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Freshman Haze: Top Cat

Perry Missner

Missner covers the NBA, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, Missner also serves as treasurer for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

The big news in college basketball has been conference realignment and the potential destruction of the Big East. How does that affect fantasy college hoops? Well, it doesn't. You may be asking yourself why I even mention it. I am cognizant of the world outside of fantasy college basketball, but I just don't care too much about it. Schools will move around, money will be spent and made, and my beat will go on. At least until the NBA makes a true minor league and colleges get out of semi-professional sports.

This week, the Haze Seven, as I like to call them, include a Kentucky forward who is among the best of the freshmen in the country and a player from Stony Brook, who could be a nice value pick in keeper leagues.

Alex Poythress, forward, Kentucky Wildcats

The 6-foot-7 forward is the second of the Wildcats freshmen profiled in this space, but he might be the most offensively talented of his recruiting class. After being held to eight points in the opener against Maryland, Poythress had four consecutive 20-point games. He was held to three points in the loss to Notre Dame, but has scored at least 11 points in his last four games. At a different school, Poythress would be a star, but that won't happen at Kentucky. He should be a nice play this season as he preps for the NBA.

Mike Gesell, guard, Iowa Hawkeyes

In the first Freshman Haze, I profiled Gesell's teammate 7-foot center Adam Woodbury. A kind fellow let me know that Gesell was the Hawkeyes freshman to consider (feel free to comment ... don't make me beg!), and he was right. Woodbury is bumbling along at 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds, but Gessell has broken out in his last four games. The 6-1 native of Nebraska is coming off a career-high 23 points in the win over Northern Iowa. In his last four games, Gesell has provided 13.8 points, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals.

Joe Rahon, Boston College Eagles

Rahon is also the second Eagles player I've profiled (after Olivier Hanlan). The 6-2 guard was helped when Matt Humphrey transferred and has gotten steady minutes in the Eagles backcourt. He has scored in double digits in his last seven games and is now averaging 11.2 points and 4.0 assists. Rahon is only hitting 31 percent of his 3-pointers, but is making more than half of his 2-pointers. The San Diego native handles the ball quite a bit and still has a decent assist:turnover ratio.

Cameron Ridley, center, Texas Longhorns

Things have not gone well in Austin in terms of Texas sports. The football team was not all it was cracked up to be and the hoops squad has dropped four games, including a loss to Chaminade in the Maui Invitational. The team appears to miss point guard Myck Kabongo badly, but his case is being dragged out by the NCAA. Meanwhile, Ridley is a 6-9 center who is fantasy relevant for his shot blocking. He is averaging 2.4 blocks. Ridley had double-digit points against Georgetown and UCLA (both losses) before falling off with a naught against Texas State in 11 minutes. If the Longhorns improve in the backcourt in the future, Ridley could take advantage.

Patricio Garino, guard/forward, George Washington Colonials

Coming from Argentina, Garino has some international experience playing for his country's U19 team. After starting slowly, Garino has scored in double digits in his last four games. In three of those games, the 6-6 swingman has scored exactly 10, but he busted out for 24 points in the Dec. 4 loss to Bradley. On Dec. 11 against Rutgers, Garino had 10 points, four rebounds and five assists, but turned the ball over eight times. With past Haze participant Joe McDonald, the Colonial backcourt should be set for the next few years.

Kellen Dunham, guard, Butler Bulldogs

Butler isn't known for its exploits in the non-conference part of the schedule, but it had a signature win in knocking off Indiana in the Crossroads Classic. Dunham, a 6-6 guard, played a season-high 34 minutes and played the usual perimeter defense for which the Bulldogs are known. His fantasy production has been inconsistent through the early portion of his career. He has scored 17 or more points three times but has also been held to eight points or fewer four times. Dunham has come off the bench the last three games after starting five games. He'll get at least 20 minutes per game and have more than his share of double-digit scoring games.

Jameel Warney, forward, Stony Brook Seawolves

One of the best feelings in fantasy college basketball is finding a small school gem and holding onto him for four years. Warney, a 6-8, 255, forward, may be such a player to grab and hold onto. The New Jersey native has the size and skills to be a major player in the America East for the foreseeable future. Through nine games, Warney is averaging 11.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He has scored 13 or more points in three of his last five games. The Seawolves have won their last three games, and Warney had his best game with 19 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Cornell on Nov. 28 to get the streak started.

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