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College Hoops Barometer: Giddy Up

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.

While UCLA's scintillating start to the season behind freshman sensation Lonzo Ball has been dominating the headlines, the undefeated record of the Baylor Bears may be an even bigger story. The Bears are currently 8-0. No big deal, right? There are seven teams in the Top 25 that are still undefeated, but of those teams, only the Bears have beaten four ranked teams to begin the year. The Bears have knocked off Oregon, Xavier, Louisville and Michigan State, though the Spartans have since fallen out of the rankings. Perhaps even more impressively, though, three of those four wins came by double-digits. In other words, the Bears are not only winning, but pummeling their opponents into submission. The Bears are led by junior forward Johnathan Motley, but the play of Miami transfer Manu Lecomte has been particularly noteworthy. Lecomte was a valuable player for the 'Canes for two years, but was displaced by Angel Rodriguez at the point guard position and ultimately decided to transfer in order to find a starting role for himself. After sitting out last season, Lecomte is averaging career bests in points (13.9) and assists (5.3) per game. He is second on the squad in scoring and first in dishing. Lastly, the Bears are also deep. They've got nine players averaging at least 10 minutes of playing time per contest. The Big 12 always seems to be dominated by Kansas, but Baylor just might have the tools to give the Jayhawks a run for their money.

Let's take a look at some other ballers making noise in this week's College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
- Fultz just might be the top pick in next June's NBA Draft, though certainly the play of UCLA's Lonzo Ball right now may make scouts and GMs alike think twice. Kansas's Josh Jackson, Florida State's Jonathan Isaac and some of the other "One and Done" candidates on Duke and Kentucky may also have their say when all is said and done. Still, Fultz appears to have the total package. The 6-foot-4 freshman guard is averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game for the Huskies. Fultz has shown the ability to score both inside and outside. He is getting to the foul line an outstanding seven times per game while shooting 48.7 percent from three-point range. Unfortunately for Fultz, he's getting almost no help otherwise, as the Huskies have limped to a 4-5 start, including a season-opening loss to Yale. As a result, Fultz may go the route of former LSU Tiger Ben Simmons, becoming the the top pick without his team even making the NCAA Tournament.


Nigel Williams-Goss, G, Gonzaga - Williams-Goss used to play for the Huskies, but the graduate transfer now starts in the backcourt for the 'Zags. He recently led a 98-71 dismantling of his first former squad, tallying 23 points, five rebounds and five assists to keep Gonzaga undefeated. Williams-Goss is the leading scorer and assist maker on an ultra-talented squad that has Final Four aspirations. Though the 'Zags lost Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer to the NBA, the Bulldogs have not missed a beat with redshirt sophomore Josh Perkins, freshman Zach Collins and a finally healthy Przemek Karnowski in the middle. Mizzou transfer Johnathan Williams has also played well for a Gonzaga squad that boasts at least eight players accumulating double-digit minutes per game. Still, Williams-Goss will be the catalyst for the Gonzaga offense, particularly if his vastly improved three-point shooting continues.

Giddy Potts, G, Middle Tennessee State - The Barometer is always a fan of terrific names, and Potts fits the bill. The Blue Raiders have to be positively giddy after their 71-48 destruction of Vanderbilt last Thursday. Potts led the way with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting. The 6-foot-2 guard also snatched nine rebounds in the victory. Potts has always been a superb rebounder for his size, and he's averaging over five rebounds per contest for the second consecutive season. Overall, the sharpshooting Potts is averaging 15.5 points and shooting a career-best 52.3 percent as a junior. MTSU is off to a 9-1 start to begin the 2016-2017 campaign.


Marcus Keene, G, Central Michigan - Consider this an ode to the little man, as the 5-foot-9 Keene has been tearing it up for the Chippewas this season. The Youngstown State transfer is the leading scorer in the nation, averaging a superb 30.8 points per game. To put his scoring in perspective, Keene is more than five points per contest ahead of the next player on the list. Keene had a mammoth game on December 6th versus Green Bay, racking up 40 points while also dishing out 11 assists and snatching seven rebounds. It is worth noting that Keene is also a willing passer, averaging 5.1 assists per tilt as well. Furthermore, with 4.6 rebounds per contest to his credit, it is clear that while Keene may be small in stature, his game is monstrous.


CHECK STATUS

Tai Webster, G, Nebraska
- The senior from New Zealand has taken his game up a notch thus far this season. Webster has seen a bump of over seven points per game in scoring. He is averaging 17.7 points per tilt for the 'Huskers. Webster has scored in double figures in every game, while also averaging 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game to boot. The issue for Webster is that Nebraska is 5-5 to begin the season, and the Cornhuskers are not going to be a very competitive squad in the Big Ten. As such, once conference play begins and Webster is playing against superior competition night after night, it remains to be seen if he will be able to consistently churn up stats, or instead hit a wall. For now, though, Webster is averaging career highs across the board, and he did more than hold his own in matchups against UCLA, Kansas and Creighton earlier this year.


Angel Delgado, F, Seton Hall - Delgado has been a double-double machine for the Pirates of late. In fact, the 6-foot-10 junior from the Dominican Republic has notched four straight double-doubles. That includes a 13 point, 12 rebound effort in Monday's win over a ranked South Carolina squad. If only Delgado could shoot free throws. Though he is getting to the line six times per game, Delgado is shooting an atrocious 45 percent from the charity stripe. Delgado has never hit above 54 percent from the foul line during his career at Seton Hall. If Delgado ever figured out how to cash in on his free throws, he could become one of the more dominant frontcourt players in the nation. As it is, though, Delgado leads the Big East in rebounding by a wide margin.


Dakota Mathias, G, Purdue - Mathias is a three-point bomber, with five of his seven shots per game coming from beyond the arc. The junior sharpshooter certainly makes his treys count, though, as he is hitting a blistering 56 percent from downtown. Still, despite the uncanny ability to knock down three-pointers, Mathias is relegated to a secondary role on the Boilermakers due to the bevy of offensive options on the squad. Mathias is fifth on the team in scoring behind Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas and the unrelated Edwards brothers, Carsen and Vince. Still, Mathias does impact the game in other ways, tallying 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. Nevertheless, it's a numbers game for Mathias, who is productive but would likely see a bump in statistics on a less talented team.


Christian Jones, F, UNLV - The St. John's transfer had a rousing start to the season, including a 20 point, 13 rebound effort in his first game for the Rebels. However, three games into the year he injured his lower leg, and subsequently missed five contests. Jones finally made his return to the squad Saturday against Duke, but the Rebels were flattened by the superior Blue Devils, and Jones did not score a single point. It is unclear whether Jones was unprepared to play, nursing the injury or simply did not get the opportunity to shine against an overwhelmingly talented Duke squad. Still, it does not appear Jones suffered any setbacks in terms of the injury, and he should find things a bit easier against The Incarnate Word in UNLV's next tilt.


DOWNGRADE

Jawun Evans, G, Oklahoma State
- A shoulder injury has sidelined the versatile Evans, though the injury is not considered serious. Still, Evans missed Saturday's tilt with Tulsa, and is unlikely to play Wednesday versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff. A sprained AC joint is the official diagnosis for Evans, the sophomore guard who is seventh in the nation in scoring at 23.6 points per tilt. Evans is no one-trick pony, though, averaging 3.4 boards and 5.1 assists as well. The Cowboys do not begin conference play until December 30th, so perhaps it is a smart move to get Evans healthy for the meat of their schedule. Brandon Averette scored 17 points in place of Evans in the win over Tulsa.


Devin Davis, F, Houston - Davis has had a difficult time staying on the court throughout his collegiate career. Most recently, he suffered a rather freakish injury which required six stitches on his finger. More troubling, though, is the concern that Davis may have suffered ligament/tendon damage. It appears he will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks at a minimum. The Indiana transfer had played in eight games this season after sitting out the last two years. Davis missed the 2014-2015 campaign after being involved in a car accident. Davis was kicked off the Hoosier basketball team the following season after being cited for possession of marijuana. It finally appeared Davis had put his checkered past behind him, only to succumb to injury yet again. Davis averaged 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game prior to getting hurt.


B.J. Taylor, G, Central Florida - The Knights will be without their floor general for the remainder of the non-conference slate, as a thumb injury will relegate Taylor to the bench until around New Year's. Central Florida has four players averaging double figures in points, including double-double dynamo Tacko Fall, but Taylor is the leading scorer at 16 points per contest. The sophomore guard is also leading the squad in assists and steals. The Knights scored a season-low 49 points without Taylor in an ugly loss to UPenn on Monday. Senior guard Tanksley Efianayi has been inserted into the starting lineup, while junior A.J. Davis will be asked to shoulder more of the distribution in the absence of Taylor.


Carlton Bragg, F, Kansas - According to various reports, Bragg was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery and jailed. While the details of the incident unclear, no clarity is needed regarding Bragg's immediate future with the Jayhawks. The 6-10 sophomore had recently lost his starting spot, though was still averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Bragg has been suspended indefinitely. Even if Bragg is not kicked off the team, he will certainly face a lengthy suspension if the allegations are true. Look for the underperforming Landen Lucas to attempt to fill the void left by Bragg, though coach Bill Self has been playing smaller lineups with superstar freshman Josh Jackson at the power forward spot of late.

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