The 2018-19 NCAA college basketball season began this week. From now until April, we'll be following along, closely watching. But instead of just box scores and highlights, we're going to profile a player from each class, plus one additional story. With TSFJ and help from Josh Naso, we present to you The Sports Fan Journal's Box And One.
We were going to wait. We were going to wait until we were well into the season to highlight Duke's incredible freshman class. But with the 118-84 win over 2nd-ranked Kentucky last week, we cannot wait to mention them any longer; for it is not just about Duke as to why that particular game deserves mention in this post.
Let's start with Kentucky. They have the number two rated incoming class this year. Duke's freshmen, at least to start this season, looks much more talented and better adjusted to the college game.
This brings me to my next point. Kansas, who defeated Michigan State that same Tuesday, is at least as good as Duke right now. But the best reason why Duke blowing out Kentucky is good for college basketball is that all of these teams will get better as the year progresses. For example, Villanova is still really good after losing a lot of players from their championship team. We're in for a tremendous season and Tournament if health remains relatively in tact and talent develops. The top teams and teams in the tiers behind them are really good and capable of producing some memorable games.
Box And One
We'll throw in a freshman from a Philly school since Mr. Naso is helping me with this series. Villanova also had a pretty strong incoming class. Saadiq Bey was the least-heralded, but he's played the best to start the season. The 6'6" forward from Washington, DC, has averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds in the two games for Jay Wright's Wildcats.
Coming into college and scoring 18 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from three is impressive. That's what Davidson guard Kellan Grady did last year in 33 games for Davidson. Grady is averaging 23.5 ponits on 39 percent from three through two games this year. He is a skilled shooter, with a knack for getting his own shot. It seems that since Steph Curry was there, Davidson has had a hug-scoring guard on the roster. Grady is the next one in line.
Sticking with the Philly theme, Quinton Rose is looking for a breakout season for the Owls. He's improved steadily over his first two seasons on North Broad Street and his averaging 16 points per game early in 2018-19. The superbly athletic wing could be a difference maker for Temple this season.
No one had a more storybook season than Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale. Last year, she managed to hit two shots of a lifetime, sinking buzzer-beating jumpers to beat then-undefeated UConn in the National Semifinal and Mississippi State in the Championship Game. This propelled her to stardom, even appearing on ABC's Dancing With The Stars this summer. She returns for her senior season, looking to add to a career already laced with special memories.
We'd be remiss if we looked at week one in college hoops and didn't give a nod to the Buffalo Bulls. After knocking off Arizona in last year's NCAA Tournament, they jump-started their 2018-19 campaign with a road win over No. 13 West Virginia.
CJ Massinburg had a monster night, pouring in 43 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The win propelled the Bulls (2-0) into the AP Top 25. Syracuse and Marquette, who each have a December date with Buffalo, surely took notice. This is a team you should be paying attention to.
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