The college basketball season is now officially under way. What have we learned thus far? Without overreacting too much, let's look at some snippets from the first week of action. Without further ado, here is the first edition of "Four on the Hardwood Floor:"
1. This freshman class is as good as advertised. Jabari Parker can score for Duke, Andrew Wiggins is more than just a dunker at Kansas and Julius Randle is a beast down low for Kentucky. Out west, Aaron Gordon will be a double-double machine for the Arizona Wildcats.
2. Once Kentucky gets a few games under its belt, watch out. The freshmen-laden Wildcats played a sloppy, turnover-prone game against Michigan State on Tuesday - and still almost pulled out the victory.
3. It's going to be a rough season for the Miami Hurricanes. Last season's feel-good story under coach Jim Larranaga, the Hurricanes are undergoing a rebuilding effort after losing the entire starting five from their Sweet 16 squad. An opening night loss to St. Francis (NY) followed by a narrow OT escape against Georgia Southern foreshadows difficult times ahead in Coral Gables.
4. BYU guard Tyler Haws could be the second coming of Jimmer Fredette. Except he's bigger and a better rebounder.
Who else is surging, and who is looking to shake off the rust? The College Hoops Barometer awaits.
Roberto Nelson, G, Oregon State - Nelson was stellar last season as a junior for the Beavers, averaging 17.8 points, 3.3 boards and 2.4 dimes per game. He's taken his game to another level this year, though, piling up averages of 30 points, four rebounds and five assists through his first two games. Nelson is putting up more than 20 shots per tilt, but has hit almost 50 percent to begin the 2013-14 campaign. However, he's always been able to score; the real boost for fantasy owners will be additional rebounds and assists. With six steals in his first two games as well, Nelson is throwing him name into the conversation among the best two-guards in the nation.
Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse - The Orange lost starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA. However, Ennis is a dynamic freshman who will fit in seamlessly with the Syracuse offense. Although not as tall or as athletic as MCW, Ennis possesses similar quick hands and superior court vision. Through Syracuse's first two games, Ennis is averaging six rebounds, six assists and three steals per contest. His shot has been off to begin the season, but Ennis's value lies mostly in his ability to create off the dribble and get his teammates involved. He should stuff the stat sheet for the Cuse, and his smooth shooting stroke should only get better as he gains experience.
Devin Thomas, F, Wake Forest - Thomas was no slouch last season during his first season at Wake Forest, averaging 9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. However, he has been a monster over his first two games as a sophomore. Thomas scored 23 points in the season opener against Colgate, then notched a double-double with 20 points and 17 rebounds against VMI on Tuesday. Keep an eye on teammate Codi Miller-McIntyre as well, another sophomore standout for the Demon Deacons. Miller-McIntyre is averaging 22.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists through the first two games. Both players have overshadowed senior stalwart Travis McKie thus far this season.
Jon Horford, F, Michigan - Horford obviously has good bloodlines, as the younger brother to Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford and the son of former NBA player Tito Horford. With Mitch McGary battling a nagging back injury, Horford will be the main source of rebounds for the Wolverines to begin the season. Horford has responded with an average 13.5 boards per game through the first two contests of the year. The junior's offensive game is still raw, and he'll get most of his points on dunks and put-backs. Still, the lack of size on the active roster for Michigan means Horford will be surrounded by shooters, giving him ample opportunities to clean the glass and man the interior.
Joseph Young, G, Oregon - The absence of Dominic Artis has been Young's gain thus far in 2013. Young is a transfer from the University of Houston who should see increased minutes through the first month or two of the season due to the suspension of Artis. Young is a scorer first and foremost, with a knack for getting to the free-throw line. In two games, Young has been to the charity stripe a staggering 28 times. Even better still, he has connected on 27 of his 28 attempts. All of this production from the foul line has led to an average of 30 points per game through two tilts for Young. With 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as well, Young should be a chic pickup in fantasy circles. However, make sure his breakout is for real, and also be aware that his minutes could decrease once Artis returns from suspension.
Ryan Anderson, F, Boston College - Anderson is a talented big man, but can he compete with the elite forwards in the ACC? Anderson has had no problem with the non-conference schedule thus far for the Eagles, managing 19.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game through three games this year. He was also successful as a sophomore last season, averging 14.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Still, with the ACC expanded to include Pittsburgh and Syracuse as well, Anderson will have tougher games against bigger, stronger opponents. As a result, his production could be inconsistent on nights when his Eagles are clearly overmatched.
Ron Baker, G, Wichita State - After last season's surprising run to the Final Four, the Shockers won't surprise anybody this time around. Baker was a key cog in that march through the tourney, but played mostly off the ball. He's been pushed into point-guard duty to begin the 2013-14 campaign due to the departure of Malcolm Armstead, and is averaging 4.7 dimes per tilt through three contests. Baker has still been able to fill it up in the scoring column to a certain extent, though, averaging 11.0 points per contest thus far. The question is whether Baker can deal with the rigors of playing point an entire season, as well as against stiffer competition. He'll have sophomore Fred VanVleet to lean on, but it will be interesting to see if the rest of Baker's game suffers due to his newfound responsibilities.
Joe Jackson, G, Memphis - Is this the year Jackson finally becomes a superstar? The senior guard has been solid, if unspectacular and slightly under the radar during his time at Memphis. Jackson shot the ball at career-high levels last season, hitting 51.9 percent from the floor, including an impressive 44.7-percent from three-point land. He averaged 13.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game as a junior in all. In the season-opening victory over lowly Austin Peay on Thursday, Jackson tallied 16 points, three rebounds and seven dimes in the 95-69 romp over the Governors. Perhaps it's time that Jackson gets some recognition and puts the Tigers back on the map in the process. This could be the best squad that coach Josh Pastner has had during his tenure with the Tigers.
Jernard Jerreau, F, Washington - Jerreau suffered a torn ACL in the first two minutes of Washington's opening game against Seattle University and will miss the rest of 2013-14 campaign. Jerreau had been penciled in as a starter this season, which would have been his sophomore year. The 6-foot-10, 220, forward averaged 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game as a freshman last season, playing just 12.7 minutes per tilt. In Jerreau's absence, expect the Huskies to go small often due to the lack of size on the roster. Shawn Kemp Jr. should be the main big man with Jerreau sidelined.
Kris Dunn, G, Providence - The Friars fear the worst for Dunn, who has had injury issues over his brief career, and is sidelined with what appears to be a recurring shoulder problem. Providence was hoping pair Dunn with last year's breakout star, Bryce Cotton in what they hoped would be one of the most potent backcourt combos in the country. Dunn averaged 5.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a freshman, but would have no longer had to deal with a crowded backcourt and the presence of standout guard Vincent Council, who has since graduated. Dunn missed time last season due to a right shoulder injury and hurt the same shoulder in an exhibition game earliest this month. He has yet to take the court for Providence this season, and it is unknown if or when he will return this season.
Evan Roquemore, G, Santa Clara - Roquemore has been battling a nagging back injury, which has forced him to miss the first two games of the season for the Broncos. It is uncertain when the senior will return. Roquemore is a superb ball distributor, having averaged 5.2 dimes per tilt as a junior last year. Roquemore's shot is a work in progress, though his field goal percentage improved to a career-high 41.8 percent from the floor last season. He is a double-digit scorer and an above-average rebounder for his size as well. The Broncos will certainly miss their floor general for the time being.
Travis Wear, F, UCLA - Wear had his appendix removed in October, and there is still no timetable for this return. The senior forward averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season. Travis had better statistics than his twin brother, David, but it's the latter who will pick up extra minutes in his brother's stead. Much is also expected of sophomore forward Tony Parker this season; the 6-9 big man tallied a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday's 91-60 rout over Oakland.