If we are paying attention to individual play in the opening night of the college basketball season, the nation’s eyes were in three different gyms to watch the top three freshman perform: Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Duke’s Jabari Parker, and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins.
Randle and Parker both impressed in their college debuts, and Wiggins did just the same in Kansas’ 80-63 win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Wiggins dropped in 16 points, while taking just nine shots from the field. He has an understanding of the game that not many college freshmen have, which makes his superior talent that much more potent — he’s as smooth of an operator as they come.
However, he wasn’t overly aggressive and didn’t look to dominate the game tonight against the Warhawks, even though he certainly could have if he elected to. While the nine shots attempted were a team-high for Kansas, Wiggins may have actually been too passive.
Chalk it up as his first collegiate game and not looking to do too much, but Wiggins has to understand he is the best player on Kansas and in the country. He should be looking for his shot and to score every time Kansas has the ball. Perhaps things will change when Kansas’ starting point guard Naadir Tharpe returns following his one game suspension for playing in a summer league game during the offseason.
Comparatively, Randle and Parker both took command in their respective games. Randle dropped in 23 points and attempted 13 free throws against UNC-Asheville, and Parker had 22 points against Davidson.
The notion of being a “ball hog” is a label no athlete wants to be tabbed, but there is such a thing as being too unselfish. In Kansas’ game against Jabari Parker and Duke on November 12th, don’t be surprised if Wiggins takes on much more of a scorer’s mentality.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.