The holiday tournaments are officially over and we’ve had a chance to witness some great early season action from college basketball. I’ll recap some notable teams and players from the tournament and games I was able to watch during Feast Week.
Teams on the rise
The Cyclones had an impressive showing at The Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Their only loss of the season came against Arizona who also has been impressive to start the season. The Cyclones have gotten good production from newcomers. Particularly, Freshman Talen Horten-Tucker and Virginia transfer Marial Shayok. This could be a scary team once they get Sophomore Guard Lindell Wigginton back from injury. They have weapons offensively and compete on the defensive end of the floor.
The Wildcats finished fourth in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational but they were really close to potentially playing in the Championship game as they gave Gonzaga quite a scare before losing 91-74 to the eventual Champions. Sophomore Guard Brandon Randolph has been one of the most improved players this season and with all of the turmoil surrounding the program, the start to the season has been what the Wildcats have needed!
The Seminoles are building off the success they had last season and after an overtime win against LSU, they look for real this season. Terance Mann has been exceptional to start the season and they are still without Phil Cofer. They have tremendous size and do a great job of defending and rebounding. They lost in the Championship game of The Advocare Invitational to Villanova in what was a closely contested game, 66-60.
Another Big 12 program with high aspirations has been Kansas State. They have gotten off to a 6-0 start and won the Paradise Jam title but have yet to face anyone of real value. They travel to Marquette in December and that will be the best team they’ve faced all season. This team has returned most of their key contributors from a year ago and look to build on their 25 win season.
Gonzaga isn’t flying under the radar but I believe that they’re a legitimate National Title contender after their performance against Duke. They really had a solid game plan and their execution was flawless at times. They’re an experienced team that will get better once Killian Tillie returns to the lineup. I don’t think Mark Few gets enough credit with what the Gonzaga program is today in college basketball. He doesn’t get many of the top high school recruits if any and does a good job every year with productive players who transfer in and become key contributors to the team.
Players who impressed throughout Feast Week
From the Maui Jim Maui tournament, I was really impressed with two players in particular. Talen Horton-Tucker, who I’ve already written about here and Rui Hachimura. Horton-Tucker is averaging 15 points, six rebounds and just under three assists per game so far. He looks very dynamic, making plays inside and out for the Cyclones. He will definitely be a match up problem for many of the Cyclones opponents this year.
For Rui Hachimura, I’m sure a lot of people know him now as he and Gonzaga took on Zion Williamson and The Duke Blue Devils in the Championship in what was an amazing game. Hachimura scored 20 points in the victory and looked very impressive. He held his own against Duke’s talented core of Freshmen and may have seen his draft stock rise with plenty of scouts there in Maui attending the games.
I also thought Jared Harper had a nice tournament as well. He had a great game against Xavier and played solid against Duke. Auburn has a really tough team this season and I am looking forward to when they play Tennessee who in my opinion are mirror images of each other. Twp physical teams who play hard-nosed defense. It will be an exciting match up come conference play.
Another player that I was impressed with was Freshman Point Guard, Devon Dotson for Kansas. He played a big role in their victory over Tennessee and while he’s not the flashiest or puts up big numbers, he can flat out play. He’s very poised and always delivered when Kansas needed a big play. He helped lead Kansas to win the NIT season tip off tournament.
What stood out to you from Feast Week?