October 18, 2011
As practice gets underway for the 2011-12 season we always hear about the highly-touted arrivals on campuses around the country. We know about Kentucky’s star-studded freshmen; Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague joining sophomore sensation Terrence Jones. Connecticut’s DeAndre Daniels, Michael Bradley (the redshirt freshman will miss six weeks with a broken foot) and Andre Drummond will help the defending champs reload. Travis and David Wear become eligble at UCLA after leaving North Carolina providing a big boost to the Bruin frontcourt. There are under-the-radar additons all across the country that could have a big impact on their new teams. Let’s start with a couple of impact freshman; Myck Kabongo of Texas and Trey Burke of Michigan. Kabongo follows the Rick Barnes Canadian pipeline that produced NBA first rounders Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. Kabongo just has to come in and replace Longhorn mainstay Dogus Balbay at the point and should become the immediate floor general of one of the youngest rosters in the country, seven freshmen including Sterling Gibbs, the younger brother of Pittsburgh star Ashton Gibbs. There will surely be growing pains, but the Longhorn season will rely heavily on how its freshmen, Kabongo specifically adjust to life in the new look Big 12.
One freshman who might have an easier transistion into college life, but could have a very big impact by season’s end is Trey Burke at Michigan. The Wolverines lost its star Darius Morris to the NBA but has an experienced base for Burke to wet his feet with. Michigan returns senior stalwart Zach Novak as well as a trio of improving sophomores in Jordan Morgan, Evan Smotrycz and leading scorer Tim Hardaway, Jr. Burke may not get the playing time initially, but don’t be surprised if coach John Belein hands over to the keys to the Michigan car at some point this season.
As is the case every season transfers join programs and hope to add and instant spark without the freshman growin pains. Mike Rosario, Olu Ashaolu and Mike Moser hope to do just that for Florida, Oregon and UNLV respectively. Rosario joins Billy Donovan’s program after two very productive seasons at Rutgers (averaging 16.7 ppg as a sophomore). Rosario joins Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, sophomore surprise Scottie Wilbekin and freshman sensation Brad Beal to give the Gators the SEC’s deepest backcourt. The former Rutgers standout should also help alleviate some of the offensive void left by SEC do everything Player-of-the-Year Chandler Parsons.
Speaking of instant offense, that is what Oregon coach Dana Altman hopes he gets from Louisiana Tech transfer Olu Ashaolu who averaged 14.2 ppg and 9.4 rpg last season. Ashaolu should help take some of the offensive load off of E.J. Singler (the Ducks’ leading returning starter). Also helping get Oregon into the upper have of the PAC-12 are Devoe Joseph a transfer from Minnesota, eligible in December and 6- 4 freshman Jabari Brown. Things look to be improving in Eugene for Altman and company.
Staying out west former UCLA forward Mike Moser joins new coach Dave Rice at UNLV. Moser follows in the footsteps of fellow UCLA transfer Chace Stanback to Vegas. Moser should immediately help in three desperate areas, inside scoring, toughness and rebounding. As Quintrell Thomas, Brice Massamba and Carlos Lopez averaged just 15ppg and 9rpg in the middle for the Rebels last season. Deficiencies that reared their ugly heads in a first round loss in the NCAA Tournament that saw the three big men amass 11 points and eight rebounds. Moser should help stabalize the front line as coach Rice tries to bring the Runnin’ Rebels back.
While the Kentuckys, Connecticuts and North Carolinas get the ink, there are plenty of examples of new faces in new places that will have a big impact on their new teams’ and the success they have in 2011-12. These are just a few names to keep in mind as we pepare to toss it up for another season.?