While most people were busy watching the Super Bowl, I was scouting freshmen. All right, in all honesty, I watched some of that football game as well, but I had to turn it off (I evoked a personal skunk rule) and get to writing this week's Haze. We have some surprises and disappointments in this week's seven players. Like all first-year players, these guys have something everyone covets: upside. Like last week, we tilt toward the frontcourt, but don't overlook 6-0 Jordan Woodard who might be the best of the bunch.
Jarrell Martin, forward, LSU Tigers
Coming into the season, Martin was expected to be the main freshman on the Tiger roster. Jordan Mickey has usurped his position, but Martin has had his moments. The 6-foot-9 native of Baton Rouge hurt his ankle in the first minute of his collegiate career and took some time to find his sea legs. He has scored in double digits in eight games, including a season-high 18 in the Jan. 11 win over South Carolina. While his averages of 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds aren't great, he could be a player to keep an eye on next year.
Nigel Hayes, forward, Wisconsin Badgers
The Badger season has gone in the reverse direction with Hayes' productivity. The 6-7 freshman from Toledo did not play much in the early going and Wisconsin rolled through the non-conference schedule. He had his first double-digit point game on Dec. 14 against Eastern Kentucky and has scored well in the low post since that point. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has lost five of their last six, including an almost unimaginable three in a row at home. Hayes is about the only Badger that does not rely on a 3-point shot to score, so he should continue to get playing time.
Shannon Hale, forward, Alabama Crimson Tide
Like Hayes, Hale did not play much at the beginning of the season. It is only since the beginning of SEC play that Hale, a 6-8 forward, has been given more opportunities. He had a streak of six straight double-digit scoring games in January and can step out and bury a perimeter jumper. Hale has hit 35.3 percent of his 3-pointers and had three triples in the Jan. 25 win over LSU on his way to a season-high 17 points. Hale has only scored a combined 16 points in his past two games, but coach Anthony Grant has little reason not to start planning for the future (even if he may not be a part of it for Alabama).
Jordan Woodard, guard, Oklahoma Sooners
Freshman point guards usually back up their upperclassmen teammates (or are not very good), but the 6-0 Woodward may be the exception. The Oklahoma native has showed the ability both to score and set up the offense. He has two games of 20 or more points and hit a high water mark of 12 assists in the Dec. 17 win over Texas-Arlington. He is hitting 41.7 percent of his 3-pointers and gets to the line 7.0 times per game. Woodard also leads the Sooners with 4.6 assists.
Terry Rozier, guard, Louisville Cardinals
When you get a glimpse of Rozier in the Cardinal system, your first thought might be, "Why isn't this guy producing better numbers?" The 6-1 guard from Cleveland has had his moments as a freshman, but his minutes have been limited behind Russ Smith and Chris Jones. He is averaging 6.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists, but had a 10-board game against Western Kentucky on Dec. 14 and an eight-assist game in the blowout of Houston on Jan. 16. The future is bright for Rozier.
Jamall Robinson, guard/forward, Hofstra Pride
Over the years, Hofstra has produced a number of excellent fantasy contributors despite limited overall success. There was Antoine Agudio followed by Charles Jenkins. Could Robinson be the next in line? It is a little early to put that kind of stamp on him, but the 6-5 swingman has posted consecutive double-doubles while playing heavy minutes for the Pride. The team has lost four straight, but Robinson had 15 points and 10 boards against Drexel and tens in the loss to Charleston on Saturday.
Vince Hunter, forward, UTEP Miners
Hunter, the gem of coach Tim Floyd's recruiting class, showed some upside in the early season, but it wasn't until the Miners lost McKenzie Moore that the 6-8 Detroit native took off. Hunter has helped lead UTEP to six straight conference wins and has averaged 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds in the winning streak. The Miners are a surprising co-leader of Conference USA, but they may have been even better in the non-conference had Hunter been starting.