Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fantasy College Hoops, The Dream

By Joshua Duffy

You know what's awesome? College basketball.

You know else is awesome? Fantasy sports.

You know what's even more awesome than one awesome thing? Two awesome things put together. (Math!)

So tell me please why fantasy college basketball isn't sweeping the nation. Seriously. This is the Internet era. We've found damn near every potential amusing waste of time available to mankind, and we don't have this yet?

I'm sure there are some sites with versions out there, but not the big boys of Internet Sports. ESPN doesn't have it. Yahoo! doesn't have it. FOX Sports doesn't have it. CBS has fantasy college football, but not fantasy college hoops.

I can go online and find hotness rankings of English Premiere League wives and girlfriends, but I can't talk smack to my friends after Travis Bader from Oakland University drops 30 on UMKC in the middle of January?

Damnit, Jim!

Well, I'm not going to stand for it. I'm not a programmer and I don't have any investors lined up to start up a new site, but I do have a laptop and a place to publish. And so I'm going to do what I can: pretend it does exist and write the first-ever Sports Central Fantasy College Basketball Draft Preview.

First, we've got to set up the rules. We're going old-school roto with 10 categories: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Turnovers, Assist-to-Turnover Ratio, Steals, Blocks, Three Pointers Made, Field Goal Percentage, and Free Throw Percentage. Basketball positions are the most amorphous of any sport, so I'm not putting any rules on what positions you can play.

Now putting together a real draft guide would take a couple of months, and I only had a couple of days between when I thought of this and deadline, so I'm going with just the top 75. Remember value is all about a player's total profile, so you have to take into account a player's horrible free throw shooting when looking at his high rebound totals (hello, Mitch McGary).

One last thing before we get going: this is about college production this season, not draft status. So although Kentucky may have an NBA all-star team, not even John Calipari knows right now how all the production is going to shake out. Same with Kansas. Yes, Andrew Wiggins is going to be a stud. And maybe he puts up a 25 ppg, 11 rpg season like Kevin Durant did as a freshman. Or maybe he puts up numbers more like Shabazz Muhammad (17.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg) or Harrison Barnes (15.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg). Would it be a terrible decision to draft Wiggins high? Not necessarily. But I want a sure thing in the top half of my draft, and that's what these rankings cover. Let somebody else chase the hype.

With that said, the top 25:

1. Doug McDermott, Sr., Creighton — The top player on the board with 23 points, 7.7 rebounds, 77 three-pointers made, 54.8 field goal percentage and 87.5 free throw percentage last year. The going may get a bit tougher in the "Big East," but not so much you would take him off the top spot.

2. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut — Napier does exactly what you would want out of a lead guard, both in real life and fantasy. He scores (17.1 per game), passes (4.6 assists per game), rebounds (4.4 per game) and plays solid defense (2.0 steals per game). His 44% field goal percentage isn't stellar, but his 82% free throw shooting is. Added bonus: half of a mid-major schedule in the new American Conference.

3. Jahii Carson, So., Arizona State — Carson burst on the scene as a freshman, averaging 18.5 points, 5.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. His shooting was also extremely good for such a young guy charged with handling the ball so much (nearly a 30% possession usage rate according to Ken Pomeroy's calculations). His turnovers were a bit high at 3.5 per game, but his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.43) was still good and you can expect it to get even better with another year under his belt.

4. Elfrid Payton, Jr., Louisiana-Lafayette — Payton may not be a household name, but he should be after averaging 15.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a sophomore for the Ragin' Cajuns last year. And after spending the summer working out with some of the country's best talent as part of the Team USA U-19 squad, Payton should be even better this season. Look out, Sun Belt.

5. Marcus Smart, So., Oklahoma State — Smart went through some growing pains as a freshman (40% from the floor, 3.4 turnovers per game), but don't let that deter you. Even amid his inconsistency last year, he averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 3.0 steals per game. With even just a modest improvement across the board, you've got yourself a stud to build your team around.

6. Russ Smith, Sr., Louisville — Smith comes back for one more college go-around after averaging 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 steals last season. With another summer under his belt, he should be able to push up that scoring average into the 22-23 range, plus hopefully pick up his 41.4% shooting percentage.

7. Tyler Haws, Jr., BYU — The junior averaged 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 assists per game last year while hitting 48 percent of his shots from the floor and nearly 80 percent from the free throw line.

8. Travis Bader, Sr., Oakland — Bader returns for his senior season after averaging over 22 points per game last season, including 12 games of 25 points or more. He'll also help you out with the three-pointers (NCAA-high 139 made last year) and free throw percentage (88.6%), but not so much with the field goal percentage (39.4%).

9. Augustine Rubit, Sr., South Alabama — There were exactly zero guys in college basketball last year who averaged 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds per game, but Rubit came pretty close at 19.4 and 10.4. Add in his shooting percentages (48% FG, 79% FT) and that's a top-10 ranking.

10. Javon McCrea, Sr., Buffalo — McCrea won't dominate any particular category, but covers several very well after averaging 18 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. Add in the 56% field goal shooting and 71% average from the free throw line and you've got a guy who can anchor several categories without killing you in any.

11. Kyle Vinales, Jr., Central Connecticut State — Northeast Conference represent! Vinales averaged over 21 points per game last year and hit 81.1 percent of his free throws. He also averaged 3.8 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game, which is nice added value from a 20+ ppg scorer. The 41.1 field goal percentage hurts, but you can make that up elsewhere.

12. Corey Hawkins, Jr., UC Davis — Hawkins averaged 20 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his first year at UCD after transferring from Arizona State. He made over 47 percent of his shots from the floor and 84 percent from the free throw line. The Big West is an uptempo league, and Hawkins is capable of putting up monster scoring numbers (went over 30 five times last year).

13. TJ McConnell, Arizona — McConnell sat out last year after transferring from Duquense, but he is going to have a monster season for a loaded Wildcats team this year. As a sophomore with Duquense, McConnell averaged 5.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 steals per game. And although he won't score more than 12-14 points per game, he is a very good shooter from the floor and free throw stripe.

14. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke — You'll notice there isn't a whole lot of projecting going on with these ranking. You just never know how college kids will deal with new roles. But Sulaimon returns to a Duke squad that lost a huge majority of its offense with Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. Not only can you expect a big increase in Sulaimon's 11.6 scoring average, you can expect big increases in every other category as well.

15. Jerrelle Benimon, Sr., Towson — Benimon will help you in scoring (17.1), but the real separator is his rebounding (11.2). The 1.9 blocks and 2.5 assists per game from your leading rebounder is a nice touch, as well.

16. Devon Saddler, Sr., Delaware — His 19.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game (plus 82% free throw shooting) make him a worthy pick, but his high turnovers (3.2 per game) and poor shooting from the floor (42%) knock him down the board a bit.

17. Alan Williams, Jr., UC Santa Barbara — Like Benimon, Williams will represent in the scoring category (17.1 ppg last year), but will dominate in rebounding (10.7) and blocks (2.3). Add in the quality free throw percentage (72.4%) and you've got yourself a nice well-rounded player.

18. Kevin Pangos, Jr., Gonzaga — Like with Sulaimon, this is a projection based on not only Pangos' talent, but the opportunity in front of him with the departures of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Pangos is the team's returning scorer at 11.9 points per game, adding 3.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. He's also an 80%-plus free throw shooter and can knock down the long-range shots with 78 threes as a sophomore. This ranking is a bet on the scoring average going up to the 18 ppg range, with 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals per game.

19. Marshall Henderson, Sr., Ole Miss — Okay, so you know he's getting suspended at least once, but imagine having Henderson on your team when he goes on one of his hot streaks. He averaged 20.1 points per game last year with 138 threes. He also hits his free-throws, which is nice. Entertainment value may not be a roto category, but it's a nice bonus.

20-21. Joseph Young and Mike Moser, Oregon — These two get lumped together as newcomers to the Ducks. After averaging 18.0 points per game last year with Houston, Young is still waiting to hear from the NCAA on whether he will be allowed to play this season in Oregon. If he gets the waiver, he instantly becomes a scoring force in a high-tempo Ducks attack. As for Moser, who will be eligible as a fifth-year senior, injuries kept him below peak performance last year at UNLV, averaging just 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. But now healthy, he has a chance to reclaim the form that saw him average 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game two years ago for the Rebels. As with all fantasy drafts, sometimes you have to take risks.

22. TaShawn Thomas, Jr., Houston — With Joseph Young off to Oregon, Thomas will have ample opportunity to build on his 16.9 points-per-game average from last year (on 55% shooting from the floor). Add in his 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.7 blocks, and that's a great second-round pick.

23. Saah Nimley, Jr., Charleston Southern — Going through this exercise, it was very rare to find a guy who could give you over 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game. Nimley does exactly that at 15.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, and 5.0 apg, and he hit 77 threes to boot.

24. Josh Davis, Sr., San Diego State — Davis transfers to San Diego State from Tulane and will be immediate eligible as a fifth-year senior. With the Green Wave last season, he averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. He also knocks down his shots at 49% from the floor and 72% from the charity stripe.

25. Anthony Ireland, Sr., Loyola Marymount — Over 20 points per game with 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and nearly two steals per contest. Shooting percentage isn't great (41% from the floor), but at least you get 65 threes in the mix.

The next 50:

26. Venky Jois, So., Eastern Washington (12.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.4 bpg, 49% FG, 71% FT)
27. Isiah Sykes, Sr., Central Florida (16.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.3 spg)
28. Billy Baron, Sr., Canisius (17.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.1 rpg, 82% FT, 66 threes)
29. Troy Huff, Sr., North Dakota (19.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.4 spg)
30. Bryce Cotton, Sr., Providence (19.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 98 threes)
31. Wesley Saunders, Jr., Harvard (16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.8 spg, 52% FG, 73% FT)
32. Marcus Thornton, Jr., William & Mary (18.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 83% FT, 93 threes)
33. Kendrick Perry, Sr., Youngstown State (17.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.9 spg)
34. Andre Hollins, Jr., Minnesota (14.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 81% FT, 81 threes)
35. Travis Betran, Sr., Austin Peay (17.2 ppg, 84 threes)
36. Shawn Long, So., Louisiana-Lafayette (15.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg)
37. Kareem Jamar, Sr., Montana (14.2 ppg, 5.9 rpb, 4.0 apg, 49% FG)
38. Davon Usher, Sr. Delaware (18.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 61 threes last season at Mississippi Valley State)
39. Anthony Drmic, Jr., Boise State (17.7 ppg, 80 threes)
40. Ryan Anderson, Jr., Boston College (14.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
41. Trey Sumler, Sr., Western Carolina (18.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.9 spg, 83% FT)
42. Isaiah Armwood, Sr., George Washington (11.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 51% FG)
43. Antoine Mason, Jr., Niagara (18.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
44. Roberto Nelson, Sr., Oregon State (17.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.4 apg)
45. Cory Jefferson, Sr., Baylor (13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 61% FG, 70% FT)
46. Cole Dickerson, Sr., San Francisco (15.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 47% FG, 48 threes)
47. Alex Francis, Sr., Bryant (17.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 57% FG)
48. George Beamon, Sr., Manhattan (Fifth-year senior back after only playing four games last year. 19.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 49% FG, 80% FT, 61 threes two years ago)
49. Chaz Williams, Sr., Massachusetts (15.5 ppg, 7.3 apg, 4.2 rpg, 2.0 spg)
50. DeAndre Kane, Sr., Iowa State (15.1 ppg, 7.0 apg, 4.4 rpg last year with Marshall)
51. Andrew Wiggins, Fr., Kansas (Come on, I couldn't really leave out Wiggins, could I?)
52. Sean Kilpatrick, Sr., Cincinnati (17.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 82 threes)
53. R.J. Hunter, So., Georgia State (17.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 73 threes)
54. Damion Lee, Jr., Drexel (17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 83% FT, 62 threes)
55. Duke Mondy, Sr., Oakland (12.0 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.4 rpg, 3.0 spg)
56. Dez Wells, Jr., Maryland (13.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.0 apg, 53% FG)
57. Jordan Bachynski, Sr., Arizona State (3.4 bpg, 58% FG)
58. Bernard Thompson, Jr., Florida Gulf Coast (14.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 spg, 54 threes)
59. Jordan Reed, So., Binghamton (16.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
60. D.J. Covington, Sr., VMI (15.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 56% FG)
61. Dyami Starks, Jr., Bryant (17.7 ppg, 95 threes)
62. Joel Wright, Sr., Texas State (17.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 46% FG, 77% FT)
63. Rian Pearson, Sr., Toledo (17.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 45% FG, 73% FT)
64. Aaron Gordon, Fr., Arizona (since we're taking freshman now, a great all-around game)
65. Murphy Burnatowski, Sr., Colgate (17.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
66. Ryan Boatright, Jr., Connecticut (15.4 ppg, 4.4 apg)
67. Stephen Maxwell, Jr., Cal State Northridge (14.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 56% FG)
68. Jimmy Hall, So., Hofstra (12.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg)
69. Majok Majok, Ball State (10.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg)
70. Sim Bhullar, So., New Mexico State (10.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 62% FG)
71. Jason Brickman, Sr., LIU Brooklyn (8.5 apg)
72. Tymell Murphy, Sr., Florida International (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 57% FG)
73. David Laury, Jr., Iona (13.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 53% FG)
74. Andrew Harrison, Fr., Kentucky (a lot of talented kids at Kentucky, but Harrison will dominate the ball from day one; still, turnovers and shooting percentage will be casualties)
75. Dwight Powell, Sr., Stanford (14.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 47% FG, 80% FT)

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