Welcome to A10 Talk’s Preseason Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2018-19 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season, as voted on by our staff of writers. Today, we feature #17 Fatts Russell of Rhode Island.
What He’s Done
Fatts played a pivotal role on last years Rhody team that won the A-10 and beat the Trey-Young-led Oklahoma squad in the NCAA Tournament. Russell averaged only 17.9 minutes and 7 points per game, but had his two best games in perhaps the two most important situations of the season. He paved the way to a win against Providence with 20 points and 4 assists in 24 minutes. He also propelled the Rams to an NCAA tournament win with 15 points in their overtime win. Russell shot only 29.8% from behind the arc, and 35.2% from the field.
Russell would not have made this list based on production alone. Everyone fan is hoping that Fatts lives up to the potential he showed in flashes last season and as a high school senior. He was showered with awards in high school, including Philadelphia Public League and Pennsylvania Class 4A Player of the Year, first team All-Pennsylvania, and Honorable Mention All-American from MaxPreps.
What He’ll Do
Last year fans were okay with Russell playing a secondary role to E.C. Matthews, Jared Terrell, Stan Robinson, and Jeff Dowtin. Any production that Fatts added was just a bonus. This year, that tune will change. Fans are expecting Russell to live up to his potential and have a breakout season. He will likely start and will be counted on to provide similar production to the graduating seniors who were responsible for leading the Rams to the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.
The biggest question for Fatts will be if he can improve on his three-point shooting percentage. He is already able to penetrate the lane and create shots off of the dribble, however, a sub 30% shooting percentage will not make up for the 141 three-pointers that Rhode Island is loosing to graduation. If Fatts can shoot even 35% from deep this season, given his increased playing time, I could see him averaging up to 15 points per game. On top of that, his quick feet and hands are ideal for creating havoc and forcing turnovers on defense. The Rams (and the rest of the college basketball world) would love to see Fatts Russell flourish into an A-10 star.
Previously: #18 Rashaan Holloway