NEC Freshmen Struggling to Make an Impact

With all due respect to the rookies of the Northeast Conference, this hasn’t been the year of the freshman.

With a majority of the NEC’s top talent staying put, this was to be expected. Yet when I charted the contributions of the top ten freshmen in the league every year since the 2007-08 season, the combined output of this current class paled in comparison to previous seasons. Here’s what I found:

Season

Top 10 Freshmen*

AVG Efficiency Rating

2007-08

Horton, Baker, Thompson, Rutty, Kyle Johnson, Cadell, Francisco, Hett, Galvin, Hicks

9.21

2008-09

Taylor, Boyd, James Johnson, Gibson, Ptacek, Myers Keitt, Perunicic, Campbell, Culpo, Martin

7.68

2009-10

Abraham, Felder, Olasewere, Onyechi, Kondratyev, Velton Jones, Russell Johnson, Efase, Waite, Conrad

7.36

2010-11

Francis, Rivers, Brickman, Parker, Montes, Norfleet, Williams, Myers, Evans, Azotam, Ware

8.23

2011-12

Cannon, Vinales, Parker, Lucky Jones, Drame, Nesmith, Nicholas, Hearst, Gaetano, Tillotson

8.56

2012-13

Wiggins, Mosley, Peel, Reed, Drinnon, Fanning, Tate, Hawkins, Danaher, O’Garro

5.79

*based on BBstate.com efficiency rating, which measures all positive and negative statistics
Players in bold were selected to All-NEC Rookie Team in that particular year

There still are plenty of talented, high upside freshmen around the NEC, but we simply haven’t seen the majority of them produce due to a number of reasons, I reckon.

  •  I certainly don’t want to pick on individuals, but several of the league’s freshmen have not panned out this season for one reason or another. Wagner’s Dwaun Anderson, whose elite athleticism has certainly provided the occasional highlight dunk and top ten SportsCenter moment, needs more time to improve his basketball IQ before he can crack an all-conference team. Quinnipiac’s trio of rookies hasn’t stepped up as expected, although James Ford and Kendrick Ray have at times shown flashes of their excellent upside. After a promising start to the season, Sacred Heart’s Tevin Falzon was slowed up thanks to an academic violation, while Wagner’s Eric Fanning is currently serving a suspension because he allegedly upset Bashir Mason. Moreover, injuries have surely impeded the progress of potential impact guys like St. Francis’ Stephon Mosley, Bryant’s Andrew Scocca, Monmouth’s Christian White, and CCSU’s Khalen Cumberlander.
  • High turnover among the NEC coaching ranks this past offseason may have contributed to less than stellar recruiting. Texas high school star Taurean Waller-Prince was ready to make a name for himself in the NEC, but after Jim Ferry accepted a position at Duquesne and Waller-Prince’s marketability vastly improved after a stellar senior season, the 6’7” big man decided to attend Big 12 power Baylor instead. Jamion Christian was hired in late March and had little time to fill three scholarships for the Mount, and even though he uncovered a gem in Shivaughn Wiggins, he used the remaining spots for athletic, yet not ready to contribute projects in Melvin Gregory and Christian Crockett. Ditto for Rob Krimmel, who to his credit was able to find Stephon Mosley off the high school waiver wire deep in the summer.
  • It’s an upperclassmen league. Seven of the ten all-conference selections from last season returned, while the NEC’s sophomore class is full of high level contributors like Jalen Cannon, Kyle Vinales, Lucky Jones, Phil Gaetano, Kelvin Parker and Ousmane Drame. In addition, JUCOs and transfers have come in to play integral roles on their respective teams, whether you’re talking about guys like Rashad Whack, Sam Prescott, Dyami Starks, Joe O’Shea, Karvel Anderson, Shaq Shannon, Stephen Spinella, Alek Isailovic, and of course the best one of them all in Matthew Hunter. With more upperclassmen filling key roster spots, there are less opportunities for freshmen coming in to have an impact.

And in case you were curious, here’s my All-NEC Rookie Team at the moment. The freshmen are ordered in terms of who I’d rank for the All-NEC Rookie of the Year award.

PG: Shivaughn Wiggins, Mount St. Mary’s
He’s been a major reason why the Mount has won five of their last six games. He’s scoring, taking care of the basketball, and playing solid perimeter defense.

PF: E.J. Reed, LIU Brooklyn
Reed has taken full advantage of an opportunity when Julian Boyd tore his ACL early this season. His energy and athleticism has rival coaches taking notice.

PF: Brandon Peel, Central Connecticut
He needs to improve his offensive game, but Peel already has shown why Dickenman went down to Maryland to recruit him. He’s going to be a tremendous rebounder in the league for years to come.

Those three guys are locks for the all-rookie team, but after that it’s anyone’s guess who could make the final two roster spots. I currently have it between:

PF: Stephon Mosley, St. Francis (PA)
He was a serious candidate for NEC Rookie of Year at the midway point, but injuries have slowed down Mosley’s freshman campaign. Still, the overall numbers are tough to ignore.

G/F: Eric Fanning, Wagner
Fanning had an impressive stretch during the conference season, giving Mason a much needed scorer off the bench. If he doesn’t get back into the rotation soon, however, he likely won’t crack the all-rookie list.

PF: Ronnie Drinnon, St. Francis (PA)
Drinnon has been inconsistent overall, but the 6’7” freshman has given Rob Krimmel glimpses of his above average upside.

Just one of the many races to watch as the NEC season winds down these last couple of weeks! Are there any other freshmen worthy of all-rookie consideration?

Follow Ryan Peters on Twitter @pioneer_pride

One Response to NEC Freshmen Struggling to Make an Impact

  1. Nelson C. February 20, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    I can’t argue with you Ryan on your take on the NEC freshman this season. There aren’t many making major impacts on their teams this year. Transfers I think are the biggest reason why freshmans are not getting the playing time as they have in seasons past.
    I believe it is just a two-horse race for NEC ROY and it’s between Shivaughn Wiggins and E.J. Reed. Reed was hot early and now Wiggins is coming on. Wiggins will likely beat Reed out because Wiggins is starting and playing well over 30 mpg while Reed plays 20 mpg off the bench and gets into foul trouble. I think these last four games will ultimately decide who wins the award.