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College Hoops Barometer: Thanksgiving Leftovers

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.

There are more questions than answers at this early point in this season. Is Jabari Parker better than Andrew Wiggins? How about Julius Randle? Where does Aaron Gordon fit? Can Marcus Smart steal the Player of the Year Award away from all of the talented freshmen? Is Wichita State an elite team? Why is the Big Ten the most underappreciated power conference in college basketball?

Those queries should become clearer as the season unfolds. For now, it's time for this week's "Four on the Hardwood Floor:"

1. The best player nobody talks about in college hoops might be Washington swingman C.J. Wilcox. Much was expected from the 6-foot-5 senior heading into the season, but he's exceeded even those lofty expectations thus far. Wilcox has averages of 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting career highs of 47.8 percent from the field and a blistering 45.2 percent from three-point range. The Huskies may not be very good this season, but Wilcox should still put up gaudy numbers.

2. I'll pat myself on the back for the pick of Jordan Adams to have a breakout season for the UCLA Bruins. With Shabazz Muhammed no longer in the fold, Adams is averaging more than 20 points per game through six contests, shooting an outstanding 55.4 percent from the floor. He has also improved his rebounding and passing, posting 4.5 boards and 2.8 dimes per tilt. He also leads the nation in steals per game with 3.8 thefts per contest. The Bruins are 6-0 to start the season.

3. Hopefully the ankle injury of Michigan guard Nik Stauskas isn't too serious, as he missed Friday's game against Coppin State due to the ailment. Stauskas is a sharpshooter who was largely overlooked as a freshman on last year's uber-talented Wolverines squad that made it to the national championship. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the NBA, Stauskas has taken a more central role in the UM offense. He has scored 20 points in each of the first four games of the season en route to a 20.3 points per game average. Stauskas has hit 18-of-38 shots from three-point land thus far. With 3.8 boards and 3.0 dimes per contest as well, the 6-6 sophomore should be a force all season in the Big Ten.

4. The Memphis Tigers have had outstanding guard play the last few seasons, but the play of their frontcourt may determine how far they'll go come tourney time. Shaq Goodwin could be vital to the Tigers' success, and he's off to a stellar start to his sophomore campaign. Goodwin is averaging 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds through four games and notched his first double-double of the season against Siena on Thanksgiving with 17 points and 10 boards. Goodwin has the physical attributes to shine for the Tigers.

Still hungry following your Thanksgiving Feast? Let's grab some leftovers in this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Cady Lalanne, C, Massachusetts -
The early season surprise in college basketball has to be the Minutemen. UMass is in the top 25 for the first time since coach John Calipari manned the sidelines for Massachusetts, when Marcus Camby led the Minutemen to the Final Four in 1996. It's another center that has put them back on the map, as Lalanne is averaging a double-double to begin the 2013-2014 campaign. The junior is averaging 17.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per tilt. He has four double-doubles in six contest, while also managing 2.7 rejections per game. Lalanne has had some help from senior point guard Chaz Williams, but it's the emergence of the 6-10 big man that has elevated the Minutemen to new heights.

Juwan Staten, G, West Virginia -
Another player who has seen a huge uptick in production between his sophomore and junior campaigns is the 6-1 point guard Staten. A distributor first and foremost, Staten is third in the country in assists, dishing out 7.6 dimers contest. He has also shown the ability to fill it up as well, shooting an impressive 58.7 percent from the field en route to an 18.1 points per game average. Despite his fairly small stature, Staten rarely shoots from the outside. Instead, he makes his mark by driving into the lane, scoring at or near the rim. His slashing ability also allows him to break down the defense and find open looks for his teammates using his exceptional court vision. Staten has taken his game to the next level for the Mountaineers.

Briante Weber, G, Virginia Commonwealth -
Weber is a stat sheet stuffer for the Rams. The junior guard is averaging 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 dimes per contest for the Rams. He is also a vital part of the Rams' "Havoc" defense, averaging 3.3 thefts per game. Weber was nearly the difference maker in VCU's last game against Georgetown. Weber poured in 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting versus the Hoyas, while also tallying six rebounds, three assists and four steals in the 84-80 loss. Weber's versatility at point guard makes him an intriguing fantasy option.

Kevin Pangos, G, Gonzaga -
The Zags knew they would have a scoring void due to the departures of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. However, not many expected it would be filled by Pangos, the junior guard who had served as the team's primary point guard the previous two seasons. The emergence of David Stockton, son of NBA royalty, has allowed Pangos to shift to the two-guard slot and get off to a dazzling start shooting the rock. Pangos is averaging 22.0 points per game, hitting 52.3-percent from the field and 49.1 percent from beyond the arc. Interestingly, his assist totals have actually gone up from last season despite the additional scoring, as the junior is managing 3.9 dimes per contest. With more opportunities to have the ball in his hands this year, Pangos has proven he is more than capable of shouldering the offensive load for the Bulldogs.

CHECK STATUS

Montrezl Harrell, F, Louisville -
Harrell is a force on the glass for the Cardinals, managing 9.8 rebounds per game to begin the 2013-14 campaign. However, his real development has come on the offensive block this season. Just a sophomore, Harrell is seeing increased minutes due to the departure of Gorgui Dieng and has responded with 12.5 points per game. Harrell is shooting 60.8 percent from the floor, using his wide body and power to bully opposing defenders in the post. The Cardinals have a bevy of scoring options this season, including Russ Smith, Chane Behanan, Luke Hancock and Wayne Blackshear, so Harrell may not be able to score in double-digits every game. However, his rebounding prowess should keep him active in every contest.

Chris Obekpa, C, St. John's -
Obekpa has utility in fantasy circles, and his value lies strictly on the defensive end. The sophomore from Nigeria leads the nation with 5.4 blocks per game. He has blocked at least six shots in each of the last three games for the Johnnies. He is also managing 6.4 rebounds per contest despite playing just 22.8 minutes per game. Though he's a decent passer, the rest of his offensive game remains raw, as he is averaging just 4.8 points per tilt. Most of his points come on dunks or offensive putbacks, as witnessed by his 68.8-percent field-goal shooting. However, that statistic is a bit misleading, as Obekpa has taken just 16 shots from the floor through five games this season. Obekpa is a beast on defense, but don't expect much on the other end of the floor.

Josh Smith, C, Georgetown -
Can the former UCLA Bruin and McDonald's All-American finally keep his weight down and reach his potential? Smith is a gifted post player with surprising athleticism for his 350-pound frame. However, consistency has been his biggest drawback throughout his collegiate career. Smith had 25 points in his debut for the Hoyas, then scored just six points in the following game against lowly Wright State. Smith has also never been as good a rebounder as he should be; he is averaging just four boards per contest this season, and has never averaged above five rebounds per contest in any season despite standing 6-10. He is also not much of a shot blocker. Smith has the talent, but it remains to be seen if he can put it all together.

Roy Devyn Marble, G, Iowa -
Devyn Marble poured in a career-high 30 points in Thursday's 77-74 OT victory over Xavier, and he couldn't even finish the game for the Hawkeyes due to a leg cramp. The injury is not expected to linger for the leading scorer for Iowa; Devyn Marble is averaging 17.2 points per tilt. He is also second on the squad in assists with 3.5 dimes per contest and is also among the nation's leaders in steals with 3.2 per game. Though he is a bit of a volume scorer, the senior provides enough value in other categories to offset the hit in shooting percentage. Still, Devyn Marble should continue to score in bunches for the Hawkeyes.

DOWNGRADE

Damion Lee, G, Drexel -
Lee suffered what appeared to be a gruesome knee injury Thursday against the Arizona Wildcats, but it remains to be seen how long he'll be out. Lee was part of a standout backcourt for the Dragons prior to the injury, teaming with senior point guard Frantz Massenat to form one of the most potent combos in the land. Last season, Lee averaged 17.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest, hitting 36.0 percent of his three-pointers. Lee had been off to a slightly slow start before the injury this year, notching 13.0 points and 4.2 rebounds, albeit in a small sample size of just four games. Look for senior Chris Fouch to take even more shots if Lee misses an extended period.

Tyler Johnson, G, Fresno State -
A foot injury is expected to sideline Johnson for at least one game. The 6-4 senior was averaging career highs across the board prior to the injury with 14.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.2 dimes per contest for the Bulldogs. Johnson has played much bigger than his 6-4, 185, frame as a senior, doubling his rebounding numbers from a season ago. Though it is still early, Johnson appeared to be on pace for a standout season for Fresno State. Just make sure he's healthy before inserting him into your lineup.

De'Mon Brooks, F, Davidson -
Brooks is battling a groin injury that caused him to miss Davidson's last game against New Mexico. Brooks is a 6-7 senior forward who does most of his damage on the interior. The 230-pounder had posted averages of 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds through four games this season, similar numbers to his prior two campaigns for the Wildcats. Still, a groin injury can be bothersome, particular when moving laterally or banging down low with the big boys. As a result, it could take a bit of time for Brooks to come back, and he may not be his usual self even when he returns.

Drew Crawford, G, Northwestern -
Crawford left Thursday's game with Mizzou after just 13 minutes due to a shoulder injury and is questionable for the Wildcats. The fifth-year senior has been a staple at Northwestern over the last half-decade. He was averaging 14.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest before the injury. His rebounding in particular had been impressive, as the 6-5 swingman is two rebounds per game better than any other season for the Wildcats. Monitor Crawford's status, and he is an extremely productive, polished veteran of Big Ten play.