We’re only a week into the college basketball season, but it’s never to early to take a step back and evaluate things. And one of the most interesting things to follow this season will be the performances of a talented group of newcomers. The Big Ten added a plethora of talented freshmen and many of them are already starting to emerge.
So, let’s take a look at some of the top freshmen in the league and what fans should expect out of their games in the months ahead.
Big Ten Freshmen To Watch:
-Hunter Dickinson (Michigan Wolverines)
While Dickinson was quiet in Michigan’s opening win over Bowling Green, he made a splash in the second game, finishing with 19 points and four rebounds in 25 minutes against Oakland. The big man’s play was a massive reason the Wolverines avoided an upset against the Golden Grizzlies at home. He brought a great boost to the floor and passed really well out of the paint, which is a rare thing to see in young big men.
During a media session on Tuesday, head coach Juwan Howard specifically complimented Dickinson’s game and believes he has a lot of potential to grow. He likes the way he plays “with his back to the basket” and called Dickinson a “high IQ player.” Howard also complimented Dickinson’s personality, saying he was a player teammates wanted to be around.
Whether Dickinson can lock down the starting job for Michigan over Austin Davis remains to be seen, but he’s certainly had a great start. I expect he will be one of the better big men in the Big Ten by next season.
-Zach Edey (Purdue Boilermakers)
Purdue’s incoming recruiting class got plenty of attention this offseason, but most were expecting the guards to be the ones to make some early noise. Instead, it’s been Zach Edey. He’s scored double-digits in each of Purdue’s games and has been a dominant force down low. It’s still early, but he has the look of a contributor for years to come in West Lafeyette.
What’s particularly impressive about Edey is the sheer impact he has while on the floor. He’s only played 46.7 percent of Purdue’s minutes so far, but has a 122.7 offensive rating and has used 32.5 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Edey also hasn’t been half bad defensively, posting a 5.1 percent block rate. Should Purdue live up to expectations, there’s little debating Edey will be a big part of it.
-Khristian Lander (Indiana Hoosiers)
Let’s be honest. Lander hasn’t been particularly impressive in limited time so far. He’s only played 32.5 percent of Indiana’s minutes to date and hasn’t really shaken things up so much for the Hoosiers. However, his growth will be important to follow. Unless his production grows, it’s hard to see Indiana living up to the considerable offseason hype.
-Adam Miller (Illinois Fighting Illini)
We knew Illinois would have star talent on the roster with Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu, but fans have been thrilled to see the early play of Adam Miller. The freshman guard was highly regarded, but has been excellent through three games, scoring double-digits in each of the team’s three wins. Notably, he was the team’s most productive player in the opener, finishing with 28 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
What should make Miller particularly valuable this season is his play from outside the arc. Illinois was devoid of consistent shooters from deep last season, but that won’t be the case this time around. Miller is shooting 47.1 percent from three so far. And while that might not hold, there’s reason to think he will keep contributing there all season.
Expect Miller to remain a key role player this season and emerge into a potential star for next season by the end of the year.
-Clifford Omoruyi (Rutgers Scarlet Knights)
We knew Rutgers would be led by upperclassmen this season, but don’t count out this young big man. Omoruyi arrived on campus as a four-star prospect and was expected to compete for early playing time. Instead, he’s started every game for the Scarlet Knights so far and has been a really welcome role player.
Omoruyi hasn’t scored a ton so far this season, but his rebounding has been superb. He had 11 rebounds in the team’s opener and seven against Hofstra in the team’s most recent outing. And with Myles Johnson behind him on the depth chart, there’s a lot to like about how Rutgers’ lineup is developing upfront.