Which upcoming NCAA Basketball freshmen are flying under the radar heading towards the 2020-21 season?
By now NCAA Basketball fans across the nation are familiarizing themselves with incoming recruits signed to their respective teams. However, 5-star players have gained plenty of national attention throughout the recruiting process and are already household names entering the 2020 season. Names like Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Evan Mobley (USC), BJ Boston (Kentucky), Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga), and Jalen Johnson (Duke) will step on campus next year with steep expectations for their teams.
No one is denying that these expectations should be different or cannot be met by these players. However, looking further down the list is where surprises happen and players emerge in their freshman season. Specifically, identifying guys who have seemingly flown under the radar, for one reason or another, and end up in a perfect situation to breakout.
Over the last decade, there has been an average of 10 freshmen a year who have significantly contributed to their team’s success. Those contributions were defined as players seeing the court in at least 20 games, as well as at least 20 minutes and 10 points per game. Half of those players in a given year emerged from outside the top-50 recruits, however.
In this article, I’ve identified 15 candidates outside of the 2020’s top-50 composite players who could play significant roles in their school’s success this year.
Honorable Mention: #57 Azuolas Tubelis, PF – Arizona
It’s not surprising that the majority of Arizona’s recruits will not be familiar names for college basketball fans entering this season, because Sean Miller mostly signed international prospects. However, that does not mean that these players are without tremendous talent and won’t significantly impact the Wildcats play on the court next season. Tubelis is a power forward hailing from Lithuania and has shown to be a strong and reliant producer in national team tournaments.
At 6’9”, Tubelis’ mobility will play a lot towards his success in Tucson. Not only will fans see him run the break and score in the open floor, but he can put the ball on the floor the length of the court and create his own path to the rim. This ability is a significant asset for him in the half-court as well. Allowing him to catch the ball anywhere outside of the block has the potential to end in a layup against opposing bigs.
The Wildcats are losing starting power forward Zeke Nnaji to the NBA Draft and complete their frontcourt rotation with Christian Koloko, Nevada transfer Jordan Brown and incoming freshman Daniel Batcho from France. Tubelis’ well-rounded game puts him as a leading candidate to start for Arizona likely alongside Brown.