Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Weber State and Iowa with latest Players of the Week

There were two players who stood out among the rest of the players this week and both players set career highs and some broke records at their school. Each player is doing their part to win games for their team.

Mar 2, 2024; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Payton Sandfort (20) celebrates the win
Mar 2, 2024; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes forward Payton Sandfort (20) celebrates the win / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

So begins the last week of the regular season which means this is the second to last Busting Brackets Player of the Week Award. I am not going to give out the award during championship week or during the NCAA tournament. After the season is over, I will provide you with my National Players of the Year from the mid majors and the Power conferences. If you have been following along all season it should be easy to figure out who I am going to pick for each award. In the meantime, there is still some business to tend to this week as we hand out the Player of the Week Award.

There were a lot of gigantic performances this week, but the mid major player of the week comes from the Big Sky conference from a player who is likely going to be playing in the NBA after this season. He has been one of the most consistent players in the country since he was in college but most likely doesn’t know who he is because of the conference he plays in. The Power Conference player comes from the Big Ten and he is doing his best to make sure his team has all eyes on them going forward. This player is never thought of as the best player on the team and is extremely underrated for everything he can do on a basketball court. The mid-major player is below.

Dillon Jones - Weber State Wildcats

Jones is quite a player and if you have never watched him play do yourself a favor and do that. He is going to be in the NBA just like fellow Weber State alumni Damian Lillard. The forward is one of the front runners for the Player of the Year in the Big Sky. He is the only player in Division 1 who is leading his conference in points, rebounds, and assists. Jones has also been one of the biggest catalysts in the late-season surge for the Wildcats as they try to get one of the top seeds in the league tournament and improve their chances at making the NCAA Tournament. Weber State is very dangerous this week in the Big Sky tournament if their star continues to put up the video game numbers he put up last week.

The forward was playing at another level last week in a huge win against Northern Colorado Jones scored 30 points on 9-23 shooting including 1-9 from three-point range. He did go 11-11 from the line in that one. It was the other stats that required a second glance. He added 23 rebounds, had 9 assists, and 3 steals. I know he was not very efficient on offense, but that line is pure domination. It also reflects well on him because he was going up against another frontrunner for Big Sky Player of the Year in Saint Thomas. Jones won this battle.

Typically, when a player has a huge game, they don’t follow up with a good game but that was the opposite for the Weber State forward. In a win against Northern Arizona, he scored 21 points on 9-18 shooting, didn’t make a three, and went 3-5 from the free throw line. Jones added 14 rebounds and 7 assists. Every time you check a box score or watch a Weber State game Jones is having an impact on the game. It is surprising to me that I had never picked him as a Player of the Week before this week.

Weber State has a ton of history in the Big Sky and in College Basketball they rank in the top 15 in overall wins and they almost always finish near the top of the Big Sky conference. They have been through this before when Damian Lillard was a player there, and now they have another player who is the best player on the floor every single night. Jones is going to get some looks for the NBA and with as good of an athlete as he is and how easily he can dominate a game don’t be surprised if he does get drafted. If Weber State wins the Big Sky, Jones is going to have a huge game in the tournament he has never made it before and he would put on a show.

Payton Sandfort - Iowa Hawkeyes

I am a Big Ten fan, and it is the majority of the basketball I watch. Sandfort does not get nearly enough recognition for his contributions for Iowa. Everyone is always talking about his teammates Owen Freeman and Tony Perkins. That is for good reason but the Hawkeyes would not be having this march to the bubble right now if not for Sandfort and his contributions. He was huge in the 20 point comeback against Minnesota and was huge against a win over Nebraska and Wisconsin. The guard is a good player and is making sure that people start recognizing him as one of Iowa’s stars.

Sandfort had a huge week and did something that no Iowa player in history had ever done. In a win over Penn State, the guard recorded the first triple-double in Iowa history. He scored 27 points on 3-11 shooting, 2-7 from deep, and a ridiculous 18-19 from the free throw line. He added 10 rebounds and 10 assists and 3 blocks. It was a 9-point win against a Penn State team who has also been playing very well. Iowa needs all of the wins they can get. Sandfort was back at it again in a huge win at Northwestern. He was huge in that game down the stretch and it was a win Iowa had to have. The guard scored 23 points on 7-14 shooting, 4-8 from deep, and 5-5 from the free throw line. Sandfort showed his ability to stuff a stat sheet when he added 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The Hawkeyes needed everything they got from Sandfort to win both games this week.

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The guard has really come on as of late and he is the best shooter for Iowa on an Iowa team that doesn't shoot the ball very much from deep. Iowa is finally starting to appear in NCAA tournament brackets and most of that can be attributed to Sandfort and his emergence as the player that needs to be stopped for Iowa. He is also the key player for Iowa to score for them to be successful. Sandfort gives the Hawkeyes a dimension they didn’t have earlier in the year and if he continues to play like this the Hawkeyes are very dangerous.