Now that we are close to ten games in for each team, let's take a look at some of the stars of tomorrow in the Big Sky - some of the freshmen who have been getting a good amount of playing time so far. In no particular order, a brief look at some of them...
- Bogdan Bliznyuk (Eastern Washington) - It's not easy getting minutes for a talented EWU team, but Bliznuk is playing about a quarter of the team's minutes. He is scoring about three points per game, but that has come from 7/11 FG overall and 3/3 from behind the arc, meaning he has been efficient. Against DI opponents, he is rebounding 15.9% of his team's available offensive misses, which is great. He will continue to struggle for minutes to the talent talent up front they have, but he looks like he will be a good player.
- Hayden Hunter (Weber State) - Playing decent minutews at PG, Hunter has had his ups and downs. He hasn't shown much of a scoring ability yet, scoring just seven points on the year despite playing double digit minutes in each contest. He looks like a playmaker, with a 24.3 Assist Rate against DI teams, but is turning the ball over way too much (almost twice per game). It will be interesting to watch his development, because WSU may need his ability to create for others this season.
- Fabijan Krslovic (Montana) - The true freshman has been starting and playing pretty good minutes for the Grizzlies. As a combo forward, he has been solid offensively, making 50% of his shots. He has been above average on the offensive glass, but needs to contribute more grabbing defensive rebounds. He has shown a knack for blocking some shots so far, with seven in six games.
- Arkadiy Mrkrtchyan (Idaho) - He started five games so far for the Vandals, but has struggle a bit. If you take out the opener against Eastern Oregon (where he had 18 and 8), he has shot 33% from the floor and struggled rebounding the basketball. He has also struggled a bit with fouls, including fouling out against NIU. He has shown some offensive pop overall, including ability from the outside. I would expect his minutes and production to ebb and flow, but it's always a good sign when a true freshman is playing as many minutes early as he is so far.
- Zach Green (Montana State) - He has struggled with his outside shot, hitting just one of nine threes so far on the year. Outside of their loss to Grand Canyon, he has struggled overall offensively, as he has just two field goals in the other six games. He has shown good ability as an offensive rebounder for a guard, and we will have to see if that holds. The good news for him is that he should continue to see 15+ minutes a game, because MSU will struggle this year, and his development will be important for the future.
- Tyler Rawson (Southern Utah) - Early on in the season, Rawson has probably been the best freshman who is playing minutes, as he gotten 20+ minutes in each game and been very productive with his time. He has made 15/21 two-pointers which is not sustainable, but the good news is that he has also been very good at getting to the line (though struggled once he got there), which is a positive development for his future. He has been out of this world as a defensive rebounder, with a rate that ranks in the top 15 in the country. He is also blocking shots well. Coming off the best game of his young career in the win against UTSA, SUU could have a future building block on its hands.
Anyone else that has caught your eye? I'll try to do this every few weeks during the year, since one of my favorite things about college basketball is seeing player's growth through the year and throughout their career. Hopefully these guys will continue to get minutes, and a few more will emerge as well!
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