Eugene Harvey All Stars (Outstanding Performance on Bad Team)
G Corey Chandler, Rutgers
G LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
F Craig Brackins, Iowa State
F James Harden, Arizona State
C Mac Koshwal, DePaul
Ryan Anderson and Ishmael Smith also could have provided the namesake for this team full of stud freshmen doomed to languish in mediocrity. I think Chandler’s numbers could emulate Harvey’s pretty closely. He’s a better shooter than Harvey but probably not the same playmaker. Fred Hill’s first recruiting class is a good one and it’s not crazy to think that Chandler, the centerpiece of the class, will be the main component of the rebuilding process. (For some reason there’s an inordinate amount of YouTube video on Chandler, if you’re into that sort of thing).
Baylor continues to make progress on the recruiting trails and Dunn could be the best recruit they have landed in awhile. Bruce and Jerrells will run this team but a big-time scorer like Dunn should get plenty of looks.
Wesley Johnson was another guy who had a monster freshman year for a struggling Iowa State team and Brackins could replicate that performance. It will be interesting to see how both players are used this year. The Cyclones are in a position where any talent needs to be on the court as much as possible, but that will probably involve playing Brackins, at 6-9, on the perimeter. He’s an amazing athlete but isn’t half the rebounder that Johnson is. If his outside game develops and both can see 30 minutes per game, Iowa State could have the best forward tandem in the Big 12 going into the future. Oh and Brackins has decided to grace us with a never-failing source of entertainment: “The Ridiculous Athlete MySpace Profile.” Always a good time.
Harden is the key cog to what should be a very quick turnaround for Herb Sendek and the Sun Devils. They probably won’t make the NCAAs in a brutal Pac-10 this year but Harden will get plenty of opportunities to make a mark on the league. He has good size for a college wing and has a wide array of scoring moves, highlighted by a jump shot that he gets off whenever he wants. Besides his talent, many scouts rave about his ability in the clutch, his heady approach to the game and his ability to break down defenses without being that athletic. If you’re looking for a surprise Pac-10 freshman scoring leader, it could be Harden.
Depaul was solid last year but can blame graduation and Isiah Thomas’ ineptitude for the loss of its two best players, Sammy Mejia and first-round pick Wilson Chandler. So a surprisingly outstanding recruiting class, headed by Koshwal, will have a hard time reaching 20 wins again. Koshwal is going to get his numbers, especially on the glass, where he is already a Big East-caliber rebounder. His offensive game is essentially predicated on his athleticism and is more perimeter-oriented than you would think for a guy his size. To be what the Blue Demons need, he will have to develop into a post presence and he should have plenty of minutes to try and do so.
Tajuan Porter All Stars (BCS Sleepers)
G Javier Gonzalez, NC State
G Scott Christopherson, Marquette
F Jarryd Cole, Iowa
F Sean Williams, Syracuse
C Andrew Ogilvy, Vanderbilt
These are all shots in the dark. Sifting through every moderately rated freshman is not a particularly exciting endeavor, so this is my best shot given the players I know about. Predicting who will get minutes and thrive is about as difficult as predicting Porter would drop 27, 28 and 38 in his first three college games. Anyways, I’m not looking so much at stats with these guys as I am impact. None of these players received more than a three-star rating from Scout or Rivals (who makes their own picks here).
Unfortunately Gonzalez will be giving his competitors a head start in the Wolfpack’s nebulous point guard battle to replace Engin Atsur. He broke his thumb and should miss the first month of the season. But when he comes back, Gonzalez will have a chance to beat out a couple of inexperienced transfers, sophomore Farnold Degand (Iowa State) and Marques Johnson (Tennessee, eligible mid-season), neither of whom have ever started a college basketball game. He’s not much of a scorer, but he should have plenty of an impact just feeding NC State’s talented frontcourt.
Quite simply, Cole is a big dude. At 6-7 and a solid 230 pounds, he has to be the odds-on favorite of this class to be the next Antonio Gates. He isn’t a skilled scorer or post option but he’s exactly the type of guy that will earn minutes in the Big Ten for his defense and rebounding (think a poor man’s Jeff Adrien). For instance, in this highlight clip, rather than show him dunking or swatting a shot, the most important play he makes is breaking some poor kid’s nose fighting for a rebound. You know Todd Lickliter will find a place for him.
A lot has been made of the Orange’s thin front line resulting from Terence Roberts and Darryl Watkins’ departure, but quite frankly, they sucked. Roberts and Watkins’ frequent mental mistakes, turnovers and foul trouble probably kept the Orange out of the tournament last year, not the non-conference schedule. Boeheim will now turn to three freshmen to lock down the back line of the 2-3 zone and Williams, the least hyped of the incoming class, could be the key. At 6-11, he is the biggest player on the team and should be the best shot blocker because of his athleticism. The minutes won’t be there at first, but if the zone begins to struggle, Williams will have a big role.
manhandling the Under 19 World Championships, the Aussie Ogilvy probably
isn’t much of a sleeper anymore. He shot 70 percent from the field, 80 percent
from the line, had six double-doubles in nine games and his low scoring contest
was 16 (we’re going to take that 10 turnover performance and neatly sweep in the
under the rug). After the performance, his name was
all over the
NBA radar. Is he a project? Yes. Could he be the difference between a
first-round exit and a deep NCAA run for Vandy? You bet. Oh, and get ready for
plenty of Andrew Bogut comparisons, hopefully he doesn’t share the same
Christopherson looks like one of those creepy kids from low-budget horror movies, but I’m certain he’s going to be the guy who hits like seven threes against Syracuse’s zone and pisses off other fans around the Big East as “The Kid Who You Wouldn’t Take In A Pick-up Game But Can Actually Ball” (carrying the torch from Mike Nardi). Marquette could use a shooter and someone to occasionally play point and move Dominic James off the ball and that’s exactly what Christopherson should provide. If it doesn’t work out for Christopherson, fellow Golden Eagle Trevor Mbakwe could be a member of this team by year’s end anyway.