It's been a while since we have checked in on the future of the Big Sky... the freshmen. Let's take a look at who I've got as the top five so far, with some notes on a couple other contributors.
1. Bogdan Bliznyuk (Eastern Washington) - Over the past few weeks, Bliznyuk has not just been the best freshman offensive player in the Big Sky, but among the top offensive players for any class in the conference. He is excellent in the paint, and a good shooter from the outside to keep defenses honest. He's been rebounding the ball well also, ranking in the top 15 in the Big Sky in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages. He turns it over too much and doesn't add a ton defensively, but he is another big weapon opponents have to plan for against the Eagles.
2. Arkadiy Mkrtchyan (Idaho) - Ark has been excellent all year. He plays just under half the team's minutes, and is a good scorer who knows his role (shooting over 55% this year), is a strong presence on the defensive glass, and has shown a lot of ability to get to the foul line. He can be an all-conference guy in the future.
3. James McGee (Southern Utah) - His role is simply as a shooter off the bench, and he has played that role to perfection. In DI games, he shooting 50% from three, while rarely turning it over. He doesn't really do a whole lot of other things right now, but every team needs shooters like that.
4. Fabijan Krslovic (Montana) - He is getting a lot of minutes for a good team, which is always a positive sign for a freshman. Like other Grizzlies, he has done well to force turnovers. He has some work to do offensively, in that he turns it over too much and isn't a big threat right now, but he should be a solid building block.
5. Zach Green (Montana State) - Green is playing over 40% of the team's minutes, which should bode well for his future. He has not stood out necessarily in any particular way - he is shooting 42% on twos, takes care of the ball, and is an average rebounder for a guard - but for a freshman on a bad team, playing a lot of minutes and not standing out in a bad way can be a good thing. He will play a lot of minutes in his Bobcat career.
- Jeremy Verhagen (Northern Colorado) - Verhagen has shown an efficient offensive game in limited attempts (22/31 on twos against DI teams), but hasn't made much of an impact on the glass for a guy of his size. That will be key for his development.
- Ryan Richardson (Weber State) - He has shown flashes of being an excellent shooter, but has had more bad games than good this year. In his last five games, he's 3/23 from downtown.
- Tyler Rawson (Southern Utah) - He has slowed down a bit after a great start, but he is a guy that can be an efficient scorer and excellent rebounder on the defensive end. He also has some shot blocking abilities, with a 8.0% block rate.
- Carson Shanks (North Dakota) - Since he became eligible at semester break, he has gotten a lot of minutes for UND. Though he hasn't quite added the floor stretching element some expected, he has been a solid inside scorer, and good defensive rebounder. Brian Jones has a keeper inside here.
- Sir Washington (Eastern Washington) - He doesn't get a ton of time, but has done good things when he has been in there. His development will be interesting to watch next year.
Anybody I am forgetting?
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