PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KJ Williams, F • 6-10, 245, Jr. • Cleveland, Miss. • Murray State
Williams was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Naples Invitational after averaging 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists/game and hitting 61.9 percent (26-of-42) from the field and 40 percent (4-of-10) from 3-point range in a trio of games. He opened the event with 18 points and 10 rebounds against ETSU, which marked his first double-double of the season. A day later he had a season-best 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting (4-of-6 3-pointers) in an 80-43 victory over Long Beach State. Williams closed the week in leading the Racers to a 12-point win over James Madison by tallying 13 points, eight rebounds and an assist. Williams ranks first in the OVC in scoring (19.2 points/game), fourth in field goal percentage (58.5%), sixth in 3-point percentage (45.5%) and seventh in rebounding (6.5/game).
Others Nominated: Elijah Hutchins-Everett, Austin Peay; Kashawn Charles, Eastern Illinois; Skyelar Potter, Morehead State; Ray’Sean Taylor, SIUE; Jr. Clay, Tennessee Tech; Darius Simmons, UT Martin.
NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
Mamoudou Diarra, F • 6-9, 225, Jr. • Bamako, Mali • Tennessee Tech
Diarra, the transfer from Cincinnati, averaged 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 assists/game while hitting 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from the field, 50 percent (4-of-8) from 3-point range and 75 percent (3-of-4) from the free throw line in two games. He had a career-high 21 points in an 88-77 victory over Lipscomb to open the week. Diarra hit 8-of-13 field goals (including 3-of-6 3-pointers) while hauling in seven rebounds and adding a block, steals and assists with only one turnover in 33 minutes of action. At nationally-ranked Tennessee, he had six points, four rebounds, a block and assists in 25 minutes. He ranks fourth in the OVC in blocks (1.3/game) and ninth in rebounding (6.0/game).
Others Nominated: Cameron Copeland, Austin Peay; Kejuan Clements, Eastern Illinois; Tray Hollowell, Morehead State; Trae Hannibal, Murray State; Darius Simmons, UT Martin.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Phillip Russell, G • 5-10, 165, R-Fr. • St. Louis, Mo. • Southeast Missouri
In four games last week (three at the UIW Thanksgiving Invitational in San Antonio), Russell averaged 17.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals/game while hitting 51.3 percent (20-of-39) from the field, 55.6 percent (10-of-18) from 3-point range and 72.0 percent (18-of-25) at the free throw line. In a home game to open the week he had 18 points, four rebounds and three assists in a win over Missouri Baptist. The redshirt freshmen hit 5-of-8 field goals (3-of-3 3-pointers) in the win. In SEMO’s 79-76 win at Incarnate Word, he added 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. Against Portland he had 19 points (on 7-of-10 shooting), four rebounds, four assists and a steal and capped the week with a season-best 21 points against Montana State. Against the Bobcats he had three assists and two rebounds while hitting 7-of-8 free throws. He has now scored in double-figures in six-straight gamesd ranks third among OVC freshmen in scoring (13.6 points/game).
Others Nominated: Elijah Hutchins-Everett, Austin Peay; Rodolfo Bolis, Eastern Illinois; Ray’Sean Taylor, SIUE; Josiah Morris, UT Martin