Coming & Going Columbia – High-Upside Potential

It’s an exciting time at Columbia. Kyle Smith’s new seven-man recruiting class is one that looks to be able to lead the Lions toward the top of the Ivy League. There are a lot of players in the 2011 class who, if they develop, could become big contributors.

One of those players is 6’10 center Corey Osetkowski. Last season he dominated weak high school competition to the tune of 19.6 PPG, 16 RPG and 6.8 BPG. That was a big leap from his junior season, but now he’ll have to make the even bigger transition to Division I collegiate athletics. Incidentally, Osetkowski was also recruited by DI schools to play baseball, so you know he’s very athletic for a guy his size.

Athletic big men seem to be the theme of this class. Smith brought in just one guard, Californian Noah Springwater, in his first round of recruiting. Springwater was the Player of the Year in his high school league last season and was also named First Team All-City by A left-handed guard with a knack for scoring, Springwater should have time to develop in Columbia’s rotation.

One of the players in the class, Chris Fitzgerald, won’t be able to contribute this season. The transfer from George Washington will have three years of eligibility remaining once he sits out the 2011-12 campaign.

Two players who were teammates last season are also coming to Columbia. Alex Rosenberg and Skylar Scrivano played on a Peddie School team that went just 5-19 last season. Rosenberg, a 6’7 forward, was named Third Team All-Prep by the Newark Star-Ledger. Scrivano seems like a player with a lot of upside, but he averaged only 7 points per game last season and appears to be a bit injury prone. Hopefully the 6’9 forward can put it all together and give the Lions another big body underneath.

The other two big men that Smith recruited seem to have a lot of potential as well. Samer Ozeir averaged 19 PPG and 12.6 RPG last season at Novi in Michigan. He has also played for the Lebanese national team and led the team in minutes at the 2010 Asian Championships. Another Midwestern recruit, Darius Stevens averaged 15.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 1.5 BPG during his senior season at La Lumiere in Merrllville, Indiana. Stevens might be the highest regarded prospect of the bunch.

Those seven guys will have to help Smith during his second season as head coach of the Lions. The expected attrition of coaching change happened at Columbia as well. Two players, Dyami Starks (Bryant) and Danny Feldmann (Missouri), transfered out of the program. Along with four graduating seniors, it left Smith with a lot of holes to fill.

The biggest one is going to be that of Aseno Ampim. The 6’6 forward led Columbia in rebounding last season at 6.8 per game and was also third in scoring averaging 8.9 PPG. On the other hand, Ampim wasn’t particularly efficient on the offensive end and if the Lions can find a suitable replacement for those possessions it could lead to a more effective offensive attack. The same can be said about Brian Grimes, another senior that used a lot of possessions when he was on the court to minimal effect.

But those graduations, and Smith’s consistent lineup tweaks, mean that there will be many minutes out there for the new players. It’ll be interesting to see which one of these high-upside potential recruits shows his skills on the court first.

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