It's hard not to admire Richard Pitino's 2015 recruiting class. He captured two talented prospects after coaching changes released them from previous commitments (Jordan Murphy and Ahmad Gilbert) and also added two transfers (who will play in 2016). Those two transfers, Davonte Fitzgerald (Texas A&M) and Reggie Lynch (Illinois State), are exciting additions. (We'll cover Fitzgerald first.)
Fitzgerald played two seasons at Texas A&M, technically. At his core, he's a tremendous athletic talent with great size (6'7", 209). He can be more, though, and showed flashes as a freshman. ESPN recruiting called him "a long and athletic Division 1 wing," who can play inside and out, coming out of high school. His jumper, while solid, was inconsistent, and he needed to refine his skills. No one doubted his athletic ability though, and that's what made him such an interesting prospect.
Unfortunately, an ACL tear cut his promising freshman season short. For a tremendous athlete looking to refine his skills, it devastated his tenure at Texas A&M. The injury certainly impacted the end of his first year, and recovery cut into the offseason of his second. Not seeing the floor consistently as a sophomore really hurt his development. A change of scenery, all things considered, is probably the best course for Fitzgerald. He'll also likely benefit from sitting a year as it will allow him to work on getting completely healthy.
ACL tears, while brutal, aren't career-ending these days. They diminish athleticism somewhat, but if dedicated to rehab, Fitzgerald will come back stronger and a better player. And, he'll still certainly be on the higher end of athletes in the Big Ten.
During his two seasons at Texas A&M, Fitzgerald didn't shoot the ball particularly well (35 percent, 29 percent from three). He can pull up off the dribble and has range, but he'll need to be more consistent in those areas. His athleticism aids his driving ability and he can finish with either hand and above the rim (although it appears he prefers to drive with his right hand). Fitzgerald is very active in the open floor, and is a good finisher. He can start a break (although mainly looks to finish himself rather than dish), but he'll also fill the lanes effectively. Developing chemistry with the incoming guards will be a must, and it should help him get easier baskets in transition.
On the defensive side of the ball he's a monster (or has the potential to be). His length and athleticism make him a tough match up on offense, but he's a potentially monstrous defensive weapon in Pitino's scheme. Fitzgerald could guard multiple wing positions in the Big Ten and, if necessary, the four (at least according to his size). He'll be more effective on the perimeter using his length to contest shots.
Fitzgerald plays with a certain intensity and aggressiveness. He's not afraid to mix it up on the boards, and willingly uses his athleticism in that regard. From a promising freshman season to an ACL injury to a smaller role as a sophomore, I doubt his intensity will diminish at all. He has a lot to prove, and will get opportunities in the future to do so in an uptempo offense that rewards athleticism. Without a doubt, Davonte Fitzgerald has plenty of it.