Two things really drew my eye Sunday. In fact, no offense to Division II Texas-Permian Basin, but I had never heard of their school until their stunning upset win over Texas-San Antonio of Conference USA. The Falcons, hailing from Odessa, Tex., pulled off a last-second win in San Antonio over the Roadrunners. UTSA will travel to play Texas Dec. 8, so be sure to load up on Longhorns in that game. Texas C Cameron Ridley will be especially attractive in that game. He is among the early leaders in rebounds with 9.6 rebounds per game through five outings, and that projects out to 16.1 RPG per 40 minutes. In other words, he makes the most of his playing time.
The second upset featured another school I haven’t heard of before Sunday. This time, it was NAIA Wiley College going down to Huntsville, Tex., and beating Sam Houston State with a last-second layup. Sure, the Bearkats aren’t ‘big-time’ college hoops, but they are Division I and this was a huge upset. Wiley, a liberal arts college located in Marshall, Tex., won’t get a crack at the big boys again anytime soon. But the Bearkats must figure it out before traveling to Texas Tech Wednesday. In that contest you will want to remember Texas Tech G Devaugntah Williams, as he is filling it up this season with 18.8 PPG through five outings, averaging a pair of 3-pointers per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 91.7 percent from the free throw line. He is also tied for the team lead in rebounding with F Zach Smith at 5.4 RPG.
In a Power 5 conference, Williams and Smith will be available for selection all season, and are sleepers to watch not only in the Sam State game, but against the many cupcakes littering the schedule in December until conference play starts Jan. 2 against Texas.
Kansas F Cheick Diallo is finally eligible to play after being cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. He will debut against Loyola (Maryland) Tuesday night. The Malian-born Diallo was the 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP. Look for big things from Diallo once he gets comfortable in game action. He’ll be a great DFS option sooner rather than later, and at 6-foot-9 he will be a solid rebounding threat as well as a shot blocker at the power forward spot.
Wichita State Shockers PG Fred VanVleet (hamstring) continues to be sidelined, as is PG Landry Shamet (leg), and the difference in the Shockers is staggering. They were trucked by Iowa, 84-62, in Sunday’s game, and the Shockers need VanVleet to get back in a hurry. Fantasy players will want to see him officially return and knock off the rust in a game or two before trusting him again, as he comes with a fairly high DFS salary number.
To make matters worse for the Shockers, F Anton Grady (spinal cord) suffered a spinal cord injured in a collision with an Alabama player Friday night. The good news is he will fly home from the team after its disastrous showing at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. Still, his playing status is certainly up in the air, so avoid in DFS. Most important for the young man, hopefully he gets well soon.
The news is encouraging out of Chapel Hill, as G Marcus Paige (hand) is expected to make his season debut Tuesday in a showdown with Maryland at the Dean Dome, according to WRAL.com in Raleigh. Paige was sidelined for his team’s first six games due to a fracture of his non-shooting right hand. Still, DFS players will want to be cautious, as he will have a lot of rust and will be squaring off against a top-tier opponent. His shooting numbers could be well off. Wait to see him facing down a weaker opponent before spending a high DFS salary on him. In fact, the matchup Dec. 6 against Davidson might fit that bill.
Lastly, Kentucky G Tyler Ulis (elbow) is dealing with a hyperextended right elbow suffered Friday in the team’s 84-63 beatdown of South Florida. He missed the second half of that game, and he was in a sling after the game. At $7,600 he can should be avoided until he can prove his health in one full game without any setbacks. He missed Monday’s game against Illinois State. G Charles Matthews ($4,300) sees more minutes with Ulis sidelined, and is a key Fantasy option to target if Ulis remains on the shelf.
(DraftKings.com salaries listed in parentheses)
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Chris Boucher, F, Oregon ($7,100): Boucher leads the nation in blocked shots with 4.2 per game, and he and Florida International C Adrian Diaz (4.17 BPG) are the only two above the four swat threshold. Boucher is also averaging a respectable 12.4 PPG and 7.6 RPG with 1.2 SPG, so he is anything but a one-trick pony. As long as he can stay out of foul trouble he has been a Fantasy force in the early going.
Denzel Valentine, G, Michigan State: Valentine continues to post staggering numbers, as he is among the league leaders in so many different scoring categories. He ranks 12th in the nation with 23 3-pointers made through seven games, helping him average 19.9 PPG. He also has 8.9 RPG, 8.6 APG and he is shooting 46.9 percent from the floor while hitting 3.3 triples per contest. He is such a well-rounded player worth any DFS salary because he contributes in so many areas.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cane Broome, G, Sacred Heart: Broome has been sweeping up plenty of points (OK, that was bad) this season, checking in 10th in the nation with 23.2 PPG through five outings. He has averaged 2.4 3-pointers per game while hitting 47.9 percent from the field. If there is a hole in his game, it’s his shoddy work at the charity stripe, as he is just a 73.2 percent free throw shooter to date. Still, he is worth a look Wednesday, Dec. 2, when the Pioneers travel to Connecticut, as he might be a very nice DFS value.
Jabril Durham, G, Auburn: Durham is tied for seventh in the nation in assists per game, posting 7.6 dimes per contest. He also has a rather attractive 2.92 assists-to-turnover ratio which keeps him out of the coaches’ doghouse. However, while he is rather creative and a playmaker, his offense has been lagging. In fact, the knock on Durham is his terrible shooting percentage. If he can straighten that out he could be a top-notch college player. As it stands, he can be a sleeper DFS option due to his low price tag and high number of assists. Just be sure to expect single-digit point totals, as he is averaging just 5.0 PPG which is a poor return at 32.0 minutes per game.
Obi Emegano, G, Oral Roberts: Emegano, selected as the Summit League’s preseason Player of the Year, has looked the part so far. He is fifth in the nation with 24.0 PPG while posting three triples per contest. He also contributes with 5.4 RPG and 2.1 APG, but scoring is the main area of specialty. He has 20 or more points in each of his first five games. He might be available for DFS purposes Dec. 1 at New Mexico, or Dec. 5 at Tulsa. If not, he’ll certainly be available for everyone in the Dec. 12 game at Oklahoma and Dec. 19 at LSU.
Egidijus Mockevicius, C, Evansville: Mockevicius is putting up similar numbers to LSU’s freshman phenom Ben Simmons, but he’ll come with a substantially lower price tag due to his smaller school. Mockevicius is averaging 17.7 PPG, 14.2 RPG and 2.8 BPG through six games (Simmons – 16.2 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG). You’ll be able to take advantage of Mockevicius when the Purple Aces pay a visit to Arkansas Dec. 8. Don’t miss out on the big Lithuanian center.
If you’re like me, I still put pencil to paper and hang a note next to my computer as a lineup/date reminder. You won’t want to forget Robinson or these other smaller-school guys, as they have really shined on the big stage so far.