We'll call this week's Barometer "An Ode to the Little Man," whether in school, notoriety or actual stature. The players on the list may be diminutive in size, attend a school not known for basketball or simply be flying under the radar. However, each has made significant contributions (good or bad) to the 2010-2011 college basketball season thus far.
1. Reggie Jackson, G, Boston College - Sharing his namesake with Mr. October, Jackson has been hitting the ball out of the park for the Eagles, figuratively speaking of course, through BC's first 10 games. Jackson has been forced to shoulder much of the scoring load for the Eagles and has not disappointed, shooting 51.6 percent from the floor, including 47.8 percent from three-point land. Prior to this season, the junior never shot above 44.0 percent from the floor and never shot above 30.0 percent from beyond the arc. This stark improvement in shooting has led to 19.2 points per game. Jackson has been no slouch in other facets of his game as well, averaging 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals per contest. Not surprisingly, BC is off to an 8-2 start due to Jackson's theatrics.
2. John Flowers, F, West Virginia - Flowers is blooming, scoring double-digit points in each of his last three games, while totaling 22 rebounds in that span. Perhaps most impressive, though, the 6-foot-7 senior is averaging 2.6 blocks per game, including five rejections against Duquesne on Sunday. The leading rebounder for the Mountaineers, Flowers is also fourth in scoring and third in assist per contest on the team. If Flowers can hone his offensive skills a bit, he has the tools to stuff the stat sheet.
3. Ryan Rossiter, F, Siena - Rossiter's stats are borderline silly so far this season, as the 6-9 senior is destroying the MAC with almost no help from his friends at Siena. Rossiter has put the 3-6 Saints on his back, averaging 20.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. He's failed to record a double-double in just two games this year. Although he won't get much national publicity, the 6-9 senior forward deserves some props for what he's accomplished early in the 2010-2011 campaign.
4. Kenneth Faried, F-C, Morehead State - Another small school phenom, Faried leads the nation in rebounding, pulling down 13.7 boards per game. The 6-8 senior has already recorded two 20-rebound performances and has been an all-around terror on the defensive end with 2.6 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. Faried's offensive game hasn't been too shabby either, as he's shooting 66.4 percent from the field en route to 19 points per game. Faried may be a bit undersized for the pros, but he's dominating the college ranks.
5. Chris Wright, G, Georgetown - Wright has taken his playmaking into another stratosphere this season, averaging 7.1 assists per game through the Hoyas' first 10 games. As a junior, he averaged just 4.1 dimes per game, showing his willingness this season to be the unselfish distributor for an ultra-talented Georgetown squad. His scoring hasn't dipped that much either, though, as the 6-1 guard is still managing 13.4 points per contest. Overall, Wright's ability to set his teammates up for easy buckets has brought his own game to another level.
6. Norris Cole, G, Cleveland State - The darlings of the Horizon league this season? Not Butler, but the Cleveland State Vikings. Cole leads the Vikes in scoring (21.3 ppg) and dishing (4.6 apg), while the 6-2 senior is second on the squad in rebounding (4.8 rpg). Did I mention the Vikings have started the season 12-0? They have their first real test of the season against West Virginia on Saturday, but it's safe to assume that Cole will continue putting up impressive numbers for CSU.
1. Charles Jenkins, G, Hofstra
2. Donald Sims, G, Appalachian State
3. Chris Gaston, F, Fordham
4. Scott Machado, G, Iona
5. Keith Benson, C, Oakland
1. Mike Davis, F, Illinois - OK, so there's nothing small about Davis. But his stats have not grown his last three seasons for the Illini. He's averaging nearly two less rebounds per game this season while sitting at fourth on the team in scoring. Center Mike Tisdale has been just as productive. In sum, Davis has limited upside, so don't expect much more than his current 10.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
2. Korie Lucious, G, Michigan State - Lucious is another player who has fallen just short of expectations. Despite playing nearly 26 minutes per game, Lucious is managing just 8.6 points per game for the Spartans. His shooting percentage is actually up from a season ago, but sits only at 36.2 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from three-point land. He's averaging 4.4 dimes per contest, but also 2.7 turnovers. With Kalin Lucas hobbled, Lucious has not picked up the slack as hoped. And the Spartans' 7-3 record shows it.
3. Terrence Jennings, F, Louisville - Jennings came up small in Louisville's 52-46 loss to Drexel, shooting just 1-for-4 from the floor en route to a measly two points for the game. He was in foul trouble for much of the contest, something that has haunted the shot-blocking forward. He's shooting just 53.3 percent from the floor as well, after hitting nearly 62 percent of his shots last season. He has failed to score in double figures in four of his last six games, after starting the year with three consecutive double-digit scoring outputs. The junior is still a work in progress but must learn stay on the floor to be effective.
4. Demontez Stitt, G, Clemson - Stitt has been forced to take on more of the scoring load for the undermanned Tigers, and his dishing has suffered as a result. Although he's averaging a career-high 13.8 points per game, the 6-2 guard is averaging less than three assists per game for the first time in his four-year career. In fact, at just 1.8 dimes per tilt, Stitt is actually third on the team in assists. Not to mention he is on pace to take about 50 extra shots this season, with just a 2.4 points-per-game bump from a season ago. Not surprisingly, the Tigers are 5-4 to begin the season.
5. Darius Johnson-Odom, G, Marquette - DJO's three-point shooting has been atrocious to start the season, as the 6-2 guard is hitting just 26.7 percent of his shots from downtown. In comparison, as a sophomore he hit a blistering 47.4 percent from beyond the arc. With Lazar Hayward gone, DJO gets more looks but is not converting them. Although he is still averaging 13.5 points per contest, he has the ability to put up bigger numbers but has simply not been up to the task just yet.
6. Venoy Overton, G, Washington - Overton has been overtaken by sophomore Abdul Gaddy, limiting his minutes and production. Overton was never a superb shooter, and he's hitting just 41.3 percent of his shots this season, including 30.8 percent from downtown. That has led to a 5.8 points-per-game average, down from 8.5 ppg just a season ago. He is still finding his teammates to the tune of 4.2 dimes per contest, but with the glut of diminutive guards (including star Isaiah Thomas) in the backcourt, the senior Overton is likely to be the odd man out.