The New England high school class of 2018 was one of the best in recent memory with 11 local prospects among the top 100 nationally and numerous others headed to other high-major schools.
When Providence meets Creighton on Saturday, three of the top ten players in that class will be reunited on the floor, and one of them is showing that he might have been under-rated.
The Friars, of course, feature David Duke and A.J. Reeves, who were both top five rated prospects within New England in that class along with Simisola Shittu, Cole Swider, and Nate Laszewski.
Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski finished #10 that year but has had arguably a better college career than anyone on that list to date and is now considered one of the best players in the Big East.
As a freshman, he started 16 of 32 games but averaged almost 29 minutes per night while scoring 10.4 points per game on 45% shooting from the floor, 43% from three, and 77% from the free-throw line and adding over 3 assists and rebounds per game. He was one of two unanimous selections to the Big East’s All-Freshman team along with Georgetown’s James Akinjo, who has since transferred out of the league.
This year, he’s emerged into the primary offensive option for a Creighton team that is off to a 13-4 start. He’s averaging a team high 17.1 points and 4.8 assists along with nearly 4 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 49% from the floor, 38% from the arc, and 73% from the stripe.
While Zegarowski may not have had the physical measurables of some other prospects in the class in terms of his size, length, or athleticism, he was probably the most naturally competitive of the bunch, not to mention highly skilled and completely committed to the game.
And now, 18 months after leaving the prep ranks, he has had more early success and production than anyone else in the class. Here’s a rundown of how the rest of the group has fared:
Cole Swider – He saw a limited role as a freshman, which is not uncommon at Villanova, but has now started 10 games in his sophomore year while averaging 9 points per game and shooting 43% from the arc, 51% from the field, and 86% from the line while adding 4 rebounds.
Simi Shittu – He started 31 of 32 games during his freshman season at Vanderbilt, but didn’t quite live up to expectations, averaging 11 points per game on 47% shooting while adding just under 7 rebounds for a team that finished last in the SEC. He nonetheless declared for the draft, went undrafted, and was subsequently signed by the Chicago Bulls and currently plays for their G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.
David Duke – Duke is arguably Providence’s most complete player as a sophomore. He doesn’t always put up gaudy numbers offensively, but his overall production continues to grow (12ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.8apg, 42% FG, 81% FT, 46% 3pt) while he’s established himself as the team’s best perimeter defender.
Nate Laszewski – He’s playing 20 minutes per game while coming off the bench for Notre Dame right now. He averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds but is shooting 40% from the floor and 31% from behind the arc, which was expected to be his niche.
AJ Reeves – After starting his college career with a bang, Reeves has yet to get into a great rhythm as a sophomore. He’s averaged 6.3ppg on just 33% shooting from the floor and 25% shooting from behind the arc as he’s often had to settle for tough looks.
Derek Culver – After a freshman year that began with a quick suspension, it is now abundantly clear that Culver picked the right college program as Bob Huggins has gotten the best out of this always undeniable talent. Culver is currently averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds for a West Virginia squad that is 14-2.
Cormac Ryan – After playing 29 minutes per game as a freshman at Stanford while putting up an inefficient 9 points on 33% shooting from the floor and 31% from the arc, Ryan made the surprising decision to transfer and is now sitting out at Notre Dame, where he’ll join Lazewski next year.
Isaiah Mucius – He’s started all 16 games for Wake Forest so far this season and is putting up nearly 7 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes of play for a squad that is currently 8-8 overall.
Miles Norris – He played in 27 games last year for an Oregon team that won the Pac-12. He is currently at the City College of San Francisco and has signed a National Letter of Intent to join UC Santa Barbara next year for his final two seasons of eligibility.
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