Player of the Week
Anthony Bennett, UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Bennett was previously featured in last week’s Top 5 PER’s in Mid Major basketball where he ranked 8th nationally. It's apparent that he’s been catching the eyes of NBA scouts as he's climbed to 15th on the draft board. He's one of the top players, much less freshmen, in the nation and is averaging 19.5 ppg and 8.3 rebounds. Bennett is 33rd in the country in scoring and tops among freshmen. He's been the key contributor to a UNLV team that’s off to a strong 7-1 start to the 2012-2013 season. Bennett has definitely reconditioned his body and his 240 pound frame as he appears to me more toned than he was 6 months ago. For those (few) that are questioning his athletic ability, they may want to have a look at the monster dunk he had with about a minute remaining in the Rebels' 76-75 win at Cal last week.
Doug McDermott, Creighton Blue Jays
In the past week, McDermott has led his Blue Jays team to two wins, a road win in blowout fashion over the Nebraska Cornhuskers and a solid 16 point win over Akron at home. Against Nebraska, McDermott scored 27 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 32 minutes, shooting 10-19 from the field and 2-4 from behind the arc. In the Akron game McDermott scored 30 points and pulled down 6 rebounds on 10-15 shooting and 6-8 behind the arc. He is currently 4th in the nation in scoring at 22.7 ppg and should continue this stellar play as a national player of the year candidate as the Jays head into conference play.
Deonte Burton , Nevada Wolfpack
Burton has the skill to score the basketball and over the past week he’s definitely been demonstrating his talents. He tallied 25 points and 4 assist in an overtime loss at Pacific and 29 points and 6 steals in a win at Washington. Burton is a really athletic point guard that can finish above the rim or use an array of moves to get his shot off. Burton is currently projected as a late first round pick, but could move up if he contnues to impress. He is able to knife through the lane and finish almost at his will. In order to elevate his game to the next level, he must learn to set up his teammates for easier shot attempts.
Mike Muscala, Bucknell University
Muscala is potentialy going to play himself into the position of hearing his name called on draft night. Against Kent State the 6’11” Muscala scored 27 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, 3 assist, and 2 blocks during the Bison’s 16 point win at home to improve his team’s record to 8-1. Muscala is currently averaging 17.8 ppg, 12.1 rebounds, and 2 bpg through 9 games, currently making him the only Division I basketball player averaging at least 15 ppg and 12 rpg.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Canaan is having a great season that has so far flown mostly under he radar. The guard is currently averaging 21.4 ppg and 3.9 apg through 8 games ranking him within the top 10 in scoring nationally. He had a solid week leading his team to two wins scoring 15 points and 6 assist against Bethel and 21 points and 4 assist against Evansville. Canaan has helped Murray State get out to a 7-1 record as this year’s team is looking to build off the success they had throughout last year.
The Redbirds have lost three out of their last four games, even though had a very good showing versus #5 Louisville on the road in a 66-69 loss. A team with two potential NBA draft picks come June, has to display some stability if Tyler Brown and Jackie Carmichael have aspirations of leading their team into the NCAA Tournament this March. The NCAA Tournament would provide both Brown and Carmichael a national audience that could help boost their draft stock.
TOP 5 Mid Major Teams
The Zags have started out very well this year at 9-1 and ranked #14 in the AP Poll. Their only loss came this past weekend to the #13 ranked Fighting Illini. Gonzaga has a very interesting team with a lot of different pieces, so it should be exciting to see how this team comes together over the next two months.
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 issues getting stops in the past and it showed again versus Boise State.
The Shockers managed to do something most teams fail to do all year and that’s mesh a lot of pieces into a cohesive unit. They have talented freshmen, 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 Bulldogs have been as strong over the last four years as any mid major program and this year is no different with solid wins over UNC and Marquette already in this young season. They are great at upsets and with Indiana on deck Saturday, let’s see whether the Bulldogs can go into a sea of red and white and do the impossible.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Smart has a very solid basketball team in Richmond and will be very dangerous come March as they should get even better as players get familiar with their new roles. Junior bigman Juvonte Reddic will continue to get better and figure out his increased role as a key contributor in the Rams’ offense, which will only make VCU better with an inside presence as they enter conference play .