WE have been treated to some indifferent headlines to start the college basketball season. From Louis Vuitton stores to 3-on-5 basketball, the first fortnight plus has not disappointed. The storylines on and off the court have captured our attention with the weekend’s holiday tournament schedule helping us examine teams under a thorough microscope. With half a dozen or so game under everyone’s belt it’s time to look at who’s stock is trending in which direction.
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Florida Gators Offense
HEADING into the game against Duke, the Gators were the best scoring team in the country. Averaging over 100 points a game Florida managed to hang 53 on the Blue Devils in the first half before falling 87-84 in the Motion Bracket championship at the PK80 tournament. Led by junior Jalen Hudson’s 21.8 PPG there are four double-digit scorers on this team with injured senior John Egbunu waiting in the wings. Don’t sleep on Mike White’s Gators.
Avery Johnson/Colin Sexton
NEVER have I seen something like I saw when then No. 14 Minnesota and No. 25 Alabama clashed. After five players were tossed from Bama’s bench, Dazon Ingram fouled out and John Petty tweaked his ankle the Crimson Tide found themselves with just three players to play the final 10 minutes, but that might not be the most stunning part. Leading 65-54 at that point Richard Pitino’s Gophers were outscored by a three-man unit 30-22 to close the game. That is not only a testament to Avery Johnson and his program but also to their star freshman who scored 17 of his career-high 40 points in that frame. Saturday’s game definitely bolstered the reputation of both head coach and young phenom Colin Sexton.
I’LL be honest I didn’t know alot about Trae Young heading into this season. I had heard the Sooners freshman’s name before, but after the first five games of his collegiate career he’s made sure fans are aware of him now. His per game averages of 26.2 points (2nd in the nation) and 8.4 assists (4th in the nation) are raising eyebrows around the college basketball world helping OU start 4-1. Matchups against USC and Wichita State in the coming weeks will be can’t miss basketball if Young keep stuffing the box score like this.
The Cream Of The Crop
AGAINST Florida, Marvin Bagley III had his second consecutive game of at least 30 points and 15 boards. The rest of the NCAA have four such games combined. His fellow five-star recruit DeAndre Ayton might not have the same lofty points totals, but five double-doubles in six tries have him averaging 20.3 points and 12.0 rebounds (6th most in the nation) for the Wildcats right now. A third highly touted freshman Mohammed Bamba is averaging a double-double of his own at Texas while swatting the second most shots per game in the nation at four every outing. There was talk that the top of this draft class could be better than the star-studded class from a season ago. The early signs are hard to ignore.
Image from fanragsports.com
THIS is one of the easiest and biggest shocks of the young season to date. From giving up 68 points a night and winning three straight to giving up 81.7 per and losing three straight the Wildcats defense is the biggest factor to blame for their 3-3 record right now. One of the preseason favourites to contend for a title, Arizona boasts a pair of talented 7-footer’s making it hard to defend the perimeter and even harder still to shoot well from behind the arc themselves (10-for-54 in their last three). Sean Miller’s boys look lost right now, going from being ranked 2nd in the country to dropping out of the top 25 rankings entirely.
Michael Porter’s Draft Stock
INJURIES suck man. There is nothing worse than being robbed of seeing potentially great young studs due to injury. Michael Porter is no different with the highly touted Missouri prospect out for the rest of his freshman season requiring spinal surgery after just two minutes of game-time. Whether he decides to return for a sophomore season, or instead declare for the NBA draft, there is no doubt an injury as severe as Porter’s will hurt his draft stock immensely.
Image from thebiglead.com
KANSAS’ senior guard was ready to step out from behind the shadow of last year’s Wooden Award winner Frank Mason after he turned pro. Or so it seemed. Graham’s Jayhawks have reeled off a 5-0 start and Graham’s assist numbers have more than doubled from a season ago (9.2 compared to 4.1) and he ranks second in the country for dimes per game. His uninspiring 34.5% shooting, including 28.6% from three, is disappointing though and any chance he has of helping Kansas have back-to-back Wooden winners is fading fast.
St Mary’s Gaels
THERE was a chance that the Gaels could have gone undefeated through their schedule. Sure Gonzaga is tough, but the rest of the teams they face won’t cause any headaches right? Wrong. After two losses in a row, St Mary’s have looked ordinary in close L’s against Washington State and Georgia. Jock Landale has tried to throw the team on his back, but any chances he had of entering the ‘best player in college‘ discussion where hitched to his team’s record. Two quick losses later and both his award aspirations and St Mary’s chances of going 29-0 have been flushed down the toilet.