Bryce Cotton didn’t sit for a minute this week as he led Providence to victories past St. John’s and Creighton. The senior point guard has been named NetScouts Basketball’s National Player of the Week for games through January 19th.
Cotton started the week by flirting with a triple-double in a double overtime victory over St. John’s. He finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in fifty minutes of action as the Friars topped the Red Storm 84-83. Only two days later, Cotton logged another 40 minutes versus Creighton where he recorded 23 points, six assists, and three rebounds.
“Everyone keeps asking me, `When is Bryce going to come out of the game?’ The reply is never,” Providence head coach Ed Cooley told the Associated Press. “When he graduates, he’ll come out of the game.”
The 6-foot-1 native of Tucson, Arizona has developed into an all-around scorer who can attack off the dribble and operate the pick-and-roll. He possesses a good-looking jumper, but his shooting percentages from the field (40 percent) and three-point range (32 percent) have been the lowest since his freshman year.
As a distributor, Cotton has massively improved, which shows in his drastically enhanced 5.8 assists per game. He has developed into a senior leader and although he lacks ideal size and strength, Cotton is simply a basketball player who is the second leading scorer in the Big East. Also, he’s only 21 years old despite playing in his senior season, so there can still be some upside in his development.
Cotton has transformed from a relative unknown on the high school level into one of the best players in the Big East. He’ll be essential the rest of the season while trying to lead Providence to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004.
Internationally, there were plenty of deserving candidates worthy of consideration, but Michigan’s Nik Stauskas earned NetScouts Basketball’s International Player of the Week honors for games through January 19th after impressive showings in wins over Penn State and Wisconsin.
In an 80-67 win over Penn State, the Mississauga, Ontario native had a game-high 21 points (7-12 FG, 3-8 3FG) in addition to six rebounds and five assists. He was even more impressive on the road against Wisconsin where he scored another game-high with 23 points (7-17 FG, 3-9 3FG) to go with four rebounds and four assists. Stauskas put his seal on the upset win with a masterful, clutch step back between the legs dribble that led to a three with 48 seconds left.
“He kind of slid forward a little bit and I was open for 3 and I just tried to be aggressive and shoot it,” Stauskas told the Associated Press after the game.
That play was a symbol for Stauskas’ sophomore season where he has grown from a spot-up shooter into an overall scoring threat. He can still shoot the three at a 44 percent rate, but he’s added a dribble-drive game that has allowed him to create his own shot. He can light it up from behind the arc or utilize a shot fake that results in a pull up jumper or drive to the rim. This has resulted in an extra 4.2 free throws per game compared to last season. Stauskas has enough size at 6-foot-6 to play shooting guard in the NBA and has flashed his athletic ability with some soaring dunks this season.
Stauskas can improve defensively as he has a tendency to be beat off the dribble. He can also add strength to his frame to build on his 205-pound base. With his shooting touch and added scoring abilities, Stauskas has the possibility of becoming a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Michigan is now off to a 5-0 start in Big Ten play behind the play of Stauskas. They will face two major tests this week at home against Iowa and on the road versus Michigan State. With Stauskas leading the way, the Wolverines hope to come together for another deep tournament run this season.
Cameron Schott is a Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball. Thanks to friarbasketball.com for the Cotton photo and phillygodfather.com for the Stauskas photo.