Five freshmen to watch in Conference USA

Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on Conference USA, click here.

Five freshmen to watch in the league ...

Shaq Goodwin, Memphis: Josh Pastner's 2012 recruiting class doesn't match up with his star-studded recent efforts, but it doesn't need to. Pastner still has many of those players, including breakout candidate Adonis Thomas, in the program. Goodwin is the No. 6-ranked power forward in the 2012 class and should add some immediate interior depth alongside Tarik Black.

Danuel House, Houston: The highest-ranked incoming recruit in the conference, House is the No. 19-ranked overall player in the Class of 2012, described as a "high-flying, super-athletic combo wing" by RecruitingNation's scouting report. He could star right away.

Twymond Howard, UTEP: Howard's athleticism and end-to-end ability have drawn raves from scouts, but his assessments have been held back by his utter lack of a jump shot. If he develops one sometime before November, look out.

Danrad Knowles, Houston: Your eyes are not deceiving you. The Cougars have not one but two top-100 recruits signed up for service in 2012. Knowles doesn't come as highly touted as House, but he will start right away. He also has one of the great nicknames in recent college hoops history: Chicken.

Blaise Mbargorba, SMU: The No. 20-ranked center in the Class of 2012 may be a project -- RecruitingNation's report says he is improving but "undeniably raw" -- but over the long term, he could be the big-bodied centerpiece of SMU's plans.