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College Hoops Barometer: Cats are Running Wild

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

How does John Calipari do it? For the third season in a row, coach Cal has a roster that could play in the NBA. Terrence Jones might have gone pro last year if not for the looming NBA lockout, while frontcourt mate Anthony Davis will win the Freshman of the Year award in a walk. Meanwhile, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the size and athleticism to guard four positions on the defensive end and get to the rack whenever he wants on offense. With Marquis Teague running the point, the Wildcats have yet another set of underclassmen who have simply dominated college basketball.

Will it be enough to win that elusive title, though? We'll soon find out. Let's look at the rest of the college basketball scene in this week's Barometer.

UPGRADE

Drew Gordon, F, New Mexico -
The Lobos have been on fire, winning seven consecutive games en route to a studly 22-4 record. Gordon has recorded double-digits rebounds in five of those games, punctuated by a 27-point, 20-rebound destruction of UNLV. Gordon averages a double-double with 12.7 points and 11.1 boards per game. The leading scorer and rebounder for New Mexico is shooting 51.2 percent from the floor and has the Lobos on a roll.

Moe Harkless, G-F, St. John's -
In what has been a tough season for the youthful Johnnies without coach Steve Lavin, the dynamic Harkless has shown an NBA game despite being just a freshman. The 6-foot-8 swingman averages 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 1.5 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. Harkless swiped six passes against UCLA on Saturday and has recorded three consecutive double-doubles. The freshman phenom has shown superior strength, explosiveness and athleticism. His outside shot needs some work, but if Harkless can perfect his long-range stroke, he will be nearly impossible to stop.

Jerian Grant, G, Notre Dame -
No Ben Hansbrough? No Tim Abromaitis? No problem for Grant and the Fighting Irish. Mike Brey could be Coach of the Year for Notre Dame with his effort this season, as Notre Dame is 20-8 and 12-3 in the Big East despite losing its two best players to graduation and injury. Grant led the Irish with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in Wednesday's 71-44 drubbing of West Virginia. The 6-5 sophomore is managing 12.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.9 dimes per tilt this season. Along with Eric Atkins and bruiser Jack Cooley, Grant has Notre Dame in position to make some noise in the big dance, after many thought this would be a rebuilding year in South Bend.

Garrett Stutz, F, Wichita State -
The senior is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Shockers, who have clinched the regular season crown in the Missouri Valley Conference with Wednesday's win at Illinois State. Stutz tallied 12 points and 14 boards in that contest, good for his 10th double-double of the season. Stutz has averaged 14.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season, using his 7-0, 255, frame to his advantage. His big body will certainly be useful to combat the size of the larger schools in the NCAA Tournament.

CHECK STATUS

Brandon Paul, G, Illinois -
The leading scorer and assist man for the Illini was inexplicably benched to start the game Saturday at Nebraska. The move didn't help, as Illinois lost its fifth straight game. Paul played poorly anyway, shooting just 1-of-7 from the floor, tallying just two points, two rebounds and three dimes in 26 minutes. If the 6-4 junior is in coach Bruce Weber's doghouse, this situation is certainly worth monitoring, as Paul averages 14.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Travis Trice, G, Michigan State -
Trice has missed the last two games for the Spartans with a sprained right ankle. The 6-0 freshman guard averages 5.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.9 dimes per game for the highly ranked Spartans. It appears he could miss more time, as clearly his lateral movement and explosiveness will be affected by the injury.

Reginald Buckner, F, Ole Miss -
Buckner has been fairly effective this season despite not being able to practice much due to season-long knee discomfort. But as Allen Iverson would say, we're talking about practice, not a game. In game action, Buckner averages 7.0 points, 8.1 boards and 2.4 blocks per tilt. The 6-9 junior forward is shooting 54.9 percent from the floor as well. However, with conference play reaching a fever pitch heading into tournament season, it will be worth watching how Buckner's body responds to the lack of recovery time between contests.

Rodney Hood, F, Mississippi State -
Hood sprained his left knee against Kentucky on Tuesday. Although it is unclear how much time he'll miss, Hood averages 11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 dimes per tilt for the Bulldogs. Even if it's just a bone bruise, MSU will miss the 6-8 freshman, who is third on the squad in scoring, rebounding and dishing.

DOWNGRADE

Kelsey Barlow, G, Purdue -
Barlow has been kicked off the squad due to an off-court incident at a campus bar also involving teammate D.J. Byrd. It was a stunner of a decision for the Boilermakers, as Barlow was fourth in the team in scoring at 8.3 points per game. The 6-5 junior guard was also third on the team in rebounding, pulling down 3.7 boards per contest. Purdue is frighteningly thin without Barlow and the suspended Byrd; expect freshman Anthony Johnson to pick up the slack.

Kenny Hall, F, Tennessee -
Hall started 16 of 25 games for the Vols this season, but was recently suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. The 6-9 junior from Stone Mountain, Georgia, managed 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for Tennessee before the suspension. He had recorded at least 10 rebounds in three contests this season. UT will be forced to rely even more heavily on Jeronne Maymon.

James Bell, G, Villanova -
The Wildcats have been devastated at the guard position this season. Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher were graduated, leaving Maalik Wayns as the primary ballhandler for Villanova. Wayns was having a superior season until he sprained an MCL, missing the last two games. Bell was then inserted into the starting lineup and had eight assists against Providence on Feb. 7. However, then Bell succumbed to injury, spraining his ankle in a 65-51 loss at USF last Wednesday. It is unclear how much time Bell will miss, but he likely won't be making an impact for 'Nova in the short term.

Tony Mitchell, F, Alabama -
This will be the last time Mitchell is mentioned in this column; his status has now been determined for the Crimson Tide. Feel free to cut Mitchell, as he has been suspended for the remainder of the season. The junior forward averaged 13.1 points and 7.0 rebounds before the suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Conversely, leading scorer and rebounder JaMychal Green has been reinstated and will begin practicing with the squad.

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