With the current state of the College Basketball universe it’s easy to forget about some guys that are lost in the shuffle of free agency, injuries and academic situations. A year is a long time in the day of the 24 hour news cycle. I wanted to touch on some fellas who are going to have a possibly major impact on the 2017-18 season.
Alterique Gilbert and Terry Larrier -UCONN: Through 3 games as a freshman Gilbert averaged 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He and Jalen Adams were well on their way to being one of the most dynamic back courts in the AAC. Gilbert suffered a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum on 11/17 and was done for the year. A transfer from VCU, Larrier only played 4 games before tearing his ACL. He was averaging 13.5 points, 5 rebounds and just under 2 assists before being lost for the rest of the season. I watched both players in the exhibition against PC a week or two ago, Gilbert has fantastic court vision, he is known more for being a distributor than a scorer so I expect him to get back into the flow a bit more quickly. Larrier looked a little rusty, which is why they play the exhibitions, he should be fine as the season progresses.
Romello White-Arizona State: An academic non-qualifier last year, White was forced to take a redshirt last season. He is back and according to Coach Bobby Hurley in a recent podcast interview with Evan Daniels, looks fantastic and should be contributing at a high level almost immediately. He is a high energy big who has a pretty nice looking elbow jumper. His rebounding was a little suspect during his high school days, but I think he has potential to snag 6-7 rips a game.
Omari Spellman-Villanova; Another non-qualifier from last year, Spellman is a former 5 star recruit who was expected to step in for Daniel Ochefu after the championship run of 2016. Things did not quite turn out that way, but Jay Wright once again has a loaded Wildcats squad and Spellman should big a piece toward another Big East title.
Malik Newman-Kansas: Remember this guy? Don’t let that clunker of a year at Mississippi State fool you, Newman can play. The one time number 1 player in the 2015 class (I think he ended up #7 or something) can score the ball from all over the court. He was forced to play out of position while in Starksville, but will be playing off ball alongside Devontae Graham at Kansas. He would be my pick to lead the Jayhawks in scoring this year.
Lamonte Bearden-WKU: The name should sound familiar. He was the leader on the Bobby Hurley lead Buffalo squads that made back to back NCAA tournaments a couple years ago. His sophomore season he averaged 14 points, 4 assists and 3 rips. WKU has had a tumultuous off season, but they should remain competitive with Bearden running the show.
Ben Carter-Michigan State: I’ll end on this one, because I think this guys return is widely overlooked this preseason. Carter is a former Oregon and UNLV player, who is better than his stats indicate. In 2015-16 while at UNLV he averaged 8.6 points and 6 rebounds in 24 mpg. While that in itself isn’t all that impressive, when you think about adding him to a front court that already has Nick Ward, Miles Bridges, Gavin Schilling and 5 star freshman big man Jaren Jackson, holy fucking moly. Izzo can just keep running really talented bigs out there to pound people into submission.