Josh JacksonKelly Kline/Under Armour Often times, highly ranked freshman recruits are needed to make an instant impact and it isn’t always about the numbers that they can put up. Their minutes and numbers can be dependent on the players already on the roster they are joining and the level of competition they are stepping up […]
Often times, highly ranked freshman recruits are needed to make an instant impact and it isn’t always about the numbers that they can put up. Their minutes and numbers can be dependent on the players already on the roster they are joining and the level of competition they are stepping up to. But they can impact future recruiting and the job security of a coach. Of course, these days, some of these freshmen step in and are the best player on the team from day one.
Today, we take a look at 10 senior prospects who will be counted on to make an instant impact as freshmen during the 2016-17 season.
Committed to: Kansas
Why he’s needed right away: With the loss of Wayne Selden (to the draft) and Brannen Greene, Kansas has just under 43 minutes opening on the wing. They’ll also need to replace the 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game Selden and Greene accounted for. Jackson can’t play all of those minutes and replace all of their production, but he could come close. From a perception standpoint, it would also be big for Jackson to make an immediate and sizable impact. Competing programs have tried to cite relatively pedestrian first seasons out of recent highly recruited players like Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo against the Jayhawks in recruiting.
Committed to: UCLA.
Why he’s needed right away: It’s pretty tough to have watched UCLA the past few years and not seen some issues with their point guard situation. Bryce Alford is a very talented scorer, a great shooter and can be a good passer, but he’s had too much on his plate. Ball is the ultimate pass-first point guard — though he can score — and if he’s as advertised when it comes to getting others involved, the Bruins will be poised to make a big jump in the Pac-12 because their scorers are in place.
Committed to: Washington.
Why he’s needed right away: The loss of do-it-all guard DeJounte Murray to the NBA was a huge hit to a talented and exciting, but very young, Husky team that looked to be one year away from making big noise during their up-and-down 2015-16 season. The Huskies also lost power forward Marquese Chriss at least a year earlier than expected, but Murray was their primary ball handler and playmaker. Add in the loss of one of the program’s most prolific scorers ever in Andrew Andrews and they are desperate for Fultz to come in and play at a high level. The ball should be in his hands from day one and the setup is there for him to be one of the most productive freshmen in the country.
Committed to: Kentucky.
Why he’s needed right away: The loss of Tyler Ulis to the NBA Draft is a big hit for John Calipari and the Wildcats. Had Ulis returned for his junior season, he likely would have been a preseason All-American and a frontrunner for National Player of the Year. Instead of learning from one of the best, Fox is now going to have to learn on the fly and he’s likely going to be relied upon to play huge minutes. It’s looking like Isaiah Briscoemay be back for his sophomore season, which will help, and fellow freshman Malik Monk can help out some with ball-handling duties, but the ball is most likely going to be in Fox’s hands most of the time.
Committed to: Villanova.
Why he’s needed right away: The reigning national champions play a smaller lineup, but the departure of center Daniel Ochefu and his 7.5 rebounds per game is a big one. Quietly, Spellman could be one of the most important incoming freshman in America because he will give the Wildcats a low post rebounder and scorer that they won’t otherwise have.
Committed to: Auburn.
Why he’s needed right away: The hire of Bruce Pearl was universally praised, but his first few years have been a bit rocky as the Tigers have gone 26-40. A five-star prospect, Heron is the first true blue-chipper to select the Tigers under Pearl and they really need him to be a hit because they need more wins and because other big-time recruits will be seeing how it works out. Heron can score and handle a bit and is physically ready to make the leap to SEC play.
Las Vegas, NV
Committed to: Gonzaga.
Why he’s needed right away: The Zags loose an awful lot of size and production with the departures of Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis. A seven-footer, Collins could help to fill a huge void. He’s relatively lean but has a huge frame to hang muscle on and will arrive in Spokane as a skilled and fiery competitor. Gonzaga has never really been thought of as place where freshmen make big splashes, but Collins could change that.
Committed to: Michigan State.
Why he’s needed right away: All-American Denzel Valentine is gone and the Spartans have to find production out of the point guard position in his absence. Winston isn’t even the highest ranked member of the Spartans’ recruiting class, but because of the massive void created by Valentine’s departure, he’s probably the most important. A Michigan kid who is known as a winner, Winston will have every opportunity to play big minutes.
Committed to: St. John’s.
Why he’s needed right away: The bright side of things is that it would be pretty much impossible for year two of the Chris Mullin era to go worse than year one when the Red Storm went just 1-17 in the Big East. There is talent in the program, but who better to put them back on the map than a New York City native like Ponds who plays with flash, fire and a high-risk, high-reward style that could win the fanbase back over?
Committed to: Minnesota
Why he’s needed right away: Richard Pitino is entering year four at Minnesota and after three straight seasons of on-the-floor decline and off-the-floor troubles, his seat is likely hot. In Coffey, the Gophers have their most important incoming recruit of the Pitino era. Not only is he highly regarded and capable of being a productive wing scorer right off the bat, he’s local. If the Gophers are going to turn things around make themselves an attractive spot for local talent, how things go for Coffey could make or break them.
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