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College Hoops Barometer: The Next LeBron?

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.

Andrew Wiggins may finally be ready to show us what all the fuss has been about. Wiggins has shown flashes of brilliance during his freshman campaign, but when you're touted as the next LeBron James, it's going to be tough to live up to the hype. However, he has been playing better of late, punctuated by his performance against Iowa State this week. In perhaps his best all-around effort this season, Wiggins tallied 17 points and 19 rebounds in the 77-70 win over the Cyclones. Though teammate Joel Embiid could end up passing Wiggins and becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft due to his tantalizing upside, Wiggins may be on the verge of re-asserting himself as a future star.

Next up, here is this week's "Four on the Hardwood Floor:"

1. A couple of smaller schools suffered setbacks this past week. Louisiana Tech was the favorite to win Conference USA this season, but lost leading scorer Raheem Appleby to a sprained ankle that will keep him out at least 6-8 weeks.

2. Meanwhile, Missouri State lost reigning Freshman of the Year Marcus Marshall due to a torn meniscus in his right knee. The injury will require surgery. Marshall was leading the Bears with 14.3 points per game.

3. The Manhattan Jaspers will be without the services of leading scorer George Beamon, who sprained his shoulder and will be sidelined at least three weeks. Beamon was averaging 20.1 points per contest on a squad that was expected to contend for a slot in the NCAA Tournament.

4. Though not a small school, Pittsburgh will have to move forward without a player who began the season with a minimal role but had excelled off the bench as the season progressed. Sixth-man Durand Johnson suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2013-2014 campaign. Johnson had been averaging 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest at the small forward position.

Let's see who has been surging and who has been floundering in this week's College Hoops Barometer.


Kareem Canty, G, Marshall -
With DeAndre Kane out of the picture and lighting it up at Iowa State, the Thundering Herd had a void at the point guard position. Enter Canty, a 6-1 freshman guard from Brooklyn, New York, who has fit in seamlessly. Canty is averaging 16.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per contest. He is shooting 40.1-percent from the field during his first season with the Herd. Though Canty tends to fall in love with his shot at times, his real strength lies in his ability to involve his teammates, most notably leading scorer and senior Elijah Pittman. Canty has already had three games this season with 10 or more assists. Though the Herd have struggled as a whole, the future of the program looks bright with Canty at the helm.
Jordair Jett, G, Saint Louis - Dwayne Evans gets the notoriety for the Billikens but Jett has been playing superbly of late. Saint Louis is 16-2 this season and is currently riding a 10-game winning streak. Their only losses came to Wisconsin and Wichita State, two teams ranked inside the top-10. Jett had a career-high 31-point outburst at Rhode Island on January 7. he is also leading the Billikens in assists by a wide margin with 4.6 dimes per tilt. He is an above-average rebounder for his size as well, snatching 3.7 boards per contest despite his 6-foot-1 stature. Jett is the catalyst for the Saint Louis attack, and will continue to be vital to the team's success for the remainder of the season.

Justin Cobbs, G, California -
The Bears are 4-0 in Pac-12 Conference play thus far, and Cobbs is a big reason for the fast start. The 6-4 senior guard is averaging 17.3 points, 3.8 boards and 7.8 assists per contest over that span. Cobbs had a season-high 11 dimes in the 96-83 triumph over a very talented Oregon Ducks squad. Cobbs' stellar play has been particularly important to the Bears due to the injuries to freshman Jabari Bird and junior guard Ricky Kreklow. The real test will come in the next two weeks for Cobbs, though, as the Bears will travel to UCLA and then host the No. 1 team in the land, the Arizona Wildcats. Still, with the way Cobbs has been performing, the Bears certainly have a fighter's chance.

Justin Jackson, F, Cincinnati -
The best player for the 16-2 Bearcats is guard Sean Kilpatrick, but Jackson has become an excellent complementary piece for Cincy. Jackson was mostly a reserve over the first three years of his collegiate career, but has become an integral cog in the success of the Bearcats during the 2013-2014 campaign. Jackson is a superior shot-blocker; he is among the nation's leaders in rejections with 3.4 swats per contest. He swatted six shots in Cincinnati's last game against Temple. He is also managing career highs of 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He already has six double-doubles on the year. The combination of the improved offensive game and a ferocious defensive presence has made Jackson a viable option as a senior.


Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Payne has been battling a nagging foot injury for a couple of week, and has finally been relegated to the bench due to the ailment. He has missed the last two games, and allegedly will not return to the floor until he is fully healthy. The Spartans struggled in the two games without their frontcourt leader, winning unimpressively over Minnesota and Northwestern. Payne is averaging 16.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest, and is arguably the most important player for Michigan State this season. With the goals of winning the NCAA Tournament and getting to the Final Four in March and April, the Spartans may choose to give Payne an extended rest in preparation for the final stretch of the college basketball year.

Aaron Craft, G, Ohio State -
The senior leader of the Buckeyes has not played well recently. Not surprisingly, the previously undefeated Buckeyes have dropped three games in a row as a result. Over the losing streak, Craft is averaging five turnovers per contest. His assist-to-turnover ratio is barely over one during that span. He has also failed to score in double-figures in any of those contests. Craft will certainly turn things around for OSU, but it is not shocking that his struggles have coincided with losses for O-H-IO.

Jermaine Marshall, G, Arizona State
The second-leading scorer for the Sun Devils, Marshall had been surging before a groin injury. The Penn State transfer had scored at least 25 points in two of the previous three games before sitting out Thursday's pivotal matchup with top-ranked Arizona. His presence may not made a difference to the overall result, but the Sun Devils were clearly outmanned without him. The Wildcats pummeled ASU by a score of 91-68. Marshall has been deadly behind the three-point arc this season, hitting an impressive 46-percent from downtown. Groin injuries tend to linger, so monitor Marshall's status in the short term.

Ben Emelogu, G, Virginia Tech -
Emelogu is an extremely versatile guard who is a bit overlooked amongst the talent-laden freshman class. He provides value in a variety of categories, with averages of 11.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. he had a 22-point game against West Virginia in the second game of the season for the Hokies, while notching nine assists in a single contest just before the new year. He is not a sexy pick, his shot needs some work, and he will battle consistency during his first season at Virginia Tech. However, the freshman can impact the game in a bevy of ways, and as a result can be an asset in fantasy circles.


Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado
The Buffaloes suffered a crushing blow to their NCAA Tournament hopes Sunday, as their star guard Dinwiddie tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season. The 6-6 junior was Mr. Everything for CU, averaging 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. He was shooting career-highs across the board. Dinwiddie thrived at getting to the bucket and drawing fouls, as he went to the line an average of seven times per tilt. The Buffs were ranked in the top-25 before the injury, but already lost their first contest without their floor general to UCLA. Jaron Hopkins and Xavier Tilton will see more minutes in Dinwiddie's absence, but the real burden falls on starter Askia Booker in taking on the impossible task of replacing Dinwiddie's production.

Tyrone Johnson, G, South Carolina
The Gamecocks have been decimated at the point guard slot this season. Johnson suffered a fractured foot that may require surgery, and is out indefinitely. He was the leading scorer and assist-maker for SC. The Gamecocks were already smarting from the loss of two-sport star Bruce Ellington, who decided to forego his remaining years of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft as a wide receiver. Freshman Duane Notice will likely be the player who benefits most from the lack of point guards on the roster; he is averaging 4.8 assists per contest over the last six games for South Carolina.

Jabril Trawick, G, Georgetown
Trawick suffered a broken jaw Wednesday and is out indefinitely. The athletic guard was averaging 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in a starting role for the Hoyas this season. He is not much of an outside shooter, but rebounds fairly well for his position and possesses the ability to get to the rack. As a result, he is shooting a blistering 56.9-percent from the floor. Reggie Cameron and Aaron Bowen will attempt to pick up the slack without Trawick, who had become the third amigo in the guard triumvirate along with D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks.

Yanick Moreira, C, SMU
Coach Larry Brown and the resurrected Mustangs basketball program suffered a damaging blow when their big man suffered a partially torn UCL in practice last week. The 6-11 junior from Angola was still in the process of refining his game, but will now miss the next 3-6 weeks due to the injury. He was averaging 9.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest for the 12-4 'Stangs, who recently knocked off a ranked opponent in the form of the Connecticut Huskies. Moreira had a six-game stretch earlier in the season in which he scored in double figures in each contest, including notching a double-double against Sam Houston State on November 26. Sophomore Markus Kennedy will be asked to shoulder even more of the rebounding load in the absence of Moreira.