By Joe Henricksen
Last year's senior class in Illinois was highlighted by the tandem of Waukegan's Jereme Richmond and Robinson's Meyers Leonard. The two Illinois signees were top 50 national recruits and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on every Class of 2010 player rankings in Illinois.
But how big of an impact is the current crop of college freshmen from Illinois having this season? The City/Suburban Hoops Report takes a look at the early impact these freshmen are having at their respective schools.
These players have made a certain level of impact at their respective schools as they head into the second half of their freshman season.
Jereme Richmond, Illinois (Waukegan)
Playing at the highest level of college basketball, Richmond is slowly growing into a key role for a team that recently dropped out of the Top 25. The Hoops Report envisioned 10 or 11 points and 5 or 6 rebounds a game; Richmond isn't far off (8.3 ppg and 5.3 rpg) and seems ready to make a jump over the second half of the season.
Mike McCall, Saint Louis (Foreman)
Averaging close to 30 minutes a game for coach Rick Majerus and is the team's second leading scorer at around 9 points a game. He's shooting well and adds almost 3 assists a game. Looks to be a fixture for SLU (8-14 this season) and a potential All-Atlantic 10 performer down the road.
Rayvonte Rice, Drake (Champaign Centennial)
Playing a prominent role and is poised to be on the Missouri Valley All-Newcomer team. Although he is shooting just 40 percent from the field, he leads the 11-14 Bulldogs in scoring at 14 points a game and adds 5 rebounds a game.
Patrick Miller, Tennessee State (Hales Franciscan)
Playing over 35 minutes a game and is the team's third leading scorer at 12 points a game while chipping in 3 rebounds and 3 assists a game.
Sean McGonagill, Brown (Riverside-Brookfield)
A Hoops Report favorite a year ago, McGonagill leads the Bears in minutes per game (32 mpg) and has put together an impressive stat line of 11 points, 5 assists and 4.3 rebounds a game. Recently dropped 39 in a win over Columbia.
Marvin Jordan, Niagara (Peoria Manual)
Has played a surprisingly large role for Niagara, playing 34 minutes a game and putting up 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
The roles of these players have varied, but each of them have factored into their team's plans this season as freshmen.
Ahmad Starks, Oregon State (Whitney Young)
He's played nearly 20 minutes a game for the Beavers, who are 9-13 overall and in 9th place in the Pac-10. Starks has chipped in 6.5 points a game, including a season-high 17 points in a loss to Stanford late last month.
Meyers Leonard, Illinois (Robinson)
Role as backup to Mike Tisdale is slowly increasing but his minutes remain under 10 a game. Leonard's upside and potential remain high.
Jay Harris, Valpo (Oswego East)
Playing a role for contending Horizon League team with 17 wins overall, though he may have hit a bit of the freshman wall in the last couple of weeks as he's been held without a field goal. But in 18-plus minutes a game, Harris is averaging 5 points and 1.5 assists.
Dwayne Evans, Saint Louis (Neuqua Valley)
Another freshman factoring in for the Billikins, playing 20 minutes a game and averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds a game. Minutes have increased with the start of A-10 play.
Walter Lemon, Bradley (Julian)
A sleeper in the Class of 2010, the athletic Lemon has been a nice surprise for a struggling Bradley program. Lemon is playing 19 minutes each night and averaging 6.4 points a game but, like a lot of freshman at this time of the year, has seen his production stagnate in recent games.
Tim Rusthoven, William & Mary (Wheaton Academy)
After slow start has averaged 14-15 minutes a game and put up 6 points and 3 rebounds a game. But has been out of action the past couple of weeks after scoring a season-high 13 points against Northeastern.
Eric Gaines, Kent State (Hillcrest)
Has played a key role for a MAC-contending team with a 15-7 record. Has played 18 minutes a game and chipped in 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds a game.
Jeff Johnson, Eastern Kentucky (Champaign Centennial)
Playing consistent minutes (21 mpg) every game and scoring 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds a game.
Brandon Spearman, Dayton (Simeon)
Limited role but has played in all 24 games and averaged 10-11 minutes a game off the bench for the Flyers. Struggled from the field (26% shooting) while averaging 2.6 points a game.
WAITING THEIR TURN
These young players have had very limited opportunities as freshmen.
Lavonte Dority, South Florida (Foreman)
Aside from a couple of games where he received time (14 minutes vs. Cincinnati and 14 mniutes vs. Texas Tech) his role has been little to none, averaging 5 minutes a game overall.
Lenzelle Smith, Ohio State (Zion-Benton)
Has appeared in just 14 games for the No. 1 team in the country and played just 5 minutes a game in those 14.
Alex Dragicevich, Notre Dame (Glenbrook North)
Has played in just nine games this season for a ranked Notre Dame team.
Ben Brust, Wisconsin (Mundelein)
Has played limited minutes in 13 games for the Badgers.
Duje Dukan, Wisconsin (Deerfield)
Has appeared in just seven games this season.
Crandall Head, Illinois (Rich South)
Any minutes he received early in the year have been eliminated.
Alfonzo McKinnie, Eastern Illinois (Marshall)
Has had his moments (13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks in a loss to Tennessee Tech in late January) while averaging 11 minutes and 4 points and 3.4 rebounds game.
Jarod Oldham, Buffalo (Decatur Eisenhower)
Playing about 9-10 minutes per game for a 15-7 Buffalo team.
James Siakam, Vanderbilt (Brehm Prep)
Anthony Johnson, Purdue (Whitney Young)
Alex Rossi, California (New Trier)
Karl Madison, Drake (Springfield Lanphier)
Reggie Smith, Marquette/Transferred to UNLV, (Thornton)
Jordan Threloff, Illinois State (DeKalb)