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Early Season Surprises

December 11, 2002 Columns No Comments

Fantasy Hoops: Early Season Surprises

by Rick Young

Oh, The Agony . . . the early weeks . . .

If you’re like me, you’re in week 3 or 4 of your fantasy college basketball season. Unlike me, I hope you’re not pulling your hair (what little I have to give!) because of all the early season suspensions, injuries, or weather. That being said, it’s been an interesting start to the 2002-2003 season. We’ve seen the freshmen rise to top, it’s not like the “good old days”, when they had to earn their time, now with the dominance of the early-entrees to the NBA draft, it’s exhausted the college ranks to the point of where many teams are starting freshman, and in many cases multiple freshman. I would like to say this is just an early season trend, but I believe we are seeing the future of college basketball. Let’s take a look at some of the early ‘surprises’ in the first few weeks of this season:

Pure Joy!

Carmelo Anthony, freshman forward – Syracuse: Simply the “best” of the best freshmen. He’s a tough guard for a big or small man, with the ability to take you low, or out to the three-point line. He will probably be just a “one – and – done” player, meaning he’ll stay in college one year before bolting for the NBA, but “oh what a year it could be!” He could lead your fantasy team to the title before leaving for greener pastures!

Chris Bosh, freshman forward – Georgia Tech: Very close to Carmelo, both are legit NBA players with major upside. Bosh needs to gain some weight and strength, but even now, he’s a monster on the boards. Another possible “one – and – done” player, but could stay to help the rebuilding of the Yellow Jackets. He’s a fantasy double – double, rebounding and scoring in double figures every game.

Dwyane Wade, guard/forward – Marquette: Great start to his second college season. Hard to handle for any guard inside, but he does need to improve on his outside shooting to be the NBA (and fantasy) player he thinks he is. Fantasy wise, he’s a stud, any guard who can shoot a high percentage and rebound like Wade, makes you a superior team.

Emeka Okafor, forward/center – Connecticut: Shot blocking and rebounding machine for the Huskies. I love this player, he’s got so much potential to be an excellent fantasy player, because at this juncture he’s scoring off the rebounds and dunks he gets from being so mobile, add that to his excellent shot-blocking and you have the makings of a pure fantasy league stud!! Could easily lead your team to a title!

Early Disappointment:

Jason Conley, forward – VMI: For any other player a 23.3 fantasy average would be excellent, but when you are Conley, the NCAA’s scoring leader and fantasy league leader last year, this is so far a dreadful start to his sophomore season. He did break his leg in the off-season, but from all accounts he’s healthy; more than likely his poor performance is due to the attention he’s receiving from the other teams after his ground-breaking 2001-2002 season. I expect him to return to the high 20’s to low 30’s in fantasy scoring soon, when the competition becomes the Southern Conference, but for now, I’m very disappointed in this performance.

Suspensions and Injuries:

Many games have been lost so far from some of the best pre-season fantasy players. Big name centers such as Chris Marcus – Western Kentucky, and Mario Austin – Mississippi State, have yet to play a game this season. Theron Smith, forward Ball State, is redshirting this year due to his knee injury sustained while trying out for the NBA this past summer. These are just a few of the players who’ve lost games due to injuries, suspensions or the weather. Any one of these situations can destroy your weekly plans on victory!

I hope you have the players in the “Pure Joy” category and they are leading your team to victory. Don’t give up too early on your players, early season can be rough on your smaller school players because they are playing the major conference powerhouses, which causes a mismatch for a “one – on – five” game. I believe the rest of the season will be great, with players coming back from suspensions or injuries, and teams getting into their comfort zone playing in conference games.

Wishing you nothing but the best in your fantasy league – keep hooping!

Happy Holidays!


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