This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.
Many stars of college basketball eventually move on to the greener pastures of the NBA to find even more success. Some don't. Without getting too in depth, the jump from college to the pros in any sport is steep, and the draft remains a wildcard to some extent. Names like Christian Laettner, Tyler Hansbrough, Mateen Cleaves and Sean May dominated the college scene, only to flounder in the NBA. Meanwhile, players like Stephen Curry used the NCAAs as a springboard to becoming lottery picks and future Hall of Famers. Syracuse's Jonny Flynn was taken by the Timberwolves one pick ahead of Curry. We all know how that turned out.
I bring this up because several of the more highly thought of upperclassmen in this year's college batch are not currently predicted to even be first round selections in the 2020 NBA Draft. Markus Howard of Marquette just dropped 51 points on USC, but he's supposedly too small to transition to the NBA. Cassius Winston of Michigan State was preseason Player of the Year, but is supposedly not strong enough or athletic enough to sniff an NBA roster.
Let's slow down on the rush to judgment. Let's let the season play out. Let's enjoy what these players have to offer while they're still in school. There's plenty of basketball left to be played. And let's not pretend we know how any of these current collegians will perform at the next level.
Now that I'm done yelling at the clouds, let's take a look at some notable names and performances in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.
Mac McClung, G, Georgetown – This comes down to a numbers game for the Hoyas, as Georgetown recently had four players either leave the team or have their status suddenly become murky. No. 2 scorer James Akinjo put his name in the transfer portal; in a supposedly unrelated set of circumstances, forward Josh LeBlanc is no longer with the squad, and forwards Galen Alexander and Myron Gardner have become embroiled in legal issues of their own, leaving their status in question. That leaves few active bodies for Patrick Ewing's squad. While center Omer Yurtseven has exceeded expectations, McClung and forward Jamorko Pickett will be the two most obvious players that will be asked to pick up the slack for the above-referenced departures. McClung poured in 33 points Wednesday for the Hoyas in a stunning 81-74 victory over previously undefeated Oklahoma State. McClung is shooting close to 40-percent from three-point range to begin the 2019-2020 campaign, and should get all the shots he wants while Georgetown is shorthanded.
Rylan Jones, G, Utah – Teammate Timmy Allen was a known commodity heading into the season, and the sophomore has been as good as advertised for the Utes. Most people outside of Utah did not know about Jones, though, as the freshman was not even a top 100 recruit. However, Utah's two-time reigning Mr. Basketball stayed close to home, and has been something of a revelation during his first season. Jones is averaging 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per tilt. He is second on the team in scoring behind Allen, and first in dishing. In fact, he is tied with Arizona's Nico Mannion to lead the Pac-12 in assists thus far this season. Jones is shooting a blistering 47.5-percent from three-point range, and he has hit at least three treys in four-straight games. Jones set a career-high with 25 points in Wednesday's bounce back win over BYU. If Timmy Allen is the Tool Man, then Rylan Jones is his Al Borland. The Utes appear to be in good hands with this duo this season, and perhaps beyond.
Darius Days, F, LSU – Days was caught in a numbers game a season ago, as the Tigers were stacked in the frontcourt with Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams. Both players have moved on to the NBA, though, leaving Days to fill the void. He has done a superb job thus far in the 2019-2020 campaign. Despite standing at just 6-foot-6, Days has been a force on the interior, averaging 14.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. He has four double-doubles in eight games, including each of the last two contests. Days is shooting an impressive 62 percent from the floor, can score from inside or outside and leads the team in rebounding. Days, Emmitt Williams and freshman Trendon Watford may not have the size of their predecessors, but they have been no less effective in the early portion of the season. LSU's only losses thus far came by two points apiece to ranked Utah State and VCU units.
Javon Greene, G, George Mason – George Mason is off to its best start in 36 years, and Greene is one of the main reasons why. Arguably the most well-rounded player on the squad, the 6-foot-2 junior is averaging 13.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per contest. He leads the team in assists, and is second on the squad in both scoring and rebounding. Greene also excels in thievery with 1.9 steals per tilt. The Patriots beat Old Dominion and crushed Nebraska, with their only blemish a loss to a Maryland team that is one of the best in the entire nation. The A-10 is going to be extremely interesting with the likes of Dayton, VCU, Richmond, Saint Louis and surprising Duquesne all playing well to begin the season. The Patriots were picked to finish ninth in the conference, so Greene and company already appear to be exceeding expectations.
Steven Enoch, C, Louisville – The Cardinals have a dominant front line with Enoch, Dwayne Sutton and of course, star Jordan Nwora. Enoch probably gets the least notoriety of the three, but he is averaging career highs across the board as a senior. He has four double-doubles in eight contests, including a 13-point, 10-rebound performance in Louisville's destruction of Michigan. Enoch is also a defensive anchor, and he is averaging 1.5 blocks per contest. For example, the Wolverines hadn't scored fewer than 70 points in a game heading into Tuesday's clash. The Cardinals held previously undefeated Michigan to 43 points. Michigan shot a season-low 26 percent from the floor. Enoch's statistical upside may be slightly limited by the presences of the aforementioned Sutton and Nwora, but he is a key cog for a championship-caliber squad, and a double-double threat each and every time he steps onto the hardwood.
Yoeli Childs, F, BYU – Childs has experienced a plethora of highs and lows already this year despite playing in just one game thus far. Childs initially signed with an agent and declared for the NBA Draft after last season, but decided to return to school eventually. There was an issue with the paperwork, though, which resulted in him being suspended for the first nine games of the year. As such, his season debut came Wednesday versus Utah, and Childs got off to a scorching start. He poured in 29 points in just 25 minutes, while also collecting seven rebounds. Unfortunately, Childs subsequently suffered an undisclosed injury, left the game and did not return. Not much is known about the severity and extent of the injury at this time. It's been an eventful time for Childs, and while it is clear when on the court he can be one of the more dynamic players in college basketball, he has yet to prove, for a variety of reasons, that he can stay there. Stay tuned.
Freddie Gillespie, F, Baylor – The senior has been a defensive stalwart for the Bears, filling in admirably for Tristan Clark, who is still not 100 percent in his recovery from offseason surgery. Though Gillespie's offensive game is limited, he is still averaging 8.3 points per contest, which is fifth on the squad. Gillespie's real value comes on the defensive end, though, as he is managing team highs in rebound (8.6), blocks (2.0) and steals (1.9) per tilt. In fact, Gillespie is in the top five in the Big 12 in all three categories. His role could decrease once Clark gets back to full strength; Clark averaged 14.6 points last year, is far more polished on the offensive side of the ball, and still swatted 2.4 shots per contest. As a result, even though Gillespie has been incredibly productive, his numbers could slowly decline as the season wears on.
Derek Culver, C, West Virginia – Inconsistency will drive coaches mad, as will young, raw big men. Culver has plenty of talent, nearly averaging a double-double a season ago as a freshman. He has had some ups and downs through seven games as a sophomore, posting some curious stat lines. He started five games for the Mountaineers, but came off the bench in two others. His best game was his last, off the bench no less, as he notched a monstrous double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Rhode Island. However, he failed to score in double figures in each of the previous two tilts. Culver is shooting nearly 10 percentage points less than a season ago, hitting an ugly 37.1 percent of his shots from the floor. However, he did snatch 24 rebounds combined in those prior two games. In sum, Culver's production is all over the place, making him a risky yet possibly lucrative play, if one can stomach the wild swings in statistics.
Armando Bacot, C, North Carolina – The Tar Heels wilted versus Ohio State following Bacot's departure from the game due to an ankle injury Wednesday, and UNC could be without the services of the big man for a lengthy period of time. Though Bacot seems to have avoided any major structural damage, ankles can be fickle, and based upon the words of coach Roy Williams it would be a surprise to see Bacot back on the floor in the short term. The freshman center had been a key component on the interior for the Tar Heels prior to the injury, averaging 10.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest. Bacot led the team in rebounding and was in fifth in the conference in boards. He had formed a potent inside-outside combination with fellow freshman Cole Anthony, who has been nursing a foot injury of his own. Bacot was a beast in the Third-Place Game in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 29, tallying 23 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in a 78-74 victory over Oregon. Walker Miller and Brandon Huffman seem the most likely candidates for increased minutes in Bacot's absence.
Stone Gettings, F, Arizona – Gettings transferred from basketball hotbed Cornell University, and was forced to sit out last year. As a member of the Big Red, he averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his final season playing far above Cayuga's waters. The 6-foot-9 forward had appeared in eight games for the Wildcats this season, averaging 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds for the Wildcats. Unfortunately, in Arizona's most recent over Pepperdine, Gettings suffered facial fractures as well as a concussion, and will be sidelined indefinitely. The Wildcats can certainly weather the storm of losing a key reserve, but it is important to note that Arizona lacks size after Zeke Nnaji and Chase Jeter. Gettings brought the unique combination of both size and experience that this squad may lack down the road.
Amanze Ngumezi, F, Georgia – Freshman sensation Anthony Edwards gets the pub for this squad, and rightly so, but the Bulldogs have two quality losses and six wins otherwise to begin the season. The 6-foot-9 Ngumezi had been starting for the Bulldogs, averaging 6.1 points and 2.4 rebounds as a sophomore. That is, until he was suspended by the school for undisclosed reasons. He is suspended indefinitely, and it remains to be seen if and when he will be reinstated. Even more pressure on the interior will be placed on Rayshaun Hammonds, who leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring.
Jose Alvarado, G, Georgia Tech – A balky ankle will keep Alvarado sidelined until the end of December. Alvarado tried to return on Nov. 20 against Georgia, but was not himself, shooting 1-for-7 in 17 minutes of the 82-78 loss to the Bulldogs. The catalyst for the Yellow Jackets over the last two years, the junior has averaged at least 12.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest over that span. As previously mentioned in this article, Alvarado's loss has been the gain of Michael Devoe, who is averaging 23.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists through the first six games of the season with Alvarado banged up. It would appear that Devoe has taken over ownership of this squad, and a lengthy absence for Alvarado will only further that notion.