College basketball All-Week team: Bacon, Brooks lead the pack
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 DeAndre Harris, Nicholls
The scoring prowess of Nicholls’ guard DeAndre Harris was on full display this week as the senior from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tallied back-to-back career-high scoring efforts with 35 and 42 points, respectively, in the Colonels’ two wins. He currently sits fourth in the Southland in scoring at 18 points a ballgame, but he’s doing it in just about 20 minutes of floor time a night.
Harris, who stands at 6'3" and 200 lbs, has the quickness to maneuver around bigs as well as the size to finish through contact on smaller defenders. Combine that with a remarkable scoring pace and it's a mix that could come in handy in the slog through the Southland slate.
G Jalen Brunson, Villanova
With all the hype and attention heaped on Villanova a year ago, many college basketball fans could have missed their for an introduction to Jalen Brunson. He played an important role as a backup ball-handler and distributor on last year's championship team. Fast forward a few months and there's no way you can miss the southpaw now — he runs the point guard spot full-time in his sophomore season. And Brunson has done everything that has been asked of him, especially take care of the basketball.
Despite his increased role in the offense, and a noticeable uptick in the points and assist categories, Brunson has manged to keep his turnover levels at about the same rate from a year ago. And perhaps most importantly, Brunson has shown off a cleaner jump shot than he had a year ago. The result is a deadly combination of deft passing and timely jump shooting. Exhibit A: Villanova's dismantling of Creighton on Saturday. Brunson poured in 27 points on the night, as well as five assists and four boards. But it was his hot shooting (10-for-14; 5-for-7 from 3-point range) that helped keep Creighton at bay.
G/F Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
An oft-underappreciated Florida State Seminoles basketball team is making a name for itself in the 2016-17 season behind its leading scorer and sophomore swingman Dwayne Bacon. Bacon's last two outings — arguably his most impressive of the year — showed that he's not only capable of carrying an offense (52 points in two games), but also willing and able to take big shots in crunch time. In other words, this kid has some substance to back up the sizzle to his game. Against Virginia, Bacon's second-half explosion (26 of his 29 points after halftime) proved to be just enough to keep the Seminoles on the top side of the scoreboard. His long, lithe frame gave the Virginia defense fits for most of the night. But the heroics in this game came late. After Virginia hit a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to take a late lead, head coach Leonard Hamilton let his team play without calling a timeout. The ball found Bacon on the left side of the court and he knocked down a step-back 3-point shot with two seconds to play — preserving the win.
F Dillon Brooks, Oregon
The defending Pac-12 champions have reeled off 11 straight victories following a 2-2 start to the year, which should have Oregon faithful resting easy about their squad’s prospects heading into the meat of Pac-12 play. It’s early of course, but the key piece to that puzzle has been Dillon Brooks (14.8 ppg) and his return to top form. After missing the first three games of the year due to injury, Brooks is getting back to his normal self by doing what he does best — scoring the basketball.
But he’s doing so in a far more efficient manner than his last two years of college ball, as he sports a 48.8 percent clip from the field in just 22.1 minutes of action.
Part of the increased efficiency is the supporting cast around Brooks, but that shouldn't belie the fact that after another year at the college level means he is likely just making better decisions and reads both on- and off-the-ball. The numbers may be down a bit, but Brooks still boasts a flair for the dramatic moments. Case in point, the game-winning 3-pointer he drilled against UCLA on Wednesday to knock the Bruins from the unbeaten ranks. And if the last two games against UCLA and USC (51 combined points) are a sign of things to come for the Canadian-bred forward, then there will be some fun matchups to watch on the Pac-12 slate.
F Nick Ward, Michigan State
Michigan State's rocky start to the season is quickly becoming a distant memory as the Spartans already have two Big Ten wins to their name. And wIth each passing victory the early-season losses to Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor and Duke are rendered less noteworthy. The focus now is on Big Ten play and that's where Michigan State can make some headway. A part of the equation going forward for head coach Tom Izzo and company is their freshman big man, Nick Ward. The absence of the team's leading scorer Miles Bridges has been duly noted, but Ward has done a nice job helping to pick up the slack in the scoring department. Ward was right in the middle of both Big Ten wins, with a double-double (22 points and 10 rebounds) in the overtime win against Minnesota, as well as 11 points and nine boards while Michigan State staved off Northwestern. His per game averages of 13.6 ppg and 6.8 rpg both rank in the top 20 in the Big Ten conference. Just think what those numbers might be like if Bridges were playing as well.