Roundtable: Who’s the best freshman athlete on campus?

Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson initiates the offense during UConn's exhibition against Lubbock Christian. The Huskies were voted No. 1 in the AP poll this week. (Amar Batra/ The Daily Campus)

With so many talented coaches and successful teams on campus, each incoming freshmen class is loaded with gifted athletes looking to make an immediate impact at the collegiate level, and this year is no different at UConn. With the basketball teams bringing in their usual standout recruits, teams such as men’s hockey have begun to land top-rated prospects as well as they look to improve in their second year in Hockey East, the best hockey conference in the country.

The Daily Campus sports staff weighs in on the best freshmen athletes on campus this season, and which one of them will make the biggest impact.

Matt Barresi, Campus Correspondent

It’s hard to go against Katie Lou Samuelson from the women’s basketball team. According to ESPN as well as other sources, she was the number one recruit in the nation last year. It’s hard to say there’s any freshman better than her when you take that into account. A 6’3” wing, she is a likely candidate to be the next big name in UConn’s dominance and would be a wise pick to win National Player of the Year one day. She already has a starting spot on what is obviously an incredibly talented team. She only had eight points in the team’s rout of Lubbock Christian but her future for the season is bright as she will be a focal point of their success this season.

Peter Harasyko, Staff Writer

UConn men's ice hockey forward Max Letunov (27) is UConn's leading scorer this season. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

When you look at the impact that each freshman on campus has on his or her team, it is pretty clear that Max Letunov, from the men’s hockey team, stands a class above the rest. In all the years I’ve watched UConn sports, I don’t think I’ve seen a freshman have as much impact on a game as Letunov. He’s always in the right spots on the ice, his vision is off the charts and he has an innate hockey sense that, according to his coach, you simply can’t teach.

Through seven games, Letunov is UConn’s stat leader in every offensive category with five goals, six assists, and 11 total points. As a freshman, he’s 10th in the nation in goals, 18th in assists, and sixth in overall scoring. UConn has a bunch of really talented freshman this year, but none of them come close to matching Letunov’s skill.

Aaron Esposito, Staff Writer

Freshman guard Jalen Adams (#2) looks to make a play during UConn's exhibition against University of Tampa. Adams hails from the same hometown as UConn legend Shabazz Napier. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

I don’t know if he’ll have the immediate impact of Samuelson or Letunov, but Jalen Adams probably has the highest ceiling of any UConn freshman athlete. The five-star guard from Roxbury, Mass. is going to find significant minutes on a deep roster this season and could emerge as one of college basketball’s most promising young players.

Everyone will compare him to fellow Roxbury native Shabazz Napier, but Adams is a more explosive guard that will get to the rim and excel in transition right from the start. He has also shown a smooth jumper and court vision beyond his years. Don’t be surprised if Adams becomes a leader on this team, despite the obvious depth and experience.  

The 6-foot-1 point guard projects nicely as an NBA prospect and could see his UConn career cut short by draft hype in coming years. Dick Vitale has already declared Adams a “diaper dandy” and The American selected him as Preseason Rookie of the Year. If the freshman lives up to expectations, he could be the next great UConn guard.