Acie Law, 6-3, Senior, Point Guard, Texas A&M
2 Games Combined: 44 points, 22 assists, 3 turnovers, 6 rebounds, 16-29 FG, 4-8 3P, 8-10 FT
Coming off probably the most impressive week weve seen from any player in college basketball since the in-conference season kicked off, it would be impossible not to start off this edition of the NCAA performers without a detailed account of Acie Laws play.
Law went into one of the toughest arenas in college basketball in Phog Allen Fieldhouse and took down an incredibly talented Kansas team with an impressive 23 point, 7 assist performance, only to outdo himself less than 48 hours later with a 21 point, 15 assist outing in a home win over Texas, playing on one leg for much of the 2nd half after rolling an ankle.
Law has always been known as a combo guard, but hes done a terrific job this year shedding that label and developing into a true lead guard. Hes got a great supporting cast around him and is not afraid to use it, passing up good shots regularly for the benefit of finding a better one, something that was unheard of for him in the past. Hes making crisp, confident, creative passes swinging the ball around the perimeter in Billy Gillespies patient half-court offense, taking care of the ball wonderfully (2.12/1 assist to turnover ratio) despite the fact that hes really forced to dominate it on a team that severely lacks other ball-handling options. Hes able to do that precisely because he is such an excellent ball-handler, being capable of breaking down defenses with his mind rather than with sheer explosiveness, and being equally skilled with either hand. He has a counter to every counter with his diverse triple-threat game, and therefore is rarely flustered even by the sight of an oncoming double-team that he enjoys splitting apart with the greatest of ease.
Law has wonderful body control and the ability to shift gears and change directions almost instantaneously reacting to what defenses throw at him, not being afraid to thread the needle with a lightning quick bounce pass on the drive and dish or take matters into his own hands when the situation calls for it. His offensive game inside the arc is amazingly complete, starting with his excellent mid-range game pulling up on a dime off the dribble with a nifty fadeaway using the glass and continuing with his patented floater that he sinks smoothly with either his left or right hand. His 3-point shot has improved by leaps and bounds this season despite his awkward shooting mechanicsgetting virtually no lift on his jumper (a far cry from his mid-range shot), shooting the ball flat with an odd sidespin and his left elbow flailing out and sporting a fairly slow release as well. It goes in for him regardless at a great clip, 45% on the season-- which is all that matters--and much higher than that in the clutch. The problem is that we dont have a huge sample size to work off of, only 2.5 attempts per game, which likely means this is something NBA personnel will be studying closely when they bring him in for private workouts.
As a slasher, Law is not going to blow anyone away with his amazing first step or ability to rise up off the floor, but his newly added strength and always-super-high basketball IQ help him create contact and get to the free throw line at a nice clip. Law is shooting a terrific 51.5% from the field, up from 38.7% as a freshman, which should tell you a little bit about the quality of shots hes taking, as well as his much improved all-around skill level. In the clutch is where hes really made a name for himself, though, outscoring opponents 7.3 to 7.1 in the last five minutes of games according to a stat mentioned by ESPN. He clearly takes his game to a completely different level in tight game situations when the pressure is on, which tells you plenty about the player he is.
In terms of his pro prospects, these past two games made plenty of previously indifferent scouts begin to jump on his bandwagon, at least from what we can tell. The NBA likes players who are winners, and thats exactly what he is. Weve always been extremely high on him as you may have read in the preseason , and the rest of the country is finally finding out why. In such a weak point guard class, theres no telling how high Law could be drafted if a team is desperately looking for a playmaker. He has a chance to give his stock a tremendous boost if he can take his team to the Final Four-- and considering the way the Aggies are playing, it probably wouldnt shock anyone if they did.
Sherron Collins, 5-11, Freshman, Point Guard, Kansas
18 points, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 6-9 FG, 3-4 3P, 3-4 FT
Bill Self may have more talent at his disposal than any other head coach in America, but thus far his young Jayhawk squad has struggled to consistently play up to its potential. There is plenty of excess athleticism, size and depth at every position, but one thing this team is clearly lacking is a leader. Kansas has looked shaky in crunch time situations all season, as none of the upperclassmen are comfortable stepping up and taking shots when the team absolutely needs a basket.
Enter freshman point guard Sherron Collins, who has slowly worked his way into Self's rotation throughout the course of the season. Collins showed up in Lawrence significantly overweight and wasn't a major factor in Kansas' most important non-conference games. But the Chicago native clearly worked hard to get into shape, and has found himself on the floor more and more as the Big XII season has advanced. His electrifying quickness has returned as the weight has come off, and his take-charge mindset suddenly leaves Collins as one of Bill Self's most trusted contributors headed into the latter half of conference play.
Obviously Collins is benefiting from having the chance to play with two more experienced ball-handlers. He gets to focus on the things that he is good at, and doesn't have the constant pressure of being responsible for running the team. But at the same time, Collins has done a great job of playing under control since Big XII play started and shows a level of point guard poise that his teammates Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson simply don't have. He is the perfect complement to Self's stable of athletes, blessed with phenomenal open court speed and court vision, blow-by quickness in the halfcourt, and the ability to finish around the rim. With players like Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, and Darrell Arthur to pass the ball to, expect Collins' role and production to continue growing into March.
As far as Collins' NBA future, the weight he added over the summer is fairly disturbing. His listed height of 5'11 is quite generous, so he'll need every bit of quickness he's got to succeed at the next level. At the same time, point guards who can distribute the ball so well while playing at such high speeds are rare indeed, and few in recent memory shoot the ball as well Collins does. It probably takes a couple of years before we get a full idea of the type of NBA player Sherron Collins can become, but if he keeps his weight under control from here on out, it is fairly clear that he has a spectacular future ahead of him at the college level.
Jared Dudley, 6-7, Senior, SF/PF, Boston College
30 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 11-15 FG, 4-5 3P, 4-5 FT
Left for dead by most pundits after the sudden dismissal of the nations leading shot-blocker Sean Williams, Boston College has shown that they are every bit as good of a team playing without him. The Eagles went into the house of #18 ranked Virginia Tech and absolutely dismantled any notion that they arent an NCAA tournament caliber team, coming away with a 21 point road victory behind a career game by their star Jared Dudley.
In the half-court offense, Dudley is never going to wow you, but he just makes plays and always sets the tempo for his team. He likes to set up with his back to the basket and use his excellent footwork to create contact and spin off his man towards the hoop, showing great touch and awareness to convert smoothly off the glass, and drawing plenty of fouls in the process. Facing the basket, hes terrific at using pump-fakes to get his man in the air and then take the ball to the cup, usually to pull up off the dribble for a nice looking mid-range jumper. He is severely lacking in the first step department and really does not like to put the ball on the floor that often, but is actually a pretty good ball-handler when he has some space to maneuver around defenses. His lack of athleticism is obviously a hindrance here, though.
Coming off screens, Dudley has become very good at knocking down shots with his feet set, showing excellent shooting mechanics even if his release isnt super quick. If the perimeter is too crowded, he wont stop moving off the ball and will look for a seam in the defense to cut backdoor instead. Hes a patient guy who doesnt force a thing and gets every point of production well within the flow of the offense. His best attribute as a player might actually be his passing, coming up at right around 3.3 assists for the third season in a row, which tells you a little bit about just how smart he is.
Generally speaking, Dudley is not exactly the prototype NBA scouts look for in a small forward. Hes pretty slow and there are major question marks about his ability to create offense for himself off the dribble or defend his position. With that said, there is certainly a place for someone who understands his role and is capable of being a skilled role player in a structured system. His intangibles are off the charts both in the way he carries himself on the court and especially his work ethic and attitude off it, always being described as an absolute basketball junkie and an outstanding teammate. Theres also something to be said for a guy who has put up huge numbers in arguably the best conference in America over the course of four years, and has won plenty of games in the process. If he lands in the right situation, dont be surprised if he ends up having a Ryan Gomes-type impact in the pros. His weaknesses are pretty obvious on first glance and he wont blow anyone away with his upside, but hes the type of player playoff teams need to help win games, and is ready to step in and produce from day one.
Cartier Martin, 6-8, Forward, Senior, Kansas State
27 points, 3 rebounds, 9/17 FG, 7/11 3PFG
Martin had one of the biggest performances of the week in a Big 12 win over Texas on the road. Throughout the game he displayed his ability to shoot the 3-pointer, and made 7 of his 11 attempts on the day. Once the Texas defense started respecting his three point ability, Martin was able to use pump fakes to start going towards the basket a little more. Late in the game he was huge for Kansas State, and made the go-ahead shot to give Kansas State the 73-72 victory over Texas. Martin hit the shot on a contested spot up from about 24 feet out.
When it comes to the NBA, Martin has one skill that scouts really covet- his ability to shoot the set three pointer with good accuracy. He has done this in the past at a high percentage, and rarely are any of his shots forced. He also has good size for a small forward in the NBA, and his frame is good as well. Martin has displayed the ability to slash a little previously in his career as well.
To prove that he is an NBA player, Martin will have to show that he is more than just a one dimensional shooter. He has played power forward throughout his college career, and that shows in his ball handling ability. When it comes to athleticism and quickness, he also appears to be lacking the ideal amount to play in the NBA. Though Martins shot is deadly at the college level, his release may be a little slow for the NBA, and it sometimes takes him a while to set himself. Most of the shots he takes are set 3-pointers, so its hard to tell if he has the ability to shoot off a couple dribbles, or on the move off of screens. Despite the fact that his three point shooting percentage is over 36% on the season, he started out the year very slow and has only started to really heat up lately.
Martin has done a good job stepping up his game recently. To help him get drafted, he will need to go into Portsmouth and prove that he can get his shot off quickly enough for the NBA. If he can do this and prove that his lack of athleticism will not be too much of a hindrance, he is the type of player who could have a career as a shooting specialist in the NBA.