CANMORE, Alta. — After finishing in eighth place in the Summit League standings last season, many people were picking against the Western Illinois Leathernecks heading into 2017-18.
In the preseason Summit League poll, they were picked to finish eighth once more. With the departure of the IUPUI Jaguars to the Horizon League, that meant the Leathernecks were projected to finish last. They received 60 points in the poll, whereas the seventh place team received 104.
Based on their start to 2017-18, it’s safe to say that the Leathernecks have used that as motivation early on. Despite the loss of guard Garret Covington, among others, the Leathernecks are 5-2 this season, with a win over the aforementioned Jaguars to boot.
Leading the way is Dalan Ancrum, who is among the nation’s leading scorers with an average of 21.8 points per contest. A player we were high on during the preseason, Brandon Gilbeck, is among the nation’s leading shot blockers once again, averaging 3.2 per game.
However, with Ancrum being a senior, the Leathernecks needed their guard of the future to step up early on in 2017-18. They may have found their next star, in freshman guard Kobe Webster.
The native of Indianapolis, IN opened his collegiate career with a stat line of 19 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and four steals to lead Western Illinois to a season opening win. He sits second on the team in scoring, and has been a big factor in their strong start to the season.
For his efforts this past week, a stretch that saw the Leathernecks split a pair of games to open a four-game home stand, Western Illinois freshman guard Kobe Webster is the College Court Report Freshman of the Week for November 27 – December 3, 2017!
Webster’s early success at the Division I level shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most. He averaged 16 points, four rebounds and four assists per game as a senior in high school. He played summer basketball with the Indiana Elite AAU team, winning a national title in Las Vegas.
Coming into the week, the Leathernecks were 4-1 overall, and were set to kick off a four-game home stand after a pair of games on the road. They suffered their first loss of the season, a 70-45 defeat at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones, last Saturday, November 25th.
Up first for Webster and the Leathernecks was a visit from IUPUI on Tuesday. Having played in the Summit League prior to changing conferences, the Leathernecks were very familiar with the Jaguars.
In 40 minutes of action, Webster set a new career-high in terms of scoring, pouring in 27 points to go along with eight assists to lead Western Illinois past the Jaguars, 90-77. Webster went 10-of-14 (71.4%) from the floor in the win, and he added in a pair of rebounds to top off his strong performance.
After pushing their record to 5-1 on Tuesday, the Leathernecks welcomed the Miami (OH) Redhawks to town on Saturday to close out the week for both teams. Western Illinois was looking to build off their win from earlier in the week, and pick up another quality home win.
Saturday saw the Leathernecks partake in their first overtime game of the season. The Redhawks and Leathernecks needed double overtime to decide a winner, and unfortunately for the home side, Miami (OH) came away with the 76-73 win. Darrian Ringo hit a three pointer with three seconds left in the second overtime period to give the visitors the three-point win.
Webster went for 15 points on the day, on just 5-of-19 (26.3%) shooting from the field. He added in four assists, three rebounds, and two steals for another strong performance, despite coming up on the wrong end of the decision.
Over the two games, Webster averaged 21 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. He shot a combined 15-of-33 (45.5%) from the floor, and 8-of-14 (57.1%) from three point range.
For the season, Webster is averaging 15.3 points and 4.8 assists per game.
The 6’0” guard has shown that he can facilitate the offense with confidence, as he takes good care of the basketball and is able to find open teammates for higher quality looks at the basket. The freshman has accumulated 29 assists to just 11 turnovers through seven games to open his career.
If Webster can keep up this level of play, he will be a star in the Summit League over his career, without question. It’s a positive start for the young man, who will only improve with experience in the NCAA.
On the heels of a two-game week that saw him record the first 20+ point performance of his young career, Western Illinois freshman Kobe Webster is the College Court Report Freshman of the Week for November 27 – December 3, 2017!
– T. Bennett
Nov. 20 – 26, 2017: Frederick Scott, Rider Broncs
Nov. 13 – 19, 2017: Dedric Boyd, Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Nov. 10 – 12, 2017: Justin Turner, Bowling Green Falcons
**College Court Report Freshman of the Week recipients are selected from teams in the following conferences:
America East, Atlantic Sun, Atlantic 10, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Horizon League, Ivy League, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Summit League, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast, and WAC