Now that the college basketball season has been going for a little over a month and the temperatures outside continue to drop, it’s only right to bring up one of my favorite sayings:
IT MIGHT BE GETTING COLD OUTSIDE BUT THE ACTION ON THE COURT IS HEATING UP!
With that in mind, it might be a good time to check in on those who are best suited to survive the harsh winter months. Those people, of course, are our Large Adult Sons.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Karnowski Award - which will be given out to the best Large Adult Son at the end of the year - you can catch up on it and see our preseason watch list here.
Let’s get to the rankings.
1. Brandon McCoy - UNLV
The McDonald’s All-American has been better than advertised for UNLV so far. McCoy has been a nightly double-double threat with averages of above 20 points and 11 rebounds each game. His coming out party consisted of 33 points and 10 rebounds against Deandre Ayton, and he’s been the biggest reason for UNLV’s 8-2 start.
2. Jock Landale - Saint Mary’s
Saint Mary’s at-large hopes have taken a bit of a hit, but Landale has been as good as ever. He’s increased his scoring every year of his career, and he’s putting up 21.2 points per game so far this year. The Gaels are still incredibly efficient on offense, and Landale remains the focal point. It’ll be interesting to see how Gonzaga’s frontcourt fares against Landale when the two teams meet on January 18.
3. Mike Daum - South Dakota State
Our preseason favorite has fallen a bit in the rankings due to a slow start. Many pegged him as a good bet to lead the nation in scoring, but he’s “only” putting up 20 per game. Teams are doing whatever they can to throw different looks at him and make him work for his points, and his shooting numbers are down so far. However, once conference play arrives, don’t be surprised if Daum goes on a tear against the league he tore apart last year.
4. Johnny Hamilton - UT Arlington
Kevin Hervey and Erick Neal are the headliners for UTA, but Hamilton has been just as integral to their success so far. The 7-footer has blossomed into a solid two-way player for Scott Cross. With averages of 13.1 points, nine rebounds and over two blocks per game, Hamilton has provided an anchor down low on both ends. His continued development will be something to watch as this senior-laden Mavericks team tries to finally make the tournament.
5. Shakur Juiston - UNLV
One might think that Brandon McCoy has been UNLV’s best rebounder, but Juiston actually gets the nod. After being named JUCO Player of the Year last year, he’s averaging a double-double alongside McCoy with 14.2 points and 11.2 boards. There are few, if any, frontcourts in the Mountain West that will be able to match up with these two on the glass.
6. Akolda Manyang - Utah Valley
At the risk of intruding on resident WAC expert Greg Mitchell’s territory, it’s hard not to acknowledge how good Manyang has been. After failing to crack the rotation at Oklahoma, Manyang is flourishing on both ends for Mark Pope. For as good as he has been on offense, his ability to protect the rim and block shots has had the biggest impact so far this year.
7. Bryce Washington - Louisiana Lafayette
The Ragin’ Cajuns are quietly 8-2, and Washington is putting up double-double numbers for the second straight year. He’s never going to put up the offensive numbers like Daum or Landale, but he’s still going to own the boards. He’s pulled down at least 10 rebounds in seven games so far, including the last five games.
8. Brandon Gilbeck - Western Illinois
The Leathernecks are 7-2, which might not seem like a huge deal until you realize that they only won eight games last year. Gilbeck doesn’t get recognized by many, but some of his numbers are dominant. On defense, he’s been one of the nation’s best shot blockers at 3.7 per game. On offense, he’s converting on a measly 75 percent of his field goals. Simply put, Gilbeck has been better across the board this year.