Iowa State is off to the best start in school history after defeating Boise State in the finals of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The play of point guard DeAndre Kane, in victories over Akron and Boise State, has earned him NetScouts Basketball’s National Player of the Week honors for games through December 29th.
Kane had a double-double with 15 points (7-of-15 FG), 11 rebounds, and five assists in an 83-60 victory over Akron. He followed it with 23 points (8-of-14 FG, 4-of-6 3PT), five rebounds, two assists, and only one turnover in the championship game against Boise State to capture MVP honors.
“It was a great experience in Hawaii, we had fun there,” Kane said in a video interview by Bill Neibergall for DesMoinesRegister.com. “Boise State in the championship game gave us a run there, but we found a way to pull through, stick together, and come home with the championship.”
The 6-foot-4 transfer from Marshall has been a major contributor in his senior season. Kane is averaging 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. He’s used his size to take advantage of smaller defenders but has been able to stretch the defense as he’s shooting 35 percent from three-point range.
Shot selection and reckless play were questions coming into the season, but Kane has taken good shots this year and is averaging only 2.4 turnovers per game. If Kane can keep performing at the rate he has shown this season, the senior should receive some NBA looks and the opportunity to fight for a roster spot.
After an 11-0 start, Iowa State will play Northern Illinois on Tuesday before starting Big 12 play. With Kane running the show, the Cyclones are ready to compete for a conference title.
In a season highlighted by freshmen hype, it’s no surprise that a diaper dandy played a major role in a top ten match-up. Tyler Ennis of Syracuse, a native of Brampton, Ontario, has been named NetScouts Basketball’s International Player of the Week for games through December 29th.
In 37 minutes of action, Ennis scored 20 points (6-of-14 FG) to go with four rebounds and two assists as he led Syracuse in a 78-62 win past Villanova. He didn’t commit a turnover despite being the primary ball handler on the team.
“He’s just really clever,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said of Ennis in an article by Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated. “He kind of lulls people to sleep like he’s not going. And we’re getting good movement to create lanes for him.”
Ennis has officially shown himself to be among the elite freshmen. He’s averaging 12.8 points, 5.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and only 1.1 turnovers per game this season. The Canadian has shown poise beyond his years with his patience and decision making. He makes very few mistakes and can set up his teammates for open looks or attack and create for himself. On the defensive end, he’s a perfect fit for Boeheim’s 2-3 zone due to his length.
The biggest areas that are lacking in Ennis’ game are in his athleticism and outside shooting. He isn’t an elite athlete, which causes him to struggle in transition at times, and although Ennis is also shooting 40 percent from three-point range, he has been inconsistent as he’s averaging less than one made three per game. He’s only taken 25 attempts from behind the arc in 12 games this season, but if Ennis proves to be a real threat from behind the arc then this could round out his offensive arsenal.
If Ennis declares for the NBA Draft after this season, he could be a late draftee in the second round; however, it would be good to see him return for his sophomore season. He can still polish his offensive game and if he has an improvement like Michael Carter-Williams (who averaged 2.7 points per game in his freshman season) then Ennis will see his stock soar.
Syracuse is looking like a legitimate championship contender due to the unexpected play from Ennis and Trevor Cooney in the backcourt. With the way Ennis is operating this squad, the Orange could go far in March.
Cameron Schott is a Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball. Thanks to Iowa State Athletics and syracuse.com for the photos.