Roster turnover could allow lesser recruits to shine early
We had so much fun with the first Preview Week that we’re stretching it out for another!
To kick off another week of content to prepare you for the 2020-21 Horizon League season, we’ll be taking a look at some of the top incoming freshmen. Unlike the Preseason Poll and our All-Horizon League picks, this will be one man’s opinion rather than a poll of our whole staff.
With so much roster upheaval throughout the league, this feels like a season where opportunity could be more important than raw talent with regard to making the All-Freshman team. There are a number of promising freshmen who didn’t make this list including Cleveland State’s Alec Oglesby, Northern Kentucky’s Marques Warrick and UIC’s Demetrius Calip II. While they’re some of the highest regarded players entering the league, they might have a hard time getting enough playing time to earn the honor with so much veteran talent at their position groups. If these three contend for All-Freshman Team spots despite the veteran competition, their fanbases should be very excited for the future.
With that said, here’s my take on who could make up the Horizon League All-Freshman Team in 2021:
Jacob Jones, G, Green Bay – Jacob Jones joins Green Bay after averaging 13.1 points and 5.4 assists for a loaded Jeffersonville High School in 2020. While Green Bay’s guards are responsible for every minute of NCAA Division I playing experience returning to the team this year, the three with significant experience will likely all be in the starting lineup. The 5-foot-10 Jones is a pure point guard and should have ample opportunity to spell PJ Pipes, as Amari Davis and Josh Jefferson are better served playing off-ball.
Kam Farris, G, Robert Morris – Farris joins Robert Morris as a composite 3-star recruit. He averaged 22.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game as a junior at Rice Memorial High School in Vermont on his way to being named the 2018 State Player of the year. Farris transferred to Tabor Academy, where he played until he enrolled at RMU in January of this year. The extra time with the team could prove helpful for the 6-foot-3 guard. Robert Morris will need to fill in over 60 minutes per game following the departures of Josh Williams, Jalen Hawkins and Sayveon McEwen. Expect Farris to get a significant number of those minutes.
Trey Townsend, F, Oakland – Townsend is a second generation Oakland University basketball player. His father Skip played for Greg Kampe from 1986 to 1990. The younger Townsend is an excellent athlete with high energy who looks to be on his way to a lot of playing time at Oakland this year. While injured Rashad Williams and currently ineligible Zion Young being able to play could change the lineup, Townsend has been running with the starters. His energy and ability to act as an athletic glue guy out of the gate should allow him ample opportunity to play early, even if it’s in the form of bench minutes.
John Harge, F, Northern Kentucky – Harge initially joined the NKU roster in 2019, but missed all of last season with a torn ACL. If he’s fully recovered, he’ll have the opportunity to jump right into the action for the Norse. Following the graduation of Dantez Walton and the transfer of Silas Adheke, junior Adrian Nelson and fellow freshman David Böhm are the only other front court players on Northern Kentucky’s roster. Nelson seems like he’ll clearly have one front court spot locked down, but the other is up for grabs. With a year in the system, a healthy Harge would seem to have the advantage over Böhm for the spot.
Terrance Thompson, F, Green Bay – Like Harge, Thompson should have ample opportunity to see playing time on a roster that’s severely lacking in post options. Unlike Harge, Thompson won’t even have one Division I experienced front court player to compete with. Tank Hemphill, Manny Patterson and Will Chevalier are all forwards who had eligibility remaining but opted against returning to Green Bay for the 2021 season. As a result, Thompson, Junior College tweener forward Paris Taylor and fellow freshman NAME are the only post players on the Phoenix roster this year. Thompson committed to the Phoenix and Linc Darner after being offered by DePaul, Duquesne, Bradley, Milwaukee and UIC. He remained committed when Green Bay fired Darner and hired Will Ryan. The coaching change could actually help Thompson, as traditional post players didn’t typically see many minutes under Darner. Don’t be surprised if the lack of front court depth means Thompson plays almost as much as Patterson and graduated forward Josh McNair combined for, about 30 minutes per game.