UPDATE: I've added a name that slipped my mind, Georgetown's Hollis Thompson, onto the list. My bad on leaving him off the initial list.
The Small Forward position is also evolving into more of a hybrid position. You see these wings getting bigger and bigger, blurring the line between the 3 and the 4.
5. Fuquan Edwin, Dane Miller (tie)
2010-11 stats (Edwin): 7.9 PTS, 3.3 RED, 1.2 STL, .410 FG%, .648 FT%, .316 3P%
2010-11 stats (Miller): 9.2 PTS, 6.1 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.6 BLK, .417 FG%, .549 FT%
The decision of whether or not to put Edwin here or Dane Miller was such a tough call, I made it a tie. I watched Miller and Edwin go at it in Belmar this summer, and they went at each other like it was the Big East Tournament. They are so very similar in nearly every way, with Edwin being a little better offensively and Miller a little better defensively. Both have length and ideal size (6'6") for the wing position. Both are phenomenal athletes who use their athleticism whenever they can. And both apparently realize that since they go to Rutgers and Seton Hall, respectively, and play the same position, they're going to be measured against each other.
The only difference is that Edwin is most likely going to be a bigger part of Seton Hall's offense than Miller for Rutgers' offense, the opposite of last year, as you can see from the numbers. I expect Edwin to step into more of a scorer's role this year, and we saw a glimpse of that from time to time last year, especially when Jeremy Hazell got injured. You don't normally want to overhype based on summer league play, but averaging 30 a game is noteworthy any way you slice it.
Miller really shone last year on the defensive side of the ball, and you can see it in the numbers. He led Rutgers in rebounding by a good half a point and got over a steal and a block per game while defending the opposition's best perimeter player most of the time. His offensive game is still a work in progress, and that includes the free throw line, but Rutgers probably won't mind with the freshman class of guys they have coming in. As long as Miller gets after guys on D, Mike Rice will be happy (for a while, at least- haha).
I really look forward to seeing how Miller and Edwin go at each other this season. If the JSBL was any indication, it's really a must-see matchup this year.
2010-11 stats: 8.6 PTS, 4.4 REB, .519 FG%, .720 FT%, .457 3P%
Thompson shot the air out of the ball last year playing as a 4th option for the Hoyas, but he's not 4th option material. Thompson is a great shooter and an underrated athlete who should be the go-to guy for Georgetown from the perimeter this year. I haven't really seen him lock down anyone on defense, but he's an overall solid player who should take a big leap this season for Georgetown.
The obvious question, like with the remaining three guys on this list, is will he emerge and take control? Thompson was not a high-volume shooter, just a really efficient one who got many open looks because the defenses keyed on Wright and Freeman (ditto for Jason Clark, who faces the same question this season). I think Thompson is better equipped to do it than, say the #3 guy on the list, but its a valid question.
3. Kevin Jones
2010-11 stats: 13.1 PTS, 7.5 REB, .446 FG%, .604 FT%, .301 3P%
No one in the Big East outside of Fab Melo was as disappointing as Jones was last year. He had a great sophomore year two seasons ago, doubling both his scoring and rebounding averages, and was a First Team All-Big East selection last year in the preseason polls. He garnered just an honorable mention while never fully grasping the fact that he was supposed to lead the team with Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks no longer in Morgantown. It was evident in his percentages, which dipped from the very good levels they were two seasons ago.
That being said, he needs to show a lot more this year. I have him here because of his skill level more than past performance. Jones is a very good face-up player who can also take smaller defenders into the post. His rebounding is strong because he is tall for his position and has that length that every coach craves. Defensively, he's solid if unspectacular. He fits well with Bob Huggins' philosophy of toughness on the court as well.
He's a senior now, and there's no excuse for him to not demonstrate that he belongs in this group, especially with such a young Mountaineers team this year.
2. Kris Joseph
2010-11 stats: 14.3 PTS, 5.2 REB, 2.2 AST, 1.5 STL, .456 FG%, .711 FT%, .366 3P%
Joseph, like Kevin Jones, faced high expectations last season, expected to be the go-to guy for Syracuse. Well, that sort of happened, but not quite the way everyone thought it would. Joseph led the Orange in scoring, but did so with a pretty dramatic almost-50 point drop in his field goal percentage. He compensated by improving his deep shot and getting into passing lanes on defense. But we expected better from Joseph, whose length and quickness continue to tantalize us because the combination is so unique.
The talent at Syracuse this year is phenomenal, so it'll be tougher to stand out this year than it was last year. Still, knowing what he's capable of (being a matchup nightmare any way you want to look at it), I have to put him here. By the numbers, however, I have to put this guy above him...
2010-11 stats: 15.4 PTS, 6.1 REB, 1.8 AST, .456 FG%, .784 FT%, .429 3P%
Tim Abromaitis may still be a collegiate basketball player, but he's a professional shooter. That perfect form that you see above in the photo is how he made an obscene 43% from deep. It's also how he's money from the free throw line. Not only was he shooting the ball efficiently, but he somehow found the time to pull down over 6 boards a game (2nd on the team) and also wasn't a black hole (nearly 2 ast/gm).
There is one major question with Abro this year: can he be the go-to guy? Last year, Ben Hansbrough did much of that work. Can Abromaitis be as effective with Eric Atkins passing him the ball? Those are not definite "yes" answers to me. Having Scott Martin take on a larger scoring role as well as being a second deep threat will help Abromaitis accomplish this. However, I could easily see either Jones or Joseph eventually finishing here. That, as they say, is why they play the games.
For now, his numbers are too good not to have him here.
In the Honorable Mention section are two highly-touted freshmen who have a chance to mean a lot to their teams this season: DeAndre Daniels (UConn), Otto Porter (GTown).