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College Hoops Barometer: Big Bad Johnny

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.

This could be turning into a college basketball season for the ages. The freshman class could be among the best ever, while the sophomores are out to prove they can play on the same level. Meanwhile, the upperclassmen believe they can show that they shouldn't be forgotten.

Here is this week's "Four on the Hardwood Floor:"

1. Don't forget about Indiana's Noah Vonleh when mentioning the elite freshmen this season. All the 6-foot-10 big man has done is post double-doubles in each of the first four games of his collegiate career for the Hoosiers.

2. The sophomores made their presence felt this past week, led by Marcus Smart and Jahii Carson. Smart poured in a career-high 39 points against Memphis on Tuesday, while Carson exploded at UNLV for 40 points on the same night

3. Rodney Hood looks the part of a star for Duke; the Mississippi State transfer scored 28 points against FAU on Nov. 19, then set a career high with 30 points Tuesday in a closer-than-expect win over ECU. Hood is also managing 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 dimes per tilt, as well.

4. Michigan State big man Adreian Payne should finally get his due this season as a senior after being largely overshadowed in the past. Payne is the best player on the best team in the country, though an argument could be made for shooting guard Gary Harris as well.

The season is still in its infancy, but already some players have emerged from relative anonymity to make their mark. Without further ado, the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Roscoe Smith, F, UNLV -
Before this season, Smith was known mostly for taking one of the worst full-court shots in NCAA history as a member of the Connecticut Huskies. After two years in Storrs, Smith transferred to UNLV for a chance at more playing time. He sat out last season, but has started the 2013-14 campaign with a vengeance. Smith has notched four straight double-doubles to open the season, posting averages of 14.3 points and 16.3 rebounds per contest. Smith leads the nation in rebounding . The change of scenery appears to have done Smith well.

Cameron Bairstow, F, New Mexico -
Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk get the pub for the Lobos, and rightly so, but Bairstow has been exceptional to start the year as well. The 6-9 senior from Australia has tallied at least 20 points in each of the first three games of the year, while also averaging eight rebounds per contest. Bairstow is an underrated passer as well, managing three dimes per tilt as well. The growth in his game is further evidenced by the fact that he is averaging approximately the same amount of minutes played per game this season as he did in his junior campaign, yet he has more than doubled his scoring average while also pulling down two more boards per tilt. It's early, but Bairstow and the rest of the Lobos could be on the verge of something special this season.

Jordan Loveridge, F, Utah -
Loveridge has been a double-double dynamo thus far, averaging 17.5 points and 14.0 rebounds through the first two games of the season for the Utes. The sophomore has an intriguing inside-out game; he can mix it up with the big boys down low, but also step out beyond the three-point arc and can the open three-pointer. The Utes have played just two games thus far, but Loveridge is all the rage in Salt Lake City already.

Johnny O'Bryant, F, LSU -
O'Bryant should be one of the best big men in the SEC this season. Through three games, the 6-9 junior is averaging 17.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per game for the Tigers. O'Bryant had 15 double-doubles last season, and already has two to begin his junior campaign, nearly missing a third with nine points and 11 rebounds at UMass.

CHECK STATUS

Frank Kaminsky, F/C, Wisconsin -
Let's face facts; other than his parents, not many people probably thought Frank Kamnisky was capable of breaking the school record for points scored in a game. Yet that's exactly what happened when the 7-footer dismantled North Dakota for 43 points. Kaminsky shot an outrageous 16-of-19 from the field, including a perfect 6-of-6 from downtown. In four other games this season, Kamisnky has averaged 10.0 points per tilt, so it appears the 43-point outburst was more of an aberration than anything else. Still, it proves that the Wisconsin big man is certainly capable of breaking out in a big way. He's shooting 60.5 percent from the floor through five games as well.

Eron Harris, G, West Virginia -
Harris can score, but can he produce a more well-rounded game as a sophomore? So far, the results have looked promising. Harris is averaging more than 20 points and five rebounds per game through four tilts for the Mountaineers. Scoring remains his calling card, though, including shooting more than 50 percent from long distance. Harris is chucking up more than 15 shots per game, though he is also getting to the line with great frequency. Getting his teammates involved will be more difficult, though Harris is averaging two dimes per game as well. Make sure Harris can prove more than a one-dimensional threat in fantasy.

Gavin Ware, F, Mississippi State -
The sophomore forward has been imposing his will on opposing defenses this season, shooting a blistering 69.2 percent from the floor through three games for the Bulldogs. He is averaging 15.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per tilt as a result. Ware already has as many double-doubles this season (two) as he had in all of his freshman campaign. The only question is if Ware can continue producing at this level against much stiffer competition. Assuming appropriate growth in his post game, the chances of that happening appear high.

Ian Miller, G, FSU -
The Seminoles are all about the frontcourt this season, led by senior forward Okaro White. Miller is also a senior, though is known mostly for his scoring acumen. After a sloppy first game, Miller has averaged 20.0 points per tilt over the next three games for the Noles. He excels at getting to the free-throw line; in fact, Miller has hit 22-of-22 free-throws over the past three contests. Miller had a down season as a junior, but with sharpshooter Michael Snaer graduated, Miller should have more opportunities to shine this season. He's a tad inconsistent, comes off the bench, and could be pushed by sophomore guards Devin Bookert and Montay Brandon. However, there should be enough ball to go around.

DOWNGRADE

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, G, Georgetown -
Otto Porter is in the NBA, and Greg Whittington tore his ACL and is out for the entire season. That leaves a huge void for the Hoyas, which Smith-Rivera was supposed to fill. That has not materialized thus far, as the sophomore guard has had one good game but two poor outputs en route to a 1-2 start for G-Town. Smith-Rivera shot just 2-for-10 from the floor in the season-opening loss to Oregon, then shot 5-for-14 from the field in Thursday's crushing 63-56 loss to lowly Northeastern. Smith-Rivera did score 25 points in between those two poor outings, but that was against Wright State. If Smith-Rivera can't take care of business in the non-conference portion of the schedule, that does not bode well for his future success once the Hoyas have to play Marquette, Creighton, Xavier, Butler and the rest of the revamped Big East.

Kasey Hill, G, Florida -
Hill was expected to play a vital role in the Gators' success this season, but the freshman will miss approximately one month due to a high-ankle sprain. A point guard by trade, Hill was averaging 10.0 points, 4.3 dimes and 2.3 steals per contest through four games before the injury. Hill was going to have a tough task, filling in for four-year starter Kenny Boynton, as well as shouldering even more of the backcourt load due to the suspension of Scottie Wilbekin. Although Wilbekin will return shortly from the suspension, Hill will be forced to watch from the bench.

J.T. Terrell, G, USC -
Terrell has been declared ineligible due to academic reasons for at least the remainder of 2013. Terrell averaged 11.7 points per game as a junior last season and led the Trojans with 20 points in the season-opening victory over Utah State. In total, Terrell had managed 10.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game through three contests. Junior guard Byron Wesley has been tearing it up for the Trojans to begin the 2013-2014 campaign, though, so Terrell's absence may not be as significant as initially thought for new coach Andy Enfield.

Jamil Wilson, F, Marquette -
Wilson was pegged by many as a breakout candidate for the Golden Eagles this season. However, through four games, he is shooting just 34.8 percent from the floor, with averages similar to last season. Wilson is managing 8.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per tilt. Meanwhile, Davante Gardner has been the focal point of the Marquette offense on the interior, while Todd Mayo has provided most of the scoring from the outside. The season is still young, but Wilson will also have to contend with center Chris O'Tule and sophomore Steve Taylor, Jr. for touches and rebounds as well. As such, if Wilson can't get his shot on track, he could be losing some serious mojo.