Kansas’ Hunter Dickinson and Weber State’s Dillon Jones put in big-time performances to land on our awards list for the week of Nov. 12-18.
Each week here at Heat Check CBB, we look at 15 of the most notable college basketball players in the country using two tools. First, we call out three players from the Gold Star Guide, our in-house fantasy sports-style scoring system: the top overall scorer for the week; the top single-game performance; and the top-scoring freshman. Additionally, we use Bart Torvik’s T-Rank Player Stats page to find players who meet various statistical thresholds based on different on-court roles, which we collectively refer to as our Arthur awards, or simply, Arthurs.
It’s worth noting that the date range for these awards runs from Sunday to Saturday each week. With that in mind, here are the Heat Check CBB players of the week for Nov. 12-18, starting with a mid-major star who orchestrated a major upset out west.
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Player of the Week: Dillon Jones, Weber State
102.69 Gold Star points this week (34.23 avg.)
Jones is set to be one of the top mid-major players in the country this year, and he wasted no time proving it against Weber State’s first D1 opponent: then-ranked Saint Mary’s. The 6-6 dynamo went for 29 and 10 in the Wildcats’ 61-57 upset of the Gaels while playing all 40 minutes. The team’s follow-up was disappointing, but Jones still shined with 24 points and nine boards in a one-point loss to Gardner-Webb on Friday. He and the Wildcats bounced back nicely on Saturday against a solid Yale team, with Jones racking up 17 and 15 in an overtime win.
Freshman of the Week: Malik Mack, Harvard
109.41 Gold Star points this week (27.35 avg.)
According to 247Sports, Mack was a top-50 point guard in the 2023 class and the second-best prospect out of the DC area. The three-star recruit immediately earned the starting nod and looked like a five-star stud this past week, with 22 points in a win over crosstown rival Northeastern. Mack then exploded for 32 in a 78-75 overtime victory against UMass, adding six assists in the process. Harvard couldn’t get past another in-state foe in Boston College, but the freshman point guard still impressed with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds in the loss.
Performance of the Week: Hunter Dickinson, Kansas
56.49 Gold Star points (Nov. 14 vs. Kentucky)
The Champions Classic produced some high-level basketball between Kansas and Kentucky, and nobody was at a higher level than the 7-2 former All-American. Dickinson has quickly announced himself as a legitimate Player of the Year candidate, launching his campaign in earnest with a 27-point, 21-rebound performance against the Wildcats. As the top-billed star on the top-ranked team in the country, Dickinson could very well end up being the most important player in America this season — especially if he keeps playing like he did on Tuesday night.
Main Attraction: Trey Alexander, Creighton
Stat thresholds: 90.0 MIN%, 30.0 USG%, 120 ORtg (min. 2 games)
The Bluejays have an embarrassment of riches on the offensive end, and Alexander has been the most impressive of the flock thus far. The third-year guard flirted with triple-doubles in both of his games last week, opening with 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against Iowa on Tuesday night. Alexander was just 1-of-4 from beyond the arc in that one, but he found his stroke on Saturday against Texas Southern. He shot 5-of-11 from deep against the Tigers, finishing with 20 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Floor General: Tyrese Proctor, Duke
Stat thresholds: 75.0 MIN%, 30.0 AST%, 0.0 TO%
Following Duke’s loss to Arizona, in which Proctor posted the second-worst offensive rating in his past 22 games dating back to last year, the Aussie guard needed to make a statement this week. And he did just that. Proctor helped guide Duke to a Champions Classic win over Michigan State on Tuesday, scoring 13 points and racking up six assists and six rebounds without committing a single turnover. He played another clean game against Bucknell on Saturday, with another 13 points and four dimes. It seems the hype train is back on course for Proctor.
Surgeon: Matthew Cleveland, Miami (FL)
Stat thresholds: 70.0 eFG%, 35.0 3P%, 50.0 far 2P%, 65.0 close 2P%, 80.0 FT% (min. 5 attempts each)
Staying in the ACC, the Hurricanes are off to a quick start thanks in part to Cleveland’s deft shooting touch. The former Florida State Seminole was 8-of-10 from the field in a win over FIU on Monday, tying a career-high with 23 points. Then on Friday against Georgia, Cleveland scored 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting in another win. The 6-7 junior is shooting 61 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from deep this season. Now that he’s in Miami, the FSU transfer seems to be unlocking the potential that made him a top-30 recruit once upon a time.
Highlight Reel: Branden Carlson, Utah
Stat thresholds: 5 dunks, 5 3PM
Carlson met the five-dunk threshold and hit four 3-pointers during the Utes’ win over Wake Forest on Thursday, all part of his career-high 31 points against the Demon Deacons. (He also added five blocks for good measure, it should be noted, but those weren’t part of the thresholds this week.) It was good that he stocked up on the dunks and 3s against Wake, because they were much harder to come by against Houston’s indomitable defense. Carlson still had a respectable 17 points, but it came on a rough 4-of-13 shooting night that ended in defeat.
Junkyard Dog: Armando Bacot, North Carolina
Stat thresholds: 60.0 MIN%, 16.0 ORB%, 32.0 DRB% (min. 2 games)
The Tar Heels haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row thus far, but Bacot’s rebounding numbers are looking awfully dominant in the early going. Per KenPom, he is the only player in America to rank in the top 25 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates. The fifth-year senior had 20 boards against Lehigh last Sunday, which made the seven he grabbed against UC Riverside on Friday look rather pedestrian. Time will tell if North Carolina can fully erase the disappointment of last season, but Bacot’s first few games are an encouraging sign. Even better, Rodd Baxley of the Fayetteville Observer reports that all those rebounds may benefit more than just the Tar Heels:
Cutpurse: Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M
Stat thresholds: 60.0 MIN%, 8.0 STL%, < 2.0 FC/40 (min. 2 games)
After ranking in the top 50 nationally for steal rate the past two seasons, Taylor is on track to make it a trifecta. Just this past week, the Aggie guard notched six steals (and a block!) in a win over SMU on Tuesday and followed it up with three more swipes against Oral Roberts on Friday. Taylor’s 3-point shot is in a bit of a slump — just one make in 19 attempts since opening night — but his defensive chops certainly haven’t gone anywhere.
Artilleryman: Noah Van Bibber, Winthrop
Stat thresholds: 60.0 3P%, 10 3PA, 20.0 3PA/100 (min. 2 games)
Van Bibber didn’t play against the Eagles’ first two D1 opponents, but he made quite a statement in Week 2. The freshman logged 18 minutes against Holy Cross and went 6-of-8 from beyond the arc for a 22-point explosion. That scoring burst was quieted a bit against IUPUI (eight points), but Van Bibber still went 2-of-5 from deep to earn this specialist award. In fact, our artilleryman attempted just one 2-pointer last week — and missed it.
Infantryman: Derek Simpson, Rutgers
Stat thresholds: 85.0 FT%, 80.0 FT rate (min. 20 FTA)
Through the first two games of the season, Simpson had attempted exactly zero free throws. He made up for the slow start last week with 23 attempts over three games — and he cleaned up at the line, knocking down 21 of those shots. Free throw rate wasn’t exactly a strong suit for Simpson last year, by the way. As a freshman, the 6-3 guard only had two games with more than five free throw attempts. Now, he’s done it three times in a row.
Unicorn: PJ Hall, Clemson
Stat thresholds: 60 MIN%, 7.5 BLK%, 15.0 AST%, 40.0 3P% (min. 5 3PA)
Our first and only repeat winner from Week 1, Hall continued to impress in last Sunday’s nailbiter win over Davidson. The 6-10 senior had 17 points on 11 shots (2-of-5 on 3-pointers), dished out four assists to tie a career-high mark, and also logged a pair of blocks. The shooting and the blocks have been there in the past, but Hall’s early assist numbers are higher than they’ve ever been, and it’s part of why Clemson got out to a 3-0 start.
Brick Wall: Ryan Dunn, Virginia
Stat thresholds: 50.0 MIN%, 20.0 BLK% (min. 2 games)
Dunn certainly isn’t the tallest player, but the 6-8 Cavalier has a knack for picking up swats. Dunn rejected three attempts in 21 minutes against North Carolina A&T on Tuesday, and then he had four blocks on Thursday as Virginia held Texas Southern to just 33 points. He posted a block rate of over 10 percent off the bench last year, but his rate has actually increased despite a larger role. Also, Dunn’s defense also helped him produce an absolute gem on the other end of the court:
Glue Guy: Rivaldo Soares, Oklahoma
Stat thresholds: 60.0 MIN%, < 17.5 USG%, 120 ORtg, 5.0 ORB%, 15.0 DRB%, 15.0 AST% (min. 2 games)
Once upon a time, Soares arrived at Oregon as a JUCO transfer fresh off an NJCAA All-American selection. But things never fully clicked in Eugene, and now the 6-6 senior is starting anew at Oklahoma. His scoring has fluctuated a bit — two points on Tuesday against Texas State, then 15 against UTRGV on Friday — but so far, Soares has added solid rebounding, passing and defense to go with the highest offensive rating of his D1 career.
Secret Weapon: Sam Walters, Alabama
Stat thresholds: < 40.0 MIN%, 20.0 USG%, 170 ORtg (min. 2 games)
Walters was a four-star, top-100 prospect in this year’s recruiting class, and it hasn’t taken much time to see why. Coming off the bench for the Tide, the 6-8 forward exploded for 16 points in 16 minutes against South Alabama, making all four of his field goals — including his first three 3-pointers as a collegian. Walters added another seven points against Mercer on Friday and is now shooting a blistering 10-of-15 (.667) to begin his college career.