Oh, to be young again. The optimism from fans for these youngsters is always through the roof, and some of them come into programs in abundance. However, there is always a caution when evaluating freshmen in today’s landscape of college basketball because of the unknowns and the dominance of the transfer portal.
Hopefully, this article can help you find some peace of mind as to which freshmen are worth paying attention to. Here are my freshmen to watch for each A10 team this coming season.
Note: Redshirt freshmen will not be included in this list. This is for true freshmen only.
Davidson- Bobby Durkin
Durkin has the best pedigree of his fellow newbies at Davidson, as he spent his final high school season at IMG Academy while previously setting his old high school’s record with threes in a season with 78 — that alone should tell you where this is going. As long as McKillop runs the show, Davidson and three-point shooters are forever intertwined (shoutout to Steph Curry). Durkin’s scouting report is that he’s a smooth shooter from range who can also go off the bounce with some passing abilities. Defensively, he’s a work in progress (as most freshmen are), but he should find some success with his 6’8” build.
Dayton- Marvel Allen
Allen is a consensus top-150 recruit initially headed for Georgetown; he reopened his recruiting when Ewing was let go and found himself committed to Dayton almost two months later. Like Durkin, Allen spent his final high school season in Florida but at Montverde Academy, where he played his fifth varsity season. Though Allen dealt with injury, his potential is through the roof. He could morph into a combination of Malachi Smith and Kobe Elvis: a three-level scorer who can create for teammates. Smith and Elvis are good, but Allen could be GREAT for the Flyers.
Duquesne- Kailon Nicholls
Nicholls has tremendous offensive talent: he averaged 16.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 steals, and shot over 50% from the field and almost 40% from distance but his best offer was Duquesne. It may be his 6’ build, but the guy can flat-out play. He’s gifted with a promising offensive skillset — a perfect match for Dambrot’s offensive attack, who could be a real A10 player one day. He’ll have difficulties cracking the rotation this season, but Dambrot will have a second part of the future backcourt of Duquesne with him and Kareem Rozier.
Fordham- Jahmere Tripp
By default, Tripp is the only true freshman the Rams have on the roster. Montas and Best did redshirt, but this is a list for true freshmen only. He’s 6’6”, 230 pounds, as a freshman who can move like a guard and not have issues against most bigs. He can rebound, defend, create, and drive at proficient levels now, but he can become an elite player with time. Tripp is also a solid scheme fit for Fordham: Urgo enjoys using his players’ physical gifts, and Tripp is no exception. Much like Nicholls, Tripp may have issues finding real playing time in the Fordham rotation but should make an impact in a modest role for year one.
George Mason- Austin Ball
I’m a big fan of Ball’s potential in the Tony Skinn offense. He’s relatively raw but has the skills to fit into the style that Skinn wants to play with. Ball is also the prototypical build that Kevin Willard would covet; in this case, it’s one of his former assistants. At 6’7”, he can shoot from range and block some shots in the middle. He presents a promising two-way potential for this George Mason “renovation” — along with the Almanac saying that Skinn loves his character off the court.
George Washington- Jacoi Hutchinson
Our second IMG product on this list, Hutchinson is the future point guard in the nation’s capital. Hutchinson chose the Revs over LSU, Georgetown, Maryland, and other power six offers. He’s an incredibly gritty point guard who was on winning programs his entire career in high school between IMG and DeMatha. He adds a more balanced element of being an all-around point guard with a mental toughness on defense that will come in handy. A true, two-way point is a piece that the Revs could use under Caputo. Hutchinson gives off major Carl Elliot vibes, which is not bad if you’re a GW fan.
La Salle- Tunde Fasasi
This kid could be an unsung hero for the Explorers if he gets a sizable role immediately. The hype of Fasasi is because of how well-rounded he’s reportedly been in camp early on. Fasasi had a few low-major offers, but he elected La Salle — and if there is anyone who knows how to develop talent in this conference, Dunphy is one of the absolute best. He turned Dionte Christmas into an all-timer all those years ago — just one example of his track record of player development. Fasasi is more of a creator than some of the pieces La Salle has lost, providing more impact in all game areas. He may be a secondary ball handler for now, but I see him as a big piece for La Salle in the future.
Loyola-Chicago- Miles Rubin
He’s big, skilled on defense, and fills a massive need for the Ramblers after they lost Bryce Golden. Rubin will be an essential piece given the center “competition” this season for Loyola (if you want to call it that). Rubin will be tossed into the fire from the opening tip, which most freshmen don’t get in today’s college basketball. There will be growing pains aplenty, but he gets real experience, which is never wrong. Rubin could become an elite rim protector down the line for Loyola and take some of the heat off the guards to carry the defense while filling a massive need for the Ramblers to be real competitors in the A10.
Massachusetts- Jaylen Curry
Frank Martin was kind enough to give us media folks an abundance of choices for the UMass freshman to watch this season (this is a joke), which took me a while to pick. I’m thoroughly in the Jaylen Curry fan club: he had offers from Xavier, Texas A&M, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Pittsburgh, and other high majors but decided that UMass was his spot. Curry was a top-140 recruit nationally who has a gold medal with the U16 Team USA squad that won the 2021 FIBA Cup. The southpaw has a smooth jumper with plenty of creation skills, plus he’ll see extended time in the backcourt as one of the few dynamic guard threats — he projects as a more assertive scorer than Diggins and more creative a ball-handler than Thompson, which will open a new dynamic for Martin.
Rhode Island- Cam Estevez
New York City-based point guards are like gas stations: they’re in abundance and always work out. Estevez is looking to be the next in line because of one major factor: the clutch gene. Estevez’s final season in AAU for the Riverside Hawks showed that as the game shrinks, Estevez grows. He’s developed the knack of hitting the big shot late and hitting the big shot late from range — that trait alone will help him navigate through the maze that is the A10 for his freshman season. Estevez compiled other A10 offers such as Fordham, George Washington, Saint Bonaventure, Duquesne, and VCU — but he took the Rhode Island offer and should fit into Archie’s system almost seamlessly.
Richmond- Collin Tanner
I am very excited for Tanner’s potential: he has the size to play bully-ball inside and hit threes. At 6 ‘7”, he’ll be a nightmare at shooting guard position with his size while too quick for a slow big man when he goes off the bounce. His role could be limited in year one, but he gets the benefit from one of the best passing centers in the nation, Neal Quinn, to feed him off back-door cuts and kickout passes. Physically, he’s the closest Richmond will find to replace Tyler Burton — his current trajectory is a little rocky, given he has established competition at the wings. Chris Mooney can develop talent to fit his style regardless of their rankings — Tanner, a top 10 recruit from North Carolina, could accelerate this process.
Saint Joseph’s- Dasear Haskins
Essandoko’s redshirt disqualifies him from this list, so I’m going with Haskins as the true freshman to watch for the Lange Gang. Haskins was the 6th man on a juiced Camden team — so much like his high school career, he is perhaps the best-kept secret in the A10 regarding what he can do for the Hawks. Haskins stands at 6’8” with a reputation for sturdy on-ball defense, and reports say he’s a quality three-point shooter. Playing basketball in Camden, New Jersey, also adds an element of mental toughness that few places can produce; mix that with Philadelphia’s basketball reputation, and the Hawks may have a real player. Everyone wants to pick Xzayvier Brown because he’s the highest-rated recruit or Anthony Finkley because he jumps high (even I touted Finkley), but Haskins could prove to be a critical piece.
Saint Louis- Cian Medley
Another South Jersey native, Cian Medley is in line as Saint Louis’ point guard of the future. In his profile on the Saint Louis website, he was an avid Rajon Rondo fan with similar numbers and a style: a pass-first point who plays good defense. Medley averaged 7.5 points and five assists on the AAU circuit for NJ Scholars Elite. Does any of this sound familiar? It’s almost like Travis Ford recruited the clone of Yuri Collins. Medley will have a generous role for his freshman season with the lack of true point guard play on the roster — except Mike Meadows — which could either accelerate or hinder his development.
Saint Bonaventure- Duane Thompson
His size alone reeks of Andrew Nicholson. He’s athletic, switchable on defense, and plays in a team system on offense. Thompson is the prototype recruit Mark Schmidt looks for when building his roster. Thompson will have a minuscule role for year one, playing behind Yann Farell, who shares the same position as Thompson: the athletic four who can play like a guard. Thompson is a good perimeter defender, averaging two steals on the AAU circuit for the PSA Cardinals. He’ll have to develop his outside game, but Mark Schmidt is great at tapping into talent that may not have been recognized before arrival into his program.
VCU- Michael Belle
Belle makes this list by default, given he’s the only true freshman on the roster for VCU. He’s your typical VCU recruit: a 6’5” wing who is athletic — and that’s about it. Belle does have promise as a defender and rebounder for his position, and he does have some experience playing in France’s top-flight league as a young professional, but his sample size is way too small to make a real judgment. Ryan Odom admitted to the Almanac that he could make an impact down the road, with likely no Joe Bamisile for the year and Sean Bairstow expected to be out 6-8 weeks with foot issues, Belle may be thrust into a key bench role right away.