Oklahoma State and Texas are amongst the group of teams jockeying for position in the Big 12, and in the first half of their game Wednesday night in Austin senior forward Le’Bryan Nash threw down one of the best dunks of the season.
On the receiving end of a pass from Jeff Newberry on a 2-on-1, Nash jumped from the Big 12 logo and absolutely posterized Demarcus Holland. At least Holland made the effort to get back on defense, but he had no chance here. Below are two different angles of Nash’s impressive dunk.
Vine credit: pistolsguy
2014-2015 Season Preview: Stanley Johnson, Sam Dekker lead wing forward rankings
The wing position in college basketball this season will be fun to keep track of. It can be argued that from a depth standpoint this is the strongest position for incoming freshmen, with two players expected to be NBA Draft lottery selections in the near future and others expected to have a significant impact on their team’s fortunes. But there are also skilled veterans among the ranks, including one who reached the Final Four last season and another whose team fell one win short of that goal. What’s the common bond amongst many of these players? Versatility, which allows them to impact games in multiple facets.
Below are some of the best wings in college basketball this season, beginning with a gifted freshman from the Pac-12.
1. Stanley Johnson, Arizona: Johnson has the build of a pro and the skill set to match, as he’s capable of scoring at all three levels with great consistency. He’s no slouch on the defensive end either, which is key when fitting into what was one of the nation’s best defensive teams a season ago. In a season without a clear-cut choice for national Player of the Year, Arizona’s freshman wing could be right in the mix come March.
2. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin: Dekker went from reserve to starter in 2013-14 and his productivity was one reason for the Badgers’ trek to the Final Four. Dekker averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 47 percent from the field. If he can raise his three-point shooting back to freshman year levels (39.1%), and he looked better shooting the ball at the LeBron James Skills Academy in July, Dekker becomes an even tougher assignment for opposing teams.
3. Delon Wright, Utah: The late Bum Phillips’ words regarding Earl Campbell may apply to Wright when it comes to discussing the most versatile players in college basketball: “he may not be in a class by himself, but it don’t take long to call roll.” Wright (15.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.3 apg) was a pivotal figure for the Utes in 2013-14, leading the team in scoring and assists. It could be argued that Wright should be on the lead guards list given how often he’s allowed to initiate the offense for Larry Krystkowiak’s team, but he fits in at any of the three perimeter positions.
4. Kelly Oubre, Kansas: One of three freshmen to make the top ten in our list, Oubre has the skill set needed to be one of the most gifted scorers in the country immediately. The 6-foot-8 lefty has a slight build, but he can finish through contact and is a good perimeter shooter as well. Oubre also uses ball screens well, an attribute that was on display at the adidas Nations camp in August. Given the production Kansas lost on the wing in the form of Andrew Wiggins, Oubre will have plenty of chances to put points on the board.
5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: Hollis-Jefferson is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country, and he was very good around the basket as a freshman. The question for Hollis-Jefferson (9.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg in 2013-14) is a simple one: how much has he improved his perimeter shooting over the summer? Hollis-Jefferson showed progress in July at the Lebron camp, and a consistent perimeter shot would make him an even tougher player for opponents to defend.
6. Treveon Graham, VCU: The 6-foot-6 senior has been a consistently productive player for Shaka Smart throughout his career, averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season. Graham can certainly shoot the ball from the perimeter, but he’s good in the mid-range game and can put the ball on the deck as well. He’ll be one of the leaders for a team expected by many to win the Atlantic 10.
7. Justin Jackson, North Carolina: The third freshman in the top ten, the 6-foot-8 Jackson can score both inside and out for the Tar Heels in 2014-15. As a high school senior Jackson averaged 31.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, and his length makes him a nuisance on the defensive end of the floor.
8. Aaron White, Iowa: With Roy Devyn Marble having moved on, the 6-foot-8 White will be an even more important player for the Hawkeyes in 2014-15. As a junior White averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, shooting 58.6% from the field. The loss of Marble should open up more opportunities for White, especially when it comes to the mid-range game where he was so successful a season ago.
9. Branden Dawson, Michigan State: Dawson’s had to navigate injuries for most of his career in East Lansing, but there should be little doubt regarding his skill level. Last season Dawson averaged 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest, and given the amount of production the Spartans lost (Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne) the senior will need to be even more influential on the offensive end.
10. Wesley Saunders, Harvard: Saunders is one of the leaders for the Crimson, having averaged 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game as a junior. Saunders’ versatility is one of his greatest attributes, and he’s also done a good job of getting to the foul line in each of the last two seasons.
THE NEXT TEN
11. Anthony Brown, Stanford
12. Justise Winslow, Duke
13. Winston Shepard III, San Diego State
14. Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
15. Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State
16. Sam Thompson, Ohio State
17. Dustin Hogue, Iowa State
18. Theo Pinson, North Carolina
19. Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
20. Anthony Drmic, Boise State
ALSO CONSIDERED: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Patricio Garino (George Washington), Vince Hunter (UTEP), Nick King (Memphis), Justin Martin (SMU), Sheldon McClellan (Miami), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), Marcus Thornton (Georgia), Tyrone Wallace (California), Byron Wesley (Gonzaga).
When he was pulled over by OSU cops they realized that he had an outstanding warrant for … speeding. He was taken to city jail, where he posted bond.
Nash was also charged with driving without a license back in April of 2012.
The 6-foot-7 Nash will be returning to Oklahoma State for his senior season after having the best year of his career as a junior. He averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 boards, but, more importantly, he embraced the idea of becoming Oklahoma State’s go-to guy in the post. Despite playing with Markel Brown and Marcus Smart, Nash became the guy that Travis Ford gave the ball to in crucial moments late in the season. With Brown and Smart gone, he should have a huge senior campaign.
With Marcus Smart (NBA) and Markel Brown (graduation) not in the picture for Oklahoma State, the decision of forward Le’Bryan Nash was an important one for head coach Travis Ford. Should he return for his senior season, or forgo his final season of eligibility with the hopes of being selected in the 2014 NBA Draft?
One day before the NBA’s early entry deadline Nash made his decision, announcing via his Twitter account that he’ll return to Stillwater for his senior season.
Nash averaged 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2013-14, meaning that he’ll be the Cowboys’ leading returning scorer and second-leading rebounder (Kamari Murphy: 6.3 rpg). Nash is one of two double-digit scorers who will return to the program next season, with sharpshooting guard Phil Forte III (13.3 ppg) being the other.
The biggest question mark for Oklahoma State heading into the 2014-15 season is the point guard position, as they won’t have much experience at that spot. Jared Terrell has been released from his National Letter of Intent, and newcomers Jeff Newberry (JUCO) and Tyree Griffin (freshman) have yet to play a game in an Oklahoma State uniform.
But the good news is that Nash and Forte will be back, giving Ford two experienced options to run the offense through.
Kansas is the best team in the Big 12. They are far and away the favorite to win the conference at this point in the season, and it’s not really debatable as they are currently sitting two games in front of everyone else in the league.
What’s surprising about that statement is that Oklahoma State isn’t actually involved in that conversation. Heading into the season, the expectation was that this league would be decided by the Pokes and the Jayhawks, and that it may come down to that final battle between the two on March 1st.
As we round the corner of January and head into February, the No. 8 Cowboys in a tie with Kansas State for fourth in the league, a full three games behind the Jayhawks, after Monday night’s 88-76 loss to No. 23 Oklahoma, and it’s quickly becoming clear that Travis Ford’s team is just another team fighting for second place.
As a result, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the Cowboys lost their tenth straight Bedlam road game.
Because that’s just the way that it works in this league this year.
For all intents and purposes, the difference between the five teams currently sitting within a game of second place — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State — is negligible. The respective rankings my throw you for a loop, but you should more or less expect Oklahoma to hold serve on their home court against Oklahoma State at this point, the same way you should expect Kansas State to lose at Iowa State or Texas to get dropped in Stillwater.
And vice versa.
For Oklahoma State, things are going to remain that way unless a couple of things change. Ironically enough, the biggest issue for this team isn’t the loss of Michael Cobbins. It hurts their depth inside, but Oklahoma State’s rebounding numbers are actually slightly better in Big 12 play than they were in non-conference play with Cobbins healthy.
What’s hurting the Pokes more than anything is foul trouble. On Monday, Le’Bryan Nash fouled out and Marcus Smart had four fouls. On Saturday, Nash and Smart both fouled out in the win over West Virginia. Last Saturday, in the loss at Kansas, Markel Brown fouled out and Nash had four fouls.
The issue isn’t just the disqualifications. It’s the fact that, when they’re in foul trouble, they sit the bench, taking themselves and the team out of a rhythm and, quite often, digging early holes.
Foul trouble isn’t the be-all and end-all of their issues — Smart and Brown settle for too many jumpers, they don’t get Nash enough touches on the block, too often their offense devolves into isolations — but it sure would help to have
Le’Bryan Nash, No. 11 Oklahoma State overcome awful afternoon for Marcus Smart
If you’re wondering who it was wearing Marcus Smart’s No. 33 jersey in Gallagher-Iba Arena today, you probably aren’t alone.
Smart played about as poorly as I’ve ever seen him play. He finished with four points, four assists and three turnovers while shooting 1-for-7 from the floor and fouling out. That wasn’t even the worst of it, however. Smart repeatedly lost his cool, getting frustrated with calls that were going against him and the physical beating that he took on Saturday. In the first off, he took his frustrations out by kicking a chair on the bench. In the second half, after getting called for an offensive foul a possession before taking an elbow to the jaw, he walked off the court and could be seen on TV yelling in a back hallway.
Generally speaking, Smart is the guy that keeps his teammates from doing just that. He’s the level-headed presence on the floor that tries to prevent guys from jabbering with opponents or talking to the refs.
And despite the uncharacteristic performance, No. 11 Oklahoma State still managed to knock off West Virginia, 81-75.
The credit goes to Le’Bryan Nash, who finished with a career-high 29 points and nine boards, physically dominating the Mountaineers front line while doing the majority of his damage around the rim. He led five players in double-figures on this night, which is so important for the Pokes moving forward.
This was about as bad of a performance as you will ever seen from Smart at this level. He wasn’t alone, either, as Phil Forte managed to shoot 1-for-9 from three. I know it was at home and I know it was against West Virginia, but Oklahoma State still was able to get the win in this game.
For a team that is already missing their starting center to prove that they can win games when their all-american is struggling is huge.