Every year, I get excited about seeing the new kids on the block, the diaper dandies across America. As a hoops fan, I can't wait to see Raymond Felton do his thing at North Carolina, Shavlik Randolph at Duke, and Paul Davis, the big man on campus at Michigan State.
But it's also exciting to see how players fare after transferring from one school to another. There are plenty of impact transfers out there. So here's a look at my All-Marco Polo team for the upcoming season:
Let's start at Georgia with Damien Wilkins. Do you remember that name from his days at N.C. State? The son of former NBA player Gerald Wilkins, Damien has the potential to be a high-wire act in the SEC, much like his uncle, Dominique.
|Guard Marcus Cox will be taking shots for UMass instead of UConn this season.|
The 6-foot-6 Wilkins was one of the top offensive rebounders in the ACC in 2000-01. He averaged 11.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg as a sophomore with the Wolfpack.
Coach Jim Harrick has to be excited to have Wilkins for scoring on the baseline. With Jarvis Hayes and Wilkins, the Bulldogs have two top-flight scoring threats.
At Massachusetts, coach Steve Lappas is thrilled to have Marcus Cox in his backcourt. Cox wasn't able to get it done at Connecticut and never got the PT (i.e., playing time) he was hoping for.
Look for Cox to put some points on the board for the Minutemen. It will be interesting to see what happens on Dec. 10, when Cox and UMass take on coach Jim Calhoun and the Huskies at the Hartford Civic Center.
Another interesting transfer to follow will be Dan Miller at Notre Dame. Miller was a key factor at Maryland earlier in his career. He played an important role on the wing, but he wasn't happy sharing time with Byron Mouton. With David Graves and Ryan Humphrey gone, Miller will get plenty of minutes for the Irish. We'll find out if he can make the jump shot and the trifecta consistently. He will be a valuable contributor for coach Mike Brey's club.
Todd Billet will make some noise at Virginia after leaving Rutgers. His perimeter shot gives the Cavaliers something they need badly, since Roger Mason moved on to the Chicago Bulls as an early entry in the NBA draft. Billet averaged over 17 ppg in Big East play as a sophomore, setting a Rutgers record with 82 trifectas in 2000-01. He will be a positive force for coach Peter Gillen.
At Louisville, coach Rick Pitino is ecstatic to have Marvin Stone joining the team in December. Stone has slimmed down, and I expect him to be a factor in the low post for Pitino. It will be something special when Kentucky comes to Louisville on Dec. 28. That's right, Stone won't be wearing the blue uniform of the Wildcats, but rather the red of the Cardinals, baby! The Cardinals have a solid inside-outside combo with Stone and Reece Gaines.
Keep an eye on these five to see if they can have a big impact on their respective teams. Will they be big-time PTPers or Marco Polo players who travel but fail to get the job done? I feel these five will blend in nicely and fit in fine with their new teams.