Preface: Basketball outside of the Power Six Conferences is very strong this year with some players that are making a lot of contributions and living up to some high expectations. These players are demonstrating consistency that many and most of the standout players in the Power Six Conferences struggle to do. Some may argue about level of competition, but consistency is hard to maintain on any level in college basketball.
Player of the Week
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State Redbirds
Carmichael and his teammates have been very up and down in the early season thus far, although they have put together three consecutive W’s over the past two weeks. In their game last week versus Morgan State, Carmichael put together one of the most complete college basketball stat lines for the season. He finished with 30 points (9-15 FG, 12-13 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals in 29 minutes of play during their 87-68 win. He’s starting to put together a very solid campaign and meet the high expectations he set this summer by being one of the top players at the LeBron James Skills Academy.
Anthony Bennett, UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
This freshman isn’t going anywhere and scouts have clearly taken notice. In his last game before exams, Bennett put down a solid 27 points and 14 rebounds as his team routed their lower level foe the La Verne Leopards. He’s averaging 19 pts and 8 rebounds and has been mentioned as a Wooden Award candidate and could be second freshman to win the award after Anthony Davis took it last year.
Doug McDermott, Creighton Blue Jays
McDermott has been very consistent this season and his game at Cal last week was no different. He scored 34 points (10-17 FG/ 4-7 3FG/ 10-10 FT), pulled 9 rebounds in 33 minutes of play. He continues to display his solid offensive skill set, although his improvement on defense is very evident and he’s been able to impact games on defense.
CJ McCollum, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
McCollum is as solid and consistent as college basketball players come. In his last game before exams he continued his scoring ways by contributing 29 points (9-15 FG) and 9 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. He leads the NCAA in scoring at 24.9 ppg and continues to impress scouts with his basketball IQ.
Tony Mitchell , North Texas
Mitchell has finally woken up and started to perform over his Last 3 games, averaging 13.9 ppg and 9.6 rebounds which is a huge improvement over his prior disappointing performances. Mitchell, probably has some regrets about returning to early in the season and I think that definitely impacted his play as the Mean Green has started out a dismal 5-6 record and were projected to be a tournament team this year by many. This is very common in young players, but he’s showing some perseverance early in the season as he’s picked his game up and led his team to three consecutive wins. It’s still very puzzling that North Texas can’t find ways to get Mitchell more involved in the offense.
Robert Covington, Tennessee State
Covington has remained solid over the season, although he hasn’t gotten on track with his three point shot only shooting 33%. He did put together a solid game scoring 31 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes of play coming off of exam week. Covington is averaging 17.4 ppg and 7.7 rpg this season as his team has gotten off to a rocky 5-7 start. He is a player to watch as some scouts view Covington as a possible late first round draft pick in June.
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
After a solid start to the season Wolter’s has slowed down a bit and had a few mediocre games over the past two weeks. Even though the Jackrabbits have started 9-4 and played a pretty challenging schedule a sharper Wolter’s might have changed a few of those losses. He did miss two games with an ankle injury, one at Minnesota in his return to his home state, which many wanted to see him play against high D1 talent. In his last three games Wolter’s is only shooting 31% from the field and needs to improve his play in order to hear his name called in June.
Top 5 Mid Major Teams
The Zags have started out very well this year at 10-1 and ranked #14 in the AP Poll. Their only loss came this past weekend to the #13 ranked Illinois Illini. Gonzaga has a very interesting team with a lot of different pieces, so I think it will be exciting watching how this team comes together over the next two months.
The Bulldogs performed as many had expected last Saturday afternoon as they took down then No. 1 Indiana at home as they improved to 8-2
The Blue Jays will be a solid team all year and probably remain in the top 25 and finish first in the Missouri Valley Conference. The only issue with the Blue jays might be their defense as they’ve had many issues getting stops in the past as it showed again versus Boise State. The Blue Jays have improved to 10-1
Wichita has managed to do something most teams can’t do all year and that’s mesh a lot of pieces into a cohesive unit. They have talented freshman, transfers, and a few pieces left over from last year’s team and so far they have looked very solid in their 9-0 start.
The Racers have improved to 9-1 and look to take their solid record into Dayton on Saturday. Murray State has quietly been improving and picking up W’s behind Mr. Canaan. Over the last two season’s they have already recorded 40 victories, which is very impressing on the mid major level.
Truly said some of the players played really very well. Jackie Carmichael was just outstanding!!