Award Tour: Shabazz Muhammad Is Out, So Who’s In?Posted by DCassilo on November 16th, 2012
David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.
Take a second to play out a hypothetical situation. John Doe is a top recruit. He is probably going to play for Basketball College. A booster for that school’s biggest rival, Hoops University, knows this and gives Doe $1,000 to come visit Hoops. A year later, the NCAA finds out, and who gets punished? Not the booster and Hoops but Doe and Basketball College. This is the insanely stupid can of worms that the NCAA has opened up in the Shabazz Muhammad ruling. To make matters worse, recent reports say the NCAA had it out for him before they even learned of this. It brings to focus a larger issue that still does not get enough play – the student-athlete has no rights. Unlike professional sports, there are no unions. It’s just the NCAA and powerful universities versus tiny student-athletes. For now, Muhammad doesn’t play, and that shakes up both of our top 10 lists. Hopefully by including these players below, they haven’t become susceptible to another NCAA violation.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
10. Pierre Jackson – Baylor (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 23.3 PPG, 8.7 APG
As you’ll see throughout this list, it might just be the year of the point guard. Jackson is a special one, as he’s already poured in 27 points and 31 points this season. The assists are there too, making him one of the toughest players to guard in the country. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Colorado, Nov. 18 vs. St. John’s/Murray State
9. Kenny Boynton – Florida (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 16 PPG, 6 RPG, 4 APG
A near inclusion on this original list, Boynton makes it in there after a stellar start to the season. While he took a backseat role against Wisconsin, being the engine that drives one of the top teams in the country will only help his candidacy. This week: Nov. 18 vs. Middle Tennessee St., Nov. 20 vs. Savannah State
8. Allen Crabbe – California (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 30 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3 APG
After averaging 15.2 PPG as a sophomore, Crabbe has opened the eyes of many with a 27-point and a 33-point game to open the season. It’s impossible to shoot this well (60 percent from the field, 66.7 percent from 3-point range) all season, but he seems to have the tools to contend for the nation’s scoring title. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Denver, Nov. 22 vs. Drake
7. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 24 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG
McCollum exploded for 36 points against Baylor to start the season, but since then, the senior has been rather pedestrian. To win this award, he will need to dominate more games than he has so far. This week: Nov. 19 vs. Fairfield, Nov. 20 vs. Penn
6. Trey Burke – Michigan (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 18.3 PPG, 8 APG
Through three games, Burke is clearly one of the nation’s best scorers and passers, but by having to do both, his numbers get hurt a bit. Still, this is a player that is capable of averaging 20 points and 10 assists in the Big Ten, and that will make him a favorite for this honor. This week: Nov. 21 vs. Pittsburgh
5. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last Week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 19 PPG, 3 RPG
Due to the Carrier Classic issues, we only got to see Thomas once last week, and he played reasonably well against lesser competition. He’ll move one spot down in his preseason ranking until there are more opportunities to see what he can do as a junior. This week: Nov. 17 vs. Rhode Island, Nov. 18 vs. Seton Hall/Washington
4. Isaiah Canaan – Murray State (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 18.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.5 APG
Because of the competition, we’ve yet to see the best of Canaan. He didn’t need to do much against Brescia and after getting 20 points against Auburn by the half, the game was over. By the time the Charleston Classic is over, it’s likely Canaan will again have the nation’s attention. This week: Nov. 16 vs. St. John’s, Nov. 18 vs. Baylor/Colorado
3. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 2)
2012-13 stats: 13 PPG, 9 RPG
After a double-double in his opener, early foul trouble against UAB led to just five points on Wednesday. It was the first time since he was a freshman that McDermott was unable to score 10 points. He will almost certainly rebound in the week ahead. This week: Nov. 18 vs. Presbyterian, Nov. 20 vs. Longwood
2. James Michael McAdoo – North Carolina (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG
It was a bit of a risk to put McAdoo on the preseason list, but it sure paid off after his two monster performances to start the season. The fact is that McAdoo is the only player who can score consistently for the Tar Heels, and Roy Williams will continue to feed his big man all season. He could have a Kemba Walker-like coming out party at the Maui Invitational. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Long Beach State, Nov. 19 vs. Mississippi State, Nov. 20 vs. Butler/Marquette, Nov. 21 vs. TBA
1. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 1)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2 BPG
Zeller did nothing this past week to suggest that he wasn’t the nation’s best player. His scoring should increase once he improves on his 55 percent free throw shooting. Zeller will get some real tests this week to justify all of the hype he had entering the season. This week: Nov. 19 vs. Georgia, Nov. 20 vs. UCLA/Georgetown
TOP FIVE NOVEMBER TOURNAMENTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW EXISTED
5. Battle 4 Atlantis – Nov. 22-24 (Bahamas). Ok, you might have known this one existed, but did you know Duke, Memphis, Louisville, Missouri and VCU were playing in it? That’s a big step up for a tournament that had a Harvard-UCF final a year ago. Make sure to check this one out, if only for the funky setting for the court.
4. Cancun Challenge – Nov. 20-21 (Cancun). First of all, if this fifth grade technology class website is any indication, this tournament might not actually exist. Assuming it does, it’s the best place to see Western Carolina and Howard. Also note, the eight-team field is broken down into a Mayan Division and a Riviera Division.
3. Hall of Fame Tipoff – Nov. 9-23 (Uncasville, CT). Almost as long as the NCAA Tournament, this is one of the truly bizarre tournaments out there. The final of this tournament (which should feature Ohio State against Seton Hall or Washington) takes place on November 18, yet for some reason there are two additional games on November 23 that have no impact on who wins. Also, it’s not even in the same state as the Hall of Fame (Massachusetts).
2. South Padre Invitational – Nov. 23-24 (South Padre Island, TX). Unbeknownst to anyone, this tournament has been going on since 2005. If anonymity is something it strives for, a field that is led by Northwestern and Illinois State should make sure no one actually knows these games are happening. Not having a website will also do the trick.
1. Global Sports Classic – Nov. 23-24 (Las Vegas, NV). Despite its name, this tournament is essentially just a couple of home games for UNLV against Oregon and either Cincinnati or Iowa State. I assume it’s the first year it has taken place but there’s almost no information about it anywhere. I guess what happens in Vegas does really stay there.
There’s no telling if or when Shabazz Muhammad will play for UCLA. So to make sure you don’t forget what he can do on a basketball court, check out the video below. The NCAA probably can’t ban you from watching it.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
10. Kaleb Tarczewski – Arizona (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 6 PPG, 4 RPG
Tarczewski hangs on to a spot after what was a very disappointing week. He’s been a non-factor on offense, attempting just six shots in two games. He will need to be more assertive to stay on the list next week. This week: Nov. 19 vs. Long Beach State
9. Steven Adams – Pittsburgh (Last Week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.3 BPG
Adams has shown flashes of his potential, but he isn’t quite an offensive factor just yet. His 70.6 percent shooting from the field suggests that once he gets more comfortable on offense, big numbers will follow. This week: Nov. 17 vs. Oakland, Nov. 21 vs. Michigan
8. Gary Harris – Michigan State (Last Week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 14.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Playing against tougher competition than anyone on this list, Harris more than held his own. By attempting at least 12 shots against UConn and Kansas, it shows that Harris will be a focal point of the Spartans’ offense this season and beyond. This week: Nov. 18 vs. Texas Southern, Nov. 20 vs. Boise State
7. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 12 PPG, 8 RPG, 5 APG
In the early going this season, Smart has proven that he can do a little bit of everything for the Cowboys. To go along with his well-rounded offensive stats, he has chipped in six steals through two games. If he can get his shot going (5-for-18 so far), he could shoot up this list. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Tennessee, Nov. 18 vs. NC State/UMass
6. Kyle Anderson – UCLA (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 7.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG
As expected, Anderson has put up some truly funky stat lines so far this season. His size allows him to do a little bit of everything, which is why his 1-for-10 shooting night on Thursday doesn’t look as bad next to 12 rebounds. He’ll continue to impact each game in some way. This week: Nov. 19 vs. Georgetown, Nov. 20 vs. Indiana/Georgia
5. Jordan Adams – UCLA (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 24 PPG, 3.7 RPG
Who needs Muhammad when you have Adams? The freshman has been an electrifying scorer this season, tallying at least 21 points in each of his first three games. Although he has gotten a lot less hype than the rest of his class, Adams appears to be the real deal. It is unclear how his role would be affected if Muhammad returned, though. This week: Nov. 19 vs. Georgetown, Nov. 20 vs. Indiana/Georgia
4. Isaiah Austin – Baylor (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 19.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG
With great post presence and an outside shot, Austin has the look of a star. In his first game, he scored 22 points in 17 minutes against Lehigh. Don’t be surprised if he’s the first big man selected in June, ahead of Noel and Zeller. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Colorado, Nov. 18 vs. St. John’s/Murray State
3. Archie Goodwin – Kentucky (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 16 PPG, 4 RPG, 3 APG
With the top three freshmen so far, Kentucky seems to be in fine shape for this season. Goodwin just looks like a player that will get better and better with experience. He’s already put up back-to-back 16-point games against Maryland and Duke. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Lafayette, Nov. 21 vs. Morehead State
2. Alex Poythress – Kentucky (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 14 PPG, 7.5 RPG
Despite the loss, Poythress put on an impressive show against Duke, finishing with 20 points and eight rebounds. He won’t face many frontcourts like the one the Blue Devils have, meaning this could just be the tip of the iceberg. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Lafayette, Nov. 21 vs. Morehead State
1. Nerlens Noel – Kentucky (Last Week – 2)
2012-13 stats: 10 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3 BPG, 3 SPG
Muhammad is gone for now, so the top spot belongs to Noel, who may never give it up. If Noel is putting up 16 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and four steals against Duke now, what will he look like at his best? It’s a scary and exciting though. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Lafayette, Nov. 21 vs. Morehead State
COACH OF THE YEAR
Still not enough games to have a field here yet, but let’s give some props to Kevin Ollie, who is defying a lot of odds so far at Connecticut. It looks like they have the right man on the sidelines.