Monday, November 25, 2019 12:45 PM | CBN
It’s that time of the year, November tournaments are back, where the games are played at beautiful vacation spots! There certainly was plenty of talent on display and I came away super impressed with one player in particular.
My Mid-Major team of the week is Utah State. That’s right, the Aggies are ranked in the top 15 and I love this team,if you weren’t impressed I don’t know what to say! Utah State took a trip to Montego Bay for the Jamaica Classic following a dominant 82-50 win over UTSA. Utah State met up with LSU and North Texas in Jamaica. I’m going to be honest as always, I didn’t think the Aggies could beat LSU without Neemias Queta. Neemias has been absent from the Aggies lineup all season due to a knee injury. He’s close to coming back and will help Utah State a ton. LSU was hot early and couldn’t miss anything. It was a dominant 44-30 first half lead for LSU and everybody counted Utah State out. The LSU lead reached 19 in the 2nd half and Utah State looked toast. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Utah State caught fire and LSU went cold. Momentum started to shift and the Aggies faithful in attendance began to believe. Sam Merrill was excellent in the comeback, hitting big time shots, being the elite floor general we know he can be and boasting an infectious confidence. Sam totaled 24 points and 8 assists. He shot 5-12 with all his makes coming from beyond the arc. The biggest points of the night came off the hands of Sam, a three with 57 seconds to go, straight cash homie and they held an 80-78 lead. The Aggies never surrendered it, a 19-point comeback against one of the SEC’s best teams. That’s a quality win, that’s a win that a team remembers, that’s a win that the committee won’t forget, that’s a win that’ll put your program on the map and attract recruits and transfers. A Job well done Aggies! After taking Saturday off, Utah State was back for a tough game with North Texas. UNT lacks an offensive identity but they play stellar defense and the Aggies were aware of that early. They trailed 30-29 at half, struggling with shooting the three, and their star had the worst game he’ll have all year long. Yet, the Aggies prevailed and showed why they are a threat. Merrill didn’t make a shot, he scored just 5 points, but he played good defense and the rest of the team stepped up. Justin Bean, the 6’7” sophomore tallied a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards, then some more great defense. Alphonso Anderson and Diogo Brito came off the bench to combine for 34 massive points, Anderson shot 7-11 from the field. Utah State attacked the basket, were fearless, and it’s why they shot 34 free throws and made 27 of them. Good teams win, great teams find ways to win when things go against them. Utah State went to Jamaica and came away 2-0 with two very good wins that showed us phenomenal grit, confidence, and perseverance. This team from the Mountain West is legit and just you wait until their stud big man and best NBA prospect, Neemias Queta returns to action! Utah State has a tough test at St Mary’s on the 29th and they also square off with a scrappy BYU team. They’ll also see South Florida in Houston and they get a huge test as they face Florida on a neutral site! Mark down December 21st on your calendars, watch that Utah State/Florida game! These non-conference tests will pay off greatly when the committee sees these (potential) wins in March!
And now for my Mid-Major Player of the Week... Jason Preston. I had legit never heard of this kid until Ohio faced Villanova. I saw this talented point guard flash greatness on a team with much lesser talent. There’s a comparison to be made with Ja Morant. I’m not saying Preston is on Morant’s level, but Preston is fantastic and in a similar situation. You see, both of these players took off in their sophomore season after being criminally under recruited out of high school. Both of these players had to play on a college team with much lesser talent surrounding them and that can be aggravating. Morant suffered a lot of turnovers because he was passing to guys that didn’t know they were open, Preston did the same this week in Myrtle Beach. Just making great, quality passes that result in turnovers because the intended target doesn’t look for the ball! Before I saw him in Myrtle Beach, Preston dazzled in a win over Iona and a loss to Villanova. The sophomore scored 27, grabbed 14 boards, tossed 5 assists, and he shot 10-17. Heck of a game... but 7 turnovers, because he’s aggressive and is trying to pass guys open. Not his fault! Against Villanova he went for 16 and 8 assists. Then his Myrtle Beach trip began with each game on ESPN. Against Baylor he scored 12. He flashed against Utah with 21 and 4 dimes. Showing he can score plenty and hit the 3-ball. And against MTSU he scored 15 and dished 9 dimes in a game which he played all 40 minutes. The 6’4” sophomore point guard from Florida has improved greatly on the stat sheet. As a freshman he went for 6.0 PPG and now he’s at 17.2 PPG in year two. The assists per game have improved from 3.4 to 7.3 a game. Rebounds from 3.6 to 5.8 a game. He’s shooting 50% from the field. Preston is just so good and he’s going to be REALLY GOOD. This kid deserves national attention, he will deserve NBA Draft hype this season. In Jason Preston I see an aggressive and unselfish floor general that’s looking to get teammates open with zero fear of turning it over or a teammate not being ready for a pass. He gets to the bucket and finishes tough layups or kicks out to the corner whilst in the air. Preston is a crafty passer that sees the entire floor and he’s thinking about where he’ll pass well before he actually passes. He can dissect a defense like no other. Again, I don’t think he’s as good as Morant, not many are. But Jason Preston is undoubtedly a future NBA player and a potential starting point guard in the league. He’s so raw right now and he’ll only improve. There’s a reason to watch Ohio basketball and this kid is the sole reason. Jason Preston is an absolute stud.
Team of the Week
Week 1 - Colgate
Week 2 - Montana State
Week 3 - Utah State
Player of the Week
Week 1 - Jordan Roland
Week 2 - Anthony Lamb
Week 3 - Jason Preston