Vitale: Super sophs primed to power UConn

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Dazzling Dozen Super Sophs ready to step up


Aug. 14
I get excited when I think about the diaper dandies who come into the college game every year. I can't wait to see the new kids on the block, the freshmen with the big buildup, to see if they can live up to all the accolades. But it often takes a year for the McDonald's All-Americans to adjust to the college game and mature.

Dazzling Dozen Super Sophs
Jason Conley, VMI
Errick Craven, USC
Daniel Ewing, Duke
T.J. Ford, Texas
Ben Gordon, Connecticut
Julius Hodge, N.C. State
Keith Langford, Kansas
Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati
Emeka Okafor, Connecticut
Rick Rickert, Minnesota
Chris Thomas, Notre Dame
Maurice Williams, Alabama
The big problem for many is consistency. When former Duke standout Jay Williams first played at Madison Square Garden as a diaper dandy, he had an up and down performance. But you could tell he would be a star by his sophomore season.

This year, a number of super sophs will catch your eye. Who are some of last year's diaper dandies who will step up and make a run at All-Rolls Royce honors? Here are my Dazzling Dozen Super Sophs...

Let's start at Notre Dame: Guard Chris Thomas can score, penetrate and create opportunities for his teammates.

At Minnesota, Rick Rickert, who averaged more than 14 points per game last season, has inside-outside ability. Coach Dan Monson is looking forward to having Rickert lead the Golden Gophers this season.

At Texas, coach Rick Barnes will rely on the maestro man, the orchestra leader, T.J. Ford. All Ford did last season was lead the nation in assists, the first freshman to accomplish that feat. He can flat-out play.

Fans in Alabama are excited over Maurice Williams. He can score, rebound and pass. Williams can create opportunities for Erwin Dudley inside.

Connecticut has a dynamic duo in Ben Gordon, who can score from the perimeter, and Emeka Okafor, a dynamite shot blocker. Last season, VMI produced a surprising scoring machine in Jason Conley, who led the nation at 29.3 points per game!

Julius Hodge is multidimensional, Mr. Versatility at N.C. State. He showed solid defensive ability while helping coach Herb Sendek's Wolfpack make the Big Dance for the first time in over a decade.

I love Daniel Ewing at Duke. He will be called upon to score more with Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy Jr. gone. Ewing will team up with Chris Duhon on the perimeter.

Look for a big-time year out of USC scoring sensation Errick Craven. He averaged almost 12 points per game last season, and coach Henry Bibby will expect bigger things this campaign. Kansas has several candidates for super soph, including Keith Langford, who will put points on the board. He showed a lot in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Coach Bob Huggins will count on bigger and better things from Jason Maxiell, who averaged almost eight points and seven rebounds last season.

It wasn't easy picking this list. Guys like Baylor's Lawrence Roberts, Arizona's Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye, Florida's James White and David Lee, and Michigan State's Chris Hill will contend for Super Soph postseason honors.

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