By Dalton Ray–
Every year, true freshmen make an immediate impact. For U of L in 2016-2017, field hockey’s Minout Mink, men’s tennis’ Parker Wynn, men’s soccer’s Cherif Dieye and volleyball’s Melaine McHenry made the list. Who makes the list in 2017-2018?
CJ Avery, football
Avery enrolled early and has been practicing with the team since the spring. With the departure of Josh Harvey-Clemons and new defensive coordinator, one safety spot is open. Dee Smith is likely to get the first nod, but Avery isn’t going to let Smith have it easily. Avery has earned first team reps during the off-season and is impressive in workouts.
Another advantage Avery has is his ability to play different positions or the hybrid position like Harvey-Clemons did last season. If defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon wants to have a 4-2-5 scheme without losing any run defense, he can easily plug Avery.
Malik Williams, men’s basketball
Coach Rick Pitino has been vocal about recruiting shooters in the past three years. More recently, he’s shifting that focus to front court players. Enter Williams.
Playing right across the river in Indiana, Williams is a classic stretch-four and that can play the five if need be. Pitino is reluctant to play freshmen, but Williams may see the most time of any freshman since Chane Behanan in 2012 because of his impact on both sides of the floor.
Dana Evans, women’s basketball
Evans is the No. 7 player in the 2017 class according to ESPN, making her the highest ranked recruit since Asia Durr. Evans is a brisk point guard that uses her speed to blow by defenders at the high school level.
From Gary, Indiana, Evans will likely have trouble adjusting in the beginning but she is a dynamic player that will demand to be on the court. With Briahanna Jackson graduating, there is a spot open in the back court behind Durr and Arica Carter.
Maya Smith, women’s tennis
Speaking of highest ranked recruits coming to Louisville, Smith is Mark Beckham’s biggest pull since Aleksandra Mally in 2014. Smith is the No. 44 player in the country and hails from Texas.
Smith is an aggressive player whose athletism allows her to control the court. She will push all returners for minutes next season.
Jordon Adell, baseball
The final player is a local product from Ballard High School. According to BaseballFactory.com, Adell is the second-ranked prospect in the 2017 class and will likely be taken in the MLB draft. Still with much-needed improvement, Adell should stick with the college route.
Adell has top-notch raw ability with his arm, speed and size. He needs development at the plate but Adell is a player you put on the field and watch him go to work. With three seniors leaving the outfield, Adell will be in the mix for 2018.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal