The healthy return of redshirt freshman point guard Ryan Harrow to the Kentucky Wildcats lineup is certainly a welcome sight to Coach John Calipari. Kentucky has already lost three games this season; by comparison, the Wildcats lost just two contests during their Championship run last year. This year's squad was not expected to be as dominant, but Harrow's absence didn't help matters. The freshman missed four games due to a combination of illness and personal reasons. Upon his return, he understandably struggled to adjust to his new environment.
Harrow may have finally turned the corner, though, as he put together the best game of his young career Dec. 22. He compiled a career-high 23 points with four rebounds, four assists and three steals against Marshall. A highly-touted recruit expected to follow in the footsteps of John Wall and Brandin Knight, Harrow has helped the Wildcats surge to a four-game winning streak. Perhaps most important, he has played more than 30 minutes per contest each of the last two games, showing improved seasoning and conditioning. Harrow should continue to be the catalyst for the UK offense as the Wildcats head into conference play.
Let's look at the rest of the college basketball map in this week's Barometer.
Dave Sobolewski, G, Northwestern - An injury to star player Drew Crawford and a year-long suspension to JerShon Cobb have vaulted Sobolewski into the spotlight for the Wildcats. The sophomore has responded with career-highs in points, field goal percentage and three-point percentage. In fact, Sobolewski is hitting a ridiculous 49.0-percent from downtown to begin the season. He posted a 14-point, eight-assist line against Brown on Sunday, and will be asked to spark the undermanned Wildcats on the offensive end. His assist-to-turnover ratio has also improved from his freshman campaign. The Wildcats may have some growing pains this season, but Sobolewski has the chance to be a gem.
Pierce Hornung, F, Colorado State - Despite standing at just 6-5, Hornung is averaging a double-double for the Rams. He's been particularly beastly over his last two contests, with 42 points and 21 rebounds over that span. Hornung has catapulted the Rams to a 10-2 record to begin the year, including wins over Washington and Virginia Tech. With senior guard Dorian Green running the show and fellow big man Colton Iverson helping out in the paint, Hornung could be poised for a surprisingly productive senior season.
Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA - One of the most hyped freshmen coming into the season, Anderson's play has really taken off recently. The versatile freshman nearly had a triple-double in UCLA's last game against Fresno State, notching 20 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists. Anderson tallied another double-double Dec. 15 against Prairie View A&M; by comparison, he had just one double-double in the first 10 games of his collegiate career. Anderson's ability to stuff the stat sheet makes him a valuable fantasy asset. He is averaging 9.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game, numbers which should only get better as the season progresses.
Wayne Blackshear, F, Louisville - Blackshear has become a vital cog in the Louisville machine, despite the squad returning most of its players from last season's Final Four run. Blackshear has gone from playing just seven minutes per game as a freshman to over 20 minutes per tilt as a sophomore. He has responded with averages of 10.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Of late, Blackshear has been even better. He has scored at least 17 points in three of the last five contests, while grabbing eight rebounds in each of the past two games. His jump-shooting has also grown by leaps and bounds, as the sophomore has become a competent three-point shooter to complement his imposing 6-5, 230-lb frame inside the lane. All in all, Blackshear is becoming a reliable option for the Cards.
Derrick Marks, G, Boise State - The Broncos have been known for their football over the past decade or so, but have struggled in the basketball department. Marks is hoping to change that. The sophomore swingman is averaging 19.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Despite standing at just 6-3, Marks makes his impact inside the arc by slashing to the rim and drawing contact. He gets to the charity stripe over seven times per game, and is nearly a 90-percent free-throw shooter. Can the success continue for the sophomore, or will teams force him to beat them with long-range jumpers? Marks has attempted just 17 treys this season. The addition of a consistent three-pointer to Marks' game could make him unstoppable as a scorer. However, it remains to be seen if he's up to the task just yet.
Charles Carmouche, G, LSU - The well-traveled Carmouche is now on his third team in four years after transferring from Memphis. Can the nomadic fifth-year senior make a splash for the Tigers? He posted his best game of the season Saturday at Marquette with 15 points and 10 assists. However, his shot has been off, as Carmouche is hitting just 37.5-percent from the floor, including 25.8-percent from three-point range. The Tigers could be one of the surprise teams in the land this season, but Carmouche must improve his shooting numbers. Overall, he is averaging 9.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
Gavin Ware, F, Mississippi State - Ware exploded in his last game against Central Arkansas, compiling 22 points and 13 rebounds in a 79-72 victory. However, Ware's numbers have been fairly pedestrian otherwise. He had failed to score in double-digits in the fives games prior, and had double-digit rebounds just once through the Bulldogs' first nine games. Ware's monstrous game may have been a fluke against inferior competition, though it could be foolish to disregard him altogether. He is still averaging 9.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this year. Temper your expectations, but keep Ware on your radar to see if he can produce more double-doubles in the future.
Victor Rudd, F, South Florida - Rudd is another player with intriguing upside and the ability to take off at a moment's notice. He's certainly flexed his muscle over South Florida's last two games. Rudd poured in 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting in last Friday's Triple OT thriller with Bowling Green. Against Youngstown State on Dec. 18, Rudd notched a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 72-54 romp. It was the second double-double of the season for the 6-9 junior forward. However, his season averages stand at 11.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. Is Rudd's recent hot streak a sign of things to come, or will be regress back to the mean? Keep an eye on his progress.
Myck Kabongo, G, Texas - The good news? Kabongo will get to play for the Longhorns this season after all. The bad news? His suspension for receiving impermissible benefits is still 23 games, which puts him out for half of the conference slate and a potential February 13 comeback. Kabongo was expected to be an impact freshman last season but struggled with consistency, averaging 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He was supposed to take the leap into superstardom as a sophomore, but was derailed by the NCAA's findings. We'll see what he brings to the table in February.
Jeronne Maymon, F, Tennessee - Maymon's season took a definite turn for the worse with the recent statement that he may apply for a medical redshirt due to his ailing knee. Despite undergoing surgery in March, Maymon is still limping. As a result, the physical big man may sit out the remainder of the season and attempt to come back in 2013 as a fifth-year senior. Maymon was expected to be a force in the paint this season along with Jarnell Stokes. Maymon managed 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds last year for the Vols.
DeAndre Kane, G, Marshall - Kane will miss about a month for the Herd after injuring his hand in an off-court incident. Very little information has been released regarding the incident, but it suffices to say the Herd will miss a player who is currently third in the nation in assists. The dynamic point guard was averaging 15.0 points and 8.5 assists per game for Marshall, playing a staggering 38.2 minutes per tilt. Freshmen DeVince Boykins and Tamron Manning should see spikes in playing time until Kane can return.
E.J. Singler, F, Oregon - Singler is always going to get compared to his older brother Kyle, perhaps unfairly. EJ is simply not the same player, nor does he have the same physical gifts as his brother. A decent player for the Ducks over his collegiate career, the senior has seen an unexpected dip in production this season. Singler is averaging just 10.2 points per game while shooting a career-worst 38.8-percent from the floor. His peripheral numbers remain solid, as Singler has compiled 5.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Still, he's not a superstar, and remains just a complementary baller.
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