Freshmen Focus: Who to watch in 2012

While most college coaches have been hitting the road and attending the summer all-star recruiting camps, Mayo and I decided to give a quick run-down on a bunch of formerly sought-after recruits who will be freshmen in the fall.The 2011 Class was loaded with talent and many will become instant household-names (if they aren’t already). But we’ll also look at a couple of the more intriguing recruits and a few sleepers too.

Best Incoming

Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky:

Davis will give the Wildcats another weapon in the post.

I’m taking Kentucky’s Anthony Davis here. Davis is many people’s consensus #1 recruit of this year’s class, so I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Davis’ combination of size and athleticism is tantalizing, and what’s more: he’s an impact guy on both ends of the floor. What will be interesting to me is how Davis will fit in with incumbent power forward Terrence Jones, who decided to stay at Kentucky for his sophomore year. Jones’ presence might curtail some of Davis’ impact as a freshman, but there is no doubt about the talent that he brings to the table. John Calipari will have one of those good problems of figuring out how to use both effectively at the same time. (Mayo)

James McAdoo, PF, North Carolina: The McDonald’s All-American Game MVP is an athletic specimen who like Davis can dominate on offense and defense. I’ve said before that McAdoo’s joining a loaded Tar Heel team that is very deep in the front court (Zeller, Henson, Barmes); but that’s not going to prevent the explosive McAdoo from seeing the court. He’s just too talented not to. Roy Williams has had deep teams before and he usually experiments a lot during November and December before finding a rotation he likes for conference play. Expect to see McAdoo getting 25-plus minutes and a spot on the NCAA All-Freshmen Team. (Giblin)

Biggest Impact

Tony Wroten, PG, Washington: Isaiah Thomas was the key spark for the Huskies when Abdul Gady went down with an injury last year but declared early for the draft leaving a void to be filled by the powerful lefty. Washington has some depth in the backcourt but Wroten, former Husky Nate Robinson’s cousin, has the size and skills to start at the point from day 1. He’s a legit 6’4” who uses his size well and distributes the ball very well. He’ll make an immediate impact and his play will go a long way toward’s deciding the champs of the Pac-10 (12?). Any guy who crosses up John Wall this bad is going to have a BIG impact (Green #1, 0:30 mark…might want to mute that horrendous music). (Giblin)

Austin Rivers, SG, Duke: Duke’s Austin Rivers is another headline grabber, so this isn’t necessarily a creative choice either, but given how much offense Duke lost from last year’s team, I think they will rely very heavily on Rivers to create his own offense. Thus, I very much expect Rivers to have a big freshman season on the offensive end, and out all the incoming freshmen in the 2011 class, he is probably most ready to take on a role like this. Rivers’ offensive game is extremely refined already (doesn’t hurt to be the son of a former NBA legend and head coach), and his offensive versatility really makes him a lethal scorer. With shooters around him (Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins) and guys who don’t mind just pounding the offensive glass (the Plumlee brothers, and by the way there is another one on the way to Duke also), Rivers will be in prime position to make a gigantic impact in year one at Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Mayo)

Will Jeff's little brother keep everyone happy in Lexington?

Most Intriguing

Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky: Kentucky’s Marquis Teague is widely considered the top-rated point guard in this class, and he is headed to a Kentucky program that boasts three of the top seven and four of the top 18 recruits in the ESPNU 100, plus they have a NBA lottery-lock in Terrence Jones returning. OK–so what’s the problem? Well, Teague, is going to be in the precarious situation of running the team from the point guard position, and when there is so much youth around, there are inevitably going to be growing pains. Teague finds himself in the position of probably being the most important player on the team, even though guys like Jones, Davis, and Michael Gilchrist will get some more publicity. Keeping all the stars around him happy will  be a high priority and will be a big key to the team’s success. (Mayo)

Cody Zeller, C, Indiana:  Tom Crean knew that picking up Kelvin Sampson’s mess at Indiana was going to be a challenge; I don’t think he knew it was going to be this difficult. In his first three seasons, he’s has gone 28-66 and won a mere 8 conference games. Yikes. Enter Zeller. Younger brother of UNC’s big man Tyler Zeller, Cody is the highest rated recruit to enter Bloomington under Crean’s watch and the pressure to perform will start from the opening tip. How will this Zeller handle the load? Besides forward Christian Wofford, there is quite a void of established talent. If he lives up to his expectations and helps Indiana rise from the cellar of the B1G, he will be a god in the Hoosier state. If not, he’ll be known as the “bad” Zeller brother. (Giblin)

Sleepers

Jabarie Hinds, PG, West Virginia:

Huggy Bear has found another NYC gamer in Hinds.

Very hard to consider a top-100 recruit (#93) a sleeper, but bear with me. Huggy-bear continues to work the New York City area to find his future Mountaineers and Hinds will replace the often inconsistent Joe Mazzula. This lefty has some serious burners and can push the ball with the best of them. He also is an active defender that will make him an instant contributor. There are concerns that he can be a little turnover-prone because of his aggressiveness, but Huggins is the type of coach who can reel him in a bit and turn him into an All-Big East player eventually. Don’t be suprised if Hinds is running the point for another Final Four West Virginia team in a few years. (Giblin)

Ryan Anderson, SF/PF, Boston College: BC’s Ryan Anderson enters a situation where the team is more-or-less starting over, and he is going to be the man from Day 1 on The Heights. He’s ranked #90 in the ESPNU Top 100, but you rarely hear his name in national recruiting conversations. The intriguing part is how good of a fit he can be in Steve Donahue’s offense, which values stretch big men who can step out and hit threes. That’s exactly what Anderson does. BC might have a year or two of rebuilding struggles ahead of them, but look for Anderson to be a guy who stays and eventually become a big time player in the ACC. As much as Anderson intrigues me as a player in his own right, his fit within Donahue’s offense is even more intriguing. (Mayo)

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One response to “Freshmen Focus: Who to watch in 2012

  1. Pingback: Coaches Facing Uphill Battles : Toughest Assignments for 2012 | Every Month Should Be March

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