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College Hoops Barometer: The Unorthodoxed Olynyk

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.

Gonzaga has quietly won 10 games in a row, pushing its record to 27-2 and a No. 2 ranking in the country. The Zags are led by Canadian big man Kelly Olynyk, who averages 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game after redshirting last season. Upon first glance, Olynyk looks more the part of a lead guitarist than a basketball player. Olynyk's journey to stardom has also been unorthodox. He sat out last season after two years in the program, but not because of injury or suspension. Olynyk simply needed to get stronger, tougher and refine his interior game. In just one year, Olynyk has gone from an afterthought to star in Spokane, an instinctively gifted player who blossomed due to hard work and dedication. Certainly Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos have provided sparks in the Bulldogs' ascension to the top of the rankings. However, the long-haired Olynyk is the real reason the Zags could make a legitimate run at the Final Four this March.

Let's look at the rest of the college basketball scene in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Sam Grooms, G, Oklahoma -
Grooms has been on a tear since freshman Buddy Hield suffered a broken foot. He hit an astounding 15-of-17 free-throws in Saturday's 90-76 victory over Baylor en route to a career-high 23 points. In three games without Hield, Grooms is averaging 17.7 points and 4.3 assists per contest. By contrast, the senior had not reached double figures in points on the season prior to those three contests. In fact, he hadn't even registered a single point in the two games prior to his 18-point outburst Feb. 16. As Hield is expected to miss about another month, expect Grooms to continue the surge.

Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State -
Craft is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten, but he's going to have to become more involved in the offense for the Buckeyes to make noise this March. Craft responded Sunday with his best offensive game of the season in a 68-60 victory over Michigan State. The junior point guard had a career-high 21 points, hitting 7-of-12 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Craft also grabbed three rebounds and dished out six assists. The Buckeyes are still jostling for position within the conference, and have a huge test at Indiana on March 5. Craft will need more games like this for the Buckeyes to contend with the elite squads.

Josh Gray, G, Texas Tech -
It's been a rough season for the Red Raiders, but Gray has been one of the few bright spots of late. The freshman has scored at least 20 points in each of the last two games for Texas Tech, including a career-high 26 points against Oklahoma last Wednesday. Gray has also tallied at least four assists in six of the last seven games. The Red Raiders are just 2-12 in conference, and Gray's long-range shooting needs some work, but he still averages 10.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.3 dimes per game. The freshman has certainly shown significant potential, as well as growth as the season has progressed.

Otto Porter, F, Georgetown -
Porter had a statement game at Syracuse on Saturday. In ending the Orange's 38-game home winning streak, Porter poured in 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Porter connected on 5-of-10 treys while also snatching eight rebounds, handing out two assists and stealing five passes. With this performance, the sophomore vaulted himself to the top of the list for Big East Player of the Year. The Hoyas have won nine games in a row, with Porter averaging 18.6 points over that span. Georgetown now sits atop the Big East standings, and Porter is the main reason.

CHECK STATUS

Eric Moreland, F, Oregon State -
Moreland was a double-double dynamo for the Beavers to start the season, tallying seven in his first 13 games. However, thereafter he was suspended three games for violating team rules. Since then, a span of 11 games, Moreland has notched just three double-doubles. However, he has still managed six games with double-digit rebounds over that period, while blocking at least three shots in seven of those 11 games since returning from suspension. In other words, Moreland has been productive, albeit mostly on the defensive end. If his offensive game returns, Moreland could return to fantasy prominence for Oregon State.

Jordan Bachynski, C, Arizona State -
Welcome to the Block Party, with your host, a 7-2 big man from Alberta, Canada. The junior is fourth in the country with 3.7 swats per game. However, Bachynski has been a subpar rebounder for the Sun Devils. Despite playing more than 26 minutes per game, Bachynski has failed to gather more than five boards in seven of his last eight contests. Likewise, his offensive game is still developing, leading to inconsistency in the scoring column on a game-to-game basis. In sum, Bachynski has the tools to impact the game, but is raw and lacks consistency.

Cashmere Wright, G, Cincinnati -
Wright's last game at Notre Dame was atrocious. In 23 minutes, the senior guard did not score a point while recording just one rebound and one assist in the 62-41 rout at the hands of the Fighting Irish. The Bearcats have lost three games in a row and five of their last six contests; during that span, Wright is managing just 7.3 points per game and shooting just 25.4 percent from the floor. Although he has still been able to contribute on the glass, dishing the rock and in the passing lanes, the Bearcats have clearly suffered from Wright's lack of scoring lately. He has the ability to turn things around, but Wright's slump at a crucial time may destroy Cincinnati's chances of making the NCAA Tournament.

Kevin Parrom, G-F, Arizona -
Parrom hit five three-pointers en route to a season-high 19 points in Arizona's 73-56 victory over Washington State on Saturday. The senior does most of his damage from beyond the arc; almost half of Parrom's field goal attempts this year have come from three-point range where he shoots 39.2 percent. Parrom also manages 5.0 rebounds per game this season for the Wildcats. However, prior to this contest he had reached double figures in points just five times in 21 games. Parrom can still impact the game as a rebounder and even as an assist-maker, but be aware that his high-scoring outbursts may be fewer and farther between.

DOWNGRADE

Michael Frazier II, G, Florida -
Frazier suffered a concussion in Saturday's contest with Arkansas and is sidelined indefinitely. The sharp-shooting freshman was hitting an outstanding 48.9 percent of his treys on the season. Overall, he averages 6.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per tilt. He had just registered a career-high 18 points at Auburn on Feb. 16. Frazier hit six three-pointers in the 83-52 rout of the Tigers. Only seven Gators received playing time in Saturday's win, including Frazier; the freshman's absence puts even more pressure on the likes on Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin.

Jarell Eddie, F, Virginia Tech -
Eddie has had a particularly poor stretch in ACC play lately. Despite averaging 12.4 points per game, the junior forward has failed to score more than five points in five of the last six games for the Hokies. In fact, Eddie averaged just 5.2 points per game over that span, shooting an abysmal 24.4 percent from the floor. Even his rebounding numbers are down, as Eddie has failed to grab more than five rebounds in each of those last six games. Eddie averages 5.7 rebounds per game on the year. Not surprisingly, the Hokies have lost five of the last six games, as Eddie is the main sidekick to leading scorer Erick Green. Virginia Tech must get more out of Eddie if it is to play the role of spoiler in the ACC down the stretch.

Bruce Ellington, G, South Carolina -
The shot of the two-sport star looks a little weary these days. Although shooting was never his strength, the guard is hitting an abysmal 26.2 percent of his three-pointers this season. His free-throw percentage is not-so-stellar 62.7 percent. Overall, he is shooting 33.7 percent from the floor as a junior en route to a career-low 9.9 points per game. He is also averaging a career-high 3.1 turnovers per game and a career-low 2.3 dimes per contest. Although Ellington is still a serviceable guard, his game has looked a bit sluggish this season.

DeMario Mayfield, G, Charlotte -
Mayfield has been dismissed from the team after yet another violation of team rules. Mayfield was initially suspended indefinitely on Jan. 30 due to his third infraction in less than two years. Subsequently, the school decided to cut ties with the junior guard. Mayfield was the leading scorer for the 49ers, averaging 11.7 points per game. He had recorded eight consecutive games of double-digit points at the time of the suspension. Mayfield sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after two years at Georgia. The 49ers have struggled in his absence, losing four of their last five contests.

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