OVC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ja Morant, G 6-3, 175, So. Dalzell, S.C. Murray State
In two wins last week Morant averaged 26.5 points, 10.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks/game while hitting 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from the field, 50 percent (4-of-8) from 3-point range and 81.3 percent (13-of-16) from the free throw line. He opened the week with 30 points (his fifth 30-plus point effort of the season), nine assists, two steals, a block and rebound in a home victory over UT Martin. The sophomore hit 9-of-14 field goals, 3-of-6 3-pointers and 9-of-11 free throws in the win. He allowed that with 23 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 32 minutes of action against Southeast Missouri. Morant hit 9-of-12 shots (1-of-2 3-pointers) and 4-of-5 free throws in the 36-point win. That marked his 17th double-double of the season, which ranks eighth nationally (he is the only player under 66 tall in the top 17 nationally in that category. Morant now has 13 games this season with 20 points and 10 assists in a game; no other Division I player has three such games this year. He leads Division I in assists (10.3/game) and ranks seventh in scoring (24.4 points/game); he is looking to become the first Division I player to average 20 points and 10 assists/game in a season since assists became an official NCAA statistic in 1983-84. He is only 33 assists away from 10th place in NCAA single-season history. This marks the eighth time this season Morant has been named OVC Player of the Week, tying Morehead States Kenneth Faried (2010-11) for the most in a single-season in league history.
Others Nominated: Terry Taylor, Austin Peay; Dylan Windler, Belmont; Nick Mayo, Eastern Kentucky; James Baker, Morehead State; Brandon Jackson, SIUE; Jared Sherfield, Tennessee Tech; Craig Randall II, UT Martin.
CO-NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
Darnell Cowart, F 6-8, 295, Jr. Chicago, Ill. Murray State
Cowart, the transfer from Cowley County Community College, averaged 17.0 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists/game while hitting 56 percent (14-of-25) from the field and 85.7 percent (6-of-7) from the free throw line in a pair of home wins. The junior opened the week with 22 points, 13 rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes against UT Martin. In that win he connected on 8-of-12 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws. Two days later he had 12 points and 12 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action against Southeast Missouri. Cowart hit 6-of-13 field goals in the win. He now has five double-doubles on the season, four of which have come during the month of February.
CO-NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
Craig Randall II, G 6-4, 185, R-Jr. Youngstown, Ohio UT Martin
Randall averaged 26.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists/game while hitting 52.8 percent (19-of-36) from the field, 45.0 percent (9-of-20) from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the free throw line in two games. He had a career-best 33 points on Saturday at Austin Peay. In that game he hit 12-of-18 shots (6-of-10 3-pointers) and 3-of-3 free throws while also adding a rebound, assist and steal. It marked the first 30-plus point effort by a UT Martin player against an OVC foe since February 2017. He opened the week with 19 points, three rebounds and two assists against league-leader Murray State. In that game he hit 7-of-18 shots and 2-of-2 free throws. Since transferring from Duquesne and becoming eligible in January, Randall has averaged a team-best 16.8 points/game.
Others Nominated: Jabari McGhee, Austin Peay; Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey, Tennessee State.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Nick Muszynski, C 6-11, 235, Fr. Pickerington, Ohio Belmont
In two wins last week Muszynski averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks/game while hitting 65.2 percent (15-of-23) from the field. The center opened the week with 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks in a win over Eastern Illinois. In that game he hit 8-of-12 field goals in 24 minutes of action. Two days later he had 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes against SIUE. In that win he hit 7-of-11 field goals. Muszynski ranks eighth in the OVC (and first among freshmen) in scoring (15.0 points/game), is 28th nationally (first in the OVC) in blocked shots (2.15/game) and 22nd nationally in field goal percentage (60.4%). This marks the sixth time this season he has been named OVC Freshman of the Week.
Others Nominated: Jomaru Brown, Eastern Kentucky; Tevin Brown, Murray State; Jared Sherfield, Tennessee Tech.