Arkansas opened SEC play this week with a pair of victories behind two outstanding performances from Bobby Portis. The Little Rock, Ark. native has been named NetScouts Basketball's National Player of the Week for games from January 5th to January 11th.
The 6-foot-11 sophomore opened conference play with 21 points and five rebounds as Arkansas handled Georgia, 79-75. He then contributed a season-high 32 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals in an 82-70 victory against Vanderbilt. On the week, Portis averaged 26.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game while shooting 65.6 percent (21-32) from the field.
Portis was a potential one-and-done candidate last season, but returned for his sophomore year and has Arkansas ranked in the AP Top 25. After the Razorbacks suffered back-to-back losses in early December, Arkansas has rattled off seven straight victories and looks like a major threat in the SEC. Portis has been the engine for the success, averaging team-highs in points per game (18.1), rebounds per game (7.8), blocks per game (1.0), and field goal percentage (58.2 percent). While Kentucky is the clear conference favorite, Arkansas will challenge the Wildcats for the top spot.
Another big man across the country had a successful week of his own, as Przemek Karnowski led Gonzaga to two conference wins. The 7-foot-1 junior has been named NetScouts Basketball's International Player of the Week for games from January 5th to January 11th.
Karnowski, a native of Torun, Poland, was close to perfect this week. He scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting in an 88-57 wins against San Francisco and responded with an even more impressive 18 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting in a 79-57 victory over Santa Clara. He averaged 17.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game this week while shooting 75 percent (15-20) from the floor and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Gonzaga is now 16-1 on the season with its lone loss coming in overtime at Arizona. Karnowski is one of four Bulldogs averaging double-figures while he leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per game. As one of four international recruits on the roster, Karnowski has helped Gonzaga climb into the national discussion. He's one of many reasons the Bulldogs will be national title contenders in March.
Carl Berman is Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball.