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Karalis: Looking at the City 6 newcomer's first months

12/18/2019, 11:45am EST
By Pan Karalis

Pan Karalis (@KaralisPan)

Villanova's Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (above) has been one of many newcomers who've made an instant impact on the City 6. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

The non-conference portion of the 2019-20 Division I basketball season is nearly over, though there's still a few more games to be played before things really flip over in January. We figured this would be a good time to look around the City 6 at all the players who are in their first year of playing ball in the city, and see how they've adjusted to their new surroundings:

Drexel (5-6)
TJ Bickerstaff (Fr./PF)
Bickerstaff hasn’t yet matched his performance in his debut for Drexel at Liacouras Center against Temple when he scored 16 points and grabbed seven boards, but the 6-foot-9 freshman wing forward from Atlanta has become a valuable part of Drexel’s rotation through the first month-plus of the season (5.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 apg). Bickerstaff is playing almost 18 minutes a contest for Zach Spiker’s squad, and would probably see a few more if he could keep his fouling down. He's yet to hit a three on 11 attempts on the season, but is shooting almost 80% from the line on about three attempts per game. 

Mate Okros (Fr./SF)
The highly-touted 6-6 Hungarian-British forward has had a productive start to his Drexel career. The freshman is averaging 5.8 ppg in over 23 minutes per game. He's grabbing a few rebounds (2.2 rpg), but where he's been especially effective for Drexel has been from behind the 3-point line; Okros has attempted three-point shots at over twice the rate as he has from inside the three-point line, and hitting 40% from deep, second-best on the team of players with 30-or-more attempts.

La Salle (6-3)
Ayinde Hikim (Fr./PG)
Hikim has been a key piece for La Salle through its first nine games, leading the group in assists (3.2 apg) in fewer than 18 minutes per. The 5-11 freshman out of Mount Zion Prep (D.C.) is also adding a handful of points, averaging 5.6/game to this point, getting most of his production by getting to the rim. Ashley Howard’s first recruit as La Salle head coach has already become a pivotal part of the Explorers’ offense, but he’s been effective on the defensive side of the ball, too, averaging more than a steal per game. 

Sherif Kenney (Fr./G)
Kenney started the first three games for the Explorers before being moved to the bench, but he continues to be a major contributor for La Salle, averaging about 20 minutes per game, 7.6 points, and 2.7 assists per game. His best performance was in a win for La Salle over Sun Belt-favorite South Alabama: Kenney dropped 15 points in 33 minutes, and added four rebounds and four assists; he’s scored 13-or-more three times this season.

Christian Ray (Fr./SF)
Ray had a tough time finishing his shots to open the season, shooting 12-31 (.387) so far, but the 6-6 freshman out of the Haverford School has begun finding the nylon for La Salle. Ray is also pulling down about four boards a game in less than 20 minutes on the floor, and he’s also averaging an assist and steal per outing. He’s heated up lately, scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in his last three games, including an eight-point, seven-rebound outing in 24 minutes against Morgan State.

Scott Spencer (Fr./SG)
The 6-6 Clemson transfer has already established himself as one of La Salle’s top rebounders, averaging 4.6 rebounds and 8.4 points a game. Spencer has started every game, and been one of the team’s most dangerous outside threats; he’s sank 42.9% of his three-point attempts so far this season, good for second on the roster behind Saul Phiri and top-200 nationally, according to KenPom.

Brandon Stone (Fr./F)
Stone has been one of the La Salle’s most efficient scorers this season, scoring over 17 points per 40 minutes played and owning the team’s highest offensive rating, according to College Basketball Reference, at 112.7. But the 6-11 Alverton, PA native has kept himself off the floor with foul trouble, committing three or more fouls four times in nine games in only 11.4 minutes per game. Stone is a scoring threat inside and from the perimeter for the Explorers, and could figure to be a major piece of their offense moving forward. 

Penn (5-4)
Jordan Dingle (Fr./G)
An unranked recruit out of Blairstown, NJ, Dingle has quickly carved out a primary role on Steve Donahue’s team, averaging 17.4 points and playing more minutes per game than any other Quaker through the first nine games of the season, though he missed one along the way due to injury. The 6-3 freshman guard has been vital to the successes Penn has had in the young season, hitting key shots down the stretch in Penn’s upset on the road against Alabama in his first college game and playing all 40 minutes at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in another big win against Providence. 

Max Martz (Fr./SF)
The 6-6 Ohio native hasn’t come out of the gate as explosively as fellow Penn freshman Dingle, but Martz has earned a spot in Donahue’s rotation. He’s averaging 4.6 points on over 47% shooting from 3-point range in over 16 mpg. He scored 10 in a loss to Lafayette, and had a career day against Long Beach State in Penn’s last contest at the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim; he scored 17 for the Quakers in 25 minutes, going 5-of-6 from beyond the 3-point line. 

Lucas Monroe (Fr./G)
Another Penn freshman finding the floor for Donahue is the 6-6 guard out of Abington Senior High School. He’s also been a marginal offensive contributor to Penn’s efforts so far this season, adding 3 points a game in about 14 minutes per, but where he’s really shined is on the defensive end. The 6-6 wing guard can guard all three perimeter positions and has even shown he can defend the post, which helps make up for his lack of ability thus far to stretch the floor (2-of-7 from 3-point range).

Ryan Daly (above) has been everything St. Joe's expected him to be after scoring 1,000 points in two years at Delaware. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Saint Joseph’s (2-9)
Ryan Daly (R-Jr./G)
The Delaware transfer that scored a thousand points during his two seasons with the Blue Hens has been burdened with carrying a rebuilding St. Joe's squad early in 2019-20. He's leading the Hawks in most major statistical categories, including points (20.2 ppg), rebounds (8.1 rpg), assists (4.5 apg). He scored 30 and grabbed eight rebounds in St. Joe's' big win at Gampel Pavilion against Connecticut. He’s top-40 in both assist rate and percentage of team’s shots taken, meaning he’s one of the most used players in division one basketball. A mark of 27.3% from ‘3’ could stand to improve, but he'll be under serious consideration for Big 5 and Atlantic 10 player of the year honors if he maintains this pace into March. 

Myles Douglas (Soph./SF)
The 6-8 UCF transfer is getting his first share of starter's minutes as a college basketball player, but has struggled to find consistency as Saint Joseph’s has stumbled to a 2-9 start. Douglas was a key piece in both of the Hawks’ wins, adding significant production behind Ryan Daly before SJU’s current eight-game losing streak started last month at Loyola-Chicago. He scored in double-digits for the first time since the Connecticut win in St. Joe’s’ 108-61 loss to Temple on December 10th. He’s averaging 7.6 points and has been taking much better care of the ball over the Hawks’ last five games (he’s committed as many turnovers in that span as he did in Saint Joseph’s season-opening win against Bradley alone), but they’ll need more production from Douglas to have a shot at staying competitive once Atlantic 10 play starts.

Rahmir Moore (Fr./G)
The 6-3 freshman out of RISE Prep in Ontario is Saint Joseph’s third-leading scorer, averaging 8.2 points on the year. The Philly native has played at least 20 minutes in every game for the Hawks so far this year (except for the lopsided-loss at Temple, during which coach Billy Lange opted to keep some of his significant contributors on the bench during much of the second half), and added 22 points and three steals in the Connecticut victory. Moore has also cooled off after a hot start during which he was St. Joe’s’ best shooter from the field, averaging only 4.0 points per game over SJU’s last five games.

Temple (7-3)
Josh Pierre-Louis (Fr./PG)
The Pierre-Louis name isn’t new for Philadelphia basketball fans. The younger brother of Temple star Nate came to campus this summer as a freshman, and has many of the same skill-sets that have propelled Nate’s success during his first two-plus years in college; he’s a tenacious defender and athletic finisher around the rim, but has the ability to shoot the ball and run point the way his older brother doesn’t. The 6-3 Plainfield, NJ product had a big game in Los Angeles against USC in November, scoring 15 and helping lead the Owls to a 70-61 win, but has seen his minutes vary as he’s adjusted to the college game and dealt with injury. Overall he’s averaging 4.1 ppg and 1.3 apg.

Arashma Parks (R-Fr./F)
The 6-9 forward out of the Phelps School sat out his first year on campus with an injury, and has started to see more time with Damion Moore playing only three minutes since early in the season with a back problem. He’s averaging only under three points a game, having often kept himself off the floor with foul trouble (he’s committed 16 fouls in only 72 minutes of play this season), but the crafty and athletic forward has proven an effective frontcourt presence for Temple when he has played. He scored a career-high 10 in a blowout against St. Joe’s last week, and is averaging 2.4 ppg and 2.6 rpg.

Monty Scott (R-Jr./G)
Scott averaged over 17 points a game in his sophomore season at Kennesaw State before transferring to Temple, but had a difficult time finding an offensive rhythm on a deeper Temple squad. He’s scoring under 6.3 points per game on the season, but is averaging 8.7 over Temple’s last six. He’s found a role as the seventh or eighth man off Aaron McKie’s bench, seeing just under 20 minutes a game. Scott’s scored in double-digits three times, in Orlando against Texas A&M and against Saint Joseph’s, as well as against Miami (Fl.). He has had trouble taking care of the basketball at times, turning the ball over three or more times on three separate occasions. 

Jake Forrester (Soph./F)
The Indiana transfer had his eligibility confirmed just a few weeks ago when the NCAA approved his transfer waiver, and the 6-8 Harrisburg native found an immediate role when he was able to join the rotation in Orlando over Thanksgiving. He had his best game in an Owls uniform in last Tuesday’s win against St. Joe’s, tallying 17 points in on a perfect 8-8 shooting performance from the field. Forrester has had difficulties staying out of foul trouble himself, committing 15 personal fouls over his first five games, but has become a primary contributor in Aaron McKie’s frontcourt. Forrester is averaging 8.7 points and 5.0 rebounds, and his numbers have only been increasing as he's found his offensive rhythm. 

Villanova (8-2)
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Fr./PF)
The 15th-ranked player in the 2019 recruiting class is making a serious case to join an NBA roster this summer. The 6-9 freshman is averaging over 12 points and almost 10 rebounds on a Villanova squad that has looked like a team with second-weekend potential early in the season despite a few losses; he’s even hitting 35% from deep and 83.9% from the foul line. Jay Wright’s team will likely need Robinson-Earl to continue on this hot pace for Villanova to expect to compete with Seton Hall, Xavier and a surprising Butler team in the Big East.  

Justin Moore (Fr./G)
Another top-100 recruit for Jay Wright, the 6-4 guard from Maryland is averaging over 12 points a game for Villanova and has started six of the Wildcats’ 10 games this year. He’s playing 28 minutes a game and has shot 16-of-37 (.432) from behind the arc on the young season, but his numbers drop significantly in contests considers ‘A’ and ‘B’ tier games; in those games, his offensive rating drops from a 106.6 average to 55.6, effective field goal percentage from a top-350 55.8% to 42.3%, and his turnover rate jumps from 17.7% to 31.2%. His best performance was a 25-point outburst against La Salle at Finneran Pavilion.

Bryan Antoine (Fr./SG)
Another top-20 prospect and highly-touted Villanova freshman, Antoine missed the first four games of the season after offseason shoulder surgery. In six games since he's been on the court, he's yet to display the powerful scoring ability he displayed at the Ranney School (N.J.), averaging 2.2 ppg on 6-of-10 shooting and 1-of-4 from deep.

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