Stanford Week: Running Down The ReturneesPosted by Connor Pelton on July 19th, 2012
The Cardinal return five players from last season’s main rotation. Below, we’ll take a look at each of these returnees in order of their scoring averages in the last season played.
- Chasson Randle, Sophomore, Guard (13.8 PPG, 2.1 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG) – Looking for the reason why Stanford won 26 games in 2011-12? Look no further than Randle, the freshman sensation who took over this team from the day he arrived on campus. Even when he would have a rough day putting the ball in the hoop (those days came few and far between), his body language and leadership displayed by the freshman would have neutral observers thinking he was a uppperclassman. Randle led the team with 13.8 PPG but could easily explode for many more on any given night. In Stanford’s first round game of the Pac-12 Tournament against Arizona State, Randle dazzled the Staples Center crowd, going for 30 points and picking up three steals on the defensive end. Randle is a “score first” type of point guard, but expect that role to change slightly in 2012-13. Johnny Dawkins needs to keep the ball in Randle’s hands, but if there was one ongoing problem last year, it was that the offense could become stale and bogged down at times because they didn’t have a true passing guard at the one. Randle will still have all the freedom he can handle in the Cardinal offense, because quite frankly they can’t afford for him not to, but he needs to distribute better. Once he proves to opponents that he can do that, there will be even more of an opportunity to score off the dribble or on a jump shot.
- Aaron Bright, Junior, Guard (11.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 3.6 APG) – Bright was the Cardinal’s best passer last season, but he also fit in perfectly within Dawkins’ system of “everyone on the floor has to be able to score” basketball. He saw the floor for an average of 28.4 MPG yet wasn’t always a full-time starter. That will change next season with the departure of Jarrett Mann. The balance of distributing and scoring in the offense that Bright has shown needs to be copied by the younger guards, mainly Randle. If Bright and Randle are both triple threats in 2012-13, Stanford could easily find itself dancing come March.
- Anthony Brown, Junior, Guard/Forward (8.1 PPG, 1.0 APG) – Brown has played identical minutes in his two seasons on the Farm. While a freshman in 2010-11, Brown seemed to focus a bit more on his play as a guard, but that changed last year. Brown played much more as a spread-out small forward who was willing to do anything to get the rebound. With Josh Owens, Andrew Zimmerman, and Jack Trotter all graduating, Brown will continue to play in that role for the most part. He’s got tremendous upside and looks prime for a breakout junior season.
- Dwight Powell, Junior, Forward (5.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG) – Thanks to an early season ankle injury that caused him to miss the first two games of the season, Powell struggled to get into a rhythm and build off a great freshman campaign. It wasn’t until mid-February that Powell finally began to find his stride, and by then he had to battle the plethora of forwards on the Cardinal depth chart who were already taking his minutes. He’s fully healthy now, and he should be able to build off that strong finish in which he averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the Cardinal’s final 12 games. His length and athleticism not only poses numerous matchup problems for opponents, but he is always a threat to swat a weak shot attempt inside the lane. He was inconsistent getting to the free throw line, meaning he’d get five attempts one game and zero the next, but he was the fourth-best free throw shooter in Dawkins’ seven-man rotation last season. He shot 62.5% from the charity stripe and made a career high seven free throws against Oregon State, very good numbers for a big man.
- Josh Huestis, Junior, Forward (5.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG) – Unlike many players on the Stanford roster, Huestis has gone through the normal year-by-year process. While many Cardinal players saw major minutes in their freshman seasons followed by fewer in their next year, Huestis graduated from a mop-up role in 2010-11 to a regular rotation guy last season. Huestis’ best contributions to the Cardinal have and will come in his shot-blocking ability. With both Powell and Huestis’ long wingspans in the middle, opposing coaches will have nightmares figuring out how to beat Stanford on offense when shooting is a problem. He’s got a long way to go on the offensive end of the floor, but the potential is there. If he doesn’t have a breakout season in 2012-13, watch out when he is a senior.