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Top Incoming Freshmen

November 11, 2003 Columns No Comments


The Top Incoming Freshmen

by Phil Kasiecki

Every year, a class of talented newcomers blesses the world of college basketball with their presence. Seemingly with each year, more and more freshman are in the national spotlight as key contributors. This is due in part to more and more players leaving school early for the NBA Draft, but the players coming into college are still great talents on their own merits.

Last year there was no shortage of freshmen who were immediate contributors, and stars in some cases. Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara led Syracuse to the national championship. Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May brought life back to North Carolina. Dee Brown, Deron Williams and James Augustine supported senior Brian Cook as Illinois had a big season. Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh helped Florida become the nation’s number one team at one point. J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams were among the better players on a young Duke team. Chris Bosh showed a world of potential in helping Georgia Tech get back to the postseason, with help from fellow freshman point guard Jarrett Jack. Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala were key parts of Arizona’s very deep team. Antoine Wright brought excitement to Texas A&M, as they had their most successful season under Melvin Watkins. Keydren Clark was among the nation’s top scorers as the lone bright spot for St. Peter’s. As usual, there were also the great unknowns who shined in low-profile conferences, like Montana guard Kevin Criswell, St. Francis (Pa.) guard Darshan Luckey, Grambling guard Brion Rush, and Albany guard Jamar Wilson.

On that note, we introduce some of the top newcomers for the 2003-04 season. Once again, many freshmen will have to take on pivotal roles for their teams, and will be a big part of whether the team plays as well as it is capable of or not. In some cases, a top freshman might be the missing piece for a team. Here is a look at twelve of the best freshmen we will see in college basketball this season.

Brandon Bass, F, LSU
A homegrown talent and the cornerstone of an excellent class, this strong and athletic combo forward could lead the young Tigers in scoring.

Andrew Bogut, F, Utah
After dominating the Junior World Championships this summer, the Australian native will give the Utes a big boost in the frontcourt.

Luol Deng, F, Duke
Deng is a winner who won’t make highlight-film plays; he just plays the game, and he does it well. He might put Duke over the top in the quest for the national title.

Kris Humphries, F, Minnesota
After being released from Duke and cleared to play, he can now take over for Rick Rickert on the hometown team.

Alexander Johnson, F-C, Florida State
Capping the Seminoles’ big class, he will give them a much-needed boost in the frontcourt and may help lead them back to the NCAA Tournament.

Michael Jones, G, Maryland
With four starters gone, the Terrapins will need freshmen to contribute immediately. Jones is the best of them, an athletic scorer and good shooter.

Andrew Lavender, G, Oklahoma
The Sooners are starting over in the backcourt, but the diminutive and ultra-quick Lavender will help ease the transition.

Cartier Martin, G, Kansas State
He could be the best player the Wildcats have had since Mitch Richmond. He gives them an instant scoring boost on the wing.

David Padgett, C, Kansas
The latest in a long line of top big men to play in Lawrence, he is a solid presence and can score inside and facing the basket. He’ll start and contribute right away.

Chris Paul, G, Wake Forest
He’ll take over the point guard spot immediately, and the Demon Deacons won’t miss a beat with his leadership.

Leon Powe, F, California
Fully recovered from a torn ACL before his senior year, Powe is a warrior and will instantly strengthen the Golden Bears’ front line.

Mustafa Shakur, G, Arizona
The Wildcats lost four-year starter Jason Gardner, but will be fine with the pass-first Shakur running the show. At 6’3″, he also presents matchup problems.

Other freshmen to keep an eye on:

Trevor Ariza, F, UCLA
Sean Banks, F, Memphis
Art Bowers, G, Massachusetts
Ronnie Brewer, F, Arkansas
Dwight Brewington, G, Providence
Michael Brock, F, Eastern Kentucky
Aaron Brooks, G, Oregon
Shannon Brown, G, Michigan State
Dion Dacons, F, Temple
Bennett Davis, F, Northeastern
Guillermo Diaz, G, Miami
Quincy Douby, G, Rutgers
Jared Dudley, F, Boston College
Olu Famutimi, F, Arkansas
J.R. Giddens, G-F, Kansas
Dion Harris, G, Michigan
Kenneth Harris, C, Valparaiso
Linas Kleiza, F, Missouri
Regis Koundjia, F, LSU
Demeon Mason, F, Marquette
Cartier Martin, G, Kansas State
Jimmie Miles, G, Valparaiso
Tyrone Nelson, F, Prairie View
Demetris Nichols, F, Syracuse
Derek Ravio, G, Gonzaga
Brian Randle, F, Illinois
Chris Richard, F, Florida
Terrence Roberts, F, Syracuse
Oumar Sylla, G, Valparaiso
Chris Taft, C, Pittsburgh
Ayinde Ubaka, G, California
Vakeaton Wafer, G-F, Florida State
Walter Waters, F-C, Cleveland State
Charlie Villanueva, F, Connecticut

     

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