1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: How many big men in the world — not just in college — can make a move like this?:
Okafor helped Duke bounce-back from a rough two-game stretch with 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting against Montrezl Harrell as the Blue Devils blew out Louisville on the road. He also added a solid 14 point performance in a win over Pitt.
2. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Kaminsky bounced back from the concussion that sidelined him during Wisconsin’s loss at Rutgers by scoring 22 points as the Badgers beat Nebraska last Thursday. He’ll get a test tonight against Iowa at home. Neither he nor Okafor has fallen out of the top two on these rankings since the beginning of the season.
3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Grant played one of his best games of the season on Saturday, taking over down the stretch as Notre Dame overcame a 12 point second half deficit to beat Miami at home. He’s still struggling a bit with his jumper — he had missed 10 straight threes entering the game — but this performance was about as good as Grant has looked against elite competition this season. Here’s a break down of how Grant has performed against when compared to the other four lead guards on this list:
4. Delon Wright, Utah: Wright started out great in Utah’s showdown with Arizona on Saturday, scoring seven of their first ten points and assists on a three, but he finished the evening with just 10 points and four turnovers, getting to the line just twice. The Utes cannot afford to have him struggle like that if they are going to be elite.
5. Justin Anderson, Virginia: Anderson had his first off-night of the season, as he went 0-for-8 from the floor in Virginia’s closer-than-the-score win at Boston College. It’s not really a secret that Anderson’s shooting was the biggest concern for him throughout his career prior to this season, which is why it was so surprising to see him hitting 52.7 percent of his threes even after that off-night. As ACC defenses start to key in on slowing him down, it is going to be interesting to see how Anderson reacts. Will he start forcing shots, or will he continue to do what he’s done best this year: Get everything within the flow of the offense.
6. Georges Niang, Iowa State: Niang has had a bit of an up-and-down year, looking terrific for stretches but also putting together too many off-nights. He remains on this list because of the threat that he brings the Cyclones on the offensive end.
7. Melo Trimble, Maryland: Trimble put together a statement performance in the first half of a win over Michigan State on Saturday by scoring 21 of his 24 points, capping it off with this:
Trimble has been a little shaky with his ball-handling, decision-making and shot selection early on this season, but he’s also just a freshman. He’s only going to get better as the season progresses.
8. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein has had a couple of less-than-stellar performances in a row, and while his ability on the defensive end is unquestioned, I’m starting to wonder if he’s even the most valuable Wildcat on this team.
9. D’angelo Russell, Ohio State: As the chart above clearly shows you, Russell has had the biggest drop-off of any guard on this list when it comes to playing against the best teams in the country. That said, much of that is a result of four awful games against good teams to kick off his season. In his last five games, all in Big Ten play, Russell is averaging 22.0 points, 6.2 boards and 3.8 assists while shooting 47.1 percent from three.
Oh, and check out this pass:
10. Bobby Portis (Arkansas): Arkansas did not have a good week, losing to both Tennessee and Ole Miss, but it’s hard to blame Portis for those struggles. He averaged 20.0 points, 10.5 boards and 2.0 blocks in the two games.
OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Ryan Boatright (UConn), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), Tyler Haws (BYU), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), D’angelo Harrison (St. John’s), LaDontae Henton (Providence), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Jonathan Holmes (Texas), Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Jarell Martin (LSU), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s), Ty Wallace (Cal), Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Joseph Young (Oregon)