After a hiatus for the holiday season stock watch is back with a look at who is rising and falling in the early part of 2009. Not much has changed at the top of the list, but with conference play getting underway, some names are starting to separate themselves as legitimate prospects.
1. Blake Griffin – Oklahoma (1)
All Griffin has done since we last checked in is record four double-doubles in four games. The real test begins now as Oklahoma opens its Big 12 schedule on Saturday.
2. James Harden – Arizona State (2)
Night in and night out Harden seems to find a different way to contribute to his team. Whether it be the eight rebounds he grabbed against Cal, the ten assists he handed out on the road at Stanford, or the 44% he is shooting from beyond the arc, the talented shooting guard is an all-around threat.
3. Greg Monroe – Georgetown (10)
Monroe makes the biggest jump in this addition of stock watch after getting off to a fantastic start in Big East play. In three games against top ten opponents (UConn, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame), facing three elite frontcourt players, Monroe posted averages of 17.3 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Did we mention that he shot 52.5% from the field and connected on two of three attempts from beyond the arc?
4. Ty Lawson – North Carolina (6)
The Tar Heel speedster continues to be a headache for opposing defenses. Now though, he is showing that he doesn’t need to put up big scoring numbers like he was early on in order to be effective. Sure, Lawson struggled in a loss against BC, but the floor general has an assist to turnover ratio of more than 4 and he is still shooting nearly 50% from three point range.
5. Jordan Hill – Arizona (NA)
Arizona may be struggling (0-2 to start the Pac-10 slate) but Hill’s stock has never been hotter. The junior has four double-doubles in his last five games, including 23 and 11 in a win over Kansas, and two game averages of 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in his first two conference games. After two years Hill is finally starting to realize the potential which he has been showing glimpses of since his first day as a Wildcat.
6. Hasheem Thabeet – Connecticut (3)
Thabeet takes a bit of a tumble after struggling in his first two major tests of the season. Foul trouble in a win over Gonzaga limited the big man to just 19 minutes on the floor, while Georgetown held him to just four field goal attempts. On the positive end, Thabeet did have seven blocks in the match up with the Hoyas, and has bounced back since then, posting 13 points and 13 rebounds on Tuesday in a win over West Virginia.
7. Earl Clark – Louisville (4)
Clark falls a few spots because he is still very much an enigma with his consistency, but the talent level is clearly there. Wednesday’s 22 and 9 showing against South Florida is the type of performance that Clark is capable of putting on every night; the same can be said for the 25 and 16 game he had against Ole Miss in December. Then we see stretches where Clark will struggle to put the ball in the hoop like he did right before the new year. Either way, the potential is too enticing to pass up.
8. Stephen Curry – Davidson (7)
Curry still continues to post great scoring numbers but his shooting has been wavering somewhat in recent games. In his last four games he has shot 10-35 from beyond the arc, including 2-12 and 1-8 showings against Purdue and Duke. What has been impressive in these games though have been the rebounding numbers Curry has managed to record, averaging just over seven rebounds during this same stretch.
9. Kyle Singler – Duke (NA)
Singler is in the midst of his best stretch of games this season. He led the Blue Devils to a win over Davidson on Wednesday, and prior to that, nearly recorded a triple-double in Duke’s ACC opener at home against Virginia Tech. It’s nice to see the scoring and rebounding numbers improve, but perhaps the biggest boost to Singler’s stock has been the jump in the assist column, increasing from 1.4 per game as a freshman to 3.6 this year.
10. Gani Lawal – Georgia Tech (NA)
We listed Lawal under our “Rising” section a few weeks ago and now he finds himself cracking the top ten list. The power forward is averaging a double-double on the year and over his last four games has been averaging nearly 18 points and 11 rebounds, including a 15-point, 14-rebound performance in a home win over Georgia.
Dropped Out: Tyreke Evans (5), B.J. Mullens (8), Jrue Holiday (9)
Next in Line: Chase Budinger, Arizona; Demar DeRozan, USC; Tyreke Evans, Memphis; Patrick Mills, Saint Mary’s
Evan Turner – Ohio State
It was easy to see last season that Evan Turner was going to be a player, it was just a matter of how soon he would develop; it didn’t take long. Turner has emerged as the leader of the Buckeyes this season, proving to be equally dangerous on both ends of the floor. At 6’7” he has good size for the two guard position, and despite attempting a limited number of shots from the perimeter, his 53.8% shooting from beyond the arc shows he has the range to be a threat at the next level. His wingspan has allowed him to be a rebounding force for a backcourt player (he leads the team) and a ball hawk defensively. His 2.4 steals per game is nearly double his freshman total from a year ago.
A.J. Price – Connecticut
After a stellar finish to his junior year, this was supposed to be Price’s season to step into the All-American picture; not quite. Price has seen a drop in every major statistical category from a year ago, including an eight point drop in shooting percentage and a fifteen point drop in free throw shooting percentage. He looked like he was returning to form with nice showings versus Gonzaga and Georgetown, but in his last two games has scored 4 points total on 1-13 shooting.