Newcomers don't take long to make a splash in college basketball -- not in this world of one-and-dones and transfers. Over the next two weeks, we will look at the top five newcomers in each of the 10 biggest conferences. Next up is the Big Ten.
Expected and unexpected -- that's the best way to sum up the Big Ten's incoming crop of freshmen. Some -- most, even -- are going where you'd expect the top players to go, to the established programs with the national reputations. But in a league that sometimes seems stagnant, if not downright boring, some signs of change are coming, with a handful of players taking risks on teams that are trying desperately to upset the status quo.
Here's a look at the top newcomers in the Big Ten:
Miles Bridges, Michigan State Spartans
Bridges could be the latest in a long line of Flintstones to make his mark with the Spartans. Ranked eighth in his class, the small forward from Flint, Michigan, anchors a stellar recruiting class for coach Tom Izzo, a crew of freshmen that should help Spartans fans cope with the loss of Denzel Valentine a little more easily. Bridges already has shown he has serious ups -- check out this video of him touching the top of the backboard -- but he's got a lot more than hops. Built like a linebacker, he's a power wing who can score but also has the blue-collar workman skills that Izzo loves. The last Flintstones -- Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Charlie Bell -- did pretty well for Michigan State, winning a national title in 2000. While it's a lot to ask of Bridges to do that on his own, it's not out of the question with the rest of the class he's bringing, along with what the Spartans have returning.
Josh Langford, Michigan State Spartans
See above? Sort of. Langford isn't the same player as Bridges, but the same rules apply. He's yet another reason this could be a very good year for Michigan State. Valentine once compared the shooting guard to Kobe Bryant, which might just be a touch hyperbolic. Still, Langford is a multiskilled combo guard who's terrific at getting to the rim. Presuming his 3-point shot improves, he'll be a huge offensive weapon for Izzo. And considering he is just the second of four top-100 recruits coming to Michigan State -- point guard Cassius Winston and center Nick Ward are the other two -- the Spartans could have easily owned the majority of this list.
De'Ron Davis, Indiana Hoosiers
Coach Tom Crean promised Davis a scholarship before the power forward even got into high school, offering a spot on the Hoosiers roster back when Davis was an eighth-grader. Of course at the time, Davis was the top-rated eighth grader in the country, so it wasn't a terrible idea. Like most early rankings and early offers, theirs was tested. Davis' ranking didn't remain static as he matured. Plus the Hoosiers didn't necessarily remain a safe choice, as Crean's job security came under heavy scrutiny. Davis scored more than 1,500 points, pulled down more than 1,000 rebounds and set a Colorado state record in blocked shots in high school. The two sides remained loyal, and the result is an upgrade from a formidable Hoosiers frontcourt into a downright terrifying one. With Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby electing to stay in school, defending Big Ten champion Indiana is loaded.
Amir Coffey, Minnesota Golden Gophers
Whether Coffey turns out to be the best remains to be seen. He just might be the most critical. With coach Richard Pitino feeling the fire around him, keeping local boy Coffey home was vital. Ranked 32nd in his class, Coffey missed part of his junior year after tearing his ACL, but he rebounded big in his senior year, earning a spot in the nationwide Jordan Brand Classic. The son of Richard Coffey, who played at Minnesota and briefly in the NBA, Coffey's style is different from his father's -- more fluid than forceful -- but he's clearly learned how to play the game. His basketball IQ and deft passing skills have turned as many heads as his scoring ability. Heaven knows, Coffey will get the chance to play right away for the Gophers. Now the question is, can he help turn things around?
Tony Carr, Penn State Nittany Lions
No, that's not a typo. One of the top newcomers in the Big Ten is, in fact, going to Penn State -- to play basketball. Carr headlines the class that Nittany Lions fans have been waiting on and coach Pat Chambers has been desperately trying to attract, a class that actually ranks 25th in the nation. Carr is the big prize, a point guard who could earn a starting spot as soon as practice starts. Equally important is that he, Nazeer Bostick and Lamar Stevens all graduated from Philadelphia power Roman Catholic High School. For years Penn State has struggled to tap into the crucial and plentiful Philly recruiting bed. If Carr & Co. succeed, this could open a pipeline that perhaps could finally change the Nittany Lions' fortunes.