Jabari Parker's last three games—he's averaged only 10.3 points and shot 31.4 percent—show how hard it is to be consistent on the college level.
Scouting reports start to make a difference in January. Scorers have to adjust.
So would someone tell Doug McDermott that he's making the rest of his peers look bad?
Parker had an impressive start, scoring 19-plus in 11 of his first 12 games before his recent stretch. McDermott has scored at least 19 points in every game but one this year. He's also reached 30 points five times.
McDermott is one of the greatest scorers in the history of college basketball, and it's starting to look like his amazing consistency could finally lead to a National Player of the Year award. (He's had to settle for first-team All-American the past two years.)
The Creighton senior sees just about everything—including lots and lots of double-teams—and he just keeps scoring. Now he's finally at the top of these rankings, and considering his history, it's hard to see him dropping from here on out.
Ten to Watch:
- Casey Prather, Florida
- Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
- T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
- Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
- Kyle Anderson, UCLA
- Jahii Carson, Arizona State
- Nick Johnson, Arizona
- Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
- Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
- Xavier Thames, San Diego State
Previous Ranking: Not ranked
2013-14 Stats: 16.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG
Bleacher Report's Jason King was at Michigan State on Tuesday night and wrote about the toughness of Adreian Payne, who didn't think he could play before the game and was in tears.
Payne has had plantar fasciitis for the past month, and the inflammation in his left heel nearly kept him off the floor. All Payne did was tough it out and score 18 points, including a ballsy three in overtime that put the Spartans up by four.
It was his work in the post and on the boards that really made the difference for Michigan State. Payne, a senior, is finally living up to his potential and doing so on a bum wheel.
Previous Ranking: Not ranked
2013-14 Stats: 17.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.6 SPG
I've been hesitant to put C.J. Fair in the top 10 of this list all year. Yes, he's a great scorer, but he's also turned into a high-volume shooter, and Tyler Ennis, in my opinion, is Syracuse's most valuable player.
But Fair has been so consistent that he deserves the recognition. No matter the opponent, you can pretty much count on Fair getting at least 15 points and knocking down a momentum-killer or two.
Previous Ranking: No. 5
2013-14 Stats: 19.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 SPG
Similar to Jabari Parker, Joseph Young has finally had a slump. Young averaged 12.5 points per game in two games in the last week and had his first game not reaching double figures—nine points on Jan. 2 at Utah.
It speaks to how good Young has been all season that 12.5 points per game over two games is considered a slump.
Previous Ranking: No. 10
2013-14 Stats: 15.9 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG
Even with Keith Appling experiencing severe cramps and noticeably hurting in overtime on Tuesday, Michigan State went to its senior point guard in the biggest possession of the game.
With the score tied in the final minute of OT and the shot clock winding down, Appling stared down one of the best defenders in college basketball, Shannon Scott, and dribbled into a three for the go-ahead bucket for the Spartans.
Appling also ran down Scott in the final seconds of regulation, getting there just in time to force a miss on what would have been the game-winning layup. He scored 20 points and had seven assists and six rebounds.
In Michigan State's biggest wins thus far the season—Kentucky and Ohio State—Appling was the most valuable player on the floor.
Previous Ranking: No. 8
2013-14 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 4.9 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG
Russ Smith has not been as aggressive driving the ball this season as he was last year. He's averaging 1.9 fewer free throws per game, which is surprising considering the rule changes.
Rick Pitino was not pleased with Smith's play on Saturday at Rutgers, but Smith was still productive by attacking the rim. He scored 22 points—a career-high 14 of which came at the line—and every shot he made or shooting foul he drew came in the paint.
Previous Ranking: No. 4
2013-14 Stats: 17.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.6 BPG
Julius Randle showed an unselfish side on Wednesday night against Mississippi State. James Young was the hot hand, so Randle concentrated on hitting the glass. He finished with a season-low eight points but had a big impact with 14 rebounds in just 21 minutes.
Previous Ranking: No. 3
2013-14 Stats: 17.5 PPG, 4.1 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.7 SPG
Travis Ford and every color guy in America will tell you Marcus Smart is a great leader. Ford said before the season that Smart has never had a bad day.
Well, he had a bad day on Saturday.
Smart's play was not awful against K-State (15 points, six rebounds and three assists), but he did something a leader should never do, and it played a big role in his team losing. Smart got a technical foul with 13:05 left that sent him to the bench because it was his fourth foul. He earned it, too, doing a pull-up on the rim and slapping the backboard after a big dunk.
Whether you agree with the rule or not, it was an obvious call, and Smart should know better.
Previous Ranking: Not ranked
2013-14 Stats: 16.1 PPG, 6.3 APG, 7.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg doesn't pigeonhole his players into certain positions. DeAndre Kane is listed as a point guard, but look at his numbers and it's clear he does a lot more than just play the role of distributor for the undefeated Cyclones.
Kane has been great all year—his first at Iowa State after transferring from Marshall—and he introduced himself to those who hadn't gotten the memo yet on Tuesday against Baylor with 30 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals.
Kane, not Marcus Smart, has been the best guard in the country through the first two months of the season. His numbers say so, and so do the results.
Previous Ranking: 1
2013-14 Stats: 19.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.1 BPG
It's a credit to how good Jabari Parker has been to this point that when he has back-to-back off games, it's a big story.
Even with his recent struggles, Parker's body of work for the season stands up against almost anyone in college basketball.
Mike Krzyzewski did a nice job of putting Parker's struggles in perspective this week, via Laura Keeley of the News & Observer:
People ask me what’s wrong with him. What’s wrong with him, he’s played great this year. It’s unfortunate the way our game is, men’s college basketball, puts so much on these young, extremely talented players to produce at a level that they’re not ready to produce at. But they will produce at some time in their life, hopefully while they’re here.
And they’re good, (Kansas’s Andrew) Wiggins and (Kentucky’s Julius) Randle and Parker. They’re 18, 19 years old. They’ve never played at this level, they’ve never played the physicality. They haven’t been as closely scrutinized as everyone is closely scrutinizing them. They’ve been promoted and marketed way beyond what they should be. But that’s the way it is. So, it’s difficult. It is difficult for him. But it’s difficult for those other kids, too. We have to understand that.
Previous Ranking: No. 2
2013-14 Stats: 24.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG
Doug McDermott averaged 24.5 points in two games this past week, but he deserves credit for more than just those 49 points. McDermott had five assists against Seton Hall on Saturday, which accounted for 14 points in addition to the 30 he scored, and he had another four assists on Tuesday at DePaul, good for 11 points.
McDermott has never been a big assist guy, and part of the reason for that is he gets his shot off so fast that defenses are unable to force him to pass. But when he does see double-teams, he's a willing and very capable passer.
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @cjmoore4.