This article is part of our College Basketball Waiver Wire series.
The college basketball regular season is coming to a close, so it is a natural time to look back at the season almost past. Here at the College Hoops Waiver Wire, we've tried to pinpoint players who could help your team on a weekly basis. Despite spending hours and hours last summer trying to project who would produce, many players bubbled up during the season and made an impact in fantasy leagues. In the final column of the year, I will spotlight players who were either drafted very late or not at all in many leagues. This usually means they were not productive last year, but found themselves in a better spot to put up numbers. We'll continue the format of two players per Tier 1 conferences and a smattering of smaller conference players who surprised me.
Jordan Nwora, forward, Louisville Cardinals
I had the good fortune to take Nwora late in one of my leagues and the bad sense not to hold onto him. I boneheadedly dropped him for Dylan Ostekowski and rue the day. The forward quickly became the go-to player for the Cardinals and scored at least 20 points 12 times. The sophomore was lightly used as a freshman, but there were some summer notes that he was ready to take off. He led the team with 17.1 points and 7.6 rebounds and has helped coach Chris Mack look like a genius (and he could well be). Nwora seems like the type of player who is not quite good enough to go pro (yet) and could be an early pick next year.
John Mooney, forward, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The first season without Bonzie Colson and Matt Ferrell went about as you would expect. The two bedrocks of Notre Dame basketball were sorely missed and the team drifted to the bottom of the ACC. The highlight of the season has been the discovery of the 6-9 Mooney. The junior has plugged into rebounding role and has more games of double-doubles than not. Mooney has more than doubled his shot attempts and lost none of the efficiency. He could be an All-Big East performer in 2019-20.
Eugene Omoruyi, forward, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers is respectable? It's true. The former Big Ten doormat has won seven conference games, including wins over Ohio State and Iowa. Those wins would not have been possible without the 6-7 Omoruyi, who leads the team with 13.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. Last season, the junior was just a part-time player who averaged 7.9 points and 5.0 rebounds to be a Scarlet Knight in the mix. He is above the mixture this season and has extended his range with 32.6 percent of his 3-pointers. Omoruyi has improved in each of his seasons with Rutgers, so his senior campaign could be something special.
Ignas Brazdeikis, forward, Michigan Wolverines
It was too much to ask a freshman to move into Mo Wagner's spot and produce like an NBA first round draft pick. However, Brazdeikis is no ordinary freshman and the 6-7 Canadian was undaunted by anyone asking too much. He has been held to single-digit scoring six times, but has topped 20 points nine times and given the Wolverines an offensive fulcrum. Like all Wolverines, he can hit 3-pointers and is converting 39.8 percent from long range. Brazdeikis is closing the season with strength and has scored 20 points or more in wins over Nebraska and Maryland.
Marial Shayok, guard, Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones headed into the season with a proverbial whirlwind of talent. Shayok may have been somewhat forgotten after transferring from Virginia after the 2016-17 season. He was a solid if unspectacular Cavalier, but the free-wheeling Iowa State offense has allowed the 6-6 senior to blossom. While the roster has been depleted by injuries and suspensions, Shayok has ticked away. He leads the team with 18.7 points and has hit 39.0 percent of his 3-pointers. He has scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games.
Derek Culver, center, West Virginia Mountaineers
The transition from backcourt-oriented to frontcourt-power squad has not gone well for the Mountaineers. There were injuries to players like Sagaba Konate and players dismissed from the team. Perhaps the only good thing that coach Bob Huggins can take from the season is the play of the 6-10 Culver. The freshman did not make his debut until Dec. 22, but has seven double-doubles since that point. He had 22 points and 21 rebounds in the triple-overtime win over TCU on Feb. 26. Despite being pressed into service, Culver has averaged 11.8 points and 9.6 rebounds. He should be at the center of all things Mountaineer next season.
Ty-Shon Alexander, guard, Creighton Bluejays
After Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas left the Bluejays, the team had huge holes to fill in the backcourt. As a freshman, Alexander was an unassuming bench player. He appeared to enjoy the larger role for the team and became a dynamite 3-point shooter. The 6-4 sophomore is leading the team with 16.4 points and is hitting 39.2 percent on 8.0 3-pointers per game. Alexander brought plenty of attention to himself by scoring 36 points on Nov. 21 against Clemson in the Cayman Island Classic. He is hit five or more 3-pointers in five games.
Paul Reed, forward, DePaul Blue Demons
Through the non-conference slate, Reed looked like just another so-so forward for the Blue Demons. He seemed to flip a switch as the calendar flipped to 2019 and had moments of dominance against conference foes. In mid-January, Reed had three straight double-doubles and led DePaul to road wins over Seton Hall and St. John's. Think about that for a second: DePaul winning games on the road. Reed had five double-doubles in conference play and the Blue Demons won six conference games. He could help the team be actually competitive next season.
Tyler Bey, forward, Colorado Buffaloes
Bey had some bright moments as a freshman in 2017-18. He helped the Buffaloes knock off Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but the double-doubles remained in the minority. Go ahead one season and witness becoming a monster on the boards. The 6-7 forward has led Colorado with 9.5 boards. He is no slouch on offense with 12.8 points on 55.2 percent from the field. Bey has four double-doubles in his last five games and 12 dubs-dubs on the season. He and fellow sophomore McKinley Wright could help the team take control of the aimless Pac-12 next season.
Zylan Cheatham, forward, Arizona State Sun Devils
Fantasy players like me tend to overrate transfers who produced big numbers with their smaller schools. Sometimes, a player just needs a change of role to show off what they can do. Cheatham had a good two-year stint with San Diego State before moving east to the Sun Devils. Luguentz Dort may be the bigger name, but Cheatham has been a much more reliable option for ASU. The 6-8 senior has provided 11.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He capped his season with a triple-double in the win over Texas Southern on Dec. 1.
Breein Tyree, guard, Ole Miss Rebels
Maybe Tyree just needed coach Kermit Davis to come to Oxford so that the 6-2 guard could unlock his potential. Tyree was an inefficient gunner in his first two seasons under Andy Kennedy. As a junior, he took more shots and converted at a much higher level. He leads the team with 18.3 points and is hitting 48.4 percent from the field and 40.3 percent on 3-pointers. Tyree has not been held below 14 points in his last 10 games and had a season-high 31 points in the win over Georgia on Feb. 9. He might be a player to watch in the NCAA Tournament.
Jordan Geist, guard, Missouri Tigers
There will not be an NCAA Tournament appearance for the Tigers, who lost their best player Jontay Porter before the season. That opened up opportunities for the players like the 6-2 Geist. The senior provided a well-rounded season with 13.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He had his best game on Jan. 26 as the Tigers nearly tipped LSU in overtime. Geist had a streak of eight straight games with at least two 3-pointers, but has only hit 2-of-15 from long range in his last three games.
Shizz Alston, guard, Temple Owls
In his sophomore and junior seasons, Alston was a good player that was not really worthy of much fantasy attention. He has taken on a larger responsibility for the Owl offense as a senior and is scoring a team-leading 19.1 points with 5.1 assists. The 6-4 senior is helping Temple sneak toward the NCAA Tournament bubble with a string of five straight 20-point games. The team has won four of those games and six of their last eight. Temple has played four overtime in AAC play and won each of them.
Jarron Cumberland, guard, Cincinnati Bearcats
I was shocked in one of my leagues that does not use Tier 1 conferences that Cumberland went undrafted. My team was already stocked with guards, so I just couldn't fit him on the roster. I should have found a way because the 6-5 junior matured into a number one offensive option. He has become particularly deadly from long range and has hit 41.1 percent of his 3-pointers. He has cooled off of late and has only made one of his last 13 attempts from long range. Cumberland leads the Bearcats with 18.6 points despite the team playing at a glacial pace.
Lamontray Harris, guard, Morehead State Eagles
Harris has been on a steady climb in his four season with the Eagles. He curbed his tendency to foul just enough to stay on the court for a career-high 27.7 minutes. His production more than paralleled his climb in minutes. The 6-7 forward provided 13.6 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds. The Eagles were just 4-9 in non-conference play, but have rebounded to go 8-10 in OVC play. Harris has missed the last two games, so his modest breakout season may be over.
Larry Austin, guard, Central Michigan Chippewas
Coach Keno Davis gives his guards the green light to shoot as much as they want. A few years ago, Marcus Keene led the nation in scoring out of Central Michigan. Austin, who spent time at Xavier and Vanderbilt earlier in his collegiate career, has enjoyed a career season. The 6-2 senior went from lightly used bench player to main man of the Chippewa offense. He has amassed 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists to lead CMU to second place in the MAC West. Austin has six double-doubles, four with rebounds and two with assists.
Jordan Ford, guard, St. Mary's Gaels
After losing three starters, including big-time scorer Jock Landale, there were plenty of shots to be had for the holdovers in Moraga. Ford was glad to gobble up as many as he could and leads the Gaels with 21.5 points. St. Mary's generally has a stud in the paint such as Landale or Omar Samhan to lead the inside-outside offense. Things have changed for coach Randy Bennett, but Ford has been up to the task. Ford opened the season with three games of 23 points or more, including a season-high 35 points in the win over Utah Valley. He has scored at least 15 points in his last six games. Ford has hit an incredible 43.2 percent of his 3-pointers, despite being the focus of opposing defenses. While a win over Gonzaga in the WCC tournament is unlikely, it would send the Gaels back to the NCAA Tournament. Ford averaged 13.5 points in the regular season losses to the Zags.