Exams took precedence in the college basketball world last week. Appearances from the best players in the nation were scarce, yet there were still memorable moments and ample movement in this week’s Naismith Watch.
ICYMI: Last week's Naismith Watch
Josh Hart, Villanova (20.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.7 apg)
The Wildcats played just once last week, but Hart delivered what is becoming an expected output: 26 points on better than 50 percent shooting, three steals and three assists. Hart is the driving force behind the nation’s second-best offense, per KenPom’s adjusted efficiency. His shot selection reflects modern basketball philosophy. He’s attempted 136 field goals and launched all but 24 from beyond the arc or at the rim. When you consider he’s converting 45 percent on 3s and 73 percent at the rim, it’s clear to comprehend his value in Jay Wright’s offense.
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Frank Mason III, Kansas (20.3 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.6 rpg)
Prior to 2016-17, only eight players since 1993-94 finished a season averaging 20 points per game, 5.5 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. Evan Turner (Ohio State, 2009-10) is the only one to accomplish the feat while playing for a Power 5 conference school. Mason (and Washington’s Markelle Fultz) are on track to join the list. Mason, who had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds against Davidson last week, is also shooting the best percentage of his career on 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws.
Lonzo Ball, UCLA (14.3 ppg, 8.7 apg, 5.9 rpg)
The fifth-leading scorer on his own team is the third-best player in the nation. Nobody does more for their team than Ball, a brilliant 6-foot-6 point guard. The unbeaten Bruins are electric on offense, scoring at an incomparable rate. They are second in the nation with 96.9 points per game. They lead the nation with 1.26 points per possession — which is easily the best in college basketball in the last 15 years. They’re making 44 percent of 3-pointers (third) and 63 percent of 2-pointers (first). Ball, who is second in the nation in assists, has an offensive rating of 133.5.
|Best offenses since 2001-02|
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Malik Monk, Kentucky (21.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
You might have heard, Monk scored 47 points against North Carolina on Saturday. It was the most points scored against the Tar Heels in 64 years. He shattered the Kentucky freshman scoring record by 12 points. He accomplished this all quite efficiently, making 18 of 28 shots.
Monk has one of the sweetest long-distance strokes in college basketball. He has the height and length to launch his shot over defenders. Yet, it’s inside-outside balance that makes him so difficult to cover. He’s attempted 89 2-pointers and 90 3-pointers. He’s made 58 percent of 2-pointers and 42 percent of 3-pointers. And, he’s been at his best in the Wildcats’ two games against top-10 opponents (UCLA and UNC). The left side of the floor treated Monk well against the Tar Heels:
Monk shot chart vs. UNC: