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August 15, 2007
The 2006-07 college basketball season will go down as the Year of the Freshman.
One (Texas' Kevin Durant) was the consensus national player of the year. Two (Ohio State's Greg Oden and Mike Conley) took their teams to the national title game. Several others like Arizona' Chase Budinger, Javarris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young of Georgia Tech, North Carolina's Brandan Wright and Cal's Ryan Anderson made big impacts.
Will there be another Durant in 2007-08? What can we expect from the top freshmen who didn't turn pro?
Nobody may be better equipped to answer those questions than DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright.
Wainwright coached the Americans to a second-place finish at the U-19 World Championships in Serbia last month. The team was comprised of eight of the nation's top rising sophomores and four five-star recruits from the class of 2007, including Rivals.com's No. 1-ranked prospect Michael Beasley.
Wainwright got to see each under some of the toughest situations imaginable.
The American team, which lost Kansas power forward Darrell Arthur to a leg injury just days before the tournament started, played 12 games in nine days. In every game, they were made to feel like the enemy.
"It was a very anti-American crowd," said Wainwright, who was aided by George Washington's Karl Hobbs and Drexel's Bruiser Flint. "The players were spit at and had things thrown at them. There are a lot of hard feelings there, and unfortunately your politics follow you. But the guys stayed focused. We had great chemistry. None of our players were in the top 10 in scoring, but we created the most steals of any team. They played hard, and I couldn't be prouder of what they accomplished."
Wainwright gave his thoughts on the players in a candid interview with Rivals.com. Here's a breakdown of what he said about each player - along their stats from the tournament. (* - Denotes team leader.)