Fair or not, I have extremely high expectations for K.T. Harrell this season.
WIN: K.T. Harrell, freshman
In the "100 Things" post from last month, I said this about Harrell:
I think K.T. Harrell will be an absolute revelation to us, and will quickly assume a primary scoring role for this team. We have good complementary-type scorers in Mike Scott, Sam Zeglinski, and Mustapha Farrakhan, but I think it is Harrell who will emerge as the team's go-to scorer. 10, 12, maybe even 14 or 15 ppg as a freshman could be in his future. Bold, I know. ACC Freshman of the Year? Hmmmm...
I'm very high on this kid, sight unseen. But why? Mostly because I trust Tony Bennett's eye for talent, and I know he's extremely excited to have Harrell as the centerpiece of this seven-man freshman class. Also, production is just as much about opportunity as it is ability, and (especially with Zeglinski out) Virginia needs someone who can score some points. The opportunity is there, and then some. Harrell was recruited for his basketball IQ, maturity, and ability to find or create his own shot. He's great at cutting to the basket, and is also an above-average shooter. Defensively, the effort is there, but I'm sure Bennett will be looking to add quite a bit of polish to Harrell's game. He might eventually be needed more at the 2, but I think the current plan is for him to start at small forward.
PLACE: Joe Harris, freshman
He has ideal size for the small forward position, and he's potentially one of the best shooters on the team. Bennett's mover/blocker offense works best when there is a zone-breaking shooter on the floor, and I'm certain Harris will get plenty of burn in that sniper role. Anything he can bring to the table in terms of floor game and defense will be a big plus, and it's being said that the staff is pleasantly surprised by how well-rounded Harris' game is as a true freshman. I'm expecting him to be a solid player. Not a star, but a solid, steady player.
SHOW: Akil Mitchell, freshman
He was a diamond-in-the-rough recruit, and a guy who was described as a raw athlete who would probably redshirt this season. But all Mitchell has done since he committed to the Hoos last fall is impress. Now, not only is the idea to redshirt him off of the table, it's sounding like it will be difficult to keep Mitchell off of the floor this season. In terms of being a bouncy athlete who can make plays with his physical talent, he provides traits that no other player on the team can approximate. Is this athleticism something that will make him a great defender? A great rebounder? A great dunker and interior scorer? Who knows? The word on the street is that only an inconsistent jump shot is holding him back... and that the staff sees real star potential in this guy. Trsitan Spurlock's struggles in Bennett's systems gives me some pause, but I do like what I've heard about Akil Mitchell to this point. I can't wait to see what he can do on the court.
- Thomas Rogers, freshman -- He's tall and can shoot, but is more guard than forward. Sounds like a wing to me.
- Will Sherrill, senior -- I'm not sure how often we'll see him at the 3, but I think his game is versatile enough that he could handle some minutes there in a pinch. His shooting, rebounding, and ability to set good screens will ensure that he earns consistent minutes at either the 4 or the 3 this season.
ANTE POST: I don't think you can be more confident in a position dominated by freshmen as I am in our small forward group. I think K.T. Harrell is legit, I think Joe Harris will be a good player for us, and I think Akil Mitchell is a darkhorse star. The experience is [obviously] light, the defense will be a work in progress, and other than Mitchell the rebounding will be suspect... but even still, I like this group quite a bit. Maybe more than I should.
Position Grade: C+/B-