Olynyk’s rise from sub to redshirt to star is arguably the most surprising story of the season. January marked the peak of his emergence. Olynyk averaged 21.1 PPG and 7.5 RPG in just 27 minutes per game. His 31.4 points per 40 minutes ranked third in the nation during January. His month included back-to-back 30-point efforts, as well as a game in which he was perfect from the foul line and from the field.
Defense alone is putting Noel into the conversation to be the nation’s top freshman. He averaged 6.4 blocks per game in January. No one else even averaged four. It’s the highest block average in January since Fairfield’s Deng Gai averaged 6.9 in 2005. Of course, he wasn’t doing it in the SEC like Noel, who set Kentucky’s single-game record with 12. Look at it this way: Noel had three times as many blocks (51) as missed shots (17) during the month.
Arizona State was picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12, but now rests squarely on the tournament bubble. Carson’s the main reason, and his January shows why. He averaged 17.5 PPG (third among D-I freshmen) and 4.6 APG (tied for ninth among freshmen) during the month. On the season, he’s on pace to be the first major conference freshman since Shaheen Halloway in 1996-97 to average 17 PPG and 5 APG.
Jones hit more free throws than anyone else, and almost shot 90 percent from the line. He went 67-for-75 (89.3 percent) during the month, as he continues to make opponents pay for fouling him. That went a long way toward his 22.1 PPG during the month, which ranked seventh in the nation.
Clark hit 60 percent of his 3s during January, finishing the month 30-for-50. That led to a 78.0 effective field goal percentage, which led the nation. That’s the best shooting January since Boise State’s Tyler Tiedeman had a 79.9 eFG pct in 2008.
Howell led the nation with 13.4 RPG during January. Of course, that includes his 18-rebound effort in the Wolfpack’s upset of No. 1 Duke. Howell had at least 11 rebounds in every game during the month and he has two of the top three rebounding games in the ACC this season.
Sacred Heart’s Phil Gaetano led the nation in assists in January (9.6 APG), but no one had more assists per 40 minutes than Cooper (11.7). He either scored or assisted on 48 percent of the Bobcats’ field goals during the month. Ohio went 7-0 in January, and almost no one is as important to his own team.