2014-2015 Big Ten preview: Five impact freshmen

  • 09/04/2014 10:13 am in

With the start of the fall semester underway and less than five weeks until the official start of practice, it’s time to begin looking ahead to the 2014-2015 season.

Today, we begin our Big Ten preview with a look at five freshmen, listed in no particular order, who could make the biggest impact next season.

D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State, guard — It’s not easy for freshmen to crack the starting lineup in Columbus, but the 6-foot-5 Russell, a Louisville native and McDonald’s All-American, looks poised to do just that. The Buckeyes lost Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. to graduation and have Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson returning on the perimeter. While Scott may be the best perimeter defender in the Big Ten and Thompson is an elite athlete and finisher, neither is known for scoring. That’s where Russell, the highest ranked incoming Big Ten recruit, should make an impact from day one. With his size, athleticism and versatility, Russell is dangerous off the dribble and in transition and is also a capable shooter from distance.

Romelo Trimble, Maryland, guard — Mark Turgeon lost a large chunk of his roster in the offseason via transfers, but welcomes a strong recruiting class led by Trimble, a McDonald’s All-American guard from nearby Upper Marlboro. The departure of point guard Seth Allen, who transferred to Virginia Tech, means that the 6-foot-2 Trimble is likely to take over in the backcourt immediately and play alongside Dez Wells, the team’s leading returning scorer. A prolific scorer in the prep ranks at Bishop O’Connell, Turgeon will need Trimble to play more facilitator than go-to scorer in his rookie season. The Terps are one of the tougher teams to forecast this season in the Big Ten as they had so much offseason turnover, but much of their success will rest squarely on the shoulders of Trimble.

Leron Black, Illinois, forward — The Illini have one of the deeper backcourts in the Big Ten, but their frontcourt lacks experience besides Nnanna Egwu. The 6-foot-7 Black could be the answer at the four for John Groce as the other primary competition at the position, Darius Paul, was suspended for the season and then opted to transfer. A one-time Baylor commit, Black has a solid mid-range game, is versatile enough to guard the perimeter if needed and has length that allows him to play taller than his height. Groce will have plenty to figure out in terms of a backcourt rotation, but the frontcourt situation seems pretty clear with Egwu and Black.

James Blackmon Jr., Indiana, guard — Blackmon Jr., a 6-foot-4 guard, is the fourth McDonald’s All-American that Tom Crean has recruited to Bloomington and like the three before him, the Marion product should begin the season as a starter. Blackmon Jr. originally committed to Indiana before his freshman season of high school, but later de-committed and Crean then won his services in a heated recruiting battle that also included Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina. The early returns for Blackmon Jr. are encouraging as he averaged a team-high 18.8 points on Indiana’s five-game tour of Canada in August. Arguably the top incoming shooter in the country, Blackmon Jr. should help the Hoosiers rebound from an average season of perimeter shooting and spread the floor for point guard Yogi Ferrell, who was the constant focus of opposing defenses last season.

Kameron Chatman, Michigan, forward — It’s no secret that John Beilein likes to play small at the four and the 6-foot-7 Chatman, a Portland native, started all four games of Michigan’s trip to Italy last month in that position. It was a major coup for the Wolverine staff to pull Chatman to Ann Arbor from a strong list of West Coast suitors and he’ll have big shoes to fill from day one as he takes over for Glenn Robinson III, who left early for the NBA. As UMHoops.com noted recently, Chatman showed that he’s capable of a little bit of everything in Italy as he averaged 9.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Furthermore, Chatman will give Michigan a different look than Robinson did as he’s not the same level of athlete, but is a better passer and midrange shooter.

Others to watch: Robert Johnson, Indiana; Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State; Dion Wiley, Maryland; Vic Law, Northwestern; Lourawls Nairn, Michigan State

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  • ForeverIU

    I’m not worried that you’re putting down soccer. I’m familiar with the articles you are talking about, and many of those were written from within a very problematic paradigm, one that sort of fetishizes the “favela” for slum tourism. Yes you can run around a dirt makeshift field and practice the tackle and dribble with a cheap rubber ball, but this does not represent mainstream soccer in any way. You need a goal post and not just rocks if you are going to play even basic soccer. And soccer is by no means only a third world sport; it is probably the most popular sport in just about every country in the world, most notably Europe. The expenditures that go into the sport are enormous.

  • Bryce Kepner

    Man you took what I said and completely went the opposite way with it. I didnt say that soccer was a third world sport. Those third world countries are the backbone to that sport though. I know cause ive lived in the slums of Lima peru and even in the slums of the amazon and those kids die for soccer even though by your standards they dont even play basic soccer because all they can afford is a cheap rubber ball and have rocks for goal posts. Im not even gonna waste time to keep responding. I was only trying to back up your statement about it being the most popular sport in the world…….

  • Hoosier Hall

    I have a “work buddy” that is a big time UK fan (I know, the company you keep…) and he generally calls it pretty straight no matter what team a guy plays for. He has said from day one that Devin Davis could be the next Oladipo type story. I’m not sure I’m quite on board with him yet but I hope he’s right. I’ll never tell him that though!

  • Hoosier Hall

    I’m not a fan of Goodman but this article (other than a few remarks) was pretty accurate. I am an insider subscriber and the article basically went on to say what all of us really think too: This season is a huge question mark right now. Can we play small ball and run and shoot teams off the floor? Sure, but can we also get out-rebounded and not be able to defend the interior? You bet. It was fairly neutral as far as that goes but he did make a remark about our “desperation” in trying to land Ray Kasongo.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I know you are 100% joking but I do wonder if Dane Fife would be in consideration there.

  • hagster

    I agree Soccer is like watching paint dry as is baseball. And pro football is getting that way with all the political correc
    tness

  • hagster

    Hi David. Golf is 10 times more exciting than soccer.Only sport I evr saw you lose and you win and advance.

  • hagster

    What’s Up Knight

  • ForeverIU

    Lol nothing beats the “desperation” of a journalist salivating for a good story.

  • MillaRed

    This whole small ball thing. I wonder if there is no choice in the matter opposed to Coach “taking on a new philosophy.” Our bigs bolted. We couldn’t land the transfers or highly rated recruits. We are small. This doesn’t sound like a coincidence to me. Just seems odd.

  • ForeverIU

    Buy him a beer on me, lol!

  • ForeverIU

    We waited all season last season and not much improved. In Canada CTC hinted that we might tolerate turnovers as long as we’re getting the other team to commit them as well. If we are winning with the higher turnovers, not many people will care. My instinct right now tells me that we should accept it as a byproduct of our fast and running game, until we are convinced otherwise.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Maybe a cheap one, Natural Ice or Strohs.

  • ForeverIU

    PBR!

  • Hoosier Hall

    Maybe Steel Reserve…

  • David Macer

    Hags, you need to watch the game a little closer and you would understand the nature of tiebreaker rules. If it wasn’t for these kind of rules, IU would still be looking for its first Rose Bowl visit. Just sayin’

  • Outoftheloop

    I agree.

  • Ole Man

    Bryce:
    baseball costs almost nothing to play; otherwise, all of us poor country boys would have never played when we was “youngins”–trust me. And cow pastures are easy to find.
    Think that your thinking is skewed by whatever.

  • Outoftheloop

    Yes

  • Bryce Kepner

    My viewed is skewed by whatever….thats a classic ITH post right there. When someone has no actual information to back up their claim or statement its easy to throw some personal attack hahah.
    I was talking about the united states. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world because its easily accessible to someone no matter which country they live in. Baseball is only played in a handful of countries because of the facts that I already listed before. I dont have a skewed view I honestly like baseball and basketball more than any sport and I continue to play in leagues to this day. I was just trying to back up the claim as to why its the most popular sport in the world.

  • calbert40

    Not a big golf fan, but totally agree on baseball. Maybe you had to play it to be a big fan, but I always hate when the season ends, and I look forward to Spring Training from Halloween. Love Baseball!

    But for in person viewing, I think it is hard to beat basketball. I remember sitting in the nose bleed section at the local gym during sectionals when I was a kid (pre-class), and that place rocked like nothing else. Can’t beat a hot gym on a cold night in Indiana.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’ve seen playoff series where you lose 3 games but still win. I forget where that was…

  • INUnivHoosier

    We went up to the Highland Games in Linville this summer. If you are looking for a pretty interesting experience (I would actually go back), you should check it out one year.

  • Ole Man

    Not that far from my house. Been all around Linville. Have even played golf up there. Hiked through the Gorge.
    A beautiful spot.

  • IUJeff

    Look him up on Wiki. Only 5 National Championships in 10 years before he came to Wisky.

  • Scary Larry Richardson

    I was aware of all that, and don’t care. Similar results to Crean at the highest level… but since he went to the F4 last year he’s now “legendary.” I just can’t stand the guy, mostly because his demeanor annoys me, partly because his teams have been the hammer while IU has been the nail in recent years. Similar to Belichick/Colts for me in that regard (minus the cheating).

  • mark

    Fyi Forever, Fox almost always produces real, quality journalism. Hardly anyone else does anymore, which is the only reason our President hasn’t been impeached. I know this isn’t a political site, but I cannot sit back and let people take pot shots at the only news network which is covering 2 simultaneous scandals bigger than Watergate (IRS targeting conservative groups and Bengazi). If you don’t bring up politics, I won’t, but since you started it I have to set the record straight.

  • ForeverIU

    I respect your opinion of Fox if you think they produce quality journalism. I don’t hold most of mainstream journalism in high regard, including most of the liberal media, if it makes you feel any better. Heck, I would take Rush over NPR any day; at least he’s funny and a free show (although I wouldn’t take him seriously beyond that). My favorite journalists are a few (very few) independent journalists (liberal, conservative, I don’t care) who think for themselves. Sorry if I insulted you man. I mean no disrespect, just having some fun. It is tempting to take this further, but I’m afraid our very well-thought-out opinions might end up in the ITH waste bin.

  • IUJeff

    I feel ya but I would actually like Crean to have a little of the edge that Bo has. Bo also plays his best players, and NOT the best practice players in crunch time. Crean IMHO, is too nice at times and loyal to a fault at times.

    It does pain me to think back on how Crean has been Bo’s whipping boy while at IU?