College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

Each year, it seems as though a Cinderella darling captures the nation's attention, even before March arrives in all its glory and madness.  However, a quick glance at the current rankings shows little in the way of new blood.  Colorado State and St. Bonaventure sit just outside the top-25, but neither can be called a surprise.  The Bonnies had an extremely successful campaign last year and brought back all five starters, while the Rams were picked to win the Mountain West in the preseason.  We will also explore Wyoming, another Mountain West program, in greater depth below.  In terms of undefeated squads, only the San Francisco Dons and Weber State Wildcats stand out among the mid-major programs.  In other words, the usual suspects litter the rankings, and it remains to be seen whether the transfer portal, parity, COVID-19 or a combination of factors is to blame.

Let's analyze the recent play of some notable ballers in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana – Most pundits knew that Jackson-Davis was going to be a star for the Hoosiers this season.  After all, he was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Conference Team after averaging 19.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season.  He poured in 43 points against Marshall earlier this season, only to follow that performance up with 31 points and 16 boards in a thrilling Double OT loss to Syracuse.  While his scoring and rebounding numbers have been similar to last

Each year, it seems as though a Cinderella darling captures the nation's attention, even before March arrives in all its glory and madness.  However, a quick glance at the current rankings shows little in the way of new blood.  Colorado State and St. Bonaventure sit just outside the top-25, but neither can be called a surprise.  The Bonnies had an extremely successful campaign last year and brought back all five starters, while the Rams were picked to win the Mountain West in the preseason.  We will also explore Wyoming, another Mountain West program, in greater depth below.  In terms of undefeated squads, only the San Francisco Dons and Weber State Wildcats stand out among the mid-major programs.  In other words, the usual suspects litter the rankings, and it remains to be seen whether the transfer portal, parity, COVID-19 or a combination of factors is to blame.

Let's analyze the recent play of some notable ballers in this edition of the College Hoops Barometer.

UPGRADE

Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana – Most pundits knew that Jackson-Davis was going to be a star for the Hoosiers this season.  After all, he was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Conference Team after averaging 19.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season.  He poured in 43 points against Marshall earlier this season, only to follow that performance up with 31 points and 16 boards in a thrilling Double OT loss to Syracuse.  While his scoring and rebounding numbers have been similar to last season overall, it has been his impact on the defensive end that perhaps has been the most noticeable.  Jackson-Davis is swatting 3.8 shots per game, almost tripling his average from a season ago.  He has blocked at least four shots in three of the last four outings for the Hoosiers.  Jackson-Davis is affecting the game on both ends of the floor, rounding into a complete player and a truly dangerous force to be reckoned with.

 Graham Ike, F, Wyoming – The best player that still nobody knows about in college hoops might be Ike's teammate, Hunter Maldonado.  That being said, Ike is off to an impressive start to the season in his own right, and the sophomore is attempting to help gain some notoriety for the program.  Ike is averaging 20.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for the undefeated Cowboys.  He has racked up three double-doubles in his last four outings.  This includes a huge output last week versus Denver in which he accumulated 35 points and 14 rebounds.  Ike is still tinkering with his outside shot, and his shot-blocking ability leaves much to be desired, but his overall production has been stellar.  The Cowboys were picked to finish eighth in the Mountain West this season, but the ascension of Ike suddenly has the Cowboys looking like a more legitimate squad.

 Isaiah Mobley, F/C, USC – The elder Mobley is still in college, but no longer playing in the shadow of his brother, Evan.  That has resulted in some tantalizing performance for the junior, who has posted three double-doubles in his last four games for the Trojans.  Tuesday's performance against Eastern Kentucky was perhaps Mobley's best, as he tallied 23 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.  He hit 5-of-6 treys and is shooting over 40 percent from three-point land for the second-straight season.  Isaiah is the leading scorer and rebounder for the undefeated Trojans, who have four players averaging double figures thus far this season.

 David Roddy, G, Colorado State – Roddy and teammate Isaiah Stevens have the Rams thinking about a Mountain West crown this season, and CSU is sitting pretty at 9-0 thus far this season.  Roddy is averaging 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest.  He is shooting an impressive 57.6 percent from the field, including 46.7 percent from long distance.  The Rams beat Creighton earlier this season but will be tested in two clashes with SEC foes in the form of Mississippi State and Alabama in the next two weeks.  Those two matchups will go a long way towards determining just how serious of a threat the Rams can be this season.

CHECK STATUS

 Dereon Seabron, F, NC State – Seabron's first year as starter is going swimmingly thus far for the Wolfpack.  He is averaging 20.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.4 thefts per contest.  Not unsurprisingly, those figures represent mammoth improvements from a season ago, when he played more of a complementary role.  It will be interesting to see how Seabron performs against stiffer competition, though.  He had 11 points and nine boards in Saturday's loss to Louisville.  In addition, the three-point shot is not a current part of his arsenal, so his outside shooting is another area for him to work on.  Seabron will have plenty of usage and volume, and he is adept at getting to the foul line, but the Wolfpack are supposed to finish in the bottom half of the conference, and Seabron will have a ton on his plate as a result.

 Kevin Obanor, F, Texas Tech – One of the stars from last year's magical NCAA Tournament run with Oral Roberts, Obanor transferred to Texas Tech, where he has predictably seen a dip in production due to the step up in competition both from the opposition as well as with his own teammates.  Obanor averaged 23.3 points and 11.0 rebounds during March Madness.  By contrast, he is averaging just 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest in Lubbock, naturally in fewer minutes played as well.  Still, he has been better of late, managing 14.0 points and 5.7 boards over his last three outings.  Obanor played 42 minutes in Tuesday's overtime win at Tennessee.  It appears Obanor is gaining more and more trust from the Red Raider coaching staff, but he is never going to have the same volume or usage that he did while a member of the Golden Eagles.

 Jaime Jaquez, F, UCLA – Jaquez was evaluated for a concussion during UCLA's last game, and while he was cleared to return to the win over Colorado, he was held out as a precautionary measure.  While Jaquez should be fine for Saturday's clash with Marquette, head injuries are given far more attention nowadays, and rightly so.  Jaquez is an integral part of a supremely talented Bruins squad this season, averaging 13.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per tilt.  With big man Cody Riley already sidelined with a knee injury, UCLA can ill afford another serious injury to another of its star players.

 David McCormack, C, Kansas – McCormack's scoring is down a bit from a season ago.  Part of the reason is the ascension of both Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji, who are combining for almost 40 points per contest after averaging just 24 points per game as a pair last year.  In addition, McCormack had offseason foot surgery, and then on Tuesday he sprained his ankle in the win over UTEP.  The injury is not considered serious, though the Jayhawks will certainly be cautious with McCormack, who represents the majority of their experienced size on the roster.  Conference play does not start until the new year for Kansas, so McCormack's minutes could be limited until then to avoid reaggravation.

DOWNGRADE

 Emoni Bates, G, Memphis – It has not been smooth sailing for the wunderkind Bates, formerly known as the most hyped high school prospect since LeBron James.  The Tigers have lost three games in a row, with the freshman averaging just 10 points and 2.3 rebounds over that span.  Bates has one assist in those three contests.  Bates did not start Saturday's loss to Ole Miss, as there have been rumors of friction between the veterans and the younger players, most notably Bates and Jalen Duren.  Bates reportedly asked to come off the bench in an effort to show some humility and sacrifice for the good of the team, though it did not seem to help anyone much, as he shot 1-for-10 from the floor and the Tigers lost to the Rebels.  There is plenty of time to right the ship, but for now, Bates and the rest of the Tigers appear to be in shambles.

 Roman Penn, G, Drake – Penn cannot seem to catch a break.  Or rather, he's been catching too many of them.  The senior point guard broke his foot for the second time in a year, and he will be sidelined indefinitely.  He fractured the same foot less than a year ago, ultimately requiring surgery and missing the remainder of that campaign.  The Bulldogs still made the NCAA Tournament in 2021 for just the second time in 50 years and were looking to build off that appearance with their first win in the Big Dance since 1971 this time around.  Unfortunately, they will be tasked with once again attempting to make history without the services of Penn, who was averaging 9.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists prior to getting hurt.  Look for freshman Tucker DeVries and senior D.J. Wilkins to try to fill the void left by Penn.

 Jailyn Ingram, F, Georgia – Ingram suffered a right knee injury in the second half of Tuesday's win versus Jacksonville.  He had to be helped off the court, did not return and is awaiting an MRI at this time.  The severity of the injury is unknown, though coach Tom Crean was visibly upset when speaking about Ingram following the game.  A graduate transfer from FAU, Ingram was leading the team in rebounding, second in assists and third in scoring.  The Bulldogs were thin in the frontcourt even before Ingram's injury due to a combination of losing ballers in the transfer portal and other injuries, including a torn ACL suffered by P.J. Horne prior to the season.  Even more responsibility will now fall on another transfer, Braelen Bridges from Illinois-Chicago, along with Jabri Abdur-Rahim, the son of former NBA player Shareef.

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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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