College Hoops Barometer: Feast Week Edition

College Hoops Barometer: Feast Week Edition

This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.

The locals are close to getting out their torches and pitchforks in Louisville already, as the Cardinals are off to a shocking 0-5 start this season.  Louisville dropped three-straight one-point contests to open the season against supposedly lesser competition, then got waxed by ranked opponents in the form of Arkansas and Texas Tech.  Leading scorer El Ellis is averaging 18.0 points per game but was held in check versus the Razorbacks and Red Raiders, and no other Cardinal is currently averaging double-digits in points.  Coach Kenny Payne certainly has his work cut out for him, and conference play has not even started.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!  Here are some morsels to tide you over until the best meal of the year is ready.

UPGRADE

Joel Soriano, C, St. John's – Soriano's improvement from a season ago has been astounding.  He started 26 of 30 games last season after coming over from Fordham, though posted only mediocre results.  Soriano averaged 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, though played just 18.9 minutes per game and constantly battled foul trouble.  He had just one double-double all season.  By contrast, Soriano is averaging a double-double through six contests this season, all wins for the Johnnies.  Specifically, Soriano has notched double-doubles in five of the six games for the Red Storm.  He snatched a career-high 18 rebounds against Nebraska last week, then managed a career-high 19 points in Tuesday's thrilling OT victory over Syracuse to win the Empire Classic.  The undefeated

The locals are close to getting out their torches and pitchforks in Louisville already, as the Cardinals are off to a shocking 0-5 start this season.  Louisville dropped three-straight one-point contests to open the season against supposedly lesser competition, then got waxed by ranked opponents in the form of Arkansas and Texas Tech.  Leading scorer El Ellis is averaging 18.0 points per game but was held in check versus the Razorbacks and Red Raiders, and no other Cardinal is currently averaging double-digits in points.  Coach Kenny Payne certainly has his work cut out for him, and conference play has not even started.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!  Here are some morsels to tide you over until the best meal of the year is ready.

UPGRADE

Joel Soriano, C, St. John's – Soriano's improvement from a season ago has been astounding.  He started 26 of 30 games last season after coming over from Fordham, though posted only mediocre results.  Soriano averaged 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, though played just 18.9 minutes per game and constantly battled foul trouble.  He had just one double-double all season.  By contrast, Soriano is averaging a double-double through six contests this season, all wins for the Johnnies.  Specifically, Soriano has notched double-doubles in five of the six games for the Red Storm.  He snatched a career-high 18 rebounds against Nebraska last week, then managed a career-high 19 points in Tuesday's thrilling OT victory over Syracuse to win the Empire Classic.  The undefeated Red Storm have won the rebounding battle in each of their first six contests this season, and Soriano has been the chief contributor.

KJ Williams, F, LSU – The reigning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year has not missed a beat since transferring to LSU.  Through the first five games of the season, Williams has almost mirrored his statistics from a season ago, managing 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per tilt.  He was simply overwhelming in the opener of the Cayman Islands Classic on Monday, pouring in 33 points in the 77-61 thrashing of Illinois State.  Williams has a polished offensive game, which has included the addition of a consistent three-point shot.  The 6-10 forward is shooting over 40-percent from long range thus far.  Williams and sophomore Adam Miller have formed a potent inside-outside combination for the Tigers, who are off to a hot 5-0 start.

Courtney Ramey, G, Arizona – Ramey served a three-game suspension to begin the season, but the Texas transfer entered the lineup for the Maui Invitational and showed just how dangerous the Wildcats can be when he is available.  Ramey scored 17 points in Monday's win over Cincinnati, then poured in 21 points as Arizona dismantled a ranked San Diego State squad.  The Wildcats have a monstrous frontcourt with Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo, and an experienced point guard in the form of Kerr Kriisa, but have been looking to replace the shooting of Pac-12 Player of the Year Bennedict Mathurin, who is now in the NBA.  Ramey has already shown he is more than capable at shooting guard, hitting 8-of-10 from three-point land to begin the 2022-2023 campaign.

Kris Murray, F, Iowa – Murray played in his brother's shadow last season, but now it appears to be his own time to shine.  With Keegan in the NBA, Murray has taken the reins of the Hawkeyes and stormed out to a stupendous start.  Through four games, the younger Murray is averaging 23.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest.  He is shooting a blistering 62.5-percent from the floor through four outings, including an impressive 47.8-percent from beyond the arc.  Murray collected 29 points and 11 rebounds at Seton Hall last week, only to pour in a career-high 30 points against lowly Omaha this past Monday. A preseason First-Team All-Conference selection in the Big Ten, Murray is living up to the hype thus far as a junior.

CHECK STATUS

Johni Broome, F, Auburn – One of the most highly coveted transfers this offseason, the Morehead State product chose Auburn and thus far has been a force for the Tigers.  Moore is averaging 11.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks through the early portion of the season.  Broome is averaging just a shade over 20 minutes per contests, though, so it will be interesting to see how he will adjust to the step up in competition once SEC play begins in earnest.  In Auburn's only quasi-close matchup of the year so far against USF, Broome struggled, shooting 0-for-6 from the field while drawing three fouls in just 22 minutes.  Still, the 6-10 Broome had 22 double-doubles last season, has already notched one this season, and should provide a huge boost to the Auburn frontcourt.

Will Richardson, G, Oregon – Richardson tested the waters of the NBA Draft, but ultimately decided to come back for his final season at Oregon.  He has struggled shooting the ball to begin the year, though.  In particular, Richardson's shot from long distance has been off.  Richardson shot at least 38.8-percent from three-point land in each of the last three seasons for the Ducks.  Thus far this season, Richardson is hitting just 25-percent of his treys.  The sample size is small, and the season is young, so Richardson still has plenty of time to tweak his shooting stroke.  In addition, he is still averaging 10.0 points per contest, along with career highs of 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.  Richardson just has not quite been up to snuff when it comes to scoring yet.

Brandon Murray, G, Georgetown – The LSU transfer averaged over 35 minutes played in each of the first five games of the season for the Hoyas, though apparently came out of Sunday's win over La Salle due to a lower leg injury.  Murray subsequently missed Tuesday's clash with American due to the issue.  While the injury is not considered serious, Murray had been averaging 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists to begin the year, so it may be a tad difficult to replace his production in the short term.  The Hoyas are also missing Dante Harris, who has yet to play a game this season due to personal concerns.  Expect Primo Spears and Jay Heath to try and pick up the slack in the absence of both guards.

Jailyn Ingram, F, Georgia – Ingram is still making his way back from a serious knee injury, which he suffered nine games into last season.  As we approach the one-year mark of the injury, Ingram should be inching closer and closer to a return to the court.  The former Florida Atlantic Owl has averaged at least 10 points and at least five rebounds in each of the last four season, though it does seem as though he has had some difficulty staying healthy.  Ingram's return would provide a boost to the Georgia frontcourt, as the Bulldogs were just mauled by UAB by a score of 87-73 in the Sunshine Slam.

DOWNGRADE

Marcus Hammond, G, Notre Dame – Hammond transferred from Niagara, where he posted averages of 18.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season.  While not expected to shoulder quite the offensive load for the Irish, Hammond was still expected to be a key cog for Notre Dame this season.  Unfortunately, he sprained his MCL prior to the squad's season opener, and has yet to take the court this year.  An injury combined with playing on a new team in an elite conference likely means that Hammond will need some time to get his feet wet before making any sort of impact for the Irish.  Notre Dame remains in good hands, though, as senior Trey Wertz and freshman JJ Starling have handled the backcourt duties en route to an undefeated start.

Josh Mballa, F, Ole Miss – A transfer from Buffalo, Mballa averaged double-digit points and at least 8.6 rebounds for each of his three seasons with the Bulls.  However, the 6-7 forward has played rather sparingly through his first four games with the undefeated Rebels.  Mballa has started only one of those four outings, averaging just 10 minutes per contest.  The results have been predictably limited for Mballa, as he is averaging just 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds.  With plenty of depth in the frontcourt with forwards Myles Burns, Jaemyn Brakefield and Robert Allen, along with center Theo Akwuba, the opportunity may simply not be there for Mballa to be the same type of player he was at Buffalo.

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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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