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The Dean's List: Sooner or later

The Dean's List: Sooner or later

The Dean's List: Sooner or later

Watching Blake Griffin play basketball is like watching some mad scientist's abomination rampage through a sleepy village.

Oklahoma's burly 6-foot-10 forward is a cut-and-paste of every desirable trait that college coaches dream about. On top of his God-given frame, Griffin has the most explosive ups in NCAA hoops since Jason Richardson left MSU.

His leaping ability and nose for the ball makes him the country's finest rebounder. He's grabbed 21 boards in each of the last two games and averages almost 20 a night to kick off the season. Just watch replays of the last four games or take in the tasty matchup with USC December 4. Check out where Griffin grabs the ball and pan down to see where the closest opponents' hands are. Sick.

He's improved his work around the basket and isn't just collecting put-backs and alley-oops. Griffin even dropped a three during the Sooners' scare against Gardner-Webb Saturday, making him 2-for-2 from beyond the arc this year.

He leads by example on both ends of the floor as well as in the locker room. Griffin is becoming the vocal leader, getting behind his freshman teammates and providing wisdom beyond his sophomore experience.

His field goal percentage is as constant as Samuel L. Jackson's movie career. For a guy who plays over 35 minutes a game and is the team's No. 1 option, Griffin has missed just 13 shots in four games. He must, however, get better from the line. He's clanking too many freebies and 56 percent won't cut it for a guy going to the stripe 12 times a game. Just look at what's happened to Memphis.

While impressive, Griffin's numbers aren't exactly transforming OU into the must-bet team of non-conference play.

Books have only hung numbers on two of the Sooners' contests so far, but they wouldn't have covered against the Runnin' Bulldogs and could easily be 1-2 against the spread. Both Gardner-Webb and Davidson have the offenses to upset a major conference school, as shown in seasons past.

Besides the obvious improvement needed on defense, Oklahoma must complement Griffin's presence in the paint with a solid perimeter game. It shot under 42 percent from the floor and 7-of-27 from 3-point range this weekend.

Without the threat of an outside shot, opponents will pack the key with 2-3 zones and everything that Griffin has accomplished to start the schedule will be three times as hard to continue as the season goes on. And for anyone that has marveled at Griffin's game in the past two weeks, we can't allow that to happen.

Smarten up Sooners.

Freshman hazing

This year's freshmen class pales in comparison to the two previous years, especially with top recruit Brandon Jennings earning a cool milli learning Italian.

But despite a lack of guaranteed first-overall talent, the new crop of freshmen are very promising. Let's hand out some early report cards to the top recruits heading into the season.

Samardo Samuels (Louisville Cardinals): A

Who doesn't love this big, bruising forward? Well, maybe the rest of Big East. Samuels is a monster in the paint and thrives on contact. He's scored 18 and 24 points in his first two games against weak frontcourts.

He must be more active on the glass and get to the line a lot more. He's shot only nine free throws in those two games and unlike some guys, Samuels can knock them down. Possible matchup of the year when he and Pitt's DeJuan Blair collide in January.

B.J. Mullins (Ohio State Buckeyes): Incomplete

It's tough to rank Mullins on just one game in which the 7-footer played 20 minutes against Delaware State. Mullins has a hard act to follow with the caliber of big man coming out of OSU the last two years.

He will change shots in the paint, much like Greg Oden, and that is something that won't show up on stat sheets. We'll get a better look at Mullins in the Buckeyes' tilt with Bowling Green Monday and Samford Saturday.

Jrule Holiday (UCLA Bruins): B-

The versatile guard is not off to a booming start, but is putting up solid numbers and has watched his minutes increase. He is a combination of departed shooting guard Russell Westbrook's athleticism and backcourt mate Darren Collinson's smarts and hard work.

Holiday is averaging over nine points in the first four games of the year, but more importantly is doing the little things like grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. It's just a matter of time before the Hollywood native posts his first triple-double.

Tyreke Evans (Memphis Tigers): B+

Derrick who? Evans is the next big thing in Tiger Town, exploding for 19 points in his first two games. He fills the scoring void left by Douglas-Roberts and Rose and is able to create within the offense. One thing is for sure, John Calipari has given the freshman the green light.

Evans has already jacked up 65 shots but is hitting at just 38 percent. He was 4-for-16 from the floor and 1-for-6 from 3-point range, totaling only 12 points in Memphis' loss to Xavier Sunday. Outside of his questionable shooting, Evans is a hawk on the glass and has found open teammates on the drive-and-dish.

Demar DeRozan (USC Trojans): C+

DeRozan might not even be the best freshman on the Trojans roster. Fellow first-year forward Leonard Washington not only shares his name with my favorite Chappelle's Show character but is almost averaging a double-double. Along with Taj Gibson, these two make up one of the sexiest frontcourts in college ball.

DeRozan was impressive in exhibition but isn't beating up on Div-II welding colleges anymore. He's consistent, scoring nine points a night while doing some good work under the rim. He had a nice 12-rebounded game against Chattanooga but USC needs more points from DeRozan than boards.

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