Early-impact freshmen for 2014-15
May, 1, 2014
By Seth Greenberg | ESPN.com
Rich Graessle/Icon SMIFreshman center Jahlil Okafor will give the Duke Blue Devils a go-to interior scorer.This past season was all about the freshman focus. The exceptional first-year players started out as the face of college basketball, and although none of them won a national championship, they all impacted their respective teams.
Being the highest rated-player doesn't always translate into instant success at the collegiate level. To contribute as a freshman, there has to be an opportunity and a fit. Often a lower-rated player at his particular school can have a greater impact than a player who is rated higher. Playing time, style, system and their teammates are factors in how the player fares.
Which freshmen are set to make the biggest splash next season? Here are my top six.
1. Jahlil Okafor | C | Duke Blue Devils
Okafor is a wide-bodied, low-post scorer who will draw consistent double-teams. He has great hands and excellent feet, runs the floor, rebounds balls in and outside of his area, and can face up in the high post as well as the midpost. He will give Duke a go-to interior scorer who carves out space and is versatile enough to utilize in ball screens and catch-and-finish situations.
With the departure of leading scorers Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, Okafor will be the focal point of the Blue Devils' offense. He will be playing on a team that has an excellent combination of youth and experience. Up front, he will joined by junior power forward Amile Jefferson -- or, if coach Mike Krzyzewski decides to go small, by rangy freshman Justise Winslow (ESPN’s No. 15 recruit).