Player of the Week
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Before the Irish were able to close out Louisville in the 5th overtime, about an hour earlier they needed to erase a seven-point deficit in the final minute of regulation. Jerian Grant provided that spark with a 12-point explosion in a span of 44 seconds, outscoring the Cards 12-5 to close out the second half. Later in the week, Grant also converted a critical and-one to force overtime versus Depaul before adding six points in the extra session. In the pair of exhilarating victories he averaged 20 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 2 three-point makes and 8 free throw makes (10.5 attempts). The only true off the dribble playmaker for ND is dishing out 5.7 assists per game and has increased his overall shooting efficiency by 6.4% as a junior. Grant has trouble finishing in the paint against size, but he has the strength to earn trips to the charity stripe and a diverse short-intermediate game. He sits at #28 in our 2014 mock draft.
Otto Porter, Georgetown
It’s unfair to categorize Porter as “hot” because he produces similarly excellent efforts on a regular basis. He continues to resemble a young Shawn Marion (better passer), innately impacting the game in a variety of ways utilizing a combination of athleticism, instinct and high energy. He’s led the Hoyas to six straight wins sans Greg Whittington, during which time they’ve only cracked 70 points once. Porter tied a season-high with 14 rebounds at Rutgers, and on the week posted a 7:2 assist: turnover ratio and knocked down a perfect 11/11 from the FT line.
The immovable 6’6 Behanan was unstoppable against Notre Dame, scoring a career-high 30 points on 13/20 shooting and ripping down 15 boards in 56 minutes of action. He’s a load to handle on the interior, creating great separation and possessing underrated explosiveness. However, his free throw shooting could haunt the Cards come tourney time. His partner in crime Dieng went for 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals in the quintuple overtime defeat at ND. The 6’11 junior from Senegal followed up that effort by setting a career-high 17 rebounds vs. St. John’s. His skills are advancing at a rapid pace and his 7-4 wingspan puts all those who enter the paint on notice.
James Robinson, Pittsburgh
The unselfish point guard began his freshman campaign like a house of fire, but over the last six games he’s been a non-factor. Since January 22nd Robinson is averaging three points, two assists and has made just 3 field goals in 19 attempts (16%). While he rarely gets careless with the rock, he rarely creates offense either. First-step is lacking and he seems content to distribute around the perimeter.
Cashmere Wright, Cincinnati
I hate to pile on Wright, as he’s clearly not 100%, but he makes Cincinnati borderline unwatchable offensively. He took 26 field goals this week and hit on 5. He took 17 three’s this week and hit on 3. Wright is shooting 21% (14/67) since missing a game with a sprained knee (January 21st) and 41 of his shots attempts have come from deep (8 makes).
Top 5: Court Visionaries
1. Michael Carter Williams, Syracuse- His torrid assist pace has moderated (8.2 APG), but MCW’s package of size, creativity and intelligence earns him the top spot.
2. Peyton Siva, Louisville- Few players force the back line of a defense into more decisions than Siva. He’s constantly in attack mode, albeit, not always prudently.
3. Vincent Council, Providence- The senior has 6 or more assists in every game he’s played this season (outside of injury sustained in opener). He thinks one or two moves ahead, balancing patience and aggression.
4. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut- Napier is highly capable of exhibiting brilliant court savvy, but he lacks finishers around him. The Huskies have been hitting three’s, however, and he’s racked up 16 assists over his last two games.
5. Anthony Collins, South Florida- Collins plays with an old-school flavor. He dribbles a lot, but dribbles low, usually sneaking through holes in the defense and finding the open man (6.6 APG).
Honorable Mention: Junior Cadougan, Marquette
· Depaul junior guard Brandon Young is unassumingly putting up a big time year. He averaged 20.5 points (52% FG), 6 assists (1 TO), 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals this week in two more Demon defeats. Young is an intriguing next level prospect despite being caught between positions.
· Michael Carter Williams had 10 steals this week, currently ranking 3rd nationally at 3.1 per game.
· Markel Starks has hit 14 three-pointers over his last four games. Georgetown’s primary ballhandler is connecting on 42% from distance.
· St. John’s PG Jamal Branch continues to miss action after spraining his knee on February 2nd. His return date is unclear.
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