Connor Cagley, Big Sports Radio Basketball Writer
September 26, 2022
It's time to take a look at my national rankings for incoming freshmen. The only "negative" about these rankings for Big Ten fans is there are only 2 of the top 25 players attending Big Ten schools.
Seth Trimble would be one who would rank higher, but his opportunities may be limited due to upperclassmen returning for North Carolina. Playing time may limit how much he can affect the game compared to others on the list. During the time he is on the court, expect an efficient player who is solid defensively. Considering the options he will have around him on a pre-season top five team, he likely won’t have to do much on either end of the court. This will mean he can play conservatively and let the game come to him. This is an ideal role for a player that doesn’t have much riding on how well he performs at a level he’s never played before. While a one and done season would be unexpected, he should be a very good freshman and one who will likely break out even further as a sophomore. Expect to see him on a Sports Center top ten reel due to his athleticism and style of play.
While most other lists will include another Kansas wing, Gradey Dick, look for MJ Rice to end up being the better player as a freshman. This is mostly due to Rice being a much stronger defender early on in his career. To go along with his defensive prowess, he is also a very good outside shooter on the offensive end and one of the stronger players in this entire class despite his lack of size compared to others. With Kansas losing their top two wings to the NBA last season, there will be more playing time available for freshmen than there had been during the past couple of seasons. Look for Rice to take advantage of this dynamic.
Jalen Hood-Schifino will likely start at the shooting guard position next to Xavier Johnson in the back court for Indiana. At 6’5” and 210 pounds, he should be a very good defender immediately at the college level and will fit in with the culture that Coach Woodson is building at Indiana.
He’s still developing a three point jump shot which will likely be a need since Indiana doesn’t have the best spacing due to neither of their bigs being able to hit the 3-pointer consistently. In addition to being a plus passer, his mid-range jump shot and ability to score in the paint will be a nice addition to Indiana’s back court.
Dillon Mitchell is one of the more impressive athletes on this entire list and a true highlight reel style of player. Due to who the Longhorns are returning, Mitchell should be able to slide into a secondary offensive role where he won’t be counted on to create shots in the half court. This is important for him because to this point in his career his ball handling and jump shooting are arguably the biggest weaknesses in his game. He will, however, flourish on the defensive end, in transition, and as a lob finisher. A consistent jump shot would go a long way toward helping him take the next step. If he can shore up that aspect of his game, he will be a lock as a one and done prospect and will be a three and D player in the league.
With the departure of Myles Johnson and Cody Riley, UCLA will have 40 minutes of playing time available at the center position. Bona looks to take the majority of this time due to his size and energetic style of play. He will likely challenge to be the top rebounder in this entire class. He also can defend on perimeter better than most post players.
Bona's ability to get a basket out of a post up is not fully developed at this point in time. He will fit as a player who can set solid screens and rim run to the basket. Bona's biggest asset to an offense is his willingness to work hard and constantly pressure the offensive boards. He will fill the role of garbage man that Riley played last year, but Bona will be a bigger garbage man with same high energy motor.
Bona will get fouled a lot, like many bigs, he needs to continue to improve his free throw percentage.