With the new college basketball season just weeks away, the Australian talent is booming across the collegiate scene. This includes a number of freshman looking to make an immediate impact with their respective schools.
We breakdown the top five incoming Aussie freshman to keep an eye on heading into the new season.
5 | Jack White | Duke
Becoming the first Australian-born men’s basketballer in Duke University history, Jack White will be mentored under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski in his freshman season. There is no one better to teach White the ropes in his first season than Krzyzewski, who has coached numerous NBA stars at Duke, including Kyrie Irving and Grant Hill, and has led Team USA to three Olympic gold medals.
The amount of opportunity White will receive in his first season is unknown. He will be fighting for minutes alongside projected top-10 draft picks in Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles, while Duke mainstay Amile Jefferson will also earn playing time.
However White has a skill set that is adaptable to the modern style of basketball. His versatility extended to guiding Australia to the FIBA U18 3X3 Oceania championship in 2015, while also winning the dunk contest. The Victorian native has shooting distance that extents beyond the three-point line and can defend multiple positions. White’s total package was shown in his 19 point and 11 rebound outing with Vic Navy in the Under-20 Australian Junior Championships Grand Final.
4 | Tom Wilson | SMU
Similar to White, fellow Victorian Tom Wilson showed how effective he can be during the U20 Australian Junior Championships. Wilson averaged 17.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists for his state in the tournament, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 46 percent from the three-point line, on his way to the MVP award. This followed Wilson’s thrilling showing at the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championships, where he delivered 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the gold medal game against the USA.
A 193-centimetre guard, Wilson joins SMU looking to make an immediate impact. He will be battling for minutes on a Mustangs squad that is heavy on shooting guards, but Wilson’s all-around game should help him stand out. His shooting stroke is textbook, as he can hit the three-ball off the dribble or in catch-and-shoot situations. This complements Wilson’s play-making ability and his strong rebounding skills for a guard; attributes that will help him in his first collegiate season.
3 | Harry Froling | SMU
Joining Wilson at SMU, Harry Froling enters his debut college season riding a wave of momentum. At the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend, Froling was one of four Australians involved in the Basketball Without Borders Camp – an event in which he dominated. Froling took out the MVP at the camp where he announced himself not only to the world, but more importantly, to the numerous NBA scouts in attendance. He also took part in the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit alongside Thon Maker (Milwaukee Bucks) and William McDowell-White.
Froling plays a game similar to NBA Champion, Kevin Love. As a four-man, Froling is excellent in pick and pop situations, as he can shoot proficiently from beyond the three-point line. Combined with his soft touch, solid footwork and play-making ability out of the low post, Froling is a versatile offensive weapon who should have an opportunity to prove that at SMU in his freshman season.
While his defensive work still leaves much to be desired, Froling helps hide it with his rebounding, and with experience, the Townsville native will only improve on that end. If he can rise to the challenge of college hoops, he could well be one of the next Australian’s to make the transition to the NBA.
2 | Dejan Vasiljevic | Miami
Dejan Vasiljevic comes into his freshman year as one of Australia’s most explosive and exciting scoring talents. His shooting ability is awe-inspiring, as Vasiljevic can hit the three-point shot in any way imaginable. Off the dribble, dotting the eye with a defender in his face? No worries. Coming off a number of screens, whether those be on or off the ball, leading to an open look? Even better.
As a 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship silver medalist and all-tournament team member, he is more than just a shooter. Vasiljevic’s strength allows him to fight for rebounds, despite his lacking size, while he has the speed and quickness to get out in transition. He also can make plays for his teammates, making Vasiljevic an even tougher guard. On the defensive end, Vasiljevic brings a tenacity and intensity similar to his Australian counterpart, Matthew Dellavedova.
With the departure of point guard Angel Rodriguez, and Ja’Quan Newton better suited as a sixth man, Vasiljevic should have time to prove himself in his freshman season.
1 | William McDowell-White | Fresno State
As a pure point guard, William McDowell-White hasn’t received as much fanfare as the above four players. However the Brisbane native enters his freshman season as the Australian most likely to make the biggest impact.
Playing at Fresno State, McDowell-White should be eligible to play by mid-season (he cannot play immediately due to academic reasons), and he’ll make his presence felt when he finally gets a chance to step onto the court.
McDowell-White is a ready-made prospect. He is a play-making expert with a cool and calm demeanour on the offensive end, meaning McDowell-White rarely makes mistakes and ensures everyone else on his team is better. Always in control, he chooses his spots offensive effectively, whether that be attacking the rim, making the right pass thanks to his excellent court vision, or taking an improving jump shot. On the defensive end, McDowell-White plays with the same smarts he does offensively.
The Bulldogs lost three senior guards over the off-season, including the Mountain West Player of the Year and current Illawarra Hawk, Marvelle Harris. This means McDowell-White will have plenty of minutes to take on once he finally pulls on the Fresno State uniform.
Click here for a complete listing of the Australian men playing NCAA Division 1 basketball this season.