Andy Dufresne made an appearance in Part One , so let’s continue that theme in Part Two.
“Hope is a wonderful thing. Probably the best of things,” said Shawshank’s hero.
If we could somehow work in AAU influencers as crooked prison wardens, we’d have a heck of a metaphor going. But I’m merely a basketball writer, not Mark Twain.
Let’s get back to hoops.
The second five on our list of impact freshman will help their teams reload, and in some cases, rebuild overnight, so our hope component rings true.
Here are player rankings six through 10:
6. Enes Kanter (Kentucky)
The 6′10″, 260 lbs. post from Turkey plays with a ferocity that would make the Mameluks blush. Napoleon quipped, “I could not imagine what I could do using a fistful of Mameluk warriors.” Well, General Calipari and military historians get to realize Napoleon's dreams this fall when Kanter arrives in Lexington.
Kanter lacks elite athleticism, but he makes up for it with a tremendous motor and a physical style of play. He has surprisingly good hands for such a physical player, and they’ll serve him well alongside fellow Wildcat Brandon Knight next season.
Look for Calipari to use Kanter in more of a ball-screen-and-dive style of offense than what Cousins ran last year.
This ball-screen-and-dive scheme takes advantage of Enes’ experience playing the more wide-open international brand of basketball as well as his ability to catch the ball in traffic.
If Kanter can figure out traditional post footwork, he's got the tools, both tangible and intangible, to be special.
7. Tobias Harris (Tennessee)
Harris is a 6′9″, 210 lbs power forward with a dynamic inside-and-out game. He possesses the skill and touch to knock down deep jumpers and still has the requisite size and toughness to go inside and do back-to-the-basket work when the matchup dictates.
For that matter, his toughness and competitiveness are off the charts.
Tobias needs to get stronger, which will come with some help from a collegiate-caliber weight lifting program and father time.
As for the prospects at UT, Harris and his versatility are the perfect fit for Bruce Pearl’s open-post offense which is predicated on skilled big men that can punish smaller defenders for low-block offense and lift bigger defenders away from the goal as face-up threats.
8. Cory Joseph (Texas)
Cory Joseph is an elite combo guard that knocks down jumpers and finds teammates for offense when help rotations are slow. Joseph has a great floor game and should bring leadership to the guard position for the Longhorns.
That’s good news for a program that has suffered from a lack of perimeter shooting and guards that can create offense amidst the departure of DJ Augustin.
Joseph’s game is also a perfect fit in Rick Barnes’ offense which is predicated on the ball screen game. It’s a style that Joseph is quite comfortable with since it’s the type of offense he ran almost exclusively at Findlay Prep.
The one downside to Joseph’s game is that he lacks elite blow-by explosion on the dribble, but he’s crafty enough with the basketball to get in the lane when he needs to. Great pickup for the Horns.
9. Perry Jones (Baylor)
Other than Barnes, he’s the most skilled player in the nation. He can play virtually any position on the floor at 6′11″, 230 lbs. He can run point, wing, and play with his back to the basket depending on the matchup. Scott Drew landed a big one here folks.
Here he is at the Vegas tournament, where Rick Pitino called him the best pro prospect playing.
Jones is the perfect fit for Baylor in that he’ll be allowed to roam the back line of the Bear’s zone and play on instinct. Whatever allows the young man to play on instinct should help, since his main weakness is his floor game and basketball IQ.
Jones may have the biggest beta of any player in America. He could be Tracy McGrady if he puts in the work, or he can be the next Dontonio Wingfield if he doesn’t.
10. Reggie Bullock (North Carolina)
This 6′6″, 195 lbs. shooting guard is aptly positioned since he’s an absolute sniper with the rock in his hands. As a catch-and-shoot bomber from beyond the arc, there isn’t another player in this class at Reggie’s level. Put a couple creators on the floor with him to demand help rotation, and Bullock can flat-out kill you. The kid just has unlimited range.
When forced to create on his own, Bullock struggles at times because he lacks the upper body strength to absorb contact and get by better athletes, although he is a solid ball handler. His game compares favorably to former Tar Heel Wayne Ellington.
As for next season, look for Reggie to be a tremendous weapon for Coach Williams in secondary break situations from beyond the arc. In halfcourt possessions, Bullock should excel coming off of weakside screens with an impressively quick catch and release stroke.
Don’t be surprised to see Bullock get serious playing time from day one if it becomes apparent that Larry Drew or Dexter Strickland don't fit the list. Carolina has to surround Harrison Barnes with shooters, and Bullock is the obvious answer here.
So here’s hoping that whichever impact player you’re rooting for turns this offseason’s hope into reality for you next fall. If not, there’s always next year with another crop of incoming freshman. Either way, at least you’re not in prison. At least I HOPE not.
Kevin Berger writes the leading college hoops blog March To March.
Follow him on Twitter: @MarchToMarch
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