Mid Major Freshman To Look Out For
by Nick Parsons
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In 2006 a point guard with NBA pedigree ended up at little known Davidson. The three star recruit surprised everyone by leading his team to a 29-5 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. They weren't a bad bet either going 21-9-1 ATS.
Mid Major Freshman To Look Out For:
Everyone this year is waiting to see how well people like John Wall and Derrick Favors will do, but bettors may get more value in finding the next Stephen Curry. NBA talent at small schools catches everyone off guard, even oddsmakers.
With being said here are a couple freshman at mid majors that look to have a big impact this season.
Aaric Murray C, LA Salle
La Salle finished a mediocre 18-13 last year and hasn't been to an NCAA tournament since 1992, but Head Coach John Giannini hopes to change his school's fortunes with the signing of Aaric Murray.
Rated the 6th best center out of high school, the 6'10 freshman could have easily signed with a bigger school, but instead choose La Salle. Murray did not play organized basketball until 2007, but he's a huge offensive threat and he runs the floor well
With his signing La Salle is expected to make a run at the Atlantic 10 title and Murray won't have to do it alone either, all key players from last year return including NBA talent Rodney Green.
Murray performed well in his first game with 16 points and a team high 11 rebounds against Hampton.
Zeke Marshall C, Akron
The skinny 7'0 218 lbs freshman is regarded as the highest profile recruit ever for the MAC conference and posses all the tools to play in the NBA. Scouts love his passing and shot block ability as he averaged eight blocks a game in high school
Zeke Marshall was rated the 43rd best prospect by rivals.com and was offered scholarships from Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.
Akron returns four starters from last year's team that won the MAC Conference Tournament and gave Gonzaga a tough time in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament, which should make the transition easy for the freshman
It looks like Marshall will be slowly worked into the starting lineup, but look for him to have a big impact in mid season. In 24 minutes off the bench, he scored 10 points and had 12 rebounds in his debut.
Kawhi Leonard SF, San Diego State
Coming off a 26-10 season head coach Steve Fisher is expecting a lot from his new recruits which is seen as the best mid major class this year. Although not up to the caliber of his fab five team at Michigan, Fisher does have a gem in Leonard who won California's Mr. Basketball and was the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year.
The 6'7 225 pound small forward has good overall skills with the ability to defend guards and post players. Leonard is known for leading his team in an upset over high school powerhouse Mater Dei, who was undefeated at the time and had the 6'9 Wear twins (who both signed with North Carolina)
With four starters missing from last year, Leonard was immediately placed into the starting lineup. He struggled in his first two games shooting only 37.5% but the talented forward will develop as the season progresses. In fact this slow start may actually provide bettors with value later on this year, as the Compton native possesses too much talent
Other Freshman to look out for:
Greg Smith C Fresno State
The Bulldogs were lucky to land the four star local product who was recruited by Arizona. Smith had 17 points and 10 rebounds in his debut and has the luxury of playing alongside NBA first rounder Paul George.
Brandyn Curry PG Harvard
Itís rare that the Ivy League lands a three star recruit and also rare to have the #2 overall point guard from North Carolina (only John Wall was ahead of him). Curry has shown early progress as head coach Tommy Amaker increased his playing from 15 to 37 minutes.
Ben Simons F Drake
There could be a lot of value in Drake this year as they finished in the bottom half of the conference in 2008 and have started with an 0-2 record this year. But the one highlight has been Ben Simons who leads the team in scoring. In 37 minutes of playing time against Iowa State, Simons shot four of six from three point land in 24 point effort.
Keith Clanton F UCF
Four star local Orlando product was rated the 19th best PF out of high school. So far in the young season he is averaging 9.5 points and 9 rebounds a game in limited playing time off the bench
Arsalan Kazemi F Rice
The talent is there as Kazemi had offers from Louisville, Maryland and Oklahoma State. He served as the team captain of Iran's under 19 national team and led the team in scoring. He's being worked in slowly but his athleticism and talent could put him in the starting lineup by mid season. He had 10 points and 4 rebounds in his debut.
Rashanti Harris C Georgia State
Five star recruit and second best center out of high school is waiting for the NCAA to clear his eligibility. He could be in the lineup as early as December. The CAA doesn't get players of his caliber often (or ever) so expect him to have a big impact the moment he steps on the court
Isaiah Canaan G Murray State
Two star recruit from Biloxi was late on everyone's radar as he didn't blossom until his senior year where he led his team to the Mississippi 5A title. Canaan was also named the state MVP. Canaan was a sparkplug in his debut off the bench against ranked Cal. In his next game he managed 16 points and 3 assists in 22 minutes of playing time.
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