COLUMBUS, Ohio -- We are officially two months into the college basketball season and conference play has started for nearly every team. Let’s take a look at how some of the former stars of Columbus have performed.
Alonzo Campbell (Gahanna/Alcorn State)- Campbell returned to the Alcorn State lineup for the first time since November 16. He had a big game against South Florida, scoring 9 points and bringing in 5 rebounds. Campbell figures to have a big role as SWAC play continues because of his size.
Nick Muszynski (St. Charles/Belmont)- Muszynski hasn’t been as efficient as he was to start the season, but he’s still having a big freshmen year. He scored 14 points against Purdue and had 12 points in their win over Tennessee Tech. The OVC looks like a 3-team race right now between Murray State, Belmont and Jacksonville State, all teams that could win a game or 2 in the NCAA Tournament, so keep an eye on how Muszynski and Belmont perform.
Houston Smith (Africentric/Bethune-Cookman)- Smith has seen his minutes increase over the last few games. He had 13 points and 7 rebounds in their win over Boston in 30 minutes. His scoring average has increased to 5.5 PPG and it looks like Smith is going to play a big role for the Wildcats in MEAC play.
Caden Sanchez (DeSales/High Point)- Sanchez’s playing time has varied over the last few weeks, but he has a few big games. He scored 7 points against Ohio State and had 10 points against Washington College. The freshman’s time will likely continue to vary, but he has shown the potential to provide valuable minutes.
Antoine Smith (Westerville South/Incarnate Word)- Smith went cold for the Cardinals for a few games, but his last 3 performances have all been promising. He had 15 points and 6 rebounds against DePaul, 17 points against Nicholls and 8 points against McNeese. On the year, Smith is averaging 8.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG, solid numbers for a freshman.
Kent State Golden Flashes- Akiean Frederick (Franklin Heights) and BJ Duling (Newark) have last some minutes since Jaylin Walker returned, but both still have provided some scoring for a Kent State that looks like they could be one of the better MAC teams. Frederick is currently averaging 4.7 PPG and 3.6 RPG while Duling is averaging 3.6 PPG.
Taevion Kinsey (Eastmoor/Marshall)- We’ve mentioned before how big of a role Kinsey would have this season, and he’s finally starting to get some recognition. Jeff Goodman of ESPN gave Kinsey the recognition he deserves on Twitter the other day as Kinsey finally got in the starting lineup. He scored 13 points and had 7 rebounds against Old Dominion and followed that up with 14 points against Charlotte, both wins. Kinsey’s performance last week helped him garner Conference USA Freshman of the Week honors. Marshall is going to be a tough out in CUSA this year again.
Elijah McNamara (Miami/Pickerington North)- McNamara has also seen his minutes vary as the RedHawks’ season has progressed. He has scored at least one field goal in the last five games though and is averaging 2.6 PPG.
Nick Ward (Gahanna/Michigan State)- Nick Ward has been an absolute animal this season. He had a career high 28 points against Green Bay a few weeks back. Last week, he had 21 points against both Northwestern and Ohio State, both wins. Ward went 11-14 from the foul line against the Buckeyes. He also pulled in 8 rebounds. He’s averaging 16.7 PPG and 6.5 RPG. If he keeps playing like this the rest of the season, Michigan State has a great chance to go to the Final Four.
Sterling Manley (Pickerington Central/North Carolina)- Manley has missed the last two games because of a knee injury. As of right now, there is no timetable for his return.
Northern Kentucky Norse- Jalen Tate (Pickerington Central) has been fantastic for the Norse this season averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.9 APG. He had 25 points against UIC and almost had a triple-double against Detroit, scoring 11 points while bringing in 7 rebounds and dishing out 8 assists. Adrian Nelson (Pickerington Central) has provided some valuable buckets off the bench and is averaging 3 PPG. Northern Kentucky looks like the favorite in the Horizon League this season.
Dane Goodwin (Upper Arlington/Notre Dame)- With Rex Pflueger out for the season, Dane Goodwin has had to step up. He’s done a very solid job. He had 19 points against Jacksonville a few weeks back. He’s currently averaging 7 PPG on 32 percent shooting from 3. Pflueger being out could be very valuable though for the Irish down the road as Goodwin is gaining valuable experience as a freshman.
Braden Norris (Hilliard Bradley/Oakland)- Norris has finally cooled off slightly, but the freshman is still having a very solid season. He scored 18 points against Michigan State on 6-7 shooting from 3, and despite not scoring against Wright State he was still able to pull in 5 rebounds and dish out 6 assists. He’s still shooting 60 percent from three, best in the country.
Ohio Bobcats- It was another solid week for both Doug Taylor (Northland) and Jason Carter (Johnstown), who have still been playing at a very high level. Taylor is averaging 8.1 PPG and 8.8 RPG. He had 16 rebounds a few weeks back against Radford. Carter has been the star though. He’s averaging 17.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG. He had 20 points against Detroit and 19 points against FIU. He’s their star player and one of the best players in the MAC.
Ohio State Buckeyes- It’s officially time to start talking about Kaleb Wesson (Westerville South) being the best big man in the Big Ten. He’s been fantastic this season. He had 31 points against Youngstown State a few weeks back. He had 25 points and 8 rebounds against Michigan State. He’s averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.9 RPG. He’s the big reason the Buckeyes have had so much success. Andre Wesson (Westerville South) has also excelled as the top defender for the Buckeyes. He’s still averaging 7.6 PPG, but the work he’s done defensively this year can’t go unnoticed. The Wesson brothers could be the main reason OSU is 12-2.
Javon Bess (Gahanna/Saint Louis)- The best team in the A10 needs Bess to play like he has been lately the whole season if they want to make the tournament. He had 20 points against Appalachian State and followed that up with 24 points against Rhode Island. He’s also their best defender. The A10 has struggled this season, but I still think Saint Louis would be a dangerous out in the tournament, as Bess and his 16.1 PPG and 7.1 RPG are a big reason why.
Connor Kern (Pickerington Central/The Citadel)- Kern struggled last week, but he’s still having a solid season. He’s averaging 8.4 PPG and is shooting 40 percent from 3. The Citadel are also still fascinating to watch with their style of play.
Josh Gantz (Bishop Ready/UMass-Lowell)- Gantz continued to be a force for the River Hawks over Christmas break. He’s been in double figures in every game but three this year, and is averaging 11.9 PPG this season. He’s also improved a lot from three-point range this year, shooting 39 percent, a career best.
Ross Ryan (Pickerington North/USC-Upstate)- Ryan has been playing a decent amount for the Spartans lately. He scored 10 points against Coker and had 4 points against Georgia Tech. He’s averaging 2.7 PPG this year.
Matt Moyer (Gahanna/Vanderbilt)- Moyer seems like he is still trying to find his footing with Vanderbilt. He scored 10 points against Tennessee State, but he’s been held scoreless in a few games. He is averaging 4.5 PPG though and is shooting 35 percent from three-point range. Vanderbilt would be a tournament team if Darius Garland hadn’t injured his knee.
Onno Steger (Upper Arlington/Western Carolina)- Steger has had a solid season for the Catamounts. He’s averaging 9.4 PPG and is shooting 37 percent from three-point range. Against Samford, he had 23 points, a career high. He also put up 13 points and 8 rebounds against a solid Wofford team.
Khalil Iverson (Delaware Hayes/Wisconsin)- Iverson is one of the top glue guys in the Big Ten. He had 10 points against Western Kentucky to show off his scoring ability, and while he didn’t score against Penn State he did have 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Wisconsin could be a tough out in the tournament this season, and Iverson is a big reason why.
Jelani Simmons (Beechcroft/Youngstown State)- Simmons has had a few big weeks for the Penguins. He’s been on fire from three, evident by his 5-5 performance against Green Bay, a game in which he also scored a career-high 17 points. He’s also rebounding well for a guard, averaging 2.2 RPG. Simmons looks like one he could be a future star in the Horizon League.
Urbana freshman guard Datrey Long (Beechcroft) made history on Monday. Following his career-high 26 points on 6-10 shooting from three in a win over Salem on Saturday, Long became the first player in Urbana program history to be named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week. Long is averaging 11.1 points per game and has been Urbana's sixth man all year, seeing more than 23 minutes per contest.