ROUNDBALL DAILY

DAILY DISH: Memphis is a fraud; Kansas looks like a No. 1 team

Memphis is a fraud. 

Joe Jackson and Memphis have been underwhelming against quality opponents. (Commercial Appeal)

Joe Jackson and Memphis have been underwhelming against quality opponents. (Commercial Appeal)

This seems to happen to them every year under Josh Pastner. A high national preseason ranking, an early blowout loss, a fall from the Top 25, and then a string of wins over nobodies and a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s not their fault, necessarily–it’s just, they’re not all that good. Point guard Joe Jackson was hailed as one of the top recruits in America and a McDonald’s All-American, but he hasn’t played like that in college. He’s small (looks shorter than the 6-1 he’s listed at), easily overwhelmed and sometimes struggles to get his shot off.

Oklahoma State humiliated the Tigers in Stillwater, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they lost again in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. There’s also a big contest with Florida on December 17 that would go a long way in restoring the Tigers’ credibility.

***

Get to know Joel Embiid now. He's going to be a top-five pick in the 2014 draft. (AP/Orlin Wagner)

Get to know Joel Embiid now. He’s going to be a top-five pick in the 2014 draft. (AP/Orlin Wagner)

Despite all the hype surrounding Andrew Wiggins, freshman center Joel Embiid has been Kansas’ most impressive newcomer. The 7-0 center has dominated the paint for the Jayhawks, and is an automatic two on the alley-oop. (Point guard Naadir Tharpe threw him one from almost half court in Kansas’ win over Iona on Tuesday). Embiid scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and blocked 2 shots in the 86-66 win over the Gaels.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas compared his game to a homeless man’s Hakeem Olajuwon, and that’s not a bad comparison. He’s not going to be Olajuwon–obviously—but he’s got good footwork in the post and is more athletic and skilled than most college big men. He will be one of the first players chosen in the 2014 NBA Draft should he decide to come out. It’s scary to think that Embiid, a native of Cameroon, only has a few years of organized basketball under his belt.

Wiggins has been underwhelming thus far, but maybe that’s because of all the hype surrounding him coming in. He had the quietest 22 points in the history of basketball in the Champions Classic showdown against Duke (save for a breakaway dunk and a flash-of-brilliance step back from the baseline). He did put up 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against Iona, but he didn’t jump out at you at any point during the game.

Jabari Parker out-played Wiggins in the Champions Classic and looked like the more NBA-ready player, with a sweet shooting stroke, impressive post game and pro body. He’s much more filled-out than Wiggins is, and both players stand at 6-8. Wiggins is a twig compared to Parker. We understand Wiggins will continue to get better as the season progresses, but right now, Parker looks like the guy who should be the No. 1 pick.

Speaking of Kansas, the Jayhawks have our vote as the No. 1 team in the nation. Sophomore Perry Ellis has stepped up and become the go-to-guy for the ‘Hawks, and is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. (He’s the veteran leader on this team).

Ellis looks like he’s going to have a big season, and could vie for Big 12 Player of the Year and even All-American honors if he continues to ball like this. With continued improved play from point guard Naadir Tharpe, big contributions from Wiggins, Embiid and Ellis, and excellent depth in forwards Jamari Traylor and Tarik Black and guard Wayne Selden, Jr., this might be the most talented team in the nation.

They’re going to be a beast come tournament time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.