I understand this seems like an obvious statement, but hear me out.
Mason had a great recruiting year, bringing in three players—Corey Edwards, Vaughn Gray, and Erik Copes—who were all expected to contribute immediately to the Patriots. Copes, in fact, was the highest-rated recruit in Mason history, and was actually on ESPN's Wooden Award watch alongside Ryan Pearson.
Well, after three games, I think we all need to pump the brakes a bit.
Don't get me wrong, all three are talented and all three, I think, will be big parts of this team by season's end. But these first three games have shown us that it will be a process to acclimate all of them to the college game.
Gray is the one who looks the most green out there—excuse the pun.
He's had the least amount of playing time of the trio, but to be fair, it's not necessarily his fault, seeing as he's playing a forward position which Mason has covered all over with experienced guys. We saw a lot of Gray in Mason's dismantling of Monmouth, and even then Vaughn went 2-9 from the field and finished with six points.
Edwards, as I've said, has had his turnover issues, and in the game against FIU, turned in one of the ugliest stat lines I think I've ever seen—15 minutes, no points, four fouls, six turnovers. He's quick, but there have been moments when he's tended to move too fast for his own good and got himself in trouble.
Copes has lived up to the billing on the defensive end. Copes has put up 4.7 boards a game and is averaging nearly three blocks per game. There have been two spots though, where Copes has struggled: his conditioning and his offense.
Many times we've seen Erik huffing and puffing up and down the court, which I guess is to be expected from a 244-pound freshman. The more concerning aspect has been his offense, which basically involved Erik catching a pass, and turning and shooting from wherever he is.
The good news is, these problems will get resolved. The freshmen are getting ample playing time to work out their issues and have seniors in their positions to help them learn from their mistakes.
By season's end, I anticipate all three of these guys having a big role, but we Mason fans need to be patient and temper our expectations.