Every season, I get excited about the incoming freshmen. But it's easy to overlook how difficult an adjustment it is for these diaper dandies. It's never easy to adjust from high school to the college ranks.
The pressure mounts big-time because of the headlines they received as high school All-Americans. Then the freshmen arrive on the college campuses and fans expect them to be an instant hit. When they show a flaw, they hear chants of "overrated, overrated."
It's never easy to adjust from high school to the college ranks.
Too often, people expect too much of these kids. Sometimes it takes a while to adjust from being a No. 1 option to the fourth or fifth choice in an offensive attack.
It takes time to blend with other players, many of equal ability. Those who are patient usually see good things happen for them in the long haul. You gotta show patience, baby!
Here are five sophomores (listed in alphabetical order) who were highly acclaimed coming out of high school and who showed some flashes last year but didn't get the kind of playing time that some other stars did. This year, they should excel as sophomores and enjoy breakout seasons as they step out and live up to the potential they were labeled with.
Paul Davis | power forward | Michigan State
Michigan State fans, get ready for Paul Davis to have a big year! He's a big, strong, tough guy who has great ability on the baseline. As a big man, Davis has the unique ability to step out and make the 3-pointer. He'll be a major key up front for coach Tom Izzo. Davis also gained experience during the offseason participating against international competition.
Billy Edelin | point guard | Syracuse
Syracuse got some solid minutes from Billy Edelin last season once he became eligible after sitting out 12 games due to a questionable NCAA suspension (it was totally unfair for him to have to sit out for participating in an over-40 league). Look for Edelin to be solid from day one for the defending national champs. Combined with backcourt mate Gerry McNamara, Edelin will be dangerous on the perimeter, making sweet music, baby! His penetration and scoring ability will be essential, because the Orangemen lost last year's national freshman of the year, Carmelo Anthony, to the NBA. Edelin will help make up the point production needed for coach Jim Boeheim's squad.
John Gilchrist | point guard | Maryland
Maryland will need solid point-guard play with the departure of four-year star Steve Blake. They'll get it from John Gilchrist. He showed his physical and mental strength and toughness last year against Duke. He also has a great basketball IQ, which should help him enjoy a solid sophomore season.
Andre Iguodala | small forward | Arizona
Last season, there were moments when Arizona's Andre Iguodala showed signs of his ability. A great example was the 6-foot-6 forward's 18-point performance against UCLA. With the departures of Luke Walton and Rick Anderson, look for Iguodala to be a force on the baseline and have a breakout year. The Springfield, Illinois native will thrill coach Lute Olson with his rebounding ability, toughness and knack for making the baseline jumper.
Shavlik Randolph | power forward | Duke
Let's stay in the ACC and look at Duke's Shavlik Randolph. Randolph bulked up to 240 pounds while coming off hip surgery. Once he gets back in shape, watch out! Randolph had some great moments as a freshman, including a 15-point, seven-rebound performance against Wake Forest. He's an inside-outside performer who will be a vital factor for the Blue Devils.
Edelin, Davis, Iguodala, Gilchrist and Randolph ... keep an eye on these five super sophomores this season!