Road to the Final Four at Ford Field: 10 Sensational Sophomores
These ten players decided to return for a second season instead of heading onto the pro ranks after their freshmen seasons. In 2009, they'll dominate the college game.
One of America's best sixth men will come off the Baylor bench and provide the biggest spark any coach could ever hope for. Dunn scored 13.6 points per game in 22 minutes per game off the bench last year. With three stud guards ahead of him, Dunn's playing time may not increase a lot, but his impact should increase. He's a lethal three-point shooter at 41.6 percent, but can also get to the basket with ease.
The Big East's Co-Rookie of the Year bodied his way through the Big East in his freshman campaign to a tune of 11.6 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game. Some of Blair's best performances came against his toughest opponents. The Panther forward notched 15 points and 20 boards against Duke and 20 and 11 against Louisville. Overall, Blair had 14 double-doubles last season.
The co-SEC Freshman of the Year will be the star for a fairly young Gator squad. He set numerous Florida freshman records including points, assists, and free throws made. Calathes is a combo guard/forward and a triple-double waiting to happen. On top of his 15.3 ppg scoring average, Calathes also tallied five assists and rebounds per game.
The first Aussie to make the list of sensational sophomores made an incredible amount of noise under the basket in the SEC last year. Ogilvy reached double digit points in all but two games and eclipsed the 20 point mark 11 times last season. Ogilvy's play did drop off in the SEC. The Commodore scored 20 points just twice and grabbed only six rebounds per game.
The Kangaroos are represented once again. Patty Mills is also from Australia. The amazing Aussie burst onto the national scene with a 37 point performance in an upset of nationally ranked Oregon. The Saint Mary's College guard will contend for the West Coast Conference's player of the year title after being named the conference's newcomer of the year last season.
The Demon Deacon dynamic duo is too good together to not put them on this list together. The two combined for 27 points, ten rebounds, and three steals per game making them one of the best freshmen tandems in the country. Johnson and Teague should lead Wake Forest back to the NCAA Tournament as one of the best inside-outside combinations on the East Coast.
Hummel and Moore make up the best sophomore tandem in the country. The numbers aren't as gaudy as Wake Forest's duo, but Hummel and Moore made a significant impact on their Boilermaker teammates. Purdue won six more Big 10 games last season than in 2007 and made its second straight second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Humell and Moore will battle it out for conference player of the year honors.
The other co-Big East Rookie of the Year will compete with upperclassmen Ty Lawson and Darren Collison as the best point guard in the country. Flynn showed a nice scoring touch when Coach Boeheim need the Syracuse frosh to score. The Orange guard broke a Syracuse freshmen first game record with 28 points against Siena, and in his second game beat St. Joe's with his only basket of the game, a three-pointer with eight seconds left.
The Sun Devil sophomore tore the PAC-10 to pieces as a freshman. The PAC-10 first teamer reached the 20 point plateau 15 times, ten of those performances came during ASU's loaded conference schedule. If Harden stays healthy, he'll be one of the first names called in the 2009 NBA draft should he fore go his final two season of eligibility.
Despite all kinds of knee problems, Griffin only missed two games as a freshman. The Sooner dominated opponents down on the blocks, scoring almost 15 points per game and grabbing nine boards. For his efforts, Griffin made the All-Big 12 team, but in 2009 could easily be an All-American. Like James Harden, Griffin could as high as the first pick overall in the 2009 NBA Draft if he goes pro.
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