Aug. 29, 2005
Every year, a solid group of freshmen enters the world of college basketball. Coaches hope and pray that these young men live up to the hype and expectations that accompany their high school reputations.
A number of freshmen had special moments last season and were major contributors. I look for bigger and better things this year now that they've gained a valuable season of experience. Look for this group, my Super Seven Sophs, to become special impact players. They will play vital roles in the success of their respective teams.
It often takes time to blend in with the veteran talent. In high school, these players were the No. 1 option. But in college, they have to share the ball with so many others. It can be difficult to adjust, make the extra pass and learn how to get free to get your shot.
These youngsters finally realize they are going up against better players, as the talent level is different in the collegiate ranks. As super sophs, I expect them to step up this coming season. Here they are, in alphabetical order (by last name):
Oklahoma State's JamesOn Curry recently underwent knee surgery, but he should be ready for the campaign. Coach Eddie Sutton lost a lot of talent from last year's veteran club, so Curry will be expected to step up as the team's top scoring threat.
LSU's Glen Davis was nicknamed "Big Baby" -- and he will be a big force inside. He averaged 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season, and he could be on his way to averaging a double-double for coach John Brady's club.
Jordan Farmar was a big plus in coach Ben Howland's rebuilding process at UCLA last season. Look for bigger and better things this time around.
Connecticut is also expecting bigger and better things on the baseline from Rudy Gay. With Charlie Villanueva jumping to the NBA, Gay should be more of an offensive factor this season, displaying his tremendous leaping ability and quickness.
At Texas, the Longhorns will look for more from Daniel Gibson in the backcourt. He will cut down on some of the mistakes he made as a freshman and develop into an All-Big 12 candidate.
Kentucky's Rajon Rondo has impressed with his defensive skills, leading to layups in transition. He also gained valuable experience playing this summer against top-flight competition as a member of the Under-21 team that finished a surprising fifth.
Darius Washington was one of the final cuts from that squad, and he should use that as motivation for a big season at Memphis. Coach John Calipari's team is the favorite in Conference USA, and his outstanding guard should post big numbers as a sophomore.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.