Let's talk freshmen (long one)
by ndzippy (2019-02-07 13:08:44)
Edited on 2019-02-08 11:02:58

Though they've shown flashes, our freshmen clearly haven't yet become dependable contributors, at least not on a game-in, game-out basis. Some on this board have questioned whether or not they will ever do so. Others believe that's a silly question, because it generally takes time for freshmen to grow into such roles.

So, I thought it would be worth looking into how some of our recent favorites performed as freshmen.

Demetrius Jackson was pretty darn productive as a freshman. He started 15/30 games, shot well from the charity stripe (78%) and the 3-point line (41.7%), and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.

Pat Connaughton was a very efficient contributor as a freshman. He started 18/34 games, averaged 7 points and 4.4 boards per game, and shot well (54.3% from 2, 34.2% from 3, 75.7% from the line). He got a little better every season and was an absolute stud by his senior year.

Steve Vasturia was on the lower end of the scale. He started 12/27 games, but he didn't shoot very well (40% from 2, 32.9% from 3, 68.4% from the line). After watching his freshman campaign, it was probably hard to imagine him growing into a senior who averaged 13 & 4 with very strong shooting numbers (49.1% from 2, 35.8% from 3, and 91% from the line).

VJ Beachem looked lost. He got one start (played in 27 games), shot very poorly (40% from 2, 26.2% from 3, 70% from the line), and accumulated as many turnovers as assists. Thankfully, he took pretty big leaps the next two years, eventually growing into a really solid player.

As a redshirt freshman (big difference, I know), Jerian Grant was a stud. He started 33/34 games; averaged 12 points, 5 assists (vs. 2 turnovers), and 3 rebounds; and shot free throws (81.9%) and threes (35.4%) very well.

How do these numbers make me feel about our current group of frosh? I've got mixed feelings.

Hubb's shooting (31% from 2, 26.6% from 3, 62.9% from the line) is worse than just about everybody listed above, and that's a big red flag. However, his assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly 2:1 (and would likely be higher if anybody else on the team could shoot), he rebounds well for his size, and he has the athleticism to become a great defender (provided he stops gambling so much). I think he can grow into a very effective, game-managing PG for this team, but if he doesn't either dramatically improve his shot, or stop taking so many of them, he could be a real liability as a shooter.

Dane Goodwin is ahead of where Steve Vasturia was at this point in his career. His shooting numbers are pretty good (42.2% from 2, 37.7% from 3, 72.1% from the line) and he's already averaging 5.3 rebounds per 40 minutes (a higher number than Vasturia ever achieved). I think he'll take a really big leap between this year and next.

Nate Laszewksi is playing pretty well. He's already averaging 14 points & 9 rebounds per 40 minutes (better numbers than Connaughton generated at his peak), he's shooting well from 2 (52.4%), and he's shown enough flashes to believe his 3-point percentage (33% for the season, 25.5% during conference play) will improve quite a bit. I'm not sure he'll ever be much of a play-maker (he's accumulated a grand total of 2 assists in 213 ACC minutes), but I don't think we'll need him play that role for us.

I can't say much about Carmody, as he only played 90 minutes this season. Considering how well he played as a high school senior (well enough to earn offers from Michigan, Louisville, and Syracuse), I continue to have high hopes for him.

The only other thing I'll say is that I originally wanted to grant the current crop of freshmen some leeway because I thought they were being asked to do more than the prior freshmen (Grant, DJ, etc.) were. However, I don't think that's true. Here is a comparison of minutes per game during conference play:

Grant - 38
Vasturia - 28
Connaughton - 22
Jackson - 21
Beachem - 9

Hubb - 33
Goodwin - 28
Laszewski - 21

So where does all of this leave me? Honestly, I'm still feeling pretty good about the freshmen, and I'll be over the moon if Hubb finds a away to fix his shot. As for the rest of the roster, I don't know what to think. TJ & DJ have been very disappointing. Pflueger isn't a very accomplished offensive player. Durham appears to be a pretty fragile. It'd be awfully nice to add a guy like Cole Anthony to help cover up some of the holes we've got.