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Bossi's Best: Potential freshman sleepers

Carsen Edwards
Carsen Edwards (

Today, Bossi's Best takes a look at 10 freshmen who ranked outside the national top 50 in 2016, such as Purdue point guard Carsen Edwards, who are primed to surprise during their first year on campus

MORE: Updated 2017 team rankings | USA Basketball recap

As a high schooler: A three-star prospect when he committed in April of 2015, we initially thought Harper was a reach due to his lack of size. The summer before his senior reason, he emerged as a big-time leader and competitor.

Why he could surprise: There is no measure for heart and Harper has tons of it. He's also a natural leader and a big-time three-point shooter who plays with zero fear. Early reports out of Auburn have been quite positive and he could emerge as a Devan Downey type of player.

As a high schooler: By today's standards, Huerter was a bit of a late bloomer who didn't emerge on the national radar until the second half of his junior season. Though he could shoot, maybe his most impressive trait was his passing ability.

Why he could surprise: Because of the depth and experience that Mark Turgeon has in his backcourt, Huerter isn't a lock to start at Maryland. However, he will play major minutes. He has apparently grown to a legitimate 6-foot-7, is shooting the ball well and his passing ability has translated to the college level.

As a high schooler: Another who was unknown until after his junior season, Williams emerged out of nowhere on Nike's Elite Youth Basketball circuit with the Houston Hoops. He was a thin but bouncy athlete who played above the rim that A&M moved quickly to lock up.

Why he could surprise: The Aggies knew that Williams would be good, but word is that he's been much better than expected out of the gates. He is now pushing 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and his skill level has improved rapidly. Williams sounds like he is going to be tough to leave off the floor and NBA teams have reached out to for background information.

As a high schooler: McLaughlin's recruitment was one of the most complicated in the class of 2016. He committed to Oregon State early in his sophomore year and then backed off that pledge when coach Craig Robinson was fired. He then committed early to Washington and backed off that pledge because he felt he rushed into it. Ultimately, he ended up where he started.

Why he could surprise: McLaughlin is a prospect that was bullish on because of his size and athleticism at the point. However, we did figure he may need a year or two to adjust because of a lack of strength. Early word out of Corvallis is that McLaughlin is way ahead of schedule and pushing to begin his career as a starter. Based on early feedback, it wouldn't be a surprise if he averaged double-digit scoring.

As a high schooler: Cook was always an interesting evaluation on the high school level. For one, he was a kid that had to shed early baby fat and work hard to become a legitimate high-major big man. Also, he played with Duke freshman Jayson Tatum, who was not only an elite high school prospect, but one who dominated the ball.

Why he could surprise: The questions with Cook have been whether he has the skills to play at the four right off the bat or if he'll overcome a size deficit if he has to play at his more natural center position. Iowa has a need for a big guy to step up and Cook is said to have had a huge summer and really stepped up as a mid-range shooter, which would be huge in his development. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has been effusive with his early praise for Cook.

As a high schooler: Pugh initially planned to spend a year in prep school and make his way to college as a class of 2017 prospect. However, the opportunity to attend Stanford presented itself and after initially committing to Johnny Dawkins, Pugh stuck with the Cardinal after they replaced Dawkins with Jerod Haase.

Why he could surprise: Pugh is a college-ready athlete with a high basketball IQ and terrific motor. Because we had been evaluating him as a 2017 prospect, we were cautious with his 2016 ranking and early indications are that we might have been too cautious. Feedback from Stanford has been that he's been even better than expected and NBA personnel have reached out to express surprise about his overall skill level.

As a high schooler: There was never any question that Edwards was going to score the ball in high school. He had tons of confidence and let the ball fly. The question was whether his let-it-fly approach would translate to the college level or if he could play as a full-time point guard. Playing with five-star point guard De'Aaron Fox in the summer, Edwards was also somewhat overlooked.

Why he could surprise: One thing that Edwards has going for him is that he already played major minutes for Purdue during a summer tour of Spain. During the tour, he scored more than 16 points per game and shot an impressive 64.9 percent from the field over four games. He's still more of a natural shooting guard, but he has been an early standout and appears primed for a big freshman season.

As a high schooler: Powell always displayed a high skill level but his conditioning and shot selection were often question marks. Seton Hall never wavered and was rewarded for its efforts.

Why he could surprise: There's been a buzz coming out of early Seton Hall practices and much of it is because Powell is in top physical condition. He's apparently improved his quickness and is taking better shots, which has given him a chance to make an instant, and potentially significant, early impact.

As a high schooler: Like his older brother, Joseph Young, who is now in the NBA, Young never met a shot that he didn't like. He put up huge numbers regularly, but his somewhat wild style of play scared some teams and he jumped on a Texas offer.

Why he could surprise: There's something to be said for bloodlines and the success of Young's older brother and father, Michael (who was a star at Houston and a first round NBA Draft pick), bodes well for the Texas freshman. The makeup of the Longhorns also benefits Young. Fellow freshman Andrew Jones and sophomore Snoop Roach are both drivers and he'll be a perfect guy to spread the floor. Also, his attitude that shot 21 will go in even if he's missed the previous 20 should serve him well.

As a high schooler: Baldwin is another who was somewhat overlooked because he played with a pair of five-star guards – Michigan State's Joshua Langford and Arizona's Kobi Simmons – during the summer on the Atlanta Celtics. Others such as Clemson, Providence and Georgia Tech made moves but Butler won him over on his visit.

Why he could surprise: Frankly, it's Butler and it always seems to have a player or two outperform expectations whether they were ranked or not. He's a high level athlete who can get to the rim, but we think that it's his off-the-dribble shooting and mid-range game that is going to allow him to surprise some people as a freshman.