A somewhat humorous lede in CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman's recent article about Steve Donahue and the Eagles' young roster.
"However, when assistant coach Akbar Waheed asked if I needed a roster, I just laughed.
Eddie Odio, KC Caudill, Jordan Daniels, Ryan Anderson, Lonnie Jackson, Dennis Clifford, Patrick Heckmann.
Who the heck are these guys?"
It's funny because it's true.
So just who the heck are these guys anyway?
Of the Eagles' 15-man roster for the 2011-12 season, just two players -- walk-on sophomore Danny Rubin and sophomore Gabe Moton -- played any meaningful minutes last season. Rubin is this team's leading returning scorer, averaging just 4.1 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game in 29 games. Moton averaged just 2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg and 1.3 apg.
After Rubin, Moton, Humphrey and Rehnquist, Donahue is really starting with a clean slate, with a roster that includes seven ... 7! ... freshmen on scholarships and four walk-ons -- two grad students and two freshmen. Rebuilding year much?
Donahue's freshman class includes a quartet of Southern California recruits in 5-8 PG Jordan Daniels, 6-3 G Lonnie Jackson, 6-8 F Ryan Anderson and 6-10 C KC Caudill. Throw in grad student Deirunas Visockas, who hails from Lithuania but played high school ball at University High School in Los Angeles, and Donahue could throw a California starting five out on the court.
Lonnie Jackson is the leading scorer from high school of the nine freshmen, averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game his senior season. Center KC Caudill averaged 22 PPG, 12.1 RPG and 3.1 BPG, all while sporting arguably the best beard in recent Eagles' history.
Guard Patrick Heckmann (Mainz, Germany), forward Eddie Odio (Miami, FL) and center Dennis Clifford (Bridgewater, MA) round out Donahue's seven-member freshman class, and are joined by walk-on guards Salah Abdo and Deirunas Visockas, both grad students, and forwards Ryan Kilcullen and John Cain Carney.
With so many new faces, the Eagles face a year of uncertainty and rebuilding. The upside as Goodman points out is that it's very likely that this core group of players will stay together all four years. But listening to this year's players, you wouldn't think Donahue is rebuilding with a roster full of unknowns.
"We heard that last year," Rubin said. "People said we weren't supposed to be that good. ... I don't really listen to it."
"I think we're going to shock a lot of people," Rubin said.
"These guys really understand the game and have a high IQ," said the grandfather of the group, 23-year-old walk-on Sal Abdo. "They may be 17 or 18, but they are extremely mature -- and the team chemistry is unbelievable."
This team is extremely young and is bound to struggle this season in the ACC. But part of me is optimistic that Rubin is at least partially right, and Donahue's young Eagles will surprise some teams along the way this season.