College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

Houston sits atop the current college basketball rankings, and the Cougars' defense has been stifling.  Houston has not allowed more than 56 points in any contest thus far this season.  Overall, the Cougars are giving up a paltry 47.3 points per tilt.  This has allowed Houston to win by an average of 27.6 points per contest through nine games.  The schedule stiffens with upcoming clashes with ranked opponents in the form of Alabama and Virginia before Christmas, and leading scorer Marcus Sasser had to leave Houston's last game after receiving stitches above his left eye.  However, Sasser is expected to be fine in the long run, and it is clear the Cougars are a force to be reckoned with this season.

As the holiday season starts to get into full swing, let's see who has been naughty and who has been nice in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Jesse Edwards, C, Syracuse – Edwards has transformed himself into one of the better big men in the nation.  The senior center is averaging a double-double early on this season with 15.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest.  Edwards snatched a career-best 21 rebounds against Bryant right after Thanksgiving, then followed up that performance with 17 boards in a loss to Illinois.  Edwards tied a career high with 22 points in a win at Notre Dame, while also grabbing 14 boards for the game.  Not only has Edwards been more productive than even a season ago, but he

Houston sits atop the current college basketball rankings, and the Cougars' defense has been stifling.  Houston has not allowed more than 56 points in any contest thus far this season.  Overall, the Cougars are giving up a paltry 47.3 points per tilt.  This has allowed Houston to win by an average of 27.6 points per contest through nine games.  The schedule stiffens with upcoming clashes with ranked opponents in the form of Alabama and Virginia before Christmas, and leading scorer Marcus Sasser had to leave Houston's last game after receiving stitches above his left eye.  However, Sasser is expected to be fine in the long run, and it is clear the Cougars are a force to be reckoned with this season.

As the holiday season starts to get into full swing, let's see who has been naughty and who has been nice in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Jesse Edwards, C, Syracuse – Edwards has transformed himself into one of the better big men in the nation.  The senior center is averaging a double-double early on this season with 15.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest.  Edwards snatched a career-best 21 rebounds against Bryant right after Thanksgiving, then followed up that performance with 17 boards in a loss to Illinois.  Edwards tied a career high with 22 points in a win at Notre Dame, while also grabbing 14 boards for the game.  Not only has Edwards been more productive than even a season ago, but he has managed his fouls a bit better as a senior.  Edwards fouled out of a staggering 11 contests last year; through nine games, he has been disqualified only from two outings.  Clearly, Edwards is a boon to the Orange when he can stay on the court.

K.J. Simpson, G, Colorado – The big story over the past week in Boulder has been the arrival of Coach Prime at the football program, but Simpson is making some waves on the hardwood as well.  The second-year guard has seen a huge uptick in statistics from his freshman campaign.  As a sophomore, Simpson is averaging 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest.  His shooting percentage has also increased, especially from beyond the arc.  Simpson poured in 30 points in an impressive thrashing of Texas A&M before Thanksgiving.  He leads the squad in scoring, dishing and thievery, while placing second in rebounding.  Simpson has certainly left his stamp on the Buffs through the early portion of the season.

Moussa Cisse, C, Oklahoma State – The imposing big man leads the Big 12 in rebounding and shot-blocking.  Cisse is averaging 10.8 boards and 3.3 swats per contest.  In fact, Cisse is fifth in the entire nation in rejections.  While his offensive game still lags behind his defense, Cisse has still shown growth in that department, shooting a career-best 59.6 percent from the floor.  He will never be much of a shooter (Cisse is shooting 36.4 percent from the foul line), but he can still have an incredible impact on the game on the interior for the Cowboys.

Jalen Pickett, G, Penn State – Pickett had a stellar first season with the Nittany Lions last year after coming over from Siena, but his 2022-2023 campaign has been even better so far.  Pickett is managing 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.6 dimes per contest.  He leads the Big Ten in dishing and is fifth in the entire nation in that category.  Pickett posted back-to-back games with 11 assists earlier this season, then snatched 11 rebounds in a more recent win against Colorado State.  Pickett collected three steals against Virginia Tech, and even blocked two shots in the season opener versus Winthrop.  Pickett can affect the game in a variety of ways, flashing his versatile skill set in the process.

CHECK STATUS

Reece Beekman, G, Virginia – Beekman suffered a hamstring injury Tuesday in a narrow win over James Madison, and the severity of the ailment is currently unknown.  Though the Cavaliers do not play again for nearly 10 days, Beekman may need even more time than that to recuperate and get back on the court.  The junior is averaging 10.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest.  By the way, that next game for the Cavaliers comes against aforementioned Houston.  With Virginia allowing just 57.9 points per clash, that contest should be an old fashioned defensive struggle.

Santiago Vescovi, G, Tennessee – A shoulder sprain will sideline Vescovi for at least a few games.  The senior from Uruguay has been a stat sheet stuffer throughout his time with the Vols.  He is averaging 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals per tilt.  His absence will come at an unfortunate time for Tennessee, as the Vols will face ranked squads such as Maryland, Arizona and Mississippi State all within the next few weeks.  Certainly, the hope is that Vescovi needs less time on the shelf and will not require a lengthy absence.

LJ Cryer, G, Baylor – The leading scorer for the Bears missed Tuesday's win over lowly Tarleton State due to a back injury.  This move could also be precautionary given the level of competition, as well as the fact that the Bears have over a week off until their next outing against Washington State.  For frame of reference, second-leading scorer Adam Flagler also sat out the victory over Tarleton State.  Cryer has been mostly a scorer during his time at Baylor, though is currently managing career highs in rebounds, assists and steals.  Should Cryer miss additional time, look for Flagler and freshmen sensations Keyonte George and Langston Love to attempt to pick up the slack.

DOWNGRADE

Cam'Ron Fletcher, F, Florida State – Fletcher will miss the remainder of the 2022-2023 campaign due to a knee injury.  The news is a crushing blow to a Florida State squad that has lost nine of its first 10 games this season.  Fletcher was the leading rebounder for the Seminoles at 7.5 boards per contest, while also being one of four players averaging double figures in points.  Freshman forward Cameron Corhen could see more run due to the injury to Fletcher, while mammoth 7-4 center Naheem McLeod should have access to all the rebounds he can handle.  Unfortunately for FSU, the loss of Fletcher will only further dampen what has already been a dismal campaign.

Noah Fernandes, G, Massachusetts – Fernandes will undergo an MRI due to an ankle ailment.  He has already missed one contest and is likely to miss several more.  As a junior at UMass, Fernandes averaged 14.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest.  As a senior, Fernandes had been managing 11.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 dimes per tilt before getting hurt.  Fernandes battled a wrist injury before the season began, so the returning leading scorer for the Minutemen has been dinged up for the better part of the last few months.  While the loss of Fernandes will sting in the short term, the balanced Minutemen have five additional players averaging at least eight points per game this season.

Dusan Mahorcic, C, North Carolina State – Mahorcic suffered a knee injury Tuesday in a win over Coppin State, and while the severity of the injury is unknown, initial indications are that it may be serious.  Mahorcic has bounced around between Southern Illinois, Utah and now NC State, but the senior finally appeared to be a consistent presence on the interior prior to the injury.  He was averaging 8.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest this season.  In addition, the Wolfpack are a guard-heavy squad with limited depth up front.  They will be asking a lot of leading rebounder Jack Clark along with reserve forward DJ Burns if Mahorcic is sidelined.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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