Weekly Pac-Five: Players Who Need to Step Up

Posted by Mike Lemaire on December 1st, 2016

As part of a new weekly feature here on the Pac-12 microsite, we will be creating many lists of five: five best players; five best coaches; five best and worst teams. The topics are never-ending and we intend to cover a lot of ground over the next few months. As we close out the first month of the season, we tackled five Pac-12 players who need to elevate their play, effective immediately.

  • Dylan Ennis, Senior, Oregon. Maybe his 18-point, six-rebound performance against Boise State was the start of an upward trend, but Ennis looked like someone who hadn’t played in a full year prior to Monday night’s performance. He is still just 4-of-25 from downtown on the season and so far hasn’t been the same defensive weapon he was at Villanova. There is still plenty of time for the senior to shake off the rust, but the Ducks need him to get right quickly because they the offense needs a shot in the arm that could be provided if he finally heats up.
Dylan Ennis (USA Today Images)

Dylan Ennis Could Stand to Revert to his Play at Villanova Soon (USA Today Images)

  • Keondre Dew, Junior, Oregon State. Now that Tres Tinkle is out for six weeks with a broken wrist, it is imperative that Oregon State starts getting production from its junior forward. For that to happen, Dew, who has already been suspended twice this season and has admitted that he was his own worst enemy at Tulsa, needs to wake up. The junior college transfer is a long and versatile offensive weapon — or, he could be if he could stay focused long enough to produce something. In 59 minutes of action so far this season, Dew is only 4-of-16 from the field, 2-of-6 at the free throw line and has more than twice as many turnovers (10) as assists (4). He has the talent to help Oregon State turn its season around and weather the injury storm if he ultimately decides he wants to.

  • Rawle Alkins, Freshman, Arizona. In a Pac-12 teeming with promising freshmen this year, Alkins has been somewhat of a disappointment. Ranked the No. 17 prospect coming out of high school (one spot behind UCLA’s T.J. Leaf), Alkins has shown brief flashes but he hasn’t put it all together yet. He uses a fair number of possessions (20.3%) in the Wildcats’ offense, but he has struggled mightily with turnovers (26.5%) and isn’t getting to the free throw line nearly as much as a slashing guard should (3.6 fouls drawn per 40 minutes). His shooting has been solid if unspectacular, but his decision-making is holding the Wildcats back offensively. The solution might simply just be a case of growing more assertive with the ball in his hands, but Arizona needs him to improve quickly if it has designs on winning the Pac-12 title.
  • Derrien King, Junior, Washington State. It is hard to pick just one underachieving member of the Cougars but King stands out because he has the skill set to become an above-average Pac-12 player. Unfortunately, he has been worse this season. His effective field goal percentage is barely above 30 percent and he has halved his assist rate while doubling his turnovers. This would be acceptable in the short term but for the fact that King is using 20 percent of his team’s possessions in an effort to make himself one of the least efficient offensive players in the country. If Ernie Kent has any prayer of saving his job in Pullman or even winning more than a single conference game this season, King needs to be better.
  • Stephen Domingo, Senior, California. Another player forced into a bigger role because of injury, the 6’7″ Domingo is now the de facto second-best big man in Cal’s rotation. Center Kameron Rooks will miss four to six weeks while recovering from knee surgery, and Domingo, who has already been playing the nominal power forward role, needs to seize this opportunity. The senior supposedly has decent range even if we haven’t seen it yet this season (4-of-23 from deep). He might also be able to find his rhythm if he would just set aside a few minutes to stop fouling everyone who moves. He’s been better on the glass, but his offensive woes more than offset those benefits. If he could find his range soon, he would become an important weapon for the Golden Bears heading into conference play.
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