In Case You Missed It...the Top Weekly Performers, 12/26-1/03

In Case You Missed It...the Top Weekly Performers, 12/26-1/03
Jan 03, 2006, 04:41 am
Another week and another fresh batch of 7 of the NCAA’s top weekly performers.

Brandon Roy showed his three-point shooting ability on his way to 70 points in three days; Tyrus Thomas told the nation that he will fly under the radar no longer against Ohio State; Patrick O'Bryant is a 7-foot mid-major prospect with 1st round caliber skills and production; J.P. Batista continues to do the dirty work for the Zags; James White says he is more than just a big bundle of upside; Hassan Adams recovers from a slow early-season start and Kevin Pittsnogle shows that terrific shooters come in all shapes and sizes.

Brandon Roy, 6-6, shooting guard, senior, Washington

2 games: 70 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 turnover, 3 blocks, 2 steals, 26-51 FG, 9-11 3P, 9-14 FT


Jonathan Watters

Brandon Roy's NBA saga began 3 1/2 years ago, when he declared for the draft as an unprepared high school senior. Somewhere along the way Roy got some good advice, and wisely pulled his name out of the draft. His career at Washington has featured plenty of spectacular flashes, but Roy's ascent to stardom had been held in check by injuries and the emergence of several teammates. Roy has always displayed an intriguing all-around game, but had nearly always done his job in the shadows, never putting up the type of numbers that attract attention from the professional ranks.

Fast forward 4 seasons to Saturday's game against Arizona, when the kid that thought he was good enough to play in the NBA as a teenager finally proved to the world that he was league-ready. On his way to his second 35 point performance of the week, Roy showed off improved range on his jumper, and a devastating ability to both score and find his teammates off the dribble. Roy hit a contested 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, and then bested himself with a step-through, body-contorted miracle to extend the game yet again. It wasn't until he fouled out in the 2nd overtime period that Arizona was able to pull out a victory.

DraftExpress has been waiting for Brandon Roy to assert himself as a star for years, and that finally took place this past week. Roy is more than just a scorer, as he creates well for himself in the midrange, but also finds his teammates at the rim for easy looks. In the Arizona classic, Roy also finished with 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Much like Adams, the knock on Roy has always been his jumper. To be honest, he lost his touch in this one midway through the second half. By the time he regained it, he was having to fire off desperation 3-pointers to extend a game that Washington had once led by double digits. Nonetheless, it does appear that Brandon Roy's outside shot has improved.

If Roy is able to continue hitting at a consistent clip from the outside, there is very little to dislike about his game. He isn't a freak athlete, but his advanced scoring game and ability to create should make him a prized commodity this June.

Tyrus Thomas, 6-9, freshman, power forward, LSU

14 pts, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 steals, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 5-14 FG, 4-6 FT


Rodger Bohn

Coming out of high school as a borderline top 100 prospect, and being recruited by the likes of Tulane, North Texas, and Western Kentucky, it was a no-brainer for the Baton Rouge native to stay at home and play for the Tigers. At only 6’7 and 175 lbs, Tyrus was too small to play power forward and not skilled enough to play small forward. Fast forward one year and you have a player who has grown two inches and gained 40 lbs. (currently 6’9 and 215 lbs.) and you have the Tyrus Thomas that I saw in person Saturday at Ohio State.

The Tyrus Thomas I saw was a jaw dropping athletic specimen who completely changed the game in Columbus, Ohio. He blocked at least 7 or 8 shots (but was only credited with 5 for some reason) and was an absolute force on the boards. He showed amazing quickness and great elevation on his jumpshot. Thomas is arguably the top athlete in college basketball with a great body and arms that seemingly never end, not the undersized power forward that he was regarded as in high school.

To make a long story short, Thomas has catapulted himself from a player who was red shirted last year to a legitimate NBA lottery prospect in one year. His athleticism is virtually unparalleled on the collegiate level, reminiscent of Stromile Swift and he is just beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can become. While Tyrus has the size, face-up game and athleticism to play power forward, he has the quickness to play small forward if he chooses to. He is clearly more comfortable facing the basket, as he played point guard all the way up until his junior year of high school supposedly. It will be interesting to see what route he chooses to take over the next few months and next season, but draft fans definitely need to remember the name of Tyrus Thomas.

Patrick O'Bryant, 7-0, center, sophomore, Bradley

First three NCAA games: 50 points, 39 rebounds, 10 blocks, 24-43 FG, 2-7 FT, 11 fouls, 96 minutes

Jonathan Watters

Patrick O'Bryant entered his freshman season as a complete unknown, but made an immediate impact for the Braves. A 7-foot, 260 pound freshman scoring in double digits usually attracts professional attention, and that has certainly been the case for O'Bryant. O'Bryant has been discussed and ranked on our mock drafts for over a year now and was recently featured as one of the top mid-season additions in the nation, after he missed the first eight games of the season due to an issue with the NCAA.

Where other players on that list have taken time to work their way back into the lineup, O'Bryant has made an immediate impact. In his first game back manning the middle, his 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks led Bradley to an overtime upset win against conference favorite Northern Iowa. While the Braves fell later in the week to a solid Wichita State team, O'Bryant once again contributed with 14 points, 19 rebounds, and 3 blocks. A bulky 7-footer putting up these numbers as a sophomore? You better believe the scouts are watching!

O'Bryant has been blessed with your prototype NBA Center body. He is legitimately 7 feet tall, and he carries his 260 pound frame well. O'Bryant isn't the most agile of big men, but certainly doesn't have trouble getting up and down the court. Wichita State defended O'Bryant well, denying him the ball and swarming him when he did get a touch, yet the big man still managed to make a major impact on this game. His dominance on the glass was obvious in the second half, and he altered plenty of Wichita State shots around the basket. O'Bryant's offensive skills are a work in progress, but he was able to successfully execute several post moves against 6'10 Shocker big man Paul Miller.

Don't be surprised to see Patrick O'Bryant's name featured more and more often in the national media and in draft circles. The MVC doesn't have a lot of big men to put up a fight against a player his size, but remains a brutally competitive conference. It is rare to find a legitimately skilled 7-footer at any level of D1 hoops these days. If the Braves could make a run at the top of the conference, O'Bryant's stock could really shoot off.

Kevin Pittsnogle, 6-11, center, senior, West Virginia

34 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block, 12-20 FG, 4-5 3P, 6-6 FT


Jonathan Givony

After a somewhat weak start to his senior season (9 points against Texas, 8 points against LSU, both losses), Kevin Pittsnogle and the West Virginia Mountaineers appear to be back on track and ready to capitalize on much of the preseason hype that followed him and his team into the season.

Averaging over 20 points a game on a scorching 47% from behind the arc on the season, Pittsnogle is continuing to make it well known to all the type of role he projects to play in the NBA. His ability to pull big men away from the basket and create space for his teammates with his phenomenal outside stroke puts him in a rare class of players in this draft. He was ice cold throughout much of the Chicago pre-draft camp after being unconscious in the NCAA tournament last March, but has regained his stroke and then some hitting 2 and a half shots a game from behind the arc this year. He has done a slightly better job this year at scoring from inside the arc as well, mainly with a nice jump-hook or the mid-range jumper, but considering his limited physical attributes it’s his 3-point shot that will almost certainly be his calling card as a pro.

Despite being listed at 6-11 by West Virginia, Pittsnogle measured in an inch shorter at the pre-draft camp in Chicago at 6-10 in shoes with a very pedestrian 6-10 ½ wingspan. To compound that, he is a below average athlete with very poor foot-speed and almost no leaping ability whatsoever to speak of. The name Matt Bonner (Toronto Raptors) is often floated around in discussions around him as the “Red Rocket” possesses similar size, length, shooting ability and skin color, but we must remember that Bonner is a superior rebounder who is known as a coaches favorite as he possesses the type of intangibles that Pittsnogle sorely lacks in hustle, work ethic, conditioning and toughness. West Virginia is one of the worst rebounding teams in all of college basketball, and their center is often a big part of that.

Another trip to the pre-draft camp is likely in the cards for Pittsnogle. This time around he will have to at least get a passing grade in terms of taking care of the glass and his defensive matchups at the power forward position, while also knocking down his outside shot. Coming in in better shape and with more fire and intensity should help him out a great deal.

James White, 6-6 senior, SG/SF, Cincinnati

23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 4 steals, 1 block, 8-13 FG, 4-5 3PT, 3-4 FT

Rodger Bohn

The question marks that have surrounded James White have never had anything to do with his talent, but everything to do with his consistency. So far this year, White might be playing the most consistent basketball of any player in the entire NCAA, as he has scored 15 or more points in every single game this season except one. To go even further, the Cincinnati high flyer has grabbed at least 5 rebounds in every game thus far except three. This week’s game against North Carolina A&T was just another example of how far his game has came along since we saw him as a lost freshman at Florida, as he played a near perfect game in his 30 minutes of action. James handled the ball well, found the open man, and routinely drained three pointer after three pointer on the offensive end of things. Defensively, “Flight” played his typical lock down defense, and did a great job getting in the passing lanes.

White has definitely been one of the bigger surprises this year in that he has finally been able to put all of his immense talents together at the same time. The time that he got last year at point guard has proved to be very beneficial for him, as he is a much better ball handler and now a very sound decision maker. With James’ ability to utilize his freakish athleticism (you can pencil him already for the 2007 NBA Slam Dunk contest) and nice size for a wing, he is able to disrupt virtually every player he has the duty of defending. If he is able to keep up his consistency (currently averaging better then 18 points and 5 rebounds per game), there is no reason why White couldn’t solidify himself as a first round pick by season’s end.

Hassan Adams, 6-4, small forward, senior, Arizona

2 games: 57 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 turnover, 7 steals, 24-46 FG, 5-7 3P, 4-8 FT


Jonathan Watters

It has been an up and down career for Hassan Adams at Arizona so far. The ultra-athletic wing broke out as a sophomore, only to see his numbers and effectiveness fall off significantly as a junior. Not surprisingly, Adams' draft stock has fluctuated accordingly. He has experienced ups and downs already in this season, after an ugly Maui performance in which he was heavily criticized for relying too heavily on his jumper and not moving the ball.

However, Adams has returned to his attack the basket, above the rim strengths in recent weeks. Adams' resurgence was capped off this past weekend with a dominant 32 point performance in Arizona's win at Pac-10 rival Washington. Just a month removed from being scoffed at by pundits around the nation, Adams is now one of the country's most productive players, with averages of nearly 21 ppg, 7 rpg, and 3 spg.

So where does all of this leave Adams' draft stock? That is in the hands of the GM's making the decisions. It is hard to argue against the idea that a player with Adams' immense athletic gifts will thrive in the more wide open NBA. However, questions of height and outside shooting ability will continue to dog Adams until he grows or starts hitting jumpers. He was 5-7 from beyond the arc against the Huskies, but also threw up quite a few shaky looking jumpers along the way. Nonetheless, after a game like this, it is hard not see Adams having some success in the NBA, breaking down opponents off the dribble, wreaking havoc with his athleticism and long arms and playing rock-solid defense.

J.P. Batista, 6-9, center, senior, Gonzaga

32 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 12-13 FG, 8-10 FT

Jonathan Givony

Coming up with one of the most dominant performances we’ve seen from a big man this year on national television, Batista makes his long-overdue debut on this column.

The prototype for the perfect college big man that sticks around for four years, and being the one who does all the dirty work for his team, he doesn’t often get the recognition that his teammate Adam Morrison does, but he often plays just as big a role in Gonzaga’s success.

Most of Batista’s damage comes within 10 feet of the basket. His massive frame and outstanding lower body strength allow him to establish deep position in the paint, while his fantastic hands allow him to catch anything thrown his way and his footwork, smarts and super-soft touch around the hoop do the rest. Once Batista gets the ball in the paint he is almost impossible to stop at this level as he could very well be the strongest player in the entire country. He also has great post skills and a high basketball IQ to go along with that. Fouling him is an option, but unlike most brute big men at this level, Batista shoots 85% from the line.

When talking about his NBA potential, things get a little murky, as his game does not appear to translate very well. Listed at 6-9 he is definitely undersized for an NBA center even if that figure is legit. His extremely wide frame and below average athleticism leave serious questions about his ability to play power forward, especially defensively. Most of his work comes off set plays with his back to the basket, which in the unlikely event that his team somehow does decide to utilize won’t be nearly as easy to translate going up against the monsters of the NBA where everyone is much taller, more athletic and just as strong. The only way Batista really stands a chance at being able to contribute at the NBA level is if he sheds significant bulk from his frame (a la Udonis Haslem) and works on his perimeter skills.

Batista will get his shot to show what he can do at Portsmouth and/or Chicago and in private NBA workouts, but if things don’t work out for him he is guaranteed to make plenty of money over the next few years regardless as his game appears to be perfectly suited to what elite teams in Europe are looking for.

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