The college basketball season is fast approaching, and we’re in for an exciting year, with some talented Australians set to grace the NCAA hardwood for the very first time.
We take a look at the top five Australian freshmen heading into the upcoming NCAA season.
5 | Jack McVeigh | Nebraska
Jack McVeigh’s transition to college basketball will be one of the more intriguing stories this season. The 6’7 wing out of Cabarita Beach, Queensland has a unique skill-set, combining athleticism with an unorthodox touch around the rim.
Joining a Nebraska squad that has just come off an admirable NCAA Championship run, McVeigh – who was a key player for this year’s Australian U19 Men’s squad – has the ability to step in and make a contribution immediately. He’ll also have the opportunity to team up with New Zealand’s Tai Webster, the younger brother of NBA hopeful, Corey Webster.
4 | Deng Adel | Louisville
The hype surrounding Deng Adel’s signing with Louisville went under the radar, but the 6’7 wing has already made an impression on head coach Rick Pitino, with the Hall of Fame coach stating, “I haven’t been this excited about a recruit in 10 years.”
Adel has the ability to step in right away and contribute for the Cardinals, particularly with the loss of last year’s star guard, Wayne Blackshear. Joining fellow Sudanese-Australian athlete Mangok Mathiang, Adel will be looked at to provide a spark on both ends of the floor, with the Louisville coaching staff already commending the Melburnian for his ability to affect the game on the defensive end.
3 | Jonah Bolden | UCLA
After an NCAA violation led to Jonah Bolden being ruled ineligible last year, the 6’10 forward out of Sydney has been working extremely hard to prepare himself for his sophomore year with the Bruins.
Bolden suffered another set-back earlier this year when he tore his right meniscus, but the versatile forward is back to 100% and will look to fill the void left by the departure of Kevon Looney.
With impressive athleticism and a great feel for the game, the son of former NBL star, Bruce Bolden, is expected to be an impact player for a UCLA team hoping to make another deep NCAA Tournament run.
Although he’s not technically a freshman this season, Bolden deserves a spot on this list, considering he’ll be gracing the college hardwood for the very first time.
2 | Isaac Humphries | Kentucky
Isaac Humphries comes in at #2 on our list, but he may well be joining the most exciting team in college basketball this year. The Kentucky Wildcats boast a recently inducted Hall of Fame coach in John Calipari, the #1 recruiting class in the nation, and this Australian 7-footer.
Humphries, out of Sydney, Australia, doesn’t have the usual traits you would find in a Kentucky big-man, with Calipari praising his skill-set, hands, and passing ability.
With a skill-set that lends him the ability to compliment his fellow big-men Skal Labissière, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress, along with his familiarity with star Canadian guard Jamal Murray, Humphries is expected to be an impact player for a Kentucky squad that will likely be a strong contender for the NCAA Championship.
1 | Ben Simmons | LSU
Ben Simmons was the consensus best player in high school basketball last season, and was a triple-double threat in every game during LSU’s tour of Australia, making him our number-1 freshman to watch for the upcoming NCAA season.
At 6’10, Simmons has the versatility to play all five positions on the floor and is a joy to watch in transition. Coming out of Melbourne, Australia, before completing a storied high school career at Montverde Academy, Simmons will have to shoulder the load for LSU in a tough SEC conference, and will undoubtedly add to his already growing legacy, in what’s expected to be his one and only year in college basketball.
Click here for a complete listing of the Australians playing Division 1 basketball this season.