It should come as no surprise to college basketball fans that freshmen have come to possess a significant portion of the star power in the sport. Just look at this year’s NBA draft, where the first upperclassman was not selected until Duke sophomore Luke Kennard with 12th pick. So while some returning players will undoubtedly have a major impact in 2017–18 season, it’s important to get to know the new faces who may come to occupy the spotlight.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top 25 incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. We move to the No. 15 overall recruit, Louisville's Brian Bowen.
What he means for Louisville’s recruiting class
Bowen was an unexpected late addition to a Cardinals class that already included power forward and fellow five-star Malik Williams, along with three four-stars in point guard Darius Perry and forwards Jordan Nwora and Lance Thomas. After last year’s leading scorer Donovan Mitchell decided to stay in the NBA draft (his confidence has been rewarded with a lottery pick and promising early returns for the Jazz), Rick Pitino had expressed comfort with the lineup he had assembled, but Bowen’s decision leaves the Cardinals’ cupboard fully restocked.
How he fits
Louisville has proven it doesn’t want or need to rain down threes to power its efficient offense, and until he earns his team’s trust as a reliable option from long distance, Bowen too may carve out his early offensive value off the dribble before stepping outside the arc. Before landing Bowen, Pitino had laid out a plan to move third-leading scorer Deng Adel to two guard and increase rising sophomore and former five-star V.J. King’s workload on the wing, which simplifies Bowen’s path to contributing immediately—King averaged 5.5 points per game in reserve minutes last season and wouldn’t be expected to deliver a consistent share of the scoring right away.
Despite Mitchell’s departure, Louisville should once again defend well enough to remain in the ACC’s elite quartile and run with anyone in the country on a given night—with North Carolina losing several stars of its national championship lineup and Duke working in a new crop of blue-chip freshmen around Grayson Allen, the pecking order is far from settled. Senior guard Quentin Snider should be a steadying presence in case the Cardinals need time to find their footing on the offensive end, but it’s a safe bet to assume they’ll have it figured out by January.