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College Hoops Barometer: This Bear is Golden

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.

The wait for Shabazz Muhammad finally ended this week, as the freshman sensation was deemed eligible by the NCAA and saw his first collegiate action as a member of the UCLA Bruins. Muhammad responded with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting against Georgetown on Monday, followed by a game-high 21 points against Georgia on Tuesday. Muhammad shot 6-for-12 from the floor, as well as 8-of-11 from the charity stripe against the Bulldogs. Muhammad also chipped in four rebounds and two steals and should have a greater impact in other facets of the boxscore as he gets his legs under him.

Let's look at who else is ready to explode in this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Allen Crabbe, F, California
Crabbe had a solid, if unspectacular, sophomore campaign, posting similar numbers to his freshman season with 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. As a junior, however, Crabbe is off to a torrid start shooting the ball. Crabbe is hitting 57.4 percent of his shots from the floor, including 58.8 percent from downtown. Crabbe is also shooting 94.1 percent from the charity stripe, cashing in on his nearly six trips to the line per game. His hot start has resulted in Crabbe leading the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per contest. With averages of 5.7 boards and 2.7 assists per contests, Crabbe has emerged as an elite option for the Bears.

Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor
The departures of Perry Jones and Quincy Acy left a void in the frontcourt for the Bears. Enter Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 junior who played more of a complementary role last season. This year, Jefferson has become a force of his own, averaging 16.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per tilt, including notching two double-doubles in his first five contests. Jefferson is shooting a staggering 75.0 percent from the floor, showing excellent shot selection and great body positioning in getting his shot off down low. Jefferson also benefits from an experienced backcourt in Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip. All in all, Jefferson is poised for a big year in Waco.

Laurence Bowers, F, Missouri
A torn ACL washed out last season for Bowers, but he has returned with a vengeance to begin the 2012-13 campaign. Bowers is managing 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds through three games for the Tigers, while shooting a stellar 58.1 percent from the floor. With UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi shouldering much of the defensive burden at center, Bowers is free to focus on his strength, offense. Bowers' numbers should only get better as he rounds into basketball shape, too.

Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State -
The most productive freshman in the nation to begin the season might just be Smart, a 6-4 point guard who averages 14.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 dimes and 3.0 steals for the Cowboys. Smart led an impressive blowout win over highly-ranked N.C. State on Sunday, compiling a career-high 20 points while also managing seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals and four blocks for the game. Smart has turned the ball over a bit too much, but that is to be expected for a freshman point guard. Smart and sophomore LeBryan Nash form one of the most potent backcourts in the country.

CHECK STATUS

Rotnei Clarke, G, Butler
The Arkansas transfer has always been able to shoot the rock; Clarke shot 43.8 percent from long range in his last season with the Razorbacks. His campaign with the Bulldogs has been no different, as Clarke is shooting more than nine three-pointers per game en route to a 16.3 points per game average. Clarke hit four treys Tuesday to spark an 82-71 upset of North Carolina. Clarke has shown a more well-rounded game in 2012 too, though. He is averaging career highs in rebounds (4.3) and assists (1.8) per game. If Clarke can continue to improve the other facets of his game, he will emerge as an excellent option.

Tony Woods, C, Oregon
Woods might be finally coming into his own as a senior. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon is off to a hot start for the Ducks, averaging 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. This included a career-high 17 points in Monday's 67-45 rout of lowly Jacksonville State. Still, despite his 6-11 frame, Woods is a below-average rebounder, and it remains to be seen if he can continue to produce over the long haul and against stiffer competition. He's making progress, and the center position is thin, but Woods has not made himself a must-add just yet.

Cashmere Wright, G, Cincinnati
Wright has had an interesting start to the season. His points are way up, as he is managing 17.0 points per game, including a 28-point outburst against Campbell on Tuesday. He is shooting a blistering 50 percent from three-point land. Nevertheless, this uptick in scoring has led to a decrease in his other statistics, as Wright's rebounds and assist per game are down from a season ago. The sample size is small, and Wright remains an excellent fantasy option in the Big East. However, fantasy owners must be aware that as his points increase, the rest of his stats may suffer.

Angus Brandt, F, Oregon State
Brandt has had at least eight rebounds in three of the Beavers' first four games this season, while also averaging 11.3 points per game. However, the senior big man injured his right knee Friday against Purdue, and his status remains uncertain. OSU doesn't play again until Nov. 25, but monitor his status moving forward, as he had been a rebounding force before suffering the injury.

DOWNGRADE

Tim Frazier, G, Penn State -
Frazier will undergo surgery and miss the entire 2012-13 season after tearing his Achilles' tendon Sunday against Akron. Frazier did a little bit of everything for Penn State's squad last season, averaging 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game. An impossible player to replace, USM transfer D.J. Newbill will do his best. Newbill has managed 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game so far this season, and will be relied upon even more in Frazier's absence.

Chris Fouch, G, Drexel -
Fouch broke his ankle Saturday against Penn and is also finished for the season. Although coming off the bench for the Dragons, Fouch played heavy minutes for Drexel through three contests and produced 16.7 points per game to lead the squad. The Dragons will be forced to rely even more on junior guard Frantz Massenat and freshman Tavon Allen. Massenat has had struggles of his own to begin the year, as he is shooting an abysmal 26.9 percent from the floor early on during his junior campaign.

Gary Harris, G, Michigan State -
A shoulder sprain will sideline Harris for at least the next two weeks, an injury suffered in the first minute of Tuesday's win over Boise State. The freshman guard had shown his shooting ability through three games for the Spartans, hitting 51.4-percent of his shots en route to a 12.0 points per game average. As Harris was third on the team in scoring, the injury will put added pressure on Travis Trice and another freshman, Denzel Valentine, to pick up the slack.

Chris Gaston, F, Fordham -
A double-double machine last year, Gaston will be sorely missed by both the Rams and fantasy owners alike, as he will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and miss at least a month. Gaston had 16 double-doubles as a junior last season, finishing with averages of 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest. In his first game this season, Gaston picked up right where he left off, tallying 19 points and 14 rebounds at Texas State. Look for a January return for the 6-7 senior.

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