Thursday, February 24, 2011

NCAA Tournament Fantasy Prospects Seven and Eight

If you play fantasy sports long enough, you learn that there are players that are players you never take to, for whatever reason. I have nothing against long-time Pistons guard Richard Hamilton, but it seemed like I would end up with in every fantasy basketball league I was in every year. I also have nothing against this round up’s number seven and eight players, but they have not been my favorite players this season. I can’t really explain it, but I will try to anyway.

8. Kemba Walker, Guard, Connecticut Huskies

I predicted big things for Walker prior to his sophomore season, but Walker chose to (or simply got the opportunity to) break out as a junior. Perhaps it is my professional pride (of what little there is) that has been wounded by Walker who is in the conversation for national Player of the Year. He is averaging 22.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, which are top notch numbers of any player. Somewhat predictably, however, Walker has cooled off in Big East play. In his last nine games, he has only bettered his scoring average once (an impressive 31-point, ten-assist game against Georgetown). Over that same span, Walker has only converted 32% of his three-pointers to bring his season’s rate down to 35.6%. The Huskies are currently slated for a four-seed, but they have lost four of their last seven games. The Huskies will likely have too much size and athleticism for their first opponent, but I don’t like their chances once they get into the 4-5 match ups. Walker is a fantastic talent, but he won’t score points for your team if UConn gets eliminated early.

7. JaJuan Johnson, Forward/Center, Purdue Boilermakers

My dislike of Johnson is less rational than my Walker aversion. I kind of like Purdue (any school that provided Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson as a place to play is ok with me) and Johnson has progressed nicely in his career. So, what gives? Maybe I think he is too skinny. I don’t know. Whatever the case, Johnson has benefited from the loss of Robbie Hummel for the second straight year. Because Hummel missed the season, Johnson and E’Twaun Moore have had to carry the Boilermakers’ offensive onus. And, for the most part, they have been up to the task. For the fourth straight year, Johnson has improved his scoring average and is putting in 20.4 points. He seems more comfortable on the perimeter, although he has made just 28.9% of his three-pointers (11-for-38) after missing all nine of his attempts in his first three years at Purdue. Johnson has eight double-doubles, but just two in Big 10 conference play. The 6-foot-10 senior is also a factor on the defensive end with 1.0 steals and 2.3 blocks. Purdue seems slated for a two-seed. Don’t forget Moore in your draft as well. In addition to his 38-point outburst against Purdue, he has scored at least 17 points in his last five games.