One of the my favorite columns of the year comes every August from Luke Winn, who has managed to put together a formula that he uses to predict which freshman will have breakout seasons as sophomores based on a formula: high-usage rates, efficient production, and limited minutes in their first year on campus.
This year’s crop features three big men that were quite promising when they saw the floor last season, a couple of under-the-radar forwards from low profile teams and Sam Dekker, a former McDonald’s all-american that now plays at Wisconsin.
There’s not much to disagree with on Winn’s list, but there are a couple of other names worth mentioning here.
The first is Louisville big man Montrezl Harrell. Harrell played limited minutes behind Gorgui Dieng last season, but with the big fella off to the NBA, the former Virginia Tech-signee has had a whole bunch of minutes open up for him. Harrell was quite impressive in short stretches during Louisville’s run to the national title last season, averaging 5.7 points and 3.6 boards, and carried that over to the summer, as he was one of the best players on Team USA’s U19 team that played in the Czech Republic.
He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic and he plays hard. Harrell doesn’t have a ton of moves on the block and he’s not the passer that Dieng was, but he’ll rebound and block shots and finish off breaks in transition. I expect Harrell to have a big year and be a constant source of energy for Rick Pitino.
Another player that I liked last season was Cal freshman Ty Wallace. A lanky, 6-foot-4 guard, Wallace averaged 7.2 points, 4.4 boards and 2.6 assists despite sharing the perimeter with Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. Crabbe’s off to the NCAA and Cobbs is dealing with a broken foot. The opportunity is there for Wallace to step in and make a major impact this season, and I expect him to take advantage of it.
Neither of those guys fit into Winn’s formula, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone outside of Louisville and Berkeley that doesn’t think they can have a big year as a sophomore.
Besides, Winn’s formula isn’t perfect.