It was another great week of basketball with great individual performances. The good players are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and it is starting to feel like I know which players are going to be on my list of potential winners for the Player of the Week award every week. This week was a list with the usual suspects but two conference Player of the Year candidates stood out above the rest. Neither player has ever won this award surprisingly and it's partly because both of them are extremely consistent but don’t always put up huge weeks in terms of nuclear games.
This week was different though the consistency is what earned them the win this week. In the mid-major ranks, we head to the Ohio Valley to find a player who is likely going to win the Player of the Year in that league and put up two huge games this week. On the power five side of the ledger, it takes us to the Midwest by way of the Big East for a player who has been around for a while. He is a contender for the Player of the Year in the Big East and is one of the best guards in the entire country. Those hints may have given it away but the Player of the Week in the Mid Major conferences is below.
Riley Minix - Morehead State Eagles
Morehead State lost their best player and preseason Ohio Valley player of the year in Mark Freeman. The Eagles didn’t know who was going to step up but Minix filled in wonderfully leading Morehead State to first place in the Ohio Valley. The big man is in his first year of college basketball after finishing up a great career at Southeastern University. He was his former team's leading scorer and rebounder and has stepped into the Ohio Valley and is still his team's leading scorer and rebounder.
Minix showed off his full skillset over the last week with two huge games. In a win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville the forward scored 30 points on 8-13 shooting including 4-6 from deep. Minix went 10-13 at the free throw line. He added 13 rebounds and 3 assists in that game. He was able to follow up his 30-point performance with a huge game in a win against Eastern Illinois. In that game, he went 10-15 from the floor, didn’t make a three, and went 6-7 from the free throw line. In all that was a 26-point night. Then adding in the 10 rebounds and 4 assists it was a great week. He didn’t have the highest scoring output of the week but he did have the most consistent week. It is hard to argue with 56 points on 64% shooting over two games with two double-doubles. It was a good week for Minix who pretty much has the conference player of the year in the bag.
Since everyone wants to know, yes it would be a huge surprise to not see Minix in the NCAA tournament. The Eagles are dominating the Ohio Valley and that is going to continue when Championship week starts. Minix is going to put on a show against a power five big man in the NCAA tournament and will be talked about for a long time. He is a great player and there are very few people outside of the Ohio Valley who know who he is. Congratulations to Riley and the rest of the Morehead State program.
Tyler Kolek - Marquette Golden Eagles
Kolek doesn’t need much of an introduction. He is already the best point guard in the country. In addition to that he is one of the most polarizing players in the nation. If you are a Marquette fan you absolutely love him, but if you are a fan of any other team in the Big East you are most likely not a fan of Kolek. That appears to be the way the guard likes it he rises to the occasion and plays better the more hostile the crowd is. The guard is one of the most consistent players in the country. He doesn't have to score to impact a game and even when he is not scoring you know you are going to get a bunch of assists and great defense.
Kolek got his offense rolling this week. In a win over Georgetown, the point guard scored 17 points on 6-12 shooting, 3-7 from deep, 2-2 from the free throw line. Kolek added 8 assists and 2 rebounds. The point guard does all of his damage without turning the ball over. Against Georgetown, he only had 1 turnover. Kolek had one of the best games of the year in the Big East in a win over Saint John’s. The guard scored 27 points on 11-17 shooting, 5 of 8 from three, he didn’t make a free throw. The points were good and he was very efficient but he was able to provide 13 helpers and hauled in 8 rebounds. It was a near triple-double against a good team at home. The Marquette guard might be the most important player in the country as well. When he is playing well and running the offense like he is capable they are very hard to beat.
Kolek already won the Player of the Year in the Big East last year and has a good chance to win it again this year. Marquette is on a big-time winning streak and the point guard has been the catalyst to that and he is the catalyst to the success that the Golden Eagles are going to have. Congratulations to Tyler and the rest of the Marquette team.