Bloomington – No one in the Big Ten has more new faces on its roster than Indiana. But might the Hoosiers have the league's best newcomer as well?
Admittedly, it's premature considering everyone's season is still only a couple of weeks old. Indiana's newcomers also haven't had to out-duel any veterans for playing time since there were virtually no such players returning to the team. But statistically speaking, it's hard to argue that any newcomer has made a bigger impact than IU's Tom Pritchard.
The Hoosiers' 6'9", 242-pound freshman tops all Big Ten rookies in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (7.4), ranking him fifth in both categories overall. He's also playing a team-high 29.8 minutes/game, and his 64.8 percent field goal percentage ranks fifth in the Big Ten as well. He's led Indiana in scoring in four of its last five games, highlighted by a 23-point, seven-rebound effort against Cornell Sunday when he made all seven of his field goal attempts.
Cornell Coach Steve Donahue wasn't a big fan of how his team played Sunday, but he did come away impressed with IU's new big man.
"I've been impressed with him throughout his freshman year," Donahue said. "He knows how to play, he's a tough kid. I think as he gets more experienced and gets in even better condition, I think he's going to be a very good player in the Big Ten."
While the competition will continue to get more daunting, Pritchard has already been matched up with a handful of formidable big men. Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, Saint Joseph's Ahmad Nivins, Chaminade's Mohamed Tangara and Cornell's Jeff Foote are all proven frontcourt players that Pritchard has held up well against in the last week.
Pritchard led IU in scoring in three of those four games, which came on the heels of IU's two home openers when he became the first IU freshman to ever start his career with back-to-back double-doubles.
"He's gaining more confidence all the time," IU Coach Tom Crean said.
He also figures to gain more notoriety as well as the season wears on. Originally signed by former IU Coach Kelvin Sampson, Pritchard was expected to be a role player early in his career by the former coaching staff, someone who would need time to develop into a reliable offensive weapon. He wasn't the biggest name in IU's original recruiting class (Devin Ebanks) nor even the biggest name on his St. Edward's high school team (Michigan State freshman Delvon Roe), but now he has as good a chance as anyone to be most productive rookie in the Big Ten this season.
Who are the other freshmen who are off to fast starts?
- William Buford, Ohio State – As is the case with fellow celebrated Buckeye newcomer B.J. Mullens, Buford is coming off the bench and is averaging 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 17.7 minutes in Ohio State's first three outings. He started his career with a 12-point, four-rebound effort in the opener, but has made only 4-of-12 shots in the last two games.
- Stu Douglass, Michigan – The Carmel, Ind., product played alongside current IU freshman Daniel Moore for the Greyhounds as well as on the Indiana Elite Orange squad. Like Moore, Douglass has made an immediate impact with 4.7 points per game, 1.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 22.7 minutes. He's started all six of Michigan's games.
- Matt Gatens, Iowa – The 6-5, 215-pound Iowa City product is averaging 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for Coach Todd Lickliter's squad. Gatens is shooting 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from behind the 3-point arc, ranking him third in the Big Ten.
- Colton Iverson, Minnesota – Minnesota is one of several conference teams relying a great deal on newcomers, and the 6'10", 235-pound Iverson has averaged 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 19.2 minutes/game in the early going. The South Dakota native is also shooting 66.7 percent (20-of-30) from the field.
- Lewis Jackson, Purdue – An AAU teammate of IU freshman Matt Roth, Jackson has played his way into Purdue's eight-man rotation and is averaging 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 19.5 minutes/game. He has a nearly 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (20:7), but he's struggled with his shot early on (9-of-26, 34.6 percent).
- Daniel Moore, Indiana – the only walk-on our list, Moore has handled the majority of work at point guard and is averaging 4.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while playing nearly 25 minutes per game. He's been particularly good in his last two outings, averaging 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 29.0 minutes in wins over Chaminade and Cornell.
- B.J. Mullens, Ohio State – The highest-ranked recruit entering the Big Ten this season, the 7'0" Mullens is averaging 5.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16.3 minutes/game.
- Delvon Roe, Michigan State – Pritchard's high school teammate has carved out a niche on Tom Crean's team despite the presence of plenty of returning talent. Roe is averaging 6.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 15.8 minutes per game, but is still a bit limited by the two knee surgeries he's had in the last 13 months. He is coming off a nine-point, 11-rebound effort against Wichita State where he played a season-high 19 minutes.
- Ralph Sampson, Minnesota – The son of the former college and NBA star has made an immediate impression for Tubby Smith's Gopher squad, averaging 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 15.7 minutes/game. Sampson missed a game earlier this season due to strep throat, but had a season-high 12 this past weekend against North Dakota State.
- Anthony Tucker, Iowa – Freshman shooting guard from Minnetonka, Minn., ranks second to Pritchard in scoring (15.1) among Big Ten freshmen. Tucker is also averaging 4.6 rebounds per game and shooting 43.5 percent from behind the 3-point arc. His 27 3-pointers leads the Big Ten.
- Nick Williams, Indiana – Pritchard's Hoosier teammate is coming off his best game of his young career, scoring 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting against Cornell. Williams ranks third on the Hoosiers in scoring (9.7), rebounding (4.3) and minutes (27.0) and is shooting 51.1 percent from the floor.
Pritchard, Others Make Solid First Impression
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