College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

Are we in the midst of a West Coast revival in college hoops?  Gonzaga landed the No. 1 recruit in the country in the form of Chet Holmgren, and the program has become a perennial title contender.  Meanwhile, UCLA went to the Final Four last year, and the Bruins are once again a top-10 squad.  The Trojans lost Evan Mobley to the NBA, but his older brother and an uber-talented supporting cast remain and have vaulted undefeated USC into the national conversation as well.  And let's not forget about Arizona, as the Wildcats are also undefeated and possess arguably the most unselfish team in the country.  All four of the above-referenced squads teams currently reside in the top-8 of the rankings.  The Wildcats face UCLA and USC in the next week or so as well, which should make for some captivating theater.  There might just be a little Left Coast envy going on in college basketball right now.

Let's take a look at some players who can expect gifts under their trees this holiday season, and some others who might be receiving coal.  Happy Holidays and a happy, healthy and safe New Year!

UPGRADE

 Marcus Bingham, C, Michigan State – Bingham has come out of his shell this season, averaging 10.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.9 swats per game.  He's more than doubled his season averages from last year as his playing time has increased nearly two-fold.  He is also shooting a career-best 59.1 percent from the

Are we in the midst of a West Coast revival in college hoops?  Gonzaga landed the No. 1 recruit in the country in the form of Chet Holmgren, and the program has become a perennial title contender.  Meanwhile, UCLA went to the Final Four last year, and the Bruins are once again a top-10 squad.  The Trojans lost Evan Mobley to the NBA, but his older brother and an uber-talented supporting cast remain and have vaulted undefeated USC into the national conversation as well.  And let's not forget about Arizona, as the Wildcats are also undefeated and possess arguably the most unselfish team in the country.  All four of the above-referenced squads teams currently reside in the top-8 of the rankings.  The Wildcats face UCLA and USC in the next week or so as well, which should make for some captivating theater.  There might just be a little Left Coast envy going on in college basketball right now.

Let's take a look at some players who can expect gifts under their trees this holiday season, and some others who might be receiving coal.  Happy Holidays and a happy, healthy and safe New Year!

UPGRADE

 Marcus Bingham, C, Michigan State – Bingham has come out of his shell this season, averaging 10.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.9 swats per game.  He's more than doubled his season averages from last year as his playing time has increased nearly two-fold.  He is also shooting a career-best 59.1 percent from the floor.  Bingham has been particularly assertive of late, notching a double-double in back-to-back games for the Spartans.  He is tied for sixth in the Big Ten in rebounding and is currently third in the conference in blocks.  The blossoming of Bingham is a chief reason why the Spartans are among the top rebounding teams in the nation.

 Yuri Collins, G, Saint Louis – Collins has been a passer extraordinaire this season, as he currently leads the nation in assists.  That was aided by his recent 19-assist virtuoso performance in a win over Boston College on December 11.  He set the school record, and it was the highest assist total in the country to date.  Collins is no slouch in other categories as well, though, as he nearly compiled a triple-double in the subsequent contest against Auburn with 13 points, 12 rebounds and eight dimes.  He is also second in the Atlantic 10 in steals behind Richmond's Jacob Gilyard.  Though the Billikens have dropped three of their last four contests, Collins should continue to fill up the box score.

 Jamarion Sharp, C, Western Kentucky – The Hilltoppers scored a huge upset win over Louisville last weekend, and the 7-5 junior played as crucial role in that victory.  Sharp tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 36 minutes.  WKU held a big rebounding edge in the 10-point win, while also holding the Cardinals to just 42.2 percent shooting for the game, and Sharp was a huge factor in both areas.  Sharp has been a defensive menace in general this season, as he leads the nation in shot blocking with 4.8 swats per tilt.  He is also more than capable in the post at the offensive end, shooting nearly 70 percent from the floor overall.  Sharp's build and game is reminiscent of a taller Marcus Camby.

 Kameron McGusty, G, Miami – McGusty decided to return to the 'Canes for his senior campaign, and the former Oklahoma Sooner is making a significant impact.  Forming a formidable backcourt duo with Isaiah Wong, McGusty has taken some of the scoring burden off of Wong.  The senior is setting career highs across the board in terms of shooting, averaging 18.4 points per tilt while hitting over 51 percent of his shots from the floor, including nearly 40 percent from long distance.  McGusty notched a game-high 27 points in Monday's win over Stetson.  He is currently fourth in the ACC in scoring as Miami begins conference play in earnest next week.

CHECK STATUS

 Michael Devoe, G, Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets dropped four in a row before Tuesday's OT victory over Georgia State, and prior to that contest, Devoe had been one of the few bright spots for Georgia Tech.  During that span, he is averaged 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.8 steals per tilt.  He poured in 33 points in a narrow loss to Wisconsin on December 1 and has racked up seven steals in his last three contests.  He is shooting an impressive 45.9-] percent from three-point range.  Though he struggled Tuesday, with turnovers and foul trouble limiting his effectiveness, Devoe is second in the nation in scoring and should continue to get all the shots he can handle for the Ramblin' Wreck.

 Yauhen Massalski, F, San Francisco – The Dons have been one of the surprise teams of the season thus far with an experienced squad led by Jamaree Bouyea.  Massalski is also a senior and has been putting up some stat lines of late that alum Bill Russell would certainly be proud of.  Massalski has three double-doubles in his last five contests for the Dons.  He is second in the conference in rebounding.  He also swatted five shots in last weekend's win over Arizona State and is third in the West Coast Conference in rejections.  Massalski does have a penchant for getting into foul trouble, and it will certainly be interesting to see how he contends with the likes of Gonzaga and BYU during WCC action.  Still, with five seniors in the starting lineup anchored at the back end by Massalski, San Francisco could end up being a force.

 Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette – Kolek has been the catalyst for the Golden Eagles offense, as he currently leads the Big East in assists with 5.9 dimes per tilt.  The George Mason transfer can stuff the stat sheet but has struggled with his shot.  Kolek is shooting an abysmal 27.1 percent from the floor.  His three-point shooting has been even worse, as he barely sits above 22 percent from beyond the arc.  Kolek is averaging 6.5 points along with 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest, so it is clear he can affect the game in ways other than the scoring column.  Nevertheless, the next evolution of his game will involve an improved shooting stroke along with better shot selection.

DOWNGRADE

 J.D. Davison, G, Alabama – The freshman has been dealing with a knee injury, and it has shown over the last two contests for the Razorbacks.  A pivotal bench player, Davison averaged 25.6 minutes played per contest through the first 10 games of his freshman campaign.  By contrast, in the last two tilts since the injury was mentioned, Davison is playing nearly 10 fewer minutes per contest.  Not surprisingly, his overall numbers have suffered, as he is managing just 4.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 dimes over those last two outings.  The Tide lost in upset fashion against Davidson on Tuesday and having a key cog off the bench at less than 100 percent certainly could not have helped matters.  Alabama has now lost two of its last three games but has just one contest over the next two weeks, so hopefully Davison's balky knee will get some time to heal.

 Eric Williams, F, Oregon – Williams started the first nine games he appeared in this season for the Ducks, averaging 10.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per tilt.  However, he missed Oregon's loss to Arizona State on December 5 and was sidelined for this past Tuesday's win over Pepperdine.  In between those two DNPs, Williams came off the bench for two contests and played just 16 minutes per game, a far cry from his average of 31 minutes per start through his first nine outings.  The Ducks have remained mum on what, if anything is ailing Williams, though he was at Tuesday's victory over Pepperdine.  Hopefully more information surfaces on his status, though the Ducks do not have another game for over a week.

PJ Pipes, G, Santa Clara – Speaking of undisclosed issues, Pipes has missed the last two games for the Broncos for undisclosed reasons.  The transfer from Green Bay had fairly predictably seen a slight downturn in his numbers from a season ago with the step up in competition.  Though Pipes did start the first 13 games of the year, he was turning the ball over more while struggling with his shot.  After scoring in double-figures in each of the first seven games of the season, he managed double-digits in just one of the subsequent six contests prior to being sidelined.  It remains to be seen what is ailing Pipes, but he was struggling even prior to his recent absence.

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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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