Team basketball is a sight to behold, but when an individual player is in a zone, sometimes the best strategy is simply to get the heck out of his way and let him dominate.
Across the country, we see these kind of epic performances on a nightly basis. It’s part of what makes college basketball so great — talented student-athletes showing off their spectacular abilities in front of millions.
Each week at NCAA.com, we’ll select a college basketball All-Week team. Comprised of five positions, the squad is selected based on games and performances from the week prior. Let’s get to this week’s edition.
RELATED: Last week’s team
G Marcus Keene, Central Michigan
It wouldn’t be right if the top scorer in the nation didn’t get any recognition here, but guard Marcus Keene is making college basketball fans take notice with his stellar play to pace the Chippewas of Central Michigan. That said, the Texas native is leading the country in scoring by a wide margin and in the process making an early case for Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honors.
After Central Michigan’s two wins last week against William & Mary and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Keene now has seven 30-plus point performances on the season — including four straight. And there are two things working in Keene’s favor going forward. First off, though this point guard is not loath to call his own number, he is shooting the ball with a good degree of efficiency — 52.6 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point territory. Secondly, Keene likes to score but he has shown a knack for creating opportunities for his teammates as well. As a result, Keene is averaging a career-high 4.4 assists per ballgame. There’s no doubt Keene likes to get his shots up, but he understands that his role as a point guard comes first.
G Luke Kennard, Duke
What a difference a year makes. The freshman campaign for Duke’s Luke Kennard certainly had college basketball funs buzzing, as the swift lefty contributed significant minutes for head coach Mike Krzyzewski while scoring 11.8 points per game. The start to the sophomore second year in Durham, North Carolina, likely has fans plotzing from amazement. The Ohio native currently boasts a 19.4 points per game average to go along with nearly seven rebounds and just over three assists. In other words, he’s doing a little bit of everything to help his team.
Mark Dolejs | USA TODAY Sports Images
Duke guard Luke Kennard (5) is leading his team in scoring at just under 20 points a contest.
Some hot shooting from Kennard to start the season (50 percent from the field) has him sitting pretty as the team’s leading scorer, but Kennard is also at or near the top of the pile for this team when it comes to free-throw (87.5 percent) and 3-point (37 percent) shooting. The sophomore is in rare air in the early stages of the season, making a case as a legitimate threat to enter the 50-40-90 club (a space reserved for those players who shoot at least 50 percent on field goals, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent on free-throw attempts).
The Blue Devils also have the added luxury of a de facto leader in Grayson Allen, so Kennard is happy to play second fiddle for this Duke team. In fact, it’s a role that suits him quite well.
F Josh Hart, Villanova
It was a busy week for basketball in the Philadelphia area as Villanova linked up with two of its Big 5 foes (Penn and Saint Joseph’s). Villanova cruised in both affairs, but Josh Hart took the ballgames as an opportunity to stuff the statsheet. Hart’s numbers may not jump off the charts, but his all-around play is indicative of his ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways.
|Tuesday 11/29 @ Penn||12||9||6|
|Saturday 12/3 vs. Saint Joseph’s||16||11||10|
Hart’s line against Saint Joe’s was also the school’s first triple-double since 1986. To put things a bit more in perspective, Hart was born in March 1995. Suffice it to say, the things that Hart is doing for Villanova and head coach Jay Wright don’t happen that often. Just enjoy it, y’all.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) December 4, 2016
F Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
The second-leading scorer on a Wisconsin team that boasts four seniors is, you guessed it, sophomore big man Ethan Happ. Happ, a 6-foot-10 Illinois native, is averaging a near double-double (13.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg) for the Badgers and saved two big-time performances for his team’s matchups with Syracuse and Oklahoma this past week.
Mary Langenfeld | USA TODAY Sports Images
Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ’s (22) double-double helped the Badgers to a big win over Syracuse.
Happ tallied 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in Wisconsin’s dismantling of Syracuse and then accounted for 16 points and nine boards in a bout with Oklahoma. The rebounding and scoring are both welcomed in this lineup, but the most important aspect of Happ’s game is his offensive efficiency. Wisconsin’s big man ranks ninth in the nation in field-goal percentage, shooting the rock at a 69.7 percent clip. That figure, is likely to drop a bit by season’s end, but Happ’s performance is not an anomaly. He shot the ball above 50 percent a year ago and has picked up right where he left off in 2015-16.
F T.J. Leaf, UCLA
It’s hard enough for players on the West Coast to get their due attention from college basketball fans around the country given the time difference, but it’s infinitely more difficult to do so when you play alongside freshman phenom Lonzo Ball. That’s life for fellow UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf, who posted a solid double-double (18 points, 10 boards) earlier in the week in UCLA’s easy win over UC-Riverside.
But a Saturday matinee on the road against the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats was an opportunity for the California native to stand out from the crowd.
Fans have few excuses if they missed Saturday afternoon’s battle between the Bruins and the Wildcats — a matchup the Bruins would go on to win 97-92 — but Leaf’s performance was integral to the upset effort. Leaf’s line on the day included 17 points, 13 rebounds (four offensive) and five assists, not to mention a number of hustle plays and timely boards that helped UCLA stave off a Kentucky comeback.
In fact, Leaf’s driving dunk in the second half on Kentucky’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo was arguably the play of the game. No need for anyone to worry anymore if Leaf was being overshadowed by the other talented UCLA freshman. T.J. has arrived.