On Tuesday night, the nation got to see the best group of freshman that the college game has to offer and it’s fair to say that viewers were not left disappointed.
-Fabulous freshman stetting the stage for what is to come:
With a bevy of scouts and basketball luminaries in attendance, Julius Randle put on a second half show, bouldering through as many as three Michigan State defenders and almost led his team to a comeback victory after a 12-pt halftime deficit. It was the “alpha-dog” performance that he often displayed during his latter high school days. Despite his horrid transition defense, James Young showed a glimpse of his versatile scoring ability, which will only get better as the season goes on. Young added 19 pts and was the reason Kentucky’s offense stayed in the game during the first half.
In the nightcap, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker finally had a chance go head-to-head in a structured setting with both at the peak of their powers. Jabari Parker came out in the first half like a man bent on regaining his title as the superior player to Wiggins. And regain it he did. By the end of the night, Parker had 27 points, 9 boards, 2 steals and 1 block and dispelled any doubts there were about his game. Although Kansas won the game and Andrew Wiggins scored crucial points down the stretch, Parker showed why he was the more complete college player. Wayne Selden had a solid outing, as he scored 16 pts and dished out 4 assists. The raw Joel Embiid showed positive and concrete signs of his potential, adding 5 assists.
-Just as John Rothstein said in October, Shabazz Napier is the best point guard in America:
Three games into the season, UCONN’s senior leader is averaging 14 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 8.3 assists while shooting 57% from the field. It’s early, but those are video game numbers, especially when you consider the size of Napier, who is barely 6 ft tall. Those who watch Shabazz can’t help but notice the way in which he directs the flow on offense, getting guys in the right spot and making pinpoint passes which sometimes leave you at the edge of your seat. He is giving consistent effort, fighting through screens, doing what a senior ought to be doing.
I have yet to dive into the actual numbers, but from the games I have watched, I can count on my hand how many charge calls there have been. Officials aren’t going to be charge-happy this season as the rules are now favoring the offensive player. There have been some questionable blocking fouls called that should be charges, but such is the nature of the enforced rules.
-Florida’s shorthanded roster:
Florida has Final Four talent, but their suspended players need to get it together. I thought Jimmy Dykes’ criticism of suspended players across college basketball was a bit harsh, after he said that he felt “no sympathy” for them because they deliberately broke the rules. I agree with his premise, but Mr. Dykes’ needs to remember that these “kids” are 18- and 19-year-olds who sometimes aren’t ready for the adjustment at the college level–socially, academically, and athletically. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for Demontrae Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith (who has been re-instated) both of whom are transfers to be suspended. Harris and Finney-Smith had a year off and knew what the standards were coming into this season. As a senior, there is also no excuse for Scottie Wilbekin getting himself suspended.
-Joseph Young is picking up the slack:
The Houston transfer has always been recognized as a scorer (averaged 18pts/gm in his sophomore season), but he has surprised me with his seamless scoring output with the absence of point guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter. He’s averaging 30 points in his first two games and has gotten to the free throw line 28 times(making 96% of his free throws). The Ducks are off to a 2-0 start, and should be able to remain solid for 7 more games without Artis and Carter.
-It’s good to see the old Ryan Harrow:
Harrow is my third favorite point guard behind Brandon Knight and Myck Kabongo, and I can’t help but be happy to see him playing with joy again. He scored 20 points in his debut and followed it up with a 27 point performance against Vanderbilt. The crossover is back, and so is his swagger. Now, I just hope Coach Ron Hunter keeps him accountable, particularly on the defensive end. I still believe Harrow has high-end Division I talent, and he’ll have a chance to show it if Georgia State makes a tournament run.
I always point to this game to show that the talent is there for Harrow: