College Hoops Barometer: Ky, Eagles, Ky!

College Hoops Barometer: Ky, Eagles, Ky!

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

Our long national nightmare is over. Thankfully, college basketball is now done with the Ball family. As LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA and younger brother LaMelo signed on with him to play professional basketball in Lithuania, the college hoops world can return its focus to more important matters.

Upsets have caused some flux in the early season rankings, as only seven undefeated teams remain at the time of this writing. One of those teams is not Duke, surprisingly. One of those teams is Arizona State, surprisingly, and the Sun Devils already have several high-quality victories on their resume. Two schools from the state of Florida remain undefeated, and neither one of them is the University of Florida (Florida State and Miami, thank you very much). TCU is 10-0 and could see its first NCAA Tournament since 1998.

For now, though, we're getting ahead of ourselves. None of these teams will finish the season undefeated, or even come close. TCU started 13-0 in 2014, only to limp to a 4-14 Big 12 conference record. Mississippi State is undefeated right now and hasn't even played anybody yet. We will get a better idea of which teams are contenders and which are pretenders once conference play begins in earnest at the end of the month.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some risers and fallers in this week's edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE


Ky Bowman(G)
Bowman collected a near triple-double in Saturday's stunning 89-84 win over then No. 1

Our long national nightmare is over. Thankfully, college basketball is now done with the Ball family. As LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA and younger brother LaMelo signed on with him to play professional basketball in Lithuania, the college hoops world can return its focus to more important matters.

Upsets have caused some flux in the early season rankings, as only seven undefeated teams remain at the time of this writing. One of those teams is not Duke, surprisingly. One of those teams is Arizona State, surprisingly, and the Sun Devils already have several high-quality victories on their resume. Two schools from the state of Florida remain undefeated, and neither one of them is the University of Florida (Florida State and Miami, thank you very much). TCU is 10-0 and could see its first NCAA Tournament since 1998.

For now, though, we're getting ahead of ourselves. None of these teams will finish the season undefeated, or even come close. TCU started 13-0 in 2014, only to limp to a 4-14 Big 12 conference record. Mississippi State is undefeated right now and hasn't even played anybody yet. We will get a better idea of which teams are contenders and which are pretenders once conference play begins in earnest at the end of the month.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some risers and fallers in this week's edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE


Ky Bowman(G)
Bowman collected a near triple-double in Saturday's stunning 89-84 win over then No. 1 ranked Duke. The sophomore guard scored a season-high 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting. Bowman accumulated 10 rebounds and fell just one dime short of the triple-double. Though Bowman's stats in this game were other-worldly, he has been a steady contributor this entire season. Bowman is averaging 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. While Bowman has seen a spike in his numbers across the board as compared to his freshman campaign, his assists have doubled from a season ago, showing an increased willingness and capability to find teammates for easy looks. The Eagles are 7-3 to begin the 2017-2018 campaign, and Bowman is the chief catalyst behind the surprising start. The Eagles were picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC in the preseason.

Keita Bates-Diop (F)
The senior missed the final 18 games of last season due to a stress fracture in his leg, but he wasn't exactly lighting it up prior to the injury. Bates-Diop averaged just 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in an injury-marred junior campaign. He played in just nine games a season ago. However, a fresh start and return to health has allowed Bates-Diop to finally tap into his potential. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, and was recently named Big Ten Player of the Week. Bates-Diop has added the three-point shot to his arsenal, hitting an impressive 44.4 percent of his treys early on this season. He poured in a career-high 27 points in OSU's most recent win over William & Mary. He is currently third in scoring and second in rebounding in the conference. If the Buckeyes have any shot at making the NCAA Tournament, Bates-Diop must continue to play at a high level.

Oshae Brissett (F)
The freshman Brissett is already a stalwart for the Orange despite having played in just nine games. He has four double-doubles already, and has played all 40 minutes in three of the last four games for Syracuse. Brissett is the leading rebounder for the Orange and excels on the interior, adept at drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line. Brissett's shot selection and efficiency could use a little work, but he is much more polished than anticipated. In an ACC conference possessing a bevy of supremely talented big men (Marvin Bagley III, Bonzie Colson, Luke Maye, to name a few), Brissett finds himself sixth in rebounding at this time.

Jock Landale (C)
Landale's greatness in the WCC last season was overshadowed by Gonzaga's superb squad and trip to the National Championship game. However, the 'Zags should fall back down to earth a bit this season, giving Landale and the Gaels a shot at the conference crown. Landale is average 21.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. A week ago he posted career bests of 37 points and 18 rebounds in a win over Sacramento State. Landale has four double-doubles through 10 games and is shooting a career-high 65.2 percent from the floor. Landale certainly has the inside track at West Coast Conference Player of the Year, with a chance to even make a name for himself come tourney time.

CHECK STATUS


Daniel Gafford (F)
Gafford has been impactful for the Razorbacks despite averaging less than 20 minutes per game this season. The SEC Freshman of the Week compiled 16 points, seven rebounds and six blocks in the 95-79 shellacking of Minnesota on Saturday. Gafford is long, athletic and a handful around the basket. He had 25 points in a win earlier this season over Fresno State, and is averaging a team-best 5.9 rebounds per contest. Gafford will need to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble, though, in order to maximize his time on the floor. Gafford has fouled out of a third of Arkansas' games this season, and has accumulated four fouls in another third of those contests. If he can harness his aggression and learn to stay away from unnecessary contact, Gafford could be a true gem for the Hogs this season.

Chris Clarke (F)
The Hokies are off to a fast start this season, but Clarke's numbers are down across the board. The junior is playing less than 22 minutes per game while averaging fewer shots and fewer rebounds this year. The Hokies have four players averaging double-digits in points, and another just shy at 9.9 points per contest, leaving Clarke as the sixth-highest scorer on the squad. He is still second on the team in rebounding with 6.8 boards per tilt, but the plethora of scoring options has left Clarke to scramble a bit for his piece of the pie. The veteran-laden Hokies will be fine as long as they keep winning, but if not, then Clarke may become dissatisfied with the pecking order. For what it's worth, Virginia Tech is the No. 1 scoring team in the country right now.

Johnathan Williams (F)
Williams has been a tad feast or famine during his second season with the 'Zags. Since Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski are both gone, Williams was supposed to be a steady presence for the Bulldogs in the post. Williams has proven potent at times, as witnessed by his 39-point barrage in a Double OT loss to Florida at the end of November. He posted a double-double in Gonzaga's last game Sunday at Washington with 23 points and 12 boards. However, he has also had a few dud performances. In last week's 16-point loss to Villanova, he had just five points and fouled out after playing just 18 minutes. In fact, Williams has been held to single digits in three games thus far this season. The talent for Williams is evident, but the consistency is still lacking.

Robert Williams (F)
Williams is pegged as a potential lottery pick in June's NBA Draft, but his offensive game remains raw. Williams is averaging just eight points per game for the Aggies. In fact, since opening his sophomore campaign with two straight double-doubles, Williams has failed to score in double figures in any of the successive five games. When he does score, though, the 6-10 Williams is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent of his shots. In addition, he is a terror on the glass, including tying his career high with 16 rebounds in his last outing. Williams is also averaging 2.6 blocks and 2.4 assists per tilt thus far this season, showing his well-rounded game otherwise. At this point in time, Williams needs to expand his offensive game and shooting range, learn to share the floor with fellow big man Tyler Davis to maximize the returns for the Aggies, and show NBA scouts that he can succeed at the next level.

DOWNGRADE


Jordon Varnado (F)
The younger brother of former Mississippi State star Jarvis, the younger Varnado was averaging 19 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest before experiencing foot pain. He has missed the last four games for the Trojans as a result, and it is currently unknown as to when he will return. Varnado was an All-Sun Belt First Team member a season ago, as the Trojans went on an improbable run to capture the automatic bid from the conference. Senior guard Wesley Person has picked up the slack since Varnado went down, averaging 24 points over the last four contests.

Charles O'Bannon, Jr. (G/F)
The son of former UCLA Bruin Charles O'Bannon decided to take his talents to a different school in Southern California. However, the younger O'Bannon has had a rough start to his collegiate career. The 6-6 swingman has barely played for the Trojans despite being the first McDonald's All-American to ever commit to USC. The Trojans are rather thin after their starting five, though, and with a three-game losing streak at the moment, coach Andy Enfield may need to give his prized freshman an opportunity sooner rather than later.

Andrew Jones (G)
The leading scorer for the Longhorns will likely be sidelined until the calendar changes to 2018 due to a broken wrist. Jones tested the NBA draft waters after his freshman campaign before deciding to return for his sophomore season. Jones has seen improvement in his shooting percentages this year, from both inside and outside the arc. Jones can be much more than just a scorer, though, as he is also managing three rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest. Kerwin Roach II will be asked to pick up his scoring in the absence of Jones, while Eric Davis, Jr. is likely to receive the biggest boost in playing time.

D'Mitrik Trice (G)
A sluggish start to the season for the Badgers has gone from bad to worse with some unfortunate recent injury news. Freshman guard Kobe King will undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. King was playing 19 minutes per game and averaging 5.2 points and 1.4 rebounds. Perhaps even more costly is the injury to Trice, though. Despite the fact that Trice is expected back by the end of January after undergoing foot surgery, he was a more vital cog for the Badgers. Averaging nearly 32 minutes per game, Trice was third on the squad in scoring and second in assists. By the time Trice returns, any chance at making the NCAA Tournament for the disappointing Badgers will likely be gone. As it is, Wisconsin is just 4-7 after losing four of its last five games. Forward Ethan Happ will be asked to shoulder an extremely large burden.

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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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