Ten freshmen who exceeded their expectations to impact college basketball in the 2019-20 season


Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr. won CBS Sports’ Freshman of the Year award, and deservedly so. The 6-foot-10 center led one of the nation’s best programs with a season befitting of the No. 6 ranking in the 2019 class that he received from 247Sports. 

But for all the top prospects who made an immediate impact on college basketball as freshmen and earned accolades and NBA Draft hype such as Carey, there were dozens more who flew under the radar out of high school and exceeded expectations this year.

Here are 10 unheralded prospects who outplayed their recruiting rankings to make an impact on college basketball in the 2019-20 season:

Miles McBride, West Virginia

McBride’s list of power conference offers consisted of one school, according to 247Sports. It was West Virginia, and McBride rewarded coach Bob Huggins’ belief in him by providing the Mountaineers with stellar play off the bench as a freshman. The 6-2 guard finished the season averaging 9.5 points and 1.1 steals per game. It might be too early to proclaim him the next Jevon Carter, but McBride certainly outplayed his No. 301 overall ranking in the 2019 class. Carter went on to become an all-time great at West Virginia after he was ranked No. 299 in the 2014 class. Carter’s career at WVU began in a similar bench role to the one McBride played this season.

C.J. Frederick, Iowa

Frederick’s production tapered off a bit down the stretch. But all things considered, his redshirt freshman season exceeded the expectations of a player ranked No. 242 in the 2018 class. The 6-3 shooting guard shot 46.1% from 3-point range, a record for an Iowa freshman. Fredrerick finished the year averaging 10.2 points and 2.8 assists per game.

Julian Champagnie, St. John’s

Julian’s twin brother Justin received more recruiting hype and put together a solid freshman season at Pitt. But Julian, who was unranked by 247Sports as a prospect, landed in the Big East and proved he’s an upper-echelon college basketball talent as well. The 6-7 wing averaged 9.8 points, 6.3 rebounds per game for St. John’s and earned a starting role as the season went on.

Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt

The 6-foot Vanderbilt guard quickly proved that his spot in the starting lineup for a power conference team was because of his ability and not because of his name. The son of Bulls legend Scottie Pippen averaged 12.3 points per game in SEC play on 37.7% 3-point shooting. He was considered just a three-star prospect and the No. 213 overall prospect in the 2019 class, according to 247Sports.

Caleb Mills and Marcus Sasser, Houston

Recruiting rankings be darned, Houston won the AAC this season with a pair of three-star freshmen guards playing key roles. Leading scorer Caleb Mills was the No. 199 prospect in the 2019 class and averaged 13.2 points per game while mostly coming off the bench. Marcus Sasser, who was the No. 399 prospect in the class, averaged 8.1 points per game. The duo combined for 36 of the team’s 68 points in a crucial AAC victory over Cincinnati on March 1.

Noah Freidel, South Dakota State

Even though Noah Friedel was unranked by 247Sports as a prospect, South Dakota State signed him and he showed out as a freshman. Freidel won Summit League Freshman of The Year award while averaging 12.2 points on 39.5% 3-point shooting for a team that finished 13-3 in league play. He scored 35 points on 7-of-14 3-point shooting in the Jackrabbits’ loss to Purdue-Fort Wayne in the Summit League Tournament.

Amari Davis, Green Bay

Ranked No. 389 nationally as a prospect in the 2019 class, Davis brought an unorthodox but effective style to Green Bay as a freshman. He helped lead a team that finished 11-7 in the Horizon League by averaging 15.9 points a game. But unlike most 6-3 guards, Davis relied almost solely on 2-point shots. He attempted just eight 3-pointers all season and missed all of them. But Davis hit 52.4% of his 2-pointers and surpassed 20 points eight times.

Tanner Holden, Wright State

Holden stuffed the stat sheet for a Wright State team that won the Horizon League’s regular-season title with a 15-3 league record. The unranked prospect stepped in to a starting role in the season’s second game and averaged 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting an incredibly efficient 61.1% from the floor, including 42.4% from 3-point range.

Rob Perry, Stetson

Perry stepped in as an unranked prospect following a year at 4A Sports Academy in Orlando, Florida, and immediately helped reverse the fortunes of a Stetson program that finished 7-24 the season before. With Perry and fellow freshman Mahamadou Diawara playing starring roles, the Hatters finished 9-7 in the Atlantic Sun under first-year coach Donnie Jones. Perry averaged 15.1 points per game and hit 42.6% of his 3-pointers.





Source link