A lot goes in to being an immediate contributor as a freshman at the college level. Of course first and foremost is natural talent, but there is more to the equation than just talent. Hard work, physicality, depth at a position, and the ability to pick up a college system all go into making an early impact. Here are six players who should have no problem getting big minutes and putting up numbers as a freshman.
Easily the most college ready player in this class is Austin Rivers. There is absolutely no substitute for being able to score the basketball, and Rivers is clearly the best there is at doing it in 2011. Rivers can score from a variety of places on the floor, and that leads to playing time on the court.
Much like players such as Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Wayne Ellington before him, look for Rivers to be a double-figure scorer from the moment he steps on Duke’s campus, and that alone makes him a valuable commodity going forward.
Aside from being able to simply put the ball in the basket, Rivers also has an advanced understanding of the game. His father is an NBA Coach, so he knows everything there is to know about basketball. Also when he puts his mind to it he has the capability of being a lockdown defender, and playing good defense is a must at Duke.
In a different way Adonis Thomas is also college ready. The small forward headed to Memphis should find himself on the floor logging big minutes and making a major impact from day one.
Thomas will get it done in differently than Rivers. For Thomas he will be on the floor because of his rebounding, hustle, athleticism, and defense. Coaches love a player who is able to guard multiple positions and that gives 100 percent on each and every possession. That is exactly what Thomas will do, and oh yeah he will mix in tip dunks, open threes, and garbage buckets as well.
Beyond that the depth chart is favorable for Thomas. Memphis has players like Wesley Witherspoon and Jelan Kendrick potentially ahead of him at the forward positions, but both of them are more finesse players. Thomas is a power athlete, and that difference will have him ready to contribute right away.
In general most college coaches don’t like putting a true freshman in charge of their team, but out in Arizona Sean Miller will have no choice once Josiah Turner makes it to town. Turner is a five-star floor general who should be given the keys to the Wildcats offense right away.
Rivers will have an immediate impact
Currently Arizona has two combo guards, Lamont Jones and Jordin Mayes, on their roster splitting the point guard duties, but when Turner arrives that should change. Turner has the size, athletic ability, feel for the game, and explosiveness necessary to be a day one starter, and in a point guard friendly system he should put up major numbers.
Another player who should excel right away is Rodney Hood. By staying close to home and picking the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Hood put himself in position to have a very early impact on the college game.
After this season Mississippi State is going to lose Ravern Johnson, and Hood looks primed to step in and take his spot on the wing. Hood is a big and skilled small forward who can score from all three levels on the floor, and also has the ability to be an excellent defender. His talent and a clear void at his position on the roster has him ready to produce from day one.
In the Atlantic 10, Erik Copes should be a force from day one for George Washington. The Colonials went into Philadelphia to snag Copes, and Coach Karl Hobbs will benefit from it greatly.
Ever since the departure of Pops Mensah-Bonsu, George Washington has been looking for a dominant interior presence. They now have one with Copes. Copes is physically ready for the college game right now, knows how to rebound, and could be a starter from day one.
Turner should start from day one
Possibly more important than just being a starter, he should be a go to option very early on in his college career, and that will mean a lot of post touches. With Copes a lot of early touches should lead to high point totals, and potentially high win totals for the Colonials.
Finally there is the case of Mike Shaw. Sometimes criticized for his play during his school years, Shaw looks like he should be ready to log big minutes right away.
When Shaw arrives in Champaign the Illini will only have Tyler Griffey to compete with at the power forward position. With Shaw’s ability to rebound the basketball at a high level on both ends of the floor combined with his athleticism and college ready body, he should make an impact for Illinois right away.
Now he won’t be a big scorer as a freshman, and probably will never be a huge impact scorer in college, but Shaw’s rebounding and big minutes should have him in the good graces of Illini fans from day one.
Every year numerous freshmen around the country come in and make a big impression. These six with their combination of skills and opportunity should be amongst the group that opens eyes.