- National Teams
This week we are putting the spotlight on a player who turned in a solid performance in one of the best games of the week: Kansas Jayhawks v Texas Longhorns.
Kansas features Andrew Wiggins, the top recruit, and Joel Embiid, from Cameroon. Both are in the running for the number one NBA draft pick in a few months. With at least one other potential lottery pick, Wayne Seldon Junior, on the roster you would expect Kansas to run away with this victory especially considering that Texas finished with a record of 16-18, last year and lost three of their top scorers.
However from the jump ball to the final whistle, Texas was the most aggressive team. There were some really impressive players but we want to focus on our guy, Prince Ibeh, who had a spectacular game if not statistically.
Ibeh, who was born in London but immigrated to Texas when he was five, is a work in progress. His offensive moves and post play still needs some refinement but he does have a superior skill set; shot blocking.
With less than nine minutes remaining on the game clock, Kansas looked ready to make one of their magnificent runs. They were down by double digits but everyone, including the overzealous commentators, was just waiting on that run to close the gap.
Wiggins, who had 29 points in the previous game against Iowa State, looked to rally his team by catching the ball on the right wing, then beating his man to the baseline with two quick dribbles, he used his exceptional jumping ability to power up over his defender and was all set to finger roll one into the basket when the human eraser that is Ibeh met him at the apex of his jump with a clean, resounding block.
A play or two later, seven footer Embiid, whose footwork has brought comparisons to a young Hakeem Olajuwon, was being defended one on one by Ibeh. Embiid gave a small fake; stutter stepped, and then spun for a fade away, ten foot jumper. The ball was comfortably out of his hands when it was turned back, to the clearly visibly astonishment of Embiid, by Ibeh.
Kansas would half heartedly try to rally a few more times but it seemed that, after Ibeh’s monumental block on Embiid, that was the very moment the fight went out of Kansas.
Ibeh is a work in progress but with a shot blocker like him on the bench no wonder Texas is one of the most surprising teams of the season.
Another player who was very impressive while playing in one of the best conferences was Gabriel Olaseni but we will get into that later.
This is a roundup of the best performances of British basketball players in the NCAA division one, since last week Thursday.
Luke Nelson |UC Irvine | Freshman| Guard
It is an absolute pleasure seeing Nelson find his bearings as a freshman. Last week he scored a career high. This week he surpassed it.
Saturday saw him score 15 points to go with five rebounds and four assists in a win over Cal Poly.
On Thursday the 6’2” guard scored 28 points (career high) to go with four steals (career high), an assist and two rebounds in a victory over Long Beach State, whom UC Irvine were in a three way tie, for first place, in the Big West Conference standings.
Watch the highlights, plus the good words Head Coach Russell Turner had to say about him:
UC Irvine is now tied for first place with UC Santa Barbara.
This shows that young Nelson is maturing at the right time. He made five of his eight three point attempts and was 10-of-15 overall on field goals.
Alex Young | UC Irvine | Freshman| Guard
Young had 14 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals against Cal Poly, then six points, five assists and two rebounds against Long Beach State.
Shore Adenekan | Seattle | Junior | Forward
Prior to this update, Seattle were 1-5 in conference play. Over the week they won both their games and Adenekan played a big part in that.
First he had six points and nine rebounds, on Saturday, against Idaho. Then he had a double double, on Thursday, against Texas-Pan American. His stat line was 14 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and an assist.
Team mate, Jack Crook, who is from Manchester, also had one of his better weeks, with four points and three rebounds in the first game and seven points and nine rebounds in the second.
Chris Caird |Drake | Junior | Forward
In a loss to Illinois State, on Saturday, Chris Caird scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists.
Then on Tuesday he scored 19 points, his second highest for the season, and grabbed four rebounds in a loss to Southern Illinois.
Jesse Chuku | Lehigh | sophomore| Forward
Lehigh squeezed out a win in overtime against Boston University on Saturday. Chuku had 11 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Chuku had a tough game on Wednesday against Army. He had six points and seven rebounds in the blowout loss.
Alhaji Fullah |Charleston Southern | Senior| Forward
Fullah had eight points, ten rebounds, two blocks and two steals in victory over Liberty on Saturday. Later in the week he scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in a loss to Radford.
Ben Mockford |St Francis (NY) | Senior| Guard
Mockford started the week slow, scoring five points to go with an assist and a block, on Saturday, in an overtime win against Wagner.
Thursday saw him score a dozen points in a victory over St Francis (PA), to take third place in the Northeastern conference standings.
Will Neighbour |UALR | Senior| Forward
Neighbour had a great game against South Alabama on Saturday, scoring 23 points, securing nine rebounds and blocking three shots.
Thursday presented a tougher test against Georgia State, who was 9-0 in conference play going into that game. Neighbour, who averages just over 18 points a game, was held to four points in the unfortunate loss. He did have ten rebounds, three assists and a steal though.
Gabriel Olaseni | Iowa | Junior| Forward
Another player whose growing confidence on the court is quite evident from game to game is Olaseni. At the start of the season he seemed unsure of himself and kept dropping easy passes or rebounds. Now he operates with purpose and determination.
On Saturday he had 15 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes of action against Illinois. He missed only one of his ten free throw attempts and also blocked two shots in the win.
The second game of the week, which was Tuesday, was a marquee matchup against Ohio State. Iowa hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2006, which is a blemish on the fact that they play in arguably the best conference in college basketball. A win against a reeling Ohio State would have gone a long way to change that.
Anyway the game started choppy for Iowa as they seemed displaced until Olaseni checked into the game. In limited minutes he would go 4-for-4, single handedly keeping his team in the game. The first time he touched the ball in the high post, he beat his man with a beautiful left handed layup. A move you wouldn’t expect from him a few weeks ago.
Sadly while Olaseni was almost perfect on the offensive end, his defence wasn’t on the same level. He finished the game with four fouls, one of which was a flagrant one when he tried to stop a player from making an open layup by holding him down with ample time left on the clock.
He finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. He did not miss a shot or a free throw as he was 5-of-5 on field goal attempts and 4-of-4 on free throws.
Iowa’s tournament hopes are still alive as they are currently third in the Big Ten conference standings though they do have eight tough games to play.
Will Saunders | Charleston Southern | Junior| Forward
Saunders had 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in a victory over Liberty on Saturday. In the other game of the week, against Radford, he scored four points and grabbed a couple of rebounds.
Ovie Soko | Duquesne | Senior| Forward
Soko had 23 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in a loss to La Salle on Saturday.
Wednesday he had 13 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in a loss to George Washington.
Adam Thoseby | South Dakota | Sophomore | Guard
Against South Dakota State, on Saturday, Thoseby scored seven points to go with two assists, a steal and two rebounds, which was a losing effort.
In an exhibition game against NAIA division one team, Peru State, Thoseby scored 11 points to go with four rebounds and two steals. South Dakota won 80-40.
Prince Ibeh | Texas | Sophomore| Forward
Ibeh’s final stat line against Kansas read; two points, three rebounds and four blocks. He only played seventeen minutes.
In the other game of the week, for Texas, Ibeh scored two points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots in a victory over TCU on Tuesday.