Nowadays, we follow recruits from 9th grade right on through college. Sometimes, we know so much about them as high school freshmen it's scary. Sometimes, good players skate by to college on their reputations but show little improvement as their high school careers draw to a close. Sure, they'll be good players at the next level, but did they reach their potential? Not always and that's why it's key to look for high school seniors who continue to show improvement. Guys like Andrew Gooden, Michael Sweetney and Justin Reed are great college players who were classic late bloomers. Toss Andre Iguodala of Springfield (IL) Lanphier into that category.
Last year, one Big Ten program went to watch him play four times and he never broke the 10-point barrier. However, during the summer he showed tremendous improvement offensively and is a serious athlete. This year, he's averaging close to 20 a game and has answered all questions about his offensive game. There are guys with bigger reps in high school, but don't sleep on Iguodala. With the season he's having and the upward improvement he's shown means he's beginning to peak at the right time and Arkansas might have landed themselves a serious impact recruit whose best days are ahead of him.
A Unique Musketeer
Xavier forward David West stands alone. He's the only player in the Top 25 (No. 20) in scoring, Top 10 (No. 10) in rebounding and Top 5 (No. 4) in field goal percentage in the country. He's averaging 22.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 68.6% from the field. The A-10 POY was also the conference's most improved player last season and if he's not careful he could sweep both awards again. He's also one of those guys who continues to get better and in his case; the pro guys can't help but notice his steady improvement. For instance, he was a 55% shooter last season but is 13 points higher this year. He's coming off a 15 point, 10 rebound and get this, 10-assist game against Long Island.
Back On Track
If you think Duke was scary to start the year, how do you feel about them now that Jason Williams has his stroke back? During a five-game stretch this season, Williams actually went 2-for-25 from behind the arc. We are talking about a 42% 3-point shooter last season. In his last two games, which Duke has won by an average of 23 points, Williams went 13-for-27 from downtown. Translation: he's got his stoke back. On December 18, Duke plays Kentucky and by that time both Williams and the sizzlin' Tayshaun Prince should have it rollin' big time.
Finally, A Poly Grad Does Mizzou A Favor
In the 1995 NCAA Tournament, Long Beach Poly grad Tyus Edney did in Missouri with a coast-to-coast drive that gave UCLA an amazing win over the Tigers. Last Monday, another Poly grad made headlines and this time Missouri was the benefactor. Point guard Wesley Stokes stepped up and took matters into his own hands as he drilled a jumper to beat St. Louis. With the same courage Edney displayed six years ago, this Long Beach Poly alum turned the tables and the Poly-Missouri good karma is back in Mizzou's favor.
Wade Worth The Wait
Don't look now, but Marquette is 9-0 and ranked No. 16 in the country. Why? Well, because Dwayne Wade is as good as Tom Crean said he was and then some. Wade sat out last season for academic reasons and by the start of the year the coaching staff was calling him the team's best player. Now, he's delivering the goods. In 9 games, he's yet to score less than 13 points and is shooting 47% while leading the Golden Eagles in assists. Marquette closes the month with a patsy and two stiff road challenges at Wisconsin and Wake Forest. With its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1997 looking real nice, it'll be Wade's job to try and keep Marquette perfect through December.
Anything But High-Major News
Kudos to Western Carolina who snagged the biggest surprise of the week. Steve Shurina's first win of the year over a Division I program came at the expense of Florida State. The Catamounts get another crack at a high-major team as they travel to Kansas State next week. The win was the second Southern Conference win over an ACC team this season. Davidson knocked off North Carolina in November. … The Delaware Blue Hens, in their first season in the CAA, are still missing their best player. Injuries and academics are keeping swingman Vohn Hunter off the court. Hunter is a CAA impact player. … In a drubbing of IUPUI-Fort Wayne, Ball State's Theron Smith scored 29 points and hauled in 21 boards in an incredible line. He was 12-for-19 from the floor. … Did you know that admission to the Delaware-High Point game on HP's campus was $5? And, observers were treated to free Krispy Kreme doughnuts? …
Food For Thought
Texas freshman TJ Ford leads the nation in assists with an 11.2 average. Last year, St. John's freshman Omar Cook led the nation in assists for most of year before finishing second. … 28% of the Memphis offense is coming from freshman Dajuan Wagner. That's cool, but you have to love the Memphis big men. Kelly Wise is bouncy and athletic and Earl Barron and Chris Massie have plenty of offense to. The Tigers could be scary if it all can come together. Each of the bigs is shooting over 53% from the floor. … The "Provine Posse" which consists of Justin Reed, David Sanders and Aaron Harper is averaging 37.8 points a game for the Rebels. … Virginia has had some trouble winning on the road in years past. However, the Cavaliers got a nice "W" against Auburn on Saturday. Pete Gillen's bunch was clutch from the line late in the game going 11-for-12 down the stretch.