Sudbury Five player registered season-highs in points, rebounds, blocks
By José Colorado
One floundering, another flourishing - however one is to evaluate the play of Sudbury Five players Jaylen Bland and Cory Dixon, the bottom line is the pair have established a first in the NBLC Newcomers.
With Bland remaining a staple since the inception of this leaderboard and Dixon emerging with his stellar play of late, the Five have officially become the first team to have multiple players on this list.
While the former's numbers have slipped of late they still easily rank amongst the best for newcomers.
Whereas Dixon has become an undeniable force only recently following a tour de force performance.
Ultimately teams will want their players hitting their strides in a few months' time but for the meanwhile the footnote comes as an interesting tidbit of information for any faithful followers.
1. Sampson Carter (Island Storm, 2-8)
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Previous professional experience: Portugal, Dominican Republic, U.S. (NBA), Mexico, Philippines
Season stats: 24.5 points per game (40.1 per cent field goal shooting), 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists
At this point Sampson Carter appears to be competing against himself.
This past week the forward went for 33 points (12-of-26 field goal shooting), six rebounds and three assists in his lone game against the Moncton Magic on Dec.28.
Efficiency has always been an issue for the forward but even that was improved upon as Carter put forth his third-best shooting nights of the year at 46.2 per cent from the floor, including a season-high six triples.
Carter again struggled with turnovers, registering five but when comparing Carter to his rivals that is something easily forgiven.
2. Jaylen Bland (Sudbury Five, 8-8)
Hometown: Reseda, Calif.
Previous professional experience: Luxemburg, Mexico, U.S. (NBA G-League)
Season stats: 19.5 points per game (38.1 per cent three-point shooting), 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists
Two consecutive single-digit games for the first time all season still isn't enough to knock Bland off the No.2 spot this week.
That's largely due to a scorching start to the season that left the 25-year-old's numbers – and vulnerability on this list - with a fair amount of wiggly room.
The Californian went for nine points (two-of-eight shooting) in 21 minutes this past week against the KW Titans before he sat out his squad's most recent game against the London Lightning on Dec.30.
Shooters shoot and they will go through ups and downs so perhaps not too much weight should be placed into Bland's recent struggles.
Up to this point the guard hadn't allowed his shooting woes to impact the other facets of his game – but that changed this past week as Bland registered a paltry one rebound (season-low) and one assist versus the Titans.
Whatever Bland is going through one must hope he figures it out sooner rather than later as the dynamic player has provided some of the most memorable scoring outbursts to date in the NBLC.
3. Frank Bartley (Saint John Riptide, 3-8)
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Previous professional experience: True rookie
Season stats: 15.8 points per game (43.5 field goal per cent shooting), five rebounds, 2.1 assists
It was a solid all-around week for Frank Bartley as the Louisianan averaged 14.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the Saint John Riptide's pair of matches.
Bartley's shooting numbers could have been better – in particular a four-of-12 outing against the Cape Breton Highlanders on Dec.29 - but he did make up for it by putting together his most complete game of the year in that same contest with 10 points, eight rebounds, six assists (season-high) and one steal.
It seems Bartley - who is the lone professional rookie of the bunch – has settled nicely into a 15-17 points per game range.
Now if he can only up his percentage points a few notches and continue to rebound and grow as a play-maker, he could make a serious run at Bland's spot in the future.
4. Cory Dixon (Sudbury Five, 8-8)
Hometown: Argyle, Texas
Previous professional experience: Britain, Belgium
Season stats: 12.9 points per game (48.1 per cent field goal shooting), 7.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks
A Chamberlain-esque effort from Cory Dixon made the Texan unavoidable come week seven as the forward makes his first appearance of the season on the Newcomers list.
Dixon logged season-best numbers with 26 points (nine-of-19 field goal shooting), 16 rebounds and three blocks in the Five's 105 – 103 loss to the Lightning on Dec.30.
The big man's efforts have steadily climbed as the season has drummed along with Dixon now recording a double-double in two of his last four outings.
During that same stretch the American has averaged 20 points and 10.5 rebounds on 53 per cent shooting.
To date there has been little to show for big men on this Newcomers list with St. John's Keith Wright Jr. making the most noticeable showing for a couple of weeks.
But if Dixon can continue his stellar play within the paint he should certainly be more than just a momentary blimp.
5. Xavier Moon (London Lightning, 6-7)
Hometown: Goodwater, Ala.
Previous professional experience: France
Season stats: 13.2 points per game (46.4 per cent field goal shooting), 5.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists
Although perhaps not possessing the explosive scoring capabilities of Bland or Bartley, Xavier Moon did what he does best this past week – impact the game in a variety of ways.
In his first game – a 108 -100 loss to the Windsor Express on Dec.28 – Moon went for 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and one steal.
He followed that up with a similarly juicy statline: eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Five on Dec.30.
Moon hasn't gone for 20-plus points in his past seven games but maybe at this point such scoring outings should be viewed as a bonus rather than an expectation.
If that is the case the international pro will have to continue to thrive in the auxiliary stats to remain in the top five.
Warming up the plane:
Joel Kindred, Halifax Hurricanes (8-8)
14.3 points per game (43.4 per cent three-point shooting), 4.6 rebounds