Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn is already looking ahead to next season and just posted a list of some of the top returning sophomores-to-be and he pegged Louisville’s Chane Behanan at #5 overall. We all saw the coming-out party for Chane late in the season and into the Tournament, but his progression from green, inexperienced freshman, to well-seasoned, battle tested vet, is gonna be incredibly fun to watch. He has all the physical tools and then some, he just needs to stay humble and keep working in the gym. If Rick Pitino can get him to live in the gym like an Angel Nunez or Russ Smith, the sky is clearly the limit. Props to Fat Wayne for also getting honorable mention in the article despite essentially missing 90% of the season. Apparently others have taken note of his potential, too.
5. Chane Behanan, 6-6 PF, Louisville
Staying Impact: The Cardinals are SI.com’s No. 2 team in the preseason, in large part because their Behanan-Gorgui Dieng frontcourt is one of the best in the nation. Behanan started from Day 1, but didn’t play his best basketball until the NCAA tournament, when he was named Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional after going for 15-and-9 against Michigan State and 17-and-7 against Florida. He looked to be on the verge of an All-Big East-level season as a sophomore. Fellow McDonald’s All-American Wayne Blackshear, whose freshman year was plagued by injuries, could have a similar breakout while starting at small forward.
Had He Left: Behanan is so undersized for a power forward that he was never a real threat to declare for the draft, which is good for the ‘Ville: he was their best rebounder on both ends, and that production would’ve been difficult to replace. The Cardinals roster has a few serviceable backup bigs in Stephan Van Treese (a 6-8 senior) and Zach Price (a 6-10 sophomore), but the one experienced fill-in for Behanan, Jared Swopshire (a 6-8 senior), opted to transfer to Northwestern as a graduate student.
Next Step: Free-throw accuracy should be Behanan’s primary focus this offseason. He had the highest foul-drawing rate (48.3 free throws per 100 field-goal attempts) of any Cardinal, but shot the lowest percentage from the stripe (59.4 percent). He’s their most effective scorer around the basket, making 56.0 percent of his two-point attempts, and has a nice mid-range jumper, but won’t be a star until he gets more reliable from the line.
Five other sophomore returnees who could impact the ’12-13 title race: Adonis Thomas, Memphis; Jerian Grant, Notre Dame; Otto Porter, Georgetown; Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse; Wayne Blackshear, Louisville.