College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

College Hoops Barometer: Risers & Fallers

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

Welcome back to the hardwood!  The big man renaissance is upon us, as many of the top returning players in college basketball do their best work on the interior.  Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky, Armando Bacot of North Carolina and Drew Timme from Gonzaga are just a few of the plethora of talented trees set to take the nation by storm.  Likewise, in this new age of transfer madness, there are plenty of new faces in new places with a chance to make a significant impact.  Likewise, a bevy of freshman phenoms appear poised to burst into the limelight.  Three of the last four No. 1 overall picks in the NBA draft were freshman phenoms.

Let's dive right into the first College Hoops Barometer of the 2022-2023 season.

UPGRADE

Caleb Daniels, G, Villanova – The Jay Wright Era is over at Villanova, though Daniels remains.  With Collin Gillespie and Jaylen Samuels moving on, Daniels will be the catalyst for the Wildcats under new coach Kyle Neptune.  Daniels responded with a resounding performance in Villanova's season-opening victory over La Salle.  Daniels canned six treys en route to 24 points in the 81-68 triumph.  He also pulled down 10 rebounds while dishing out four assists.  The strength of the Wildcats this season might actually be their frontcourt for once behind Eric Dixon and Brandon Slater, so Daniels will be left to pilot the backcourt with heavy minutes.  That should result in standout performances on most occasions for Daniels.

Marcus Sasser, G, Houston – Sasser should be on the warpath this season after injuries stole last year's campaign.  Limited to just 12 games a season ago, Sasser is a threat to score from anywhere on the court, but especially from beyond the three-point arc.  He went 4-for-8 in Houston's first game Monday, a blowout victory over Northern Colorado.  Sasser also contributed three assists and four steals in just 28 minutes of action.  The Cougars are poised for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament this March, and a healthy Sasser should be the one leading the charge.

Coleman Hawkins, F, Illinois – The only returning starter from last year's NCAA Tournament squad, Hawkins played a complementary role as a sophomore but will be asked to shoulder a much larger load this season.  He looked up to the task Monday in the season opener for the Illini, albeit against an inferior opponent.  Still, Hawkins racked up 23 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in the 87-57 thrashing of Eastern Illinois.  Hawkins can play nearly every position on the court and will be a matchup nightmare for the opposition.  Transfers Terrence Shannon and Matthew Mayer should have huge impacts for Illinois, which is expected to compete for the Big Ten title this season, but nightly contributions from Hawkins will take this team to even greater heights.

Manny Bates, C, Butler – Bates got injured in the first minute of his first game a season ago while attending NC State.  Following rehabilitation and recovery, he decided to take his talents to the birthplace of basketball and transfer to Butler.  A ferocious defender known more for his shot-blocking acumen while with the Wolfpack, Bates returned with a vengeance in his first game with the Bulldogs.  Bates scored 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting to lead all scorers in the 89-53 dismantling of New Orleans.  That figure represents his career high in terms of points.  Bates also snatched 11 rebounds for a double-double.  Naturally, he also swatted three shots in flexing his defensive muscle.  As long as he stays healthy, Bates could be primed for a breakout campaign.

CHECK STATUS

Norchad Omier, F, Miami – Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller return for a Miami squad that made the first Elite 8 in school history last season, but the transfers of Nijel Pack from Kansas State and Omier from Arkansas State will be vital if the 'Canes are to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.  While Pack will slide nicely into the three-guard sets that coach Jim Larranaga loves to run, it will be Omier's presence on the interior that could decide just how far this squad can go.  The Sun Belt Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year averaged 17.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.0 blocks per contest last year.  Omier tended to get into foul trouble often with the Red Wolves (he fouled out of seven games last season), so the step up in competition could make the transition a tad rocky at the start.  However, Omier tallied a double-double in Miami's season opener with 11 points and 15 rebounds, something that should be a staple for him this season.

Baylor Scheierman, G, Creighton – The reigning Summit League Player of the Year makes his way to the Bluejays, and he can really fill up the stat sheet.  Scheierman averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last season at South Dakota State.  In the season opener for Creighton against St. Thomas – Minnesota, Scheierman compiled 11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in the 72-60 triumph.  His versatility at 6-7 makes him an intriguing fantasy option and one that could perhaps be flying slightly under the radar given his past and current squad.

Zach Edey, C, Purdue – Jaden Ivey and Trevion Williams have taken their talents to the NBA, so Edey will not only be the biggest man on the court, but also the centerpiece for the Boilermakers this season.  At 7-4 and weighing close to 300 pounds, Edey is impossible guard on the offensive end of the floor, and his presence is always felt on the defensive end.  He has not yet been asked to play huge minutes in his collegiate career so it will be interesting to see if there is any drop-off in production or efficiency with an increase in minutes.  In just 19 minutes per game a season ago, Edey averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 blocks.  A lot will be asked of Edey this season, but he will be given every opportunity to succeed.

DOWNGRADE

Sahvir Wheeler, G, Kentucky – Wheeler has been battling a right knee injury and missed Monday's season opener for the Wildcats.  The Georgia transfer had a successful first season in Lexington one year ago, averaging 11.9 points and 7.2 dimes per tilt.  Only Yuri Colins of Saint Louis and Jalen Moore of Oklahoma averaged more assists per game than Wheeler last year.  Unfortunately, Wheeler's injury could be more than just a one-game issue.  Freshman Cason Wallace took on the distribution role for Kentucky in Monday's win over Howard, handing out nine assists in the 95-73 triumph.  Wallace also had 15 points and eight rebounds, nearly posting a triple-double in the process.  Wheeler may want to return soon if he does not wish to have the same fate as Wally Pipp.

Jamison Battle, F, Minnesota – Battle underwent minor foot surgery at the end of October and was forced to miss Monday's season-opener against Western Michigan.  Though the injury is not considered serious, the Golden Gophers may be without their leading scorer from a season ago in the short term.  Battle averaged 17.5 points and 6.3 rebounds last season.  In a tight 61-60 triumph over the Broncos on Monday without the services of Battle, Minnesota was led by transfers Dawson Garcia and Ta'lon Cooper.  Garcia started 12 games for North Carolina last season, while Cooper nearly notched a triple-double in his first game since coming over from Morehead State.

John Hugley, C, Pittsburgh – In a recurring theme for this section of the barometer, Hugley missed Pitt's first game of the season due to a knee injury.  Hugley started 31 of 32 games for the Panthers last year, averaging 15.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest.  He finished the season fourth in the ACC in rebounding.  The Panthers had little difficulty dispatching of UT-Martin in their season opener, as the Finnish phenom Fede Federiko got the starting nod at center in place of Hugley, while forward Blake Hinson imposed his will on the Skyhawks with 27 points and 13 rebounds in the 80-58 win.  Still, if the Panthers are to make a run at their first NCAA tournament bid since 2016, they will need Hugley to return to health.

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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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