Adam Morrison makes his seemingly weekly appearance on this site with another incredible 43 point performance, while players like Randy Foye, Marco Killingsworth, Corey Brewer, Shawne Williams, Cartier Martin, Reyshawn Terry make their debuts on this column.
Adam Morrison, 6-8, small forward, junior, Gonzaga
43 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 1 block, 39 minutes, 18-29 FG, 1-8 3P, 6-9 FT
After writing an in-depth article about him just last week we were initially planning on giving someone else the spotlight for once, but Morrison left us absolutely no choice with the way he played Sunday night on national television against the Washington Huskies.
Its hard to say much more about Morrisons offensive beyond whats already been said here and in other places. He simply has an unbelievable knack for putting the ball in the basket at any given moment from anywhere on the court, in the toughest situations imaginable. With Gonzagas starting PG Derek Raivio out of the lineup for most of the game with an injury, Morrison was forced to handle the ball and create more offense for himself than even he is usually expected to. That didnt seem to bother him even one bit, as Morrison gladly took over his teams offense almost single-handedly and once again came up with one of the most impressive offensive displays weve ever seen at the college level, tying his career high of 43 points set just 10 days ago in Maui. This time he did it without three overtimes, though, and started off the game without any points in the first five minutes.
In terms of his NBA potential, there were quite a few notable things to take away from this game. One is the fact that he looked very comfortable creating his own shot against two of the top perimeter defenders in the country in Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones, almost strictly off the dribble and usually without the help of a screen. Jones in particular did a terrific job denying him space and forcing him into some incredibly tough shots, but Morrison continued to convert time after time as if he was by himself at the gym. His off the ball movement was as usual absolutely superb, and he took advantage of the fact that he was often being overplayed to make sharp cuts to the basket and get himself 9 shots right at the basket, all of which he converted. The second notable thing about Morrisons performance is the surprising athleticism he displayed around the basket. Morrison gets up quickly around the hoop and has a lot more bounce to his step than you would initially expect. Shaking a tall, long, strong and pesky defender like Bobby Jones is not an easy task, and Morrison did a fine job of doing so all night. The third is the fact that he is able to score even when his three point shot is not falling, something that we knew already considering his fairly poor percentages last year from behind the arc, but still impressive nevertheless considering that this is a part of his game that is only going to get better and better with the years considering his work ethic. Take away his 8 attempts from behind the arc, of which he only converted one, and Morrison was an incredible 17-21 on the night. Fourth would be his savvy. Much like players he resembles at times in Reggie Miller and Rip Hamilton, Morrison knows how to toe the line just enough to gain the advantage he needs on either end of the floor without picking up a foul. A little nudge on Bobby Jones to get him off-balance and force a turnover instead of an easy basket in transition, a little hug on Ryan Appleby to create confusion and come away with a steal and an easy layup after a made basket on the in-bounds play, or a slight tug on the jersey of his defender to give himself that extra second he needs coming off a curl to get his shot off; all were suddle but important plays that make Morrison the player he is.
Well try not to write about Morrison for the next week or so, but with the way hes playing lately, we cant promise anything.
Randy Foye, 6-4, shooting guard, senior, Villanova
32 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnovers, 2 steals, 14-21 FG, 3-8 3P
The best thing about star players is that they come up huge on the biggest stage. Few hoopsters this season have done this as well as Villanova senior guard Randy Foye did on Saturday, when he scored a career-high 32 points in a win over fellow top-5 team Oklahoma. That the Sooners pride themselves on being a defensively sound, tough team speaks volumes for the impact Foye had on both his teammates and his potential NBA stock.
Whether it was pull-up jumpers or finishing on the break, Foye was everywhere. His energy on the court was infectious, and his shooting from deep, was timely enough to keep the Wildcats in the lead for most of the second half. With the absence of Curtis Sumpter, Villanova needs Foye as a leader as much as anything, and he has delivered so far. Despite an off game (9 pts) in a midweek laugher over Rider, Foye made up for it with his shooting on Saturday. While Foye had a big shooting day, the rest of his game was a bit flat. He grabbed just 3 rebounds and had a season-low 2 assists, although thats actually been the biggest surprise of the season so far as he had dished out 5 assists or more in every game leading up to this one. Even better has been his low number of turnovers, just 1.5 per game.
The fact that he does it while essentially playing the power forward position in Villanovas four guard offense is all the most impressive. He might be a bit undersized as a 6-3 or 6-4 combo guard, but that didnt stop NBA teams from drafting players like Ben Gordon or Rashad McCants in the lottery over the past two years. The fact that hes never really had a legit chance to show his point guard skills playing next to Mike Nardi, Kyle Lowry and Allan Ray makes him all the more intriguing.
Corey Brewer, 6-8, small forward, sophomore, Florida
25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals, 23 minutes, 10-14 FG, 2-3 3P, 3-3 FT
The sparkplug of possibly the most surprising team in the early going of this NCAA season so far-- the Florida Gators, Brewer had what appeared the best performance of his young college career on Saturday against in-state rivals Central Florida from Conference USA. Brewer ignited his team and the crowd to a dominant 10 minute run early in the 2nd half that put the Gators up by over 30 points and added a couple of incredibly athletic plays to both Sportscenters and his own personal highlight reel.
Brewer used his incredible wingspan to get in the passing lanes time after time and his team on a couple of magnificent fast breaks that showcased the unselfishness and awesome athletic ability of his team. Brewer refused to settle for long range shots and instead attacked the basket tenaciously all game long, more often than not finishing spectacularly in difficult situations. When his opponents decided to overplay him he showed no problem either pulling up off the dribble from mid-range or finding the open man, as he is indeed averaging almost 50% more assists per game (3.4) at the small forward position than former Florida Gators point guard Anthony Roberson did last year. He attacked the glass relentlessly as he has all season long and also knocked down two of his three attempts from behind the arc. And he did it all in only 23 minutes of action. Brewer still has a long ways to go to become a complete basketball player, especially in terms of his ball-handling skills, but he is improving every single game and from the way he handles himself on the floor you can tell that he is loving it.
Shawne Williams, 6-9, small forward, freshman; Memphis
19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 4 fouls, 19 minutes, 7/13 FG, 3/4 3 PT, 2/2 FT
The top freshman in the NCAA thus far continued his dominant play this past weekend in an impressive win against Cincinnati. Williams yet again showed why he is a very special talent, as he was virtually unstoppable both inside and out against the Bearcats. Foul trouble limited the Laurinburg Prep products minutes, but he definitely made the most of the time that he did have on the hardwood with his automatic jumpshot and quick drives to the basket. While Shawne doesnt have the worlds best lateral quickness, he uses his great wingspan (73) and size to make up for his lack of footspeed, which enables him to get an above average number of steals and blocked shots for a perimeter oriented forward.
It was absolutely clear to anyone who has been around Williams that his ultimate priority is the NBA, and getting there as fast as possible. After two very solid, but unspectacular showings in both the Jordan Classic and EA Sports Roundball Classic, Shawne basically had no choice but to attend Memphis in order to boost his stock, which he has mightily. If he is able to keep this up for the rest of the year, there is no reason in my mind why he would not be able to contend for a late lottery spot in the 2006 Draft.
Marco Killingsworth, 6-8, power forward, senior, Indiana
34 points, 10 rebounds, 7 turnovers, 2 blocks, 34 minutes, 15-20 FG, 1-1 3P, 3-9 FT
Single-handedly holding down the fort for the Hoosiers in the post until super-sophomore DJ White returns from an injury, Killingsworth made a huge statement to the entire country on national television in the showcase game of the ACC-Big 10 showdown last Wednesday. It couldnt have been again a more impressive opponent either, as #1 ranked Duke was in town featuring the player who is widely considered the best interior defender in the nation in Shelden Williams.
Killingsworths performance was nothing short of dominant. He showed incredible footwork and touch around the basket, finishing softly time with his left hand in difficult situations with a player or two riding his back, running the floor and dunking the ball emphatically in transition, or even pulling up for a smooth looking three pointer. To say that Killingsworth got the best of Shelden Williams would be an understatement. He outscored him by 21 points, outrebounded him and fouled him out. Still, Duke came out on top, behind an almost equally impressive performance from J.J. Redick.
In terms of Killingsworths NBA potential, things get a little murky. Just from looking at him its not entirely clear that hes a legit 6-8. With how wide his body is, though, its hard to imagine him being anything else but a power forward in the NBA. That is unless he significantly slims down, a la Justin Reed (Boston Celtics), who he even resembles at times with the way he played in college. The fact that hell be 24 in two and a half months and isnt the most explosive athlete in the world doesnt help him too much either, but its possible for him to improve that as well once he takes off all that unnecessary bulk. His perimeter game is something well have to see more of as the season moves on, as almost all of his 34 points came inside the paint except for one 12 foot jumper and the three pointer mentioned above.
Killingsworth looks to have made a terrific move transferring to Indiana and sitting out a year after declaring for the NBA draft as a junior a year and a half ago, and at the very least will get an invite to Portsmouth and NBA workouts to show teams exactly what he is worth.
Reyshawn Terry, 6-8, junior, small forward, North Carolina
25 points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 7-15 FG, 2-6 3P, 9-10 FT
Emerging from the shadows of his departed Tarheels teammates, UNC junior Reyshawn Terry had a breakout performance against a top-10 Kentucky team on the road at Rupp Arena. Terry tallied a career-high 25 points and added 7 rebounds to pace the young Heels in a huge win. But it was how he did it all that was most impressive. Bouncing back from a quiet outing in a home loss to Illinois in which the experienced Illini bigs gave him some trouble (11 points, 3-for-11 FG), Terry showcased his inside-outside game against the Wildcats, hitting his first two three-pointers of the season and shooting an impressive 9-of-15 for the game.
Lost amidst the early season talk of how much the national champions were losing was the fact that several returnees, like Terry, were highly sought after coming out of high school and hadn't produced mostly due to opportunity, not ability. That aside, Terry picked a great game to show up. In front of a national television audience, he scored in a variety of ways and from several different angles, off the glass and via the midrange jumper. At 6'8", 230 pounds, Terry has enviable NBA size and quickness. His jumper is fluid, if unpredictable. While the season is still young, the emerging Terry has scored in double figures in four of North Carolina's five games, the exception being the loss to Illinois. Terry opened a few eyes on Saturday, and given the youth of he and his mates, he'll get plenty of opportunities to follow up this performance with some consistency. Hell need to show the ability to play smart on both ends of the floor and the ability to knock down his perimeter shots consistently to establish himself as a legit NBA prospect, but there is very little doubt that he is at the right place to do it playing right in the heart of college basketball.
Cartier Martin, 6-8, small forward, junior, Kansas State
Season Averages: 21.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 56% FG, 78%, 54% 3P
Weve yet to get a look at Martin this year so far, but his numbers have been excellent in the early going. Martin caught our eye and was well on his way to a breakout season last year, but nagging injuries significantly slowed him down over the course of the Big Twelve slate. It has been tough to get a good read on Martin thus far in his career because of the lack of exposure he gets playing at Kansas State, but he does have some intriguing attributes. At 68, Martin is a legit scorer on the wing. He has a nice jumper, and the athleticism to play out on the perimeter. Kansas State lost a lot in the offseason, so expect Martin to continue to put up numbers and draw in the scouts. Well be watching closely of course.