Wednesday , Mar , 15 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Freshman on the go?

Usually not much is expected from freshman. Coaches hope that they can provide some occasional sparks to a game and some flashes of what’s to come as they mature, but times have changed. With Carmelo Anthony leading Syracuse to a championship as a freshman, and NBA scouts wanting to jump on a prospect before he comes a big time player, it’s not the same for incoming freshman. They’re now expected to contribute right away, because it could be their only year there. The age limit the NBA makes it to where they have to go to college for a year, but not beyond that. So while this is the time of year where they’re needed the most, their stocks can make the biggest rise, making coaches lose sleep on whether or not they’ll be lured in by the NBA.

Freshman on the go?

The coach that has to be the most worried is Coach K, who watched Luol Deng leave after his first year, with Josh McRoberts. Josh hasn’t been the major impact freshman that many thought he would be this year, but it hasn’t done much to his draft stock. He’s still a top 10 pick if he enters the draft this year, which doesn’t bode well for Duke. Next year Josh is set to take the role that Sheldon has now, the main post option, the position that he’d thrive at the most. If he chooses the NBA over being the man at Duke next year, Duke could have a tough time recovering. They’ve been in this position before though, and always seem to make out of it pretty good.

LSU’s coach John Brady is on record for extremely disliking scouts. Because of them, he lost standout PF Brandon Bass, who is stuck on the inactive list for the Oklahoma City Hornets. Bass would be the centerpiece to the LSU team this year, but instead freshman Tyrus Thomas has stepped up and picked up the slack, and now has NBA scouts talking about him. John Brady may have an advantage over the pro scouts with what’s happened to Brandon Bass however. He’s had Brandon speak to Tyrus several times to let them know the cons of coming out too early, which should help keep Tyrus in school at least another year.

The standout of the freshman class from a statistical standpoint is Tyler Handsbrough. Without T psycho as his teammates call him, UNC is likely having one of their worst years in recent memory. However, Tyler isn’t likely to be baited by the scouts as he’s a part of a great freshman class and will be the leader on next years team that has some of the nation’s top players coming in. Don’t be surprised if Tyler stays another two years as he’s definitely got a national championship on his mind.
Bill Self has to be worrying a little bit about Julian Wright’s late emergence as a major threat, but not as much as you’d expect. All American big man out of Texas, Darrell Arthur, seems like a lock to go to Kansas with Mike Davis quitting at seasons end at Indiana, his other school in his final list of 2. Bill Self can be worry free come tournament time if Julian Wright tears it up like he’s expected to do, because if he goes pro, he’s got Darrell Arthur coming in right behind him along with C.J Giles and Sasha Kaun, who will have another season of college basketball under their belt.
You can’t bring up stolen recruits without talking about Memphis’ coach John Calipari. He only got one year out of Dajuan Wagner, while top big men recruits Kendrick Perkins and Amare Stoudemire never made it on campus. This year he’s got one of the top freshman in the nation in Shawne Williams, who could make the jump because scouts are so high on him. However, Memphis is stacked with young talent and though the loss of Shawne would be a big blow, it’d be one they could withstand.
Not mentioned is Kansas freshman guard standout Brandon Rush. He was talked about as someone who may make the jump from HS to the pros all throughout his senior season but after struggling in workouts and pre draft camps, wisely went to Kansas. Bill Self probably came to terms with Brandon being a one in done from the moment he signed the scholarship papers.