans need their junior guard to stay aggressive and find open men, two shots is not going to cut it, especially when McLaughlin doesn’t have it going. USC actually has some work to do as the season winds down, the team should have had been a lock this late into the season, but still has some work to do. To make matters worst for the Trojans, they still have three really difficult games coming up, against California, Oregon St. and Oregon. The Trojans have to bounce back from some adversity, missing the tournament would be an incredible collapse. With the season winding down, and draft experts picking apart various college players lets focus on the good for once. Here are my favorite player traits, we aren’t going to talk about the player as a whole, but one singular aspect about the player.
Top 5 Pac-12 Player Traits
5. [player: Bryce Alford]’s Confidence – UCLA
Basketball is such a confidence sport. If any player isn’t playing sure of themselves, they will definitely have a rough shooting night. Everyone needs confidence to succeed in basketball. If I could choose one player and have his confidence, guile and grit, it would 100 percent be Alford. Even with UCLA have a tough year, there is nothing about Alford ever losing confidence. The guy could be having the worst game possible, 0-10 from the field and 5 turnovers, but he will ask to take the last shot. Not only will Alford get the last shot, he’ll probably make it. The senior guard never stops and always thinks he’s going to nail the next shot. The thing about great players, everyone on the other team thinks Alford is going to hit the next one too. The Bruins have had a really rough year, mainly on the defensive end, but I still like Alford as a player. Let’s hope other players look at Alford and pick up his confidence.
4. [player: Chris Boucher] Interior Defense – Oregon
Boucher has bunnies. The senior puts them to good use, patrolling the paint as no ball goes unchallenged. Boucher is a huge reason why Oregon is so successful this year. Yes, Boucher blocks everything he can, but just altering every shot is a huge help to a team.The best part about Boucher is that he has so much more room to grow. Since he has only played basketball for four years, the senior can get better with rotations and pick and rolls, but those are on the perimeter anyway. I would also like Boucher to get better at boxing out, but he has still been good at rebounding this year. One thing is for certain, everyone is aware of him when they drive to the rim against Boucher.
3. [player: Gary Payton II] Perimeter Defense – Oregon St.
If I could list players I would go up against one on one in the Pac-12, Payton II would be dead last. The senior guard is a monster defensively. He has quick feet and is long and active on every single play, getting his hands into passing lanes. You can see terror in opposing guards eyes whenever they have to dribble the ball up the court against Payton II, afraid that they will get pick-pocketed at any moment. Sometimes perimeter defense can be hard to teach, but the the senior is a natural. The glove certainly taught his son how to play defense at a young age. I’m looking forward to seeing Payton II hound NBA guards in the future.
2. [player: Jakob Poeltl] Rebounding – Utah
Honestly, rebounding as a seven-footer can be taken for granted. Smaller player can jump higher and react to balls quicker, but Poeltl has impressed me so far with his rebounding. Grabbing a board is one of the most translatable stats in College basketball. Almost every good rebounder in college will rebound well in the NBA. My favorite part about Poeltl is how well he boxes out. His man will certainly not get the rebound and it helps him get into a better leaping position when the ball goes into the air. Poeltl is clearly the main rebounder in Utah, but it doesn’t matter, he seems to go after every ball, wether it be on offense or defense.
1. [player: Jaylen Brown]’s Body/Athleticism
If you could draw up a player and use just their body, Brown’s would be incredibly high on the list. The freshman forward stands at 6 foot 7 and has long arms, allowing him to tower over other forwards. Honestly, I think Brown can play shooting guard in the NBA, he is that quick. Clearly the freshman is one of the most athletic players in the Pac-12. You see him make plays during games that literally nobody else in the NCAA can make, just because of his athleticism. Brown has some things to work on, and he is definitely still working on passing and rotating, but his body is NBA ready.