The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

December 18, 2013

Six impact players so far in college basketball

Much of the hype headed into the 2013-14 college basketball season was on the incoming freshmen class.

And for good reason. This as is good a crop as there's been in a while.

But two months into the season, it hasn't been all about the freshman. Yes, some have lived up to the billing, but many of the players who've had the biggest impact so far are ones who have been around for a while.

Here's six impact players from the early part of the season, including one of those freshmen:

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Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State. Smart was billed as one of the nation's best players heading into the season and he hasn't disappointed. The sophomore has done just about everything for the seventh-ranked Cowboys, averaging 19 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Smart scored 39 points against Memphis and his shooting percentages, from the floor and the arc, are up over last season. It's still early, but he may be the front-runner for player of the year.

Doug McDermott, F, Creighton. Speaking of player-of-the-year candidates, McDermott won the past two in the Missouri Valley Conference and could add another POY honor now that the Bluejays have moved to the Big East. The relentless forward is the focus of every opposing defense, yet he still finds ways to score and snatch rebounds. He ranks second nationally with 25.3 points per game while grabbing 6.9 rebounds in his final season playing under his dad, Greg.

C.J. Fair, G, Syracuse. Fair has gotten progressively better during his career at Syracuse, from a little-used freshman to the undoubted best player on the No. 2 team in the country. The 6-foot-8 senior is at his best when the game is on the line, as he did in helping the Orange hold off St. John's on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, and leads the team in scoring at 18.1 points per game. Syracuse has a lot weapons, but Fair has been a big reason the Orange are undefeated.

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