Player of the Week
Justin Hamilton, LSU
A new face emerges at the top of the page, as the Tigers big man put forth two dynamic efforts against stellar competition. In two games versus Virginia and Mississippi, Hamilton averaged 22 points on 18/26 shooting (69%), 12.5 rebounds (5 offensive), 3 blocks and 1.5 steals. His 16-rebound explosion on Saturday against Ole Miss was a career-high, and the Rebels don't lack for size on the frontline.The 6'11 260 pounder was utilized in a more finesse role during his two seasons in Ames, but he's thriving at LSU mixing it up on the interior. Hamilton has been essential to the Tigers 11-4 (1-0) start. Games at Alabama and at Arkansas this week will assuredly test his valor.. and foot speed.
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
The conference's leading scorer at 20.3 PPG, Jenkins hit 10 of 18 treys in two games this week and 21 of 35 over a four-game stretch. The good news is he's shooting 46% on the year on nearly 9 attempts per game. The bad news is his overt reliance on the three-point shot is back with a vengeance. In that same four-pack of games he's attempted just 13 two's and 5 free throws. A leopard can't change his spots. His specialty has earned him a spot at #25 in our 2012 mock.
Kenny Gabriel, Auburn
Gabriel is making ignoring his accolades an impossibility, putting up wild numbers week after week. The electric 6'8 forward recorded the first triple-double in Auburn history, scoring 24 points (11/13 FG), notching 13 boards and swatting 10 shots versus Bethune Cookman. He also added 2 three's, 3 assists and 4 steals. He continued his statistical barrage at Florida State with 3 blocks and 2 steals, albeit in a 29-point defeat. The senior has the look of a developmental league project.
Co-Players of the Week
Anthony Davis & Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky
Same player recognition, different week. The pair of freakish freshmen continue to carry the load as the remainder of the Wildcats fight their way through a mid-season slump. In a seven-point victory over Louisville on Saturday, the two combined for 10 of the team's 17 field goal makes (rest of team 7/37), 21 of 32 free throw makes, 42 of 69 points and 29 of 49 rebounds. Davis shattered season-high FT marks converting 12/13, while Kidd-Gilchrist snatched 19 boards from the SF position. In a week that also included a W over Lamar, Davis averaged 14 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. MKG compiled 21 points per game, 12.5 rebounds and 16 FT makes. Kentucky opens up conference play on Saturday the 7th versus South Carolina. The night in, night out rigors of the SEC will test the mental and physical fortitude of UK's freshmen. No more cupakes to reserve strength.
Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt
Last season Goulbourne waited until mid-January to turn on the jets. This year he's found his stride in late December. In a startling road demolition of 14th ranked Marquette, he scored 13 points (4/5 FG), grabbed 16 rebounds, swiped 3 steals and swatted 3 shots. His defensive effort held Jae Crowder to 4/13 shooting, and the Golden Eagles shot only 32% as a unit. Over his last three contests he's putting up 14 PPG on 74% shooting (17/23), 10 RPG and 2+ SPG. When healthy and on his A game, Goulbourne puts up some beastly numbers.
Player of the Week
Brad Beal, Florida
Beal has often been the best player on the court for the 11th ranked Gators, despite relatively unspectacular shooting for his standards. His versatility at 6'3, strength and defensive aptitude have been early season calling cards. He's now starting to heat up from the perimeter- a scary proposition for Florida's SEC opponents. Beal connected on 11/22 from the field and 7/12 three-pointers last week in wins over Mississippi Valley State and in-state rival Florida State for 17 PPG. He continues to rebound the rock at a fever pace, adding two more 6 board efforts to his 6.3 season clip. The thievery has not halted either with a 3-steal game versus FSU. His 36% from deep and 70% from the FT line will assuredly take an upwards spike as the year progresses. Thursday at Rutgers is the next test for Beal and the Gators.
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have reeled off 11-straight W's and stand atop the SEC at 12-1. Moultrie has been the catalyst. He notched his 4th consecutive double-double in impressive fashion during an 82-67 win over Northwestern State, scoring 24 points (8/11 FG & 8/8 FT), grabbing 14 rebounds (a ridiculous 11 offensive boards) and handing out 4 helpers. Other than block shots, the UTEP transfer has done EVERYTHING. He's no longer playing in a hurry, and as a result his athleticism and motor on the interior have been accompanied by efficiency: 18 PPG, 12 RPG, 58% FG, 88% FT and 1 SPG. Dee Bost is the Bulldogs engine, but Moultrie is the anchor.
Gerald Robinson, Georgia
Georgia's number one playmaker continues to play solid ball. In home triumphs over Mercer and Furman he averaged 16.5 points on 52% FG (11/21) and 9/10 FT makes. He dished out 9 assists against 4 turnovers, a ratio far superior to his 3.4:2.8 season mark. Robinson shoots 80% from the free throw stripe and is clearly at his best when attacking, yet for whatever reason phases in and out of aggression. The Bulldogs and their inept offense would greatly benefit from more opportunities at free points.
Player of the Week
Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky
The St. Patrick's product is beginning to erupt with conference play on the horizon. In his last three games Kidd-Gilchrist went for 17 and 11 versus North Carolina, 18 and 9 at Indiana and produced his best all around effort in a thrashing of Tennessee Chattanooga. He scored 17 points, pulled down 8 boards, assisted on 6 baskets, nailed 2 treys, converted on 7/8 at the charity stripe and added a block and a steal. Few players at the collegiate level, if any, possess the offensive and defensive versatility that MKG brings to the floor. Despite a raw offensive canvas, his overwhelming physical advantage over opposing SF's had led to 13 PPG on stellar 52% FG. As he continues to add strength and polish his ball handling, Kidd-Gilchrist is all but assured a spot in the 2012 lottery (currently projected at #10). Fellow freshman teammate Anthony Davis also deserves serious love for his seemingly"routine" 14 point, 18 rebound and 5 block effort versus UTC.
Dundrecous Nelson, Mississippi
With Jarvis Summers inheriting the starting point guard reigns, Dundrecous Nelson has assumed the role of lightning rod off the bench. The 5'11 gunner scored 40 points in 48 minutes this week (W vs ULL & L at USM), hitting 12/25 shots, 9/15 threes and 7/9 from the FT line. He's averaged 15 points and 2.6 three-point makes per game in seven games since exiting the starting lineup. The results are hit and miss, but when on his game Nelson is a prolific point compiler.
Malik Cooke, South Carolina
Cooke has been the most consistent performer for the youthful Gamecocks. He had a tremendously efficient two-game week, making 11/17 field goals and 12/13 free throws en route to 17.5 PPG. Thanks in large measure to Cooke, SC held a 4-point halftime edge over 2nd ranked Ohio State before relenquishing in the final twenty minutes. While his overall statistics aren't scintilating, he makes contributions in all phases: 47% FG, 78% FT, 2 offensive rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block per game. The 6'6 senior is a box score stuffer.
Player of the Week
Patric Young, Florida
After struggling for the better part of two weeks, Young re-emerged as a paint force in Gator victories over Arizona and Rider. He produded his best statistical line of the season, and his career, in an overtime battle against UA with 25 points on 12/15 shooting (1/6 FT), 10 rebounds (6 offensive), 2 blocks and a steal in 38 minutes. It was a pleasure to see Young get aggressive in a big game and punish the Wildcats undersized front line. Head Coach Billy Donovan claimed Young could have went off for 45 points if he received more touches in established position. Perhaps we can expect less backcourt chucking and more post entries from Florida in the near future. He followed up that effort with a 12 & 10 double-double against Rider, converting 5/7 field goal attempts and snatching 5 more offensive boards. The bruising frontcourt of Texas A&M will test his tenacity on the 17th.
Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor scored a career-high 30 points in the Commodores impressive road victory at Davidson. He cashed in on 12/17 field goal attempts and drained 3 three-pointers for the second consecutive game. For the season he's upped his shooting accuracy to 51% from the floor and nearly 37% from distance. The athletic 6'7 wing added 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal and his typical three turnovers. Taylor has six games of 3+ TO's on the year, as ball handling (or lack thereof) continues to haunt his draft stock.
BJ Young, Arkansas
The electric freshman has taken the burden of Arkansas' offensive woes on his shoulders, scoring in double figures for the seventh straight contest in a 24-point effort (back to back 20+) at Oklahoma on Saturday. Young has become the go-to-guy in short order, making 9/16 shots and 3/7 treys, while also dishing out 3 helpers and swiping 3 steals. His efficiency has been remarkable (51% FG, 39% 3PT) given his lack of clean looks and dearth of teammates to occupy defensive attention.
Player of the Week
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
While some of his key numbers may be on the decline, Jones' decision to return to Lexington is looking like an abundantly prudent one. He's no longer overdribbling and settling for rushed jumpshots (49% FG), and when he attacks the hoop he's finishing with bad intentions. He threw down four power slams in Kentucky's two victories over St. John's and UNC, including a beautiful pump fake/driving dunk in the grill of John Henson. His defensive disruption is reaching new heights as well. On the week Jones averaged 20 points on 50% shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 3.5 blocks. After getting to the free throw line 20 times in the season's first six games, Jones got to the stripe 16 times against SJU alone (11 makes). Jones has re-emerged in our mock lottery at the #11 spot.
Murphy Holloway, Mississippi
The southpaw deserves some major love after filling up the stat sheet for a second consecutive week. Holloway's performance led the way in thrilling road victories over DePaul and Penn State, as the Rebels improved to 7-1 on the season with an RPI of 11 (the computers are on their side for a change, at least momentarily). He picked up his third and fourth double-doubles of the season, putting up 13 points per game (55% FG), 11.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 4.5 steals. He's an absolute menace on the boards with thievery on his mind at all times on the defensive end of the floor. Holloway is undersized and lacking overall skill level, but he's strong, has great length and plays HARD. On a sour note, his 46% at the FT line has become all too familiar.
Player of the Week
Tony Mitchell , Alabama
The hyperathletic forward spearheaded the Crimson Tide's charge to a decisive title in Puerto Rico, earning most outstanding player honors for the tournament. During the three-game run (wins over Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue)he averaged 19 points on 56% shooting, drained 6 threes, collected 29 rebounds (9.7) and swatted 5 shots. The length, strength and athleticism of Alabama is frightening to the point of outright intimidation. If opponents attempt to match wits with them in a 94-foot battle, they face a losing proposition. Mitchell is beginning to creep up draft boards (#41, 2013) despite being a definite tweener at the next level. His perimeter game is on the incline, but most of his playmaking is still a result of defensive disruption and transition throwdowns.
The Bulldogs were victorious in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, taking down ranked teams in Texas A&M and Arizona on back to back nights. They were far and away the most visually impressive team in the field, holding a +11 rebound margin and limiting the opposition to 40% field goals. Significant contributions were made by all eight members of the team's regular rotation, including a breakout performance by 5'11 freshman Deville Smith (7.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2 APG). Forward Arnett Moultrie took down tournament MOP honors, scoring 19 points (8/9 FG) and grabbing 10 boards in the championship game. Can the Bulldogs maintain this high level of execution and effort for the duration of the season? If so, they have the pieces to be a major factor in the SEC and have the look of a dangerous postseason unit.
Remember last week when I praised SC for 51% shooting in their opener? Well, that praise will be short-lived. The Gamecocks had a crippling week, suffering a home loss to Tennessee State and a road defeat at Elon. In the two losses they shot a combined 35% from the floor and a staggering 19% (10/51) from distance. Freshman Damien Leonard and Sophomore Brian Richardson were the main culprits. Leonard connected on 3/22 FG's and 2/16 three's, while Richardson shot 2/17 from the field and 0/11 from deep. Quite simply, no one on South Carolina's roster can create easy shots and heaving treys is the result. It's going to be a long year.
The Rebels have size and athletes, but it's hard to be less fundamentally sound than they are. They were extremely fortunate to escape their opener in the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam against Drake, in which they shot 37% FG, 18/38 FT and turned the ball over 20 times. That level of play was harshly in exposed in a 30-point drubbing at the hands of Marquette. They shot 32% from the field, 3/23 (13%) from the three-point line and turned it over 19 times. Lack of a true point guard continues to haunt their half court offense. Dundrecous Nelson took 28 shots (made 7) and 15 threes (made 2) in the two games, while assisting on only 3 buckets. Ugly.
Player of the Week
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Marist’s meager front line is hardly a veritable measuring stick, but Davis “looked the part” in his first taste of D1 hoops. Limited to 23 minutes in a 50-point second-half thrashing, he scored 23 points on 10/13 field goals (3/3 FT) with 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 assists. His advanced skill level, game changing defensive presence and agility at 6’10 continue to astound. A more legitimate test will come Tuesday when they clash with Kansas, albeit a diminished version, in the backend of a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Davis, welcome to the big stage.
Trae Golden, Tennessee
In his handful of minutes as a Freshman, Trae Golden was expected to run the team and distribute the rock (3 points on 29% shooting) while the scoring burden fell elsewhere. With much of that scoring punch having exited the program, Golden orchestrated an offensive eruption in his first game as a Sophomore. He poured in 29 points in 27 minutes versus UNCG, connecting on 10/14 field goals, 5 of 9 three-pointers and 4/5 free throws. The powerful lead guard wasn’t done, dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds for good measure (2 steals and 1 block). His poor shooting numbers in 2010-2011 were an obvious aberration and it’s encouraging to see him splash the nets.
Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
The mystery that is Jeffery Taylor never seizes to boggle the mind. Taylor looked phenomenal in the Friday night opener versus Oregon, overmatching the Ducks with his athletic ability en route to 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. But true to form with his up and down collegiate career, he was invisible in a shocking home defeat at the hands of Cleveland State (despite the absence of Ezeli). Taylor scored 9 points on a just 8 field goal attempts, turning the rock over six times against the Vikings pressure style. Passivity, poor ball handling and lack of range continue to obstruct his rise to elite status.
Player of the Week