Tag: Ladontae Henton

Jahlil Okafor, Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo)

Player of the Year Power Rankings: We have a new leader!

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Jahlil Okafor, Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo)

Every Tuesday, we will be providing you with a breakdown of the top ten candidates for National Player of the Year. You can read through the older posts here.

1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke
2. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

Jahlil Okafor and Frank Kaminsky went head-to-head last Wednesday as Duke and Wisconsin squared off in the Kohl Center. Okafor’s team got the best of the Badgers, as Duke won 80-70, but it was Kaminsky that ended up with the better line, finishing with 17 points, nine boards and two assists to Okafor’s 13 points and six boards.

We wrote plenty about the different ways that Mike Krzyzewski and Bo Ryan utilize their all-american big men in the lead-up to the game, but the irony of it all was that the way that Coach K schemed basically took the two out of it and turned this into a battle of the guards. Duke switched all exchanges defensively, meaning that anytime there was a screen — or even two players running by each other — Duke would switch, regardless of size.

This meant that Wisconsin couldn’t invert their offense, that they couldn’t run what they wanted to run and couldn’t take advantage of their size relative to Duke. But it did mean that Wisconsin’s bigger, slower defenders had to try and cover Duke’s quick, talented perimeter players.

The upper image shows you an example of what a typical Wisconsin possession devolved into. The bottom image is a screen grab of power forward Nigel Hayes, matched up with Justise Winslow, reaching instead of moving as a help defender, allowing Quinn Cook a lane to drive and find Okafor for a layup:

Screengrabs via Synergy

The irony of it all.

The two best individuals matchup in the best game of the season and it was decided by coaching and maximizing the ability of role players.

And Duke won out.

I can’t be the only one hoping for a rematch in March, can I?

3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Mike Brey has harped, over and over again, on the fact that Grant’s return is so important because Grant is this team’s “closer”. The Irish lost nine games by single digits after Grant was suspended last season, and that would have changed seeing as he’s the guy they go to down the stretch of games. Notre Dame has played two close games this year. In the final eight minutes of regulation in a win against Michigan State, Grant had ten points and an assist and, had the refs called a foul on this … :

… likely would have been the hero as well.

In the final 12 minutes of a loss to Providence, Grant had 12 points and four assists, setting up all of the final 25 points the Irish scored in that game. Notre Dame lost by one. Grant did not take the final shot, but it did look like he got fouled on a drive a few seconds before that.

4. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: Like I said earlier, we talked last week about just how good — and efficient — Pangos has been for the Zags this season, but he learned the hard way that Tucson is where efficiency goes to die. Pangos was 3-for-10 from the floor with four turnovers in an overtime loss to Arizona. He did hit a big three in overtime to cut a deficit to 64-63, but he wasn’t that effective down the stretch. He turned the ball over in a tie game in the final minute of regulation, down by one with 1:15 left in overtime and then, down by one on the ensuing possession, was stripped and lucky to get the ball back on held possession.

5. Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert is averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 boards and 4.4 assists this year, and while the Wolverines did just lose to NJIT at home, LeVert did his best to make sure that didn’t happen, finishing with 32 points and making big shot after big shot late. He’s demanding the ball at the end of games, which is something that he hasn’t done before.

6. Georges Niang, Iowa State: You see how versatile Niang is as a scorer by the numbers, this is a quintessential Georges. Slip a high-ball screen (1) and receive a pass on the right wing, using a pump-fake (2), a nasty behind-the-back move (3) and another pump-fake (4) to get all the way to the block and score over a shot blocker that’s bigger and much more athletic:

Screengrabs via ESPN

Ok, Georges

A video posted by Rob Dauster (@robdauster) on

7. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: All that talk about Montrezl Harrell adding a three-point shot during the offseason appeared to be supported by the 6-foot-8 center hitting three threes in the season-opener against Minnesota. In the six games since, he’s 0-for-9 from beyond the arc.

8. Justin Anderson, Virginia: The most surprising development of the early part of this season has been the development of Anderson into a knockdown three-point shooter for the ‘Hoos. He’s 20-for-34, or 58.8 percent, through nine games, and in two road wins against VCU and Maryland last week, Anderson was 11-for-16 from the floor, 4-for-7 from three and averaged 18.5 points.

9. Angel Rodriguez, Miami: Rodriguez has come crashing down to earth after a scorching start to the season. In his last three games, he’s shooting 6-for-31 from the floor and 3-for-13 from three with nine turnovers and nine assists during that stretch. The Hurricanes did beat Illinois last Tuesday, but they lost to Green Bay at home by 13 in that game. Rodriguez finished 2-for-15 in the loss.

10. LaDontae Henton, Providence: In his last three games, Henton is 11-for-40 from the floor and 3-for-15 from three in a trio of losses for the Friars. One of those losses was at Kentucky, which is understandable. The second was at Boston College, which is not. The third was at home t0 in-state rival Brown. The fact that he’s still on this list should tell you just how good he was to start the season.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Craig Bradshaw (Belmont), Quinn Cook (Duke), Tyler Haws (BYU), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), D’angelo Russell (Ohio State), Wesley Saunders (Harvard), Robert Upshaw (Washington), Tyrone Wallace (Cal), Delon Wright (Utah), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Kaminsky, Okafor top list, Pangos climbing

Frank Kaminsky
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source: Getty Images
Kevin Pangos (Getty Images)

Every Tuesday, we will be providing you with a breakdown of the top ten candidates for National Player of the Year. You can read through the older posts here.

1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: On Wednesday night, Kaminsky and Okafor will square off as No. 4 Duke makes the trip up to Madison to take on the Badgers in what very well could be the best game of the entire regular season. There may not be an individual matchup all season long that is more tantalizing, either. Okafor commands as much attention as any low-post player that has come through the collegiate ranks in a long time, and while Kaminsky is just as big, he’s more of a face-up big man than he is a low-block work horse.

I shouldn’t have to explain this anymore than that. These are the two best big men in the country — and arguably the two best players. If you’re not watching, you’re a lost cause.

3. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: We may only be six games into the season, but that doesn’t mean that it is too early to talk about just how good Kevin Pangos has been this season. It’s off the charts. His offensive efficiency, according to Kenpom.com, is 166.0, a number that is unheard of. His effective field goal percentage is 75.7, which is extremely high for a guard, and he has an assist rate of 33.0 and a turnover rate of 8.7.

If those numbers don’t do it for you, how about this: He’s played 173 minutes this season, handing out 38 assists while turning the ball over just four times and missing, including free throws, just 17 shot attempts.

Perhaps what Pangos has done best this season is execute in the pick-and-roll. He and Kyle Wiltjer have become borderline-unstoppable on side pick-and-roll actions. Against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on Friday, he showed a nice rapport with both Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski, hitting them both multiple times with lobs over the defense as they rolled to the rim.

RELATED: As good as Pangos is, Gonzaga’s bigs remain key

Here is how Pangos’ numbers stack up to the rest of the guard on this list:

(PP(P+A) = points-per-possession plus points-per-assist; P’n’R PPP = PP(P+A) on pick-and-rolls)

Stats via KenPom.com and Synergy

4. Angel Rodriguez, Miami: Rodriguez still has the most impressive individual performance of the season, scoring 20 points and hitting five threes in the final 6:47 in a win at Florida. The Hurricanes are still undefeated on the year, and at this point they look like they will very much be in the mix for an NCAA tournament berth.

5. LaDontae Henton, Providence: Henton was 1-for-8 from the floor for three points in a 58-38 loss to No. 1 Kentucky. He won’t be the only star to get swallowed up by Big Blue this season. He’s averaging 24.3 points in the other six games Providence has played.

6. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: You can see Grant’s numbers above. He’s also averaging 18.7 points and 7.0 assists. He’ll climb this list if Notre Dame starts beating some teams worth noting.

7. Jonathan Holmes, Texas: His numbers aren’t other-worldly, but in three games against potential tournament teams, Holmes is averaging 17.7 points and 8.7 boards while shooting 8-for-15 from three. Oh, and he did this:

8. Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert is averaging 17.5 points, 6.2 boards and 4.7 assists while shooting 50.0 percent from three. We knew that he was going to have a big year, but what’s been impressive is that he appears ready to takeover the alpha-dog role on this team. He made a number of big, big shots during Michigan’s two games in the Legends Classic.

9. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: Harrell was unbelievable against Minnesota on the opening night. He’s been solid since then, but those performances have come in games against teams that the Cardinals have beaten by 61 points.

10. D’angelo Russell, Ohio State: We were hardly the only people to pick Russell as one of the freshmen expected to have a massive season, but I’m not sure that I could have predicted this: 18.0 points, 5.4 assists, 4.0 boards and 48.3 percent shooting from three to go along with the numbers you see listed above. Here’s the thing: most of his damage has been done against patsies; he was 2-for-5 with seven turnovers in the win over Marquette. The Buckeyes play Louisville Tuesday night. We’ll see how he does then.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Ron Baker (Wichita State), Quinn Cook (Duke), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Marcus Paige (North Carolina), Wesley Saunders (Harvard), Shannon Scott (Ohio State), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Player of the Year Power Rankings: A familiar face on top, but a few surprises behind him

Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo)
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Frank Kaminsky (AP Photo)

Every Tuesday, we will be providing you with a breakdown of the top ten candidates for National Player of the Year. You can read through the older posts here.

1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Frank the Tank has played like it early on this season, averaging 19.3 points, 10.3 boards, 2.8 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.3 steals while shooting 44.4 percent from three. All of those numbers are career-highs, and while much of it can be attributed to the fact that Wisconsin has yet to really play quality competition, the fact of the matter is that you can see the improvement in Kaminsky if you watch him play. Could he make this play last season?:

Ok, Frank

A video posted by Rob Dauster (@robdauster) on

2. LaDontae Henton, Providence: Buckets got buckets over the weekend, scoring 62 points as he led the Friars to a title in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. He went for a career-high 38 points in the title game against Notre Dame. I’m not sure how long Henton will remain at the top of this list, but through a week-and-a-half of the season, there haven’t been many players better than him.

3. Angel Rodriguez, Miami: Rodriguez scored 20 points in the final 6:47 — including making five threes — in a come-from-behind win at Florida. He also led the Hurricanes to a win in the Charleston Classic, but whatever. Do you realize how difficult this shot is?!?:

You think he’s happy to be home?

4. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: What’s made Okafor so good this season won’t show up in the box score. He’s averaging 15.8 points and 8.0 boards and is just 11-for-30 from the floor in his last two games. He’s not an elite shotblocker and he’s not an elite rebounder, either, but his presence in the post offensively opens up everything for Duke on the offensive end of the floor. I’ll dive into this more later in the year, but the easy way to explain it is that the myriad of talented guards and wings on the Blue Devils roster are going to get easy looks from three and opportunities to attack close-outs all season long as defenses worry about the behemoth on the block.

Jerian Grant, LaDontae Henton (AP Photo)

5. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: I know that Notre Dame lost to Providence on Sunday afternoon, but that was hardly Grant’s fault. In the last 12 minutes of that game, he was responsible for creating all 25 of Notre Dame’s points. He had 12 of his own while handing out four assists, three of which led to threes, as well as setting up Zach Auguste for the two free throws he hit. He’s averaging 18.4 points and 7.2 assists this season, but more importantly, Notre Dame has their closer back.

6. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: He’s slowed down since that monster opening night performance against Minnesota, but Louisville hasn’t played anyone since then. Does Harrell really need to be a factor when they’re winning games 87-26?

7. Georges Niang, Iowa State: Through three games, Niang is averaging 22.7 points, 8.7 boards and 3.7 assists. And he struggled in the 23-point win over Georgia State.

8. Norman Powell, UCLA: Powell spent his first three seasons at UCLA getting overshadowed by more talented teammates. That isn’t happening this season, as he’s averaging 21.3 points.

9. Jonathan Holmes, Texas: We’ve written quite a bit about Holmes over the last couple of days, from how he has used the ‘Chaminade Crew‘ to change the culture surrounding the Texas program and how important his size at the small forward spot is to Texas this season. He averaged 20.0 points and 9.0 boards in wins over Iowa and Cal.

10. Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert hasn’t shot the ball all that well yet this season, but he’s averaging 16.3 points, 7.0 boards and 5.0 assists for the Wolverines through four games. He’s been their best player.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Ron Baker (Wichita State), Quinn Cook (Duke), A.J. English (Iona), Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Stefan Nastic (Stanford), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Shannon Scott (Ohio State), Joseph Young (Oregon)