Beyond Beasley: Underrated Freshmen

February 25th, 2008

The success of the current freshmen class has been well documented. Between Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, Jerryd Bayless, Donte Green, and O.J. Mayo, the class boasts plenty of future lottery picks and likely NBA stars. Even the second-tier of players, guys like Jonny Flynn, Kyle Singler and Nick Calathes, have made major impacts, and will likely be suiting up for NBA squads sometime in the near future.

But there's another group of guys deserving of a little recognition also. Guys who maybe weren't considered "can't miss" prospects are making a huge impact on their teams as well. Here's a list of some players who might have been overlooked on the national stage, but who are making their fans plenty happy.

Robbie Hummel, F Purdue

A multi-talented forward, Hummel has been one of the keys to the Boilermakers surprising run this season. Although not a fantastic athlete, Hummel's combination of size and ball skills make him a tough match-up and his hard-nosed style of play has endeared him to fans. In a big home win over Michigan State, Hummel not only dropped 24 points, but he also provided the highlight of the game with his hustle. Chasing down a missed shot, Hummel managed to save it to a teammate as he was leaping out of bounds. Never once breaking stride, he came back-in bounds, spotted up at the three-point line, received the pass and drilled the shot, setting off the fans. With fellow freshmen E'Twaun Moore and Scott Martin also chipping in, these Boilers are going to be heard from for a long time.

Patrick Mills, G St, Mary

St. Mary's fans were plenty excited for "Patty" to join the team, and he hasn't left them disappointed. Mills, a slight point guard with excellent ball skills, was named Australia's Under-21 Player of the Year prior to this year, and he's quickly shown why. Mills leads the team in scoring at just over 15 points per game, including outbursts of 23 against Gonzaga and 37 against Oregon. Even more important, the Gaels are sitting at 23-3, and have found themselves in the Top 25 for most of the season. Mills may not possess Rose's athleticism, or Bayless' scoring ability, but there's little doubt the Gaels are pleased with their freshman point.

A.J. Ogilvy, C Vanderbilt

Like Mills, Vandy fans knew plenty about this recruit heading into the season, even if most of the basketball world didn’t. Ogilvy, a smooth center with a polished post game, has turned in a fantastic freshman campaign, averaging just over 17 points per game while helping Vandy to 23-4 record. Like fellow Aussie and former National Player of the Year Andrew Bogut, Ogilvy has tremendous body control under the basket, and his ball skills make him a tough match-up for most other bigs. Although not a fantastic athlete, he is a smart player who typically plays with the poise of an upperclassman…no surprise considering his performance at the Under-19 FIBA World Championships last summer, where he posted six double-doubles in nine games. Ogilvy’s size and talent have him fairly high on the NBA radar, but Vandy fans are hoping they can enjoy him a little longer.

Austin Daye, F Gonzaga

Gonzaga has always attracted elite talent who may have slipped just below the radar, and Daye is the perfect example of that. The son of former NBA player Darren Daye, Austin boasts a game similar to last year’s Player of the Year Kevin Durant, yet was lightly recruited compared to the Beasleys and Mayos. A lithe 6’10” forward, Daye has range that extends to the three-point line, and he also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. His averages of 11 points and just under five rebounds on a balanced squad don’t do justice to his overall talent. Like many freshman, Daye has had his ups and downs as he adjusts the speed of the college game, but there’s no doubt he’s a special player. His small frame may be a hindrance at the next level, but for now, he’s got the makings of a future college star.

Chris Warren, G Mississippi

Another point guard who took a backseat to Rose and Bayless, Warren has been the catalyst for a surprising Ole Miss squad that zoomed to 13 straight victories to open the season. Lightly recruited largely because of his size (5’10”), Warren has more than held his own against bigger guards all season, posting averages of 15 points and nearly five assists per game. Included among those averages are a 24-point effort against Tennessee, 26 points against Arkansas, and a 20-point showing in a big win over Vandy. With the secret out, Warren will no longer sneak up on anybody, but with his talent, he may not have to.