So in a year when there are freshmen and super freshmen, it’s important to clarify. In order to make the Reaching the Summit All-Freshmen team, it needs to be the player’s first year playing college basketball. In making this list it is a lot of presumed opportunity and reputation that comes into play as none of these players have played a college game. All that said here goes.
Freshmen of the Year
G Tevin Smith, Denver
There are plenty of times that the most talented freshmen don’t receive the accolades such as freshmen of the year because the opportunity is not there. However, not only may Smith be the most talented in this year’s Summit League freshmen class, he may have the best opportunity. After the coaching change, Denver had their top 3 scorers to the transfer portal and brings in 9 new faces including Smith. Smith is the highest-rated recruit in Denver program history and steps into an opportunity for major minutes. This is some of what was said about Western Illinois’ Ramean Hinton and he had a good season last year but it took some time for him to carve out a role. This may be true for Smith as well, but it’s realistic to think he could average close to 25 minutes and easily be a double-figure to 15 points per game guy this year. The thing that will stand out to Summit League fans right away is that Smith is a high-level Summit League athlete with great size that is already polished taking the ball to the rim. Smith also received offers from Depaul, Oregon, and Wisconsin among others.
G Ben Nau, St. Thomas
It’s unknown to most exactly how the St. Thomas backcourt will shake out. You got established veterans who put up impressive numbers at the Division 3 levels and then someone like Nau who was basically St. Thomas’ first division 1 commit. So the talent is there but the backcourt is crowded with players who have been great at the division 3 level. It seems likely that Nau will carve out a large role as the season goes on and will put up numbers when that happens. Nau comes in with a reputation as a good lead guard and a great shooter.
G Paul Bruns, North Dakota
The high school numbers for Bruns are eye-popping. At Dakota Valley Bruns averaged over 27 points and 13 rebounds per game. Bruns makes the trip north from South Dakota to join the fighting hawks. Bruns has some competition for backcourt minutes so it won’t be n easy task, but he has the talent to play immediate minutes for North Dakota. Bruns brings good size the Fighting Hawks backcourt at 6’4 is a good shooter and has a knack for the ball. Not sure if he will end up starting for North Dakota this season but it seems likely he will be one of the first guys off the bench all season.
F Frankie Fidler, Omaha
The frontcourt in Omaha is full of new additions for the Mavericks. So one could argue that the path to playing time is challenging for Fidler. However, it seems Fidler gives something the other new additions or returnees do not. Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler is a true post, Arop is more of a slashing athlete, returnee Devin Evans is a rebounding athlete. Fidler is more of a traditional small forward. Good size at 6’7 and shooting, Fidler gives the Mavericks something they don’t have from others on the roster. It looks like Fidler can find his way to 20 minutes a game this season.
F Sir Issac Herron, Oral Roberts
Oral Roberts will be searching for replacements for the scoring and rebounding that they lost with Kevin Obanor’s departure. It seems unlikely Herron will start from the jump as there are veteran options in front of him. However, Herron has already been described as the best frontcourt athlete and rebounder on the team. No returning player averaged 4 rebounds a game last season, so the path to the team’s top rebounder is there for Herron this season. Look for Herron to have a big freshmen impact this season.
F Brian Matthews, North Dakota
Similar to the situation for Herron and Oral Roberts, the loss of Filip Rebraca opens up post-scoring and rebounding opportunities at North Dakota. One look at a picture of the North Dakota roster shows that Matthews looks the part. Coach Paul Sather talked about Matthews on a recent podcast and raved about his ability to rebound and get his hands on the rock. The Fighting Hawks will need Matthews to contribute with defense and rebounding, in order for the team to take a step forward this season.