Thursday, Texas landed a signature from Cameron Ridley, a center ranked as the the No. 9 overall prospect in the class by Scout.com. But now that he's in the fold, what can the Longhorns expect from the Richmond Bush product as a freshman?
To predict the future, we must look to the past. In the past five years, Scout.com has ranked 20 post players in the top-10 overall.* They are listed below, with class ranking and their true freshman year competition.
* Technically, 21 post players were ranked, but one included Enes Kanter, who was declared ineligible by the NCAA. Since the point is looking at true freshman production, Kanter has been omitted.
2011 (3 top-10 post players)
8) Terrence Jones, Kentucky — 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks
10) Tristan Thompson, Texas — 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks
3) DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky — 15.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks
4) John Henson, North Carolina — 5.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks
3) B.J. Mullens, Ohio State — 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks
10) Ed Davis, North Carolina — 6.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks
8) Donte Greene, Syracuse — 17.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks
Players listed in italics played fewer than 20 minutes per game as freshmen. While relevant, it is reasonable to expect that Ridley will not find his playing time blocked by depth as, say, McAdoo did, and will probably find at least 20 minutes per game next year. For comparison's sake, the Longhorns' top seven players played 20 minutes per contest in 2011-2012, including three different post players.
Out of the 20 players who made it to college basketball, 15 played at least 20 minutes per game as true freshmen (we aren't counting Renardo Sidney, since he technically sat out his first year before producing as a redshirt freshman). That isn't necessarily an arbitrary number, as no regular player in the Big 12 in 2011-2012 averaged double-figure scoring while playing 23 minutes or fewer. Texas Tech's Jordan Tolbert played the fewest average minutes of any double-digit scorer in the league at 23.9 minutes per contest, and only two other players accomplished the feat while averaging under 25 minutes.
Of those 15 players above, 14 averaged double-digit scoring. The lone exception was Ohio State center B.J. Mullens, who averaged 8.8 points per game in 20.3 minutes in 2008-2009. And 12 of those 15 averaged at least seven rebounds per game. The average player put up 14.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per contest. The take-home message is pretty simple: if you're projected as a top post player, and you get the time to show what you can do, you're probably going to produce at a high level immediately.
Of course, Texas is no stranger to players on this list. Tristan Thompson was actually rated one spot lower in the 2010 rankings, then went on to be one of the Big 12's most productive big men that season, scoring 13.1 points, grabbing 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
It would be surprising to see Ridley block that many shots. He's a strong positional defender with a good sense of shot-blocking timing, but Thompson paired that timing with outstanding athleticism, seen as the one drawback to Ridley's game. But it's worth noting that Thompson was considered totally raw offensively before entering the 40 Acres, and Ridley will have a high-level passing point guard setting the table, which Thompson lacked. And Ridley's strength is as a rebounder, where he's considered an elite prospect.
So don't be surprised if Ridley comes just short of the average in points per game, matches or tops the rebounding numbers and comes close in blocked shots. And if he does that — putting up around 13 points per game, grabbing eight or more rebounds per game and blocking around 1.5 shots per contest — the Longhorns should be much improved in the post next season.