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Freshman Haze: Saint Nick Has Arrived

Perry Missner

Missner covers college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, he once served on the executive board for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Merry Christmas, everybody. We at the Freshman Haze did not quite know what to get you, so we decided consistency was best. If you like the seven freshman profiles each week, then we are sending you more of the same. We even included a (Saint) Nick and many people like to get fancy Pen(n)s for presents. Finally, we finish up this holiday of the Haze with something that everyone could use more of: Love. Hereís hoping one of these freshman can help your fantasy team and that you donít get either coal or a switch this giving season.

Troy Brown (F)
While the Ducks canít quite reload as quickly as your Dukes and Kentuckies of the world, Oregon has not fallen off the face of the earth despite losing most of the team that went to the Final Four last year. Brown was the highest profile freshman coming to coach Dana Altmanís team and he has looked a complete player. The 6-foot-7 forward has scored in double digits in seven straight games and helped the Ducks win five straight. He is leading the team with 7.8 rebounds to go along with 11.8 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals.

Kenny Wooten (F)
While Brown has been a steady presence for Oregon, the 6-9 Wooten has been coming on of late. Wooten has been the anchor of the Duck defense with a team-high 3.2 blocks, and he has been helping on the offensive end. Before being held to eight points in the win over Central Arkansas on Wednesday, Wooten had scored in double digits in four straight games. He has rejected 19 shots in his last four games and should help the Ducks remain competitive in Pac 12 play. Wooten is averaging 8.8 points on 75.0 percent from the field with 5.4 rebounds.

Nick Richards (F)
It is easy for freshman to get lost at Kentucky. The team has so many talented first-year players that not all of them are going to contribute as they did in high school. Players like Richard have to find their role. The 6-11 forward has been concentrating on rebounding and doing a nice job on the offensive boards. He had a breakout game on Nov. 22 against Fort Wayne with 25 points and 15 boards. In the five games since the win over the Mastodons, Richards has provided 9.0 points on 64.3 percent from the field and 6.0 rebounds despite limited minutes.

Braxton Beverly
Beverly became a minor celebrity over the summer after the NCAA ruled that he could not play for the Wolfpack after transferring from Ohio State because he took summer classes early. Eventually, the NCAA changed its collective mind and Beverly has gone from a third-string guard to a nice contributor for NC State. The guard is excellent at setting up his teammates and has doled out 7.8 assists over his last five games to go along with 12.0 points and 2.8 3-pointers. For all of the flack the NCAA takes, it looks like they got this decision right.

Roman Penn (G)
Penn opened the season coming off the bench, but coach Jimmy Pastos made a switch after Siena got off to an 0-4 start. The 5-11 freshman has helped the Saints stabilize with a 4-5 record after the slow beginning. Penn had 14 points and 11 assists in the teamís first win of the season over Hofstra. Despite his small stature, the guard is a good rebounder and has brought down 5.6 rebounds over his last eight games. Penn is not a volume shooter, but is hitting 48.9 percent of his field goals and 38.9 percent from long range on his way to 9.7 points per game. He should get more shot opportunities as Pastos looks for players to help Nico Clareth with offense.

Justin Forrest (G)
The Mountaineers knew they had one guard spot set with Ronshad Shabazz who continues to lead the team in scoring with 20.9 points. What would coach Jim Fox do next to Shabazz in the backcourt? He has turned to the 6-2 Forrest and looked smart in making the decision. Forrest is second on the team with 16.1 points and can knock down open 3-pointers when defenses lean toward Shabazz. The guard is hitting 38.1 percent of his 7.5 attempts from long range. Forrest has topped 30 points twice, both in losses to Iowa State and James Madison is a double-overtime thriller. He should be among the top candidates for Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.

Loudon Love (C)
The Raiders have won 20 games or more in four of the last five seasons, but would have to do so without leading scorer Mark Alstork in 2017-18. Fortunately, they had Grant Benzinger and Justin Mitchell in the backcourt and have found some balance in the 6-9 Love. The redshirt freshman who followed coach Scott Nagy from South Dakota State has been a strong post presence. He is averaging 9.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in 24.8 minutes. The 275 lb center has four double-doubles, including 16 points and 12 rebounds Friday in the win over Georgia Tech. Love has fouled out of two his last four games, so heíll have to curb his aggression a bit with Horizon League play ready to start.