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College Hoops Barometer: Bennett's Earned the Spotlight

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.

It's time for UNLV forward Anthony Bennett to get noticed. The 6-foot-8 freshman hasn't gotten the same publicity as fellow classmates Nerlens Noel or Shabazz Muhammed, but he might be outperforming both thus far this season. Bennett averages 19.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for the Rebels, hitting 56.1 percent of his shots from the floor. Bennett gets to the free-throw line more than seven times per game, while also managing 1.3 dimes and 1.5 swats per contest. His strong frame and superior athleticism make him a beast around the rim, though he has also shown the ability step out and hit the occasional three-pointer as well. He's a huge reason why UNLV has been able to start 13-2 despite the lingering injury to star Mike Moser.

Who else is surging, and who is stumbling? Let's dig into this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Javan Felix, G, Texas -
Felix has really stepped up in the absence of suspended teammate Myck Kabongo. The freshman poured in a career-high 26 points in his last game at Baylor, connecting on 11-of-23 shots from the floor. The point guard has also averaged more than eight assists per game over his last five contests. With Kabongo set to miss about half of the conference slate, look for Felix to continue to reap the put up stellar numbers for the Longhorns.

Eric Atkins, G, Notre Dame -
Although the Notre Dame football program has been the talk of the town this season, the basketball team has quietly made its mark. The Irish on the hardwood are 14-1, with Atkins as the leading assists man at 7.3 dimes per tilt. He already has five games with double-digit assists. He is also third on the squad in scoring, hitting 48.8 percent of his shots from the field. Atkins is particularly dangerous from three-point land, connecting on a career-high 45.2 percent from downtown. Improved shot selection and decision making has made Atkins one of the better point guards in the Big East.

Kenny Kadji, F-C, Miami -
Reggie Johnson's loss has been Kenny Kadji's gain. Johnson recently suffered a broken thumb, leaving Kadji as the lone big man for the Hurricanes. In his last two contests, Kadji has managed double-doubles, largely due to the absence of Johnson. Kadji has also swatted five shots and stolen five passes over that span. Although Kadji has the ability to step out and hit the three, he will likely be asked to play more on the interior without Johnson, which should help his rebounding and shot-blocking numbers. Add in Kadji's improved average of 14.3 points per game over his last four contests, and it 's clear he will be the chief beneficiary of Johnson's injury.

Cole Dickerson, F, San Francisco -
Dickerson has quietly been a double-double machine for the Dons, tallying seven in 15 games. This includes a 20-rebound performance against Montana on Nov. 30, and a 19-rebound game against Stanford in the season opener. Dickerson has been no slouch scoring either, though, as he averages 15.9 points per game. He has failed to reach double-digits in points in just one game this season. He's become the centerpiece for the San Francisco squad, and has the ability to explode on any given night. Continue to ride Dickerson as long he's racking up the stats.

CHECK STATUS

Rotnei Clarke, G, Butler -
Clarke has been mired in a shooting slump of late for the Bulldogs. He shot 1-for-7 against New Orleans on Saturday and 2-for-11 against Penn on Jan. 2. Clarke does not provide much else for fantasy owners when he isn't scoring, as his 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game show. As a result, the loss of his shooting stroke certainly isn't good news in terms of his production. However, Clarke had scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games before his recent two-game slump, so there's reason to believe he will snap out of this funk.

Briante Weber, G, VCU -
Weber has been an assist machine for the Rams lately despite sharing point guard with senior Darius Theus. Theus' stats are down this season due to Weber's emergence; however, Weber isn't exactly destroying him with regard to overall production. Weber averages 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season. Meanwhile, Theus averages 6.2 points, 1.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for the Rams. Both average more than 2.9 steals per game, with Weber slightly better at taking care of the ball. The moral of this story? Weber is the guard to own, but his ceiling may be limited by the presence of Theus. A true breakout season for Weber might not come until Theus graduates.

Shane Gibson, G, Sacred Heart -
It appears that opponents have become wise to Gibson's scoring prowess. After averaging 22.0 points per game last season, Gibson's scoring average has dipped to 16.9. He is shooting a career-low 42.1 percent from the field, largely due to teams crowding the 6-2 guard and not letting him get his shot off. Gibson's rebounding and assist numbers are down too, and his turnovers are up. Gibson isn't having a bad season per se, but his production has certainly dipped now that teams know he is the undisputed focal point of the Sacred Heart offense.

James Southerland, F, Syracuse -
Southerland has been slightly inconsistent in his first season playing big minutes for the Orange. Although averaging 13.7 points per game, he has failed to score in double figures in three of his last five contests. Perhaps perfectly exemplifying his inconsistency are two games in late November/early December. On Nov. 30, he poured in 35 points on 12-of-17 shooting at Arkansas, hitting a staggering nine three-pointers. In the next contest on Dec. 3, he scored just four points in 24 minutes against Eastern Michigan. Southerland is still second on the squad in scoring and fourth in rebounding, but his feast-or-famine activity could be maddening for fantasy owners.

DOWNGRADE

C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh -
McCollum fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will miss 8-10 weeks for the Mountain Hawks. The injury is a crushing blow to Lehigh's NCAA Tournament hopes. The Mountain Hawks knocked off Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year largely due to McCollum's heroics. He averages 23.9 points per game, good for second in the nation only behind Virginia tech's Erick Green. McCollum also manages 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, second on the squad in both categories. His production will be impossible to replace, and the only hope is that somehow he returns sooner than expected in time for the Patriot League tournament.

Jeronne Maymon, F, Tennessee -
Maymon will redshirt this season following a left knee injury that simply would not cooperate. Despite undergoing offseason surgery, Maymon was unable to practice and was eventually shut down. He will return next year but will undoubtedly be missed this season as the Vols are just 8-4. Maymon was the team's leading rebounder at 8.1 boards per tilt last season. The burly big man also averaged 12.7 points per game, hitting 55.8-percent of his shots from the floor. Jarnell Stokes will continue to shoulder the frontcourt load in Maymon's absence.

Chane Behanan, F, Louisville -
Behanan will miss at least a week due to the dreaded high-ankle sprain. The sophomore forward averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game before the injury. High-ankle sprains can be tricky, so it is worth monitoring Behanan's progress once he gets back on the court as well, as he may not be able to use his athleticism as effectively with a compromised ankle. Despite a 13-1 start, the Cardinals frontcourt has been banged up to begin the season. Center Gorgui Dieng just recently returned from a broken wrist that sidelined him for seven games.

Erik Murphy, F-C, Florida -
It's been an injury-plagued season thus far for Murphy, as the senior forward could miss up to two weeks due to a broken rib. The second-leading scorer for the Gators at 12.1 points per game, Murphy had previously injured his hip in December. He did not miss any games due to the hip injury, but his minutes were limited for a few contests. A deadly shooter from long range despite his 6-10 frame, Murphy had been connecting on 45.2-percent of his treys. Florida will also miss his 4.7 rebounds per game, as Patric Young and Will Yeguete are now the only two healthy big men on the squad receiving decent minutes.

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