Friday, November 12, 2010

Scouting The Rookies

A handful of Ivy players found professional basketball employment in Europe, one landed in the NBDL, while another even made it into the NBA.

Needless to say, the league's losses to graduation were huge, and the degree of the decline some Ivy teams will face will in very large part be determined by the quality of the contributions those squads can get from their freshman classes.

Here's a look at the league's recruiting classes, ranked in consideration of quality of talent with potential to make an impact this season in parentheses.

No. 8 Dartmouth Big Green (Impact Potential: 1st)

Guards Tyler Melville and James Herring are the two highest regarded players in the class, but neither approaches the acclaim received by the other Ivies' headliner rookies. Both should get plenty of opportunity to jockey for playing time in an offensively challenged backcourt.

Kevin Mulquin, a 6'8 PF, comes in under-the-radar, but will likely get his chances to see the floor as well, given that the Big Green only has two other players over 6'5.

It's almost impossible not to rate the Dartmouth rookies' impact potential first in the league, seeing as the Big Green is down to just eight upperclassmen.

No. 7 Columbia Lions (7th)

The Lions have a couple vacancies at their three guard positions and hope that big time scorer Dyami Starks can make the jump directly into the rotation. Fellow rookie guard Steve Frankoski is also expected to contribute early on as well, despite not being regarded as highly as Starks by the recruiting services.

With the glut of players at the post position, it's unlikely that Columbia's only interior recruit, Danny Feldman, will see much action without a rash of injuries up front.

No. 6 Cornell Big Red (8th)

The Big Red got a bunch of interesting under-the-radar pieces, but the class has taken a hit with the loss of point guard Dominic Scelfo to another MCL injury. Fellow guard Jake Matthews likely isn't ready to make the rotation, unless a couple more injuries decimate the backcourt.

Swingmen Dwight Tarwater and Manny Sahota each show some promise, but unless either can play up at the four, minutes will be likely be limited with at most one of the two cracking the regular rotation.

As has become a custom with Cornell, the addition of a couple potential impact transfers has cushioned the blow of a less than stellar recruiting class.

No. 5 Princeton Tigers (6th)

The league frontrunners hardly needed much help from the freshman class, but did a decent job collecting talent at the guard spot to fill the hole left by the departed Marcus Schroeder.

T.J. Bray and Ben Hazel have very good size for shooting guards, but can also handle the ball, while Chris Clement was a strong passer in high school and could be the most direct replacement for Schroeder. Regardless, there are minutes available at the guard spot, which will likely be filled by one or more of these rookies.

Daniel Edwards and Tom Noonan round out the five-man class. Both are post players with Edwards the more highly-regarded of the two. Given Princeton's depth inside, these two freshmen will likely have less of an immediate opportunity to sneak into the rotation than the aforementioned guards.

No. 4 Yale Bulldogs (5th)

In a year when the Bulldogs graduated an All-Ivy scorer and a highly efficient swingman, it just so happens that three of their five recruits (and arguably their highest rated) are frontcourt prospects.

One of those three, Will Bartlett, could slip into the backup swingman role, but the other two - Jeremiah Kreisberg and Greg Kelley - are bona fide posts, who will have to fight for time behind All-Ivy candidates Greg Mangano and Michael Sands. Kreisberg placed pretty highly in a few West Coast prospect rankings, so don't be surprised to see him at least crack the rotation.

The two incoming guards are Jesse Pritchard and Isaiah Salafia. Both have the potential to be solid Ivy League backcourt players, but neither appears to be a good bet to be a significant contributor as a freshman.

No. 3 Harvard Crimson (3rd)

The Crimson started out the 2010 recruiting cycle needing to bolster its frontcourt rotation. After missing on almost all of its top prospects and losing another to a decommitment, Harvard wrapped up its class with arguably the best player (SF Laurent Rivard), but only two big men - neither of whom appears to be an instant impact guy.

Ugo Okam, a 7'0 center from Montverde Academy, is an intriguing prospect, but his offensive game is likely too raw for the Division I as of yet for him to see extended time in the rotation. James Moore, a 6'9 forward from California, plays as more of a face-up four man rather than the true interior presence the Crimson would need.

With Rivard, however, Harvard still cashed in on potentially the top player in the class - a versatile shooter with enough rebounding skill to play anywhere from shooting guard to a combo forward. Guards Matt Brown and Ernest Rouse might have a tough time cracking the rotation in the deep Harvard backcourt, but both are explosive scorers - Brown as an athletic slasher and Rouse as a strong shooter.

No. 2 Brown Bears (4th)

Brown coach Jesse Agel followed up last year's stellar recruiting class with another very intriguing group.

The headliner is guard Hakeem Harris, who initially committed to Columbia, before decommitting and choosing Brown instead. Harris is a perfect insurance policy for senior guard Adrian Williams, who had a horrible 2010 campaign after a solid showing as a sophomore.

Agel added Dockery Walker, a slightly undersized post player with above average rebounding skills - something the Bears will need in order to begin to replace Matt Mullery's production.

Guards Josh Biber and Sean McGonagill round out the class, but will likely provide more depth than anything else as rookies.

No. 1 Penn Quakers (2nd)

If the final legacy of the Glen Miller era is this recruiting class, then Miller's last move might have been his best.

The Quakers will receive a double-infusion of talent this year with a few impact veterans returning to full health and a deep, talented seven-man recruiting class, including potential rookie of the year guard Miles Cartwright. Cartwright should see some immediate time, especially if neither Rob Belcore nor Darren Smith can provide the necessary offense from the two-guard spot. And if none of the three can lock the position down, Penn has Dau Jok, Casey James and Steve Rennard as capable rookie guards waiting their turns as well.

While the Quakers return four capable frontcourt players, two of those four (Mike Howlett and Andreas Schreiber) have missed substantial time with injury. If the trend continues, expect to see Penn's two rookie forwards, Cameron Gunter and Fran Dougherty get plenty of opportunities for playing time this season.

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