Early-Season Studs and Duds in College Basketball
The 2012-13 college basketball season is almost two months old, and we've already seen a separation between players who are getting it done and those who are thrashing.
The first group is elevating their games. The second group's stats are as flat as pancakes and are not playing up to their potential.
Lets take a lightning-fast look at 10 early-season studs and 10 early-season duds in college hoops.
It's not that all of the duds are complete failures. They simply are performing beneath their potential and are having disappointing seasons so far in 2012-13.
Unless otherwise noted, all player statistics in this article are provided by Statsheet.com, and are accurate as of January 1, 2013.
Stud: Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)
Jamaal Franklin is one of the most versatile wings in all of college basketball.
He is currently leading San Diego State (11-2) in scoring (17.2 ppg), rebounding (9.8 rpg) and assists (3.5 apg).
Last year, Franklin was named as the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. His SDSU bio indicates that no Aztec sophomore has ever been selected as any league's player of the year.
The 6'5" SG is an outstanding rebounder, ringing up five point/rebound double-doubles this season.
Dud: Trey Zeigler (Pitt)
When Trey Zeigler transferred to Pitt following last season, pretty much everyone made two assumptions: that he would have to sit out a season (like most transfers), and that when he became eligible, he would automatically become a Panther star.
After receiving an NCAA waiver, Zeigler became immediately eligible to play this year. But he has been disappointing in his first season playing under Jamie Dixon.
After two exceptional seasons (16.3 ppg as a freshman and 15.8 ppg as a sophomore) at Central Michigan, the 6'5" wing is coming off the bench, scoring 4.8 ppg in 15.5 minutes per game.
Stud: Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)
Syracuse PG Michael Carter-Williams currently leads the nation in assists (10.2 apg).
One of the amazing parts to MCW's development as a player is that he was recruited by the Orange's Jim Boeheim because of his ability to score in a variety of ways.
The 6'6" floor leader uses his size to create matchup nightmares. Plus, you rarely see a PG his size who is always in assault mode.
Besides his amazing distribution numbers, Carter-Williams is currently averaging 12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.2 spg (No. 4 in the nation in steals).
Dud: Chris Crawford (Memphis)
This was supposed to be Chris Crawford's breakout year for Memphis.
After Will Barton departed after last season for the NBA, the way was paved for Crawford to step up into a main role in the Tigers backcourt.
Instead, Crawford is now coming off the bench and scoring the same amount (6.6 ppg) that he did two years ago as a freshman.
The 6'4" guard has only dropped in 18 points in Memphis' last six games.
Stud: Doug McDermott (Creighton)
Creighton's Doug McDermott has national player talent in the form of an old-school game.
The 6'8" combo forward is currently the No. 3 scorer (23.5 ppg) in the nation, hitting 50 percent (29-of-58) of his shots from beyond the arc.
Last year, McDermott was selected as an AP first team All-American and the first sophomore in Missouri Valley Conference history to be named the league's Player of the Year.
Because of McDermott's incredible success and efficiency, he was featured last season in a Sports Illustrated article ("This is how to Dougie").
No SI jinx here.
Dud: Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova)
Mouphtaou Yarou was supposed to be Villanova's next great inside player.
Coming out of high school, Yarou was ranked No. 18 in the recruiting class of 2009.
Instead, the 6'10", 255 lbs. post player has put up modest career numbers (8.4 ppg; 6.4 rpg) in 99 career games for the Wildcats.
This year, as a senior, he is playing less minutes, scoring less points and grabbing less rebounds than he did a year ago as an emerging junior.
Stud: C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)
In many people's minds, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum made a dicey decision to return for his senior season.
But, the 6'3" guard is erasing all questions by leading the nation in scoring (25.7 ppg).
One of the biggest places the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year winner has improved his game is in his shooting from beyond the arc.
Last year as a junior, McCollum shot a pedestrian 34.1 percent from three. This year, he is knocking down 53.2 percent of his shots from distance.
Dud: Jio Fontan (USC)
When Jio Fontan transferred to USC after two very productive seasons (15.3 ppg as a freshman, 15 ppg as a sophomore) at Fordham, his career was supposed to skyrocket.
Instead, after an ordinary junior season (10.5 ppg) in 2010-11, Fontan blew out his knee last year during the Trojans' preseason trip to Brazil, keeping him out of the entire 11-12 campaign.
This year, Fontan has not recovered the same burst and is averaging a career-low 8.2 ppg along with 5.3 assists.
It doesn't help that the 6'0" PG from Jersey is on one of the most floundering programs in D-I hoops.
Stud: Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State)
Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas has picked up where he left off when he was dominating the Buckeyes' opponents during last year's March Madness run.
Thomas is leading OSU in scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). He is the Big Ten's top scorer in 2012-13 pre-conference action.
While 6'7" forward's main role is to put the ball in the hole, Thomas has actually doubled his assist average (1.8 apg so far this year).
Thad Matta's '12-13 squad has talent, but the Buckeyes will go as far this season as DT takes them. And that's good news for Ohio State, because Thomas can put the team on his back and carry them.
Dud: Josh Hairston (Duke)
It's just that Coach K probably thought he was going to get more from the No. 19 player in the recruiting class of 2010.
Hairston is averaging 1.8 ppg (22 total points) and 2.2 rpg while playing a meager 10.5 minutes per game off the Blue Devils' bench.
Stud: Ben McLemore (Kansas)
Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore evidently made good use of his year as a partial qualifier because he has come out firing on all cylinders in the 2012-13 season.
The 6'5" wing from St. Louis is currently the Jayhawks' leading scorer (15.8 ppg), hitting on 48.9 percent of his FG shots (41.2 percent of his shots from beyond the arc).
McLemore really hasn't had a bad game this season. The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy asserts that he "makes Kansas a title threat."
If there was any question of whether or not McLemore has some crazy hops, this picture provides a clear answer.
Dud: Luke Hancock (Louisville)
When Luke Hancock transferred from George Mason to Louisville, he was supposed to be the solution to the Cardinals' outside shooting woes.
And beyond knocking down some threes, the 6'6" junior forward was supposed to bring a versatility that would stuff the stat sheet with rebounds, assists and steals too.
But, Hancock has not fully recovered from a shoulder injury, is only scoring 5.8 ppg this season and is shooting a chilly 28.3 percent from beyond the arc.
He has committed as many turnovers (three) as he has scored points (three) in the final three U of L games.
Stud: Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)
Shabazz Muhammad was one of the most hyped college basketball recruits in recent memory.
And because of an NCAA investigation, the 6'6" wing's collegiate debut was delayed three games.
It was worth the wait.
Muhammad is averaging 19.6 ppg and 4.6 rpg and is shooting 50 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from beyond the arc.
And he is picking up speed as the Pac-12 conference schedule draws near. In the Bruins' last four games, Muhammad is averaging 25 ppg and shooting 54.5 percent from the floor.
It may be too early to say this, but the freshman phenom from Vegas is good enough to take a distressed program like UCLA and turn it into a potential contender.
Dud: Trent Lockett (Marquette)
Trent Lockett is struggling to find his place on this year's Marquette Golden Eagles. After three successful seasons at Arizona State, Lockett transferred to Marquette to be closer to home.
Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel may not have spoken for all Marquette fans when he said:
No one said Lockett was going to be a star after he transferred from Arizona State. Williams took on the graduate student who qualified under the so-called Russell Wilson rule because of the leadership, maturity and intelligence he could bring to a relatively young team.
After averaging 13.4 ppg as a sophomore and 13.0 ppg as a junior, very few people thought that the 6'5" guard would take significant steps backwards in his senior year.
In fact, since he has suited up for the Golden Eagles, Lockett has only scored 13 points in one of his 12 games.
Stud: Anthony Bennett (UNLV)
If votes were cast today for national Freshman of the Year, UNLV's Anthony Bennett might be selected for that award.
The 6'8", 240-pound forward has exploded onto the college hoops scene, leading the Rebels in scoring (19.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg).
Bennett is a big reason that Dave Rice's squad is off to a 11-2 start and is one of the best teams in the West.
Dud: Milton Jennings (Clemson)
At 6'9", he was supposed to have such a multi-dimensional game that he could potentially play any of the three Tigers' frontcourt positions.
However, he is averaging 7.3 ppg and 4.6 rpg in his first three-plus collegiate seasons.
This year is a perfect example of why Jennings is such an exasperating player. After scoring 15 points against (then) No. 8 Arizona, he followed that up by scoring seven points against Florida A&M.
Stud: Cody Zeller (Indiana)
Indiana's Cody Zeller could win any of a number of the national Player of the Year Awards and never be featured on ESPN's Top 10 Plays of the Day.
His game is super-solid, but he gets things done without a lot of zing or zest.
Jay Bilas says this (in ESPN Insider; subscription required):
Zeller is the best and most efficient big man in college basketball. We can argue over his pro potential and No. 1 pick status, but there's no question he's one of the best, and in my judgment, the best college player.
The 7'0" sophomore has improved his fantastic freshman stats by averaging 16.6 ppg and 8.1 rpg so far in '12-13.
Cody Zeller's skill and stability will be two of the biggest reasons why Indiana makes it to this year's Final Four in Atlanta.
Dud: Jordan Henriquez (Kansas State)
Based on Kansas State's Jordan Henriquez last four games of the 2011-12 season, you would think he would be considered one of the best big men this year in college basketball.
In the Wildcats' last regular season game, their one game in the Big 12 Tournament and their two games in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Henriquez averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
However, in the first 13 games of his senior season, he is averaging 4.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and two blocks. He has yet to score in double figures this year and has been held scoreless three times.
Can you say "inconsistency?"
Stud: Mason Plumlee (Duke)
One of the most improved players in college basketball is Duke's post player, Mason Plumlee.
ESPN's Chad Ford said (ESPN Insider; subscription required)
If the NCAA had an award for the most improved player, Plumlee would be the front-runner to get it this year. He's averaging 8.2 more points per game, 2.3 more rebounds per game and has improved his field goal percentage from 57 percent to 64 percent. Most importantly, he's become the go-to-guy on the top-ranked team in the country. I'm not sure exactly what type of NBA player he'll be (looks more like a high-end backup at this point) but he's turned into a legit player of the year candidate as a senior.
The 6'10 senior went from averaging 11.1 ppg and 9.2 rpg as a junior to putting in 19.5 ppg and grabbing 11.6 apg. this year.
It seems like Plumlee's improvement has impacted the Blue Devils' style of play this year. Instead of being almost exclusively a perimeter team, Duke now runs much more through Plumlee on the block.
Dud: Tony Parker (UCLA)
Tony Parker was supposed to be, without a doubt, one of this year's best freshman.
But he has done virtually nothing this season for UCLA.
The 6'9" low-post load has only scored 35 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in 11 games.
Sure, the Bruins have the Wear twins and did have Josh Smith, but Parker has shown very little that would have put him as the No. 26 player in the recruiting Class of 2012.