Most college basketball teams have played four or five games already. We're just three weeks into the season and it is already more than 15 percent gone. While there is some sadness in things passing, there is also knowledge gleaned. Freshmen who had one big game may be flukes. Others have been putting up numbers consistently. In this batch of the Freshman Haze, we'll start with some backcourt stars in Tier 1, then go a bit bigger as we look at some small schools.
Archie Goodwin, guard, Kentucky Wildcats
This year's crop of Wildcat freshmen may not be quite as good as last year, but that's like finding a $50 bill in your pocket and complaining that it isn't a c-note. Perhaps the best thing about Kentucky freshmen is that you know they will get playing time. The 6-foot-4 Goodwin is getting to show off his point-guard skills because the team has some early instability at the position. Against LIU Brooklyn last Friday, the guard had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. His averages of 19.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists make him among the most valuable freshmen after three weeks.
Ryan Arcidiacono, guard, Villanova Wildcats
While Villanova is not known for its strong freshman play, the team under coach Jay Wright has become a place for guards to play. Arcidiacono, a 6-3 guard from Langhorne, Penn., leads the Wildcats in minutes, points, assists and steals. Like Goodwin, you won't have to worry about playing time when it comes to Arcidiacono. However, his scoring is on a downward trend: from 25 points in the opener to six points in the overtime loss to La Salle on Sunday. If your league includes field-goal percentage, you may want to pass on the Villanova freshman who is making just 31.1 percent of his field goals and 28.6 percent of his 3-pointers.
Jordan Loveridge, forward, Utah Utes
Entering the season, Utah was an intriguing team. The Utes are led by failed Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak, who mined Utah for the 6-6 Loveridge. With so many holes on the roster, a freshman was bound to make a mark on the Utes. Loveridge opened the season with a double-double against Willamette. On Saturday, he led the team to its fourth win (Utah won six last year) with 22 points and nine rebounds. On the season, the 230-pound Utah native is averaging 11.8 points and 8.2 rebounds. He should continue to see big minutes as he becomes one of Krystkowiak's favorites.
T.J. Warren, forward, North Carolina State Wolfpack
It almost goes without saying that the Wolfpack have the most talented roster in the ACC. Led by upperclassmen C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, the team also added noted freshman Rodney Purvis. Warren, a 6-8 forward, is leading the team in scoring after five games and is giving coach Mark Gottfried one more offensive option. He had a season-high 22 points, including three 3-pointers, in the Nov. 15 win over Penn State. Despite his size, the 233-pounder is not a strong rebounder and has just one game of more than four boards. Look for Warren to level off as other members of the Wolfpack step up.
James Woodard, guard, Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Like Utah, the Golden Hurricane had a great deal of turnover. They are also similar to the Utes in that Tulsa is led by a former NBA player, Kansas legend Danny Manning. Guard Scottie Haralson, a one-time Connecticut Huskie, is in the backcourt, but the team has been led thus far by the 6-4 Woodard. He has scored in double digits in four of five games and had a season-high 27 points in the Nov. 21 win over Jackson State. In that game, he added 11 rebounds and four assists. Woodard is just 175, so he may wear down during the season, but he should be enjoyed by fantasy owners while he is hot.
Joe McDonald, George Washington Colonials
McDonald is the starting point guard for the Colonials, so he directs traffic for GWU. He showed against BU on Nov. 17 that he is not just a pass-first guard. He put a season-high 21 points, including eight successful trips to the line, on the Terriers. Meanwhile, he adds value by getting rebounds and assists. A line of six points, five rebounds and six assists may not seem that impressive, but McDonald put those stats up in 26 minutes against Hofstra on Saturday. The 6-1 Virginia native may not shoot enough to make top fantasy lists, but he is certainly a first-year player to keep an eye on.
Tim Williams, forward, Samford Bulldogs
Digging a little deeper is a great way to enjoy fantasy college basketball. If you enjoy mining prospects in minor league baseball, then fantasy college hoops may be a great way to spend the baseball offseason. Williams, a 6-8 Chicago native, has taken on a nice, meaty role for the Bulldogs out of the Southern Conference. Despite the team losing all five of its games, Williams has provided a team-high 15.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He averaged 18.0 points against Louisville and Memphis in the first two games of the season and should have continued success against SoCon rivals.
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