This is the last week of January. February is the shortest month of the year. March Madness will be here before you know it. I can't wait. I am even excited about the bubble talk because this year's tournament is so wide open. Tier 1 teams are jockeying for position, and teams in Tiers 2 and 3 are hoping that their good regular season will not be spoiled by a fluky loss in the conference tournament.
This week, a pattern emerged as I picked players. I almost went with Florida State guard Aaron Thomas to add to the pattern, but he doesn't deserve much more than a mention based on his name. Let's look at this week's septet and you'll see what I mean.
Steven Adams, center, Pittsburgh Panthers
Adams was expected to be one of the best freshmen in the Big East, but he has been a work in progress. The 7-footer from New Zealand had some nice games in the non-conference slate against smaller opponents. For example, he had 16 points and 10 rebounds against Bethune-Cookman in December. In Big East play, he has concentrated on rebounding and equaled his career high with 14 rebounds Saturday in the win over DePaul. Big men take longer to adjust, so Adams, who averages 6.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, is a player to keep an eye on.
Robert Carter, forward, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Like Adams, Carter is coming off a good game. He had a season-high 20 points on 9-of-10 from the field in the win over Wake Forest. Carter helped the team win its first ACC game and snap a five-game losing streak. The 6-8 power player has been a nice addition to the Yellow Jackets and averages 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds. He only hits 31.4 percent of his 3-pointers, but has hit five of his last nine long-range attempts. The future is bright for Carter.
Devin Thomas, forward, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Now we get to the Thomas section of our program. Thomas, a 6-9 forward from Pennsylvania, has picked up his play since the calendar turned to 2013. In eight games in January, Thomas has averaged 8.9 points and 10.8 rebounds. He put his name on the map with 25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and four blocks in the win over North Carolina State on Jan. 22. The one hole in Thomas' game is free-throw shooting where he is hitting just 48.5 percent.
Fred Thomas, guard, Mississippi State Bulldogs
I wrote about Thomas' teammate Craig Sword last week, and there are plenty of minutes available for freshman in Starksville. The 6-5 guard opened the season as a starter, but has come off the bench in his last eight games. The role appears to suit Thomas, who has averaged 15.0 points in his last four games and 11.1 points on the season. The native of Jackson, Miss., only hits 26.6 percent of his 3-pointers, but has hit 41 percent of his long-range shots in his last five games.
Mandell Thomas, guard, Fordham Rams
For our last Thomas, we head to Fordham, which has been buried in the A10 for as long as anyone can remember. Forward Chris Gaston has put the Rams on the fantasy map, but he is now a senior and having his worst statistical season. Thomas is a 6-2 guard who has started the last eight games and has averaged 10.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. The Rams are playing for next year, so they will give Thomas plenty of time (he had 40 minutes Saturday in the win over Rhode Island).
Max Guercy, guard, Rice Owls
Rice is in a similar position as Fordham. The Owls have lost eight of their last nine games with their only win coming over New Orleans, which is reclassifying out of Division I. Guercy, a 5-9 guard from California, has played big minutes and produced of late. In his last four games, he has averaged 13.0 points and 5.0 assists. Against the Privateers, he had 18 points, six assists and five steals. With Tamir Jackson being a senior, Guercy could be a nice player to add now for next year in keeper leagues.
Siyani Chambers, guard, Harvard Crimson
I complained about having to watch Harvard and Dartmouth on Saturday when I wanted to see New Mexico and San Diego State. I did get a chance to take a gander at the 6-0 Chambers as he led the Crimson past the Big Green with 21 points. He hits 44.3 percent of his 3-pointers and averages 13.2 points and 6.1 assists to keep the Harvard schooner afloat in what could have been a disastrous season. Chambers plays 37.7 minutes and is producing nicely in his first year in Cambridge.
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