We are three games into Boston College's basketball season and I believe three things are relatively clear. This team is young, this team is bad, and Patrick Heckmann is the best player. The freshman guard/forward out of Germany has been easily the most impressive player on the floor for the Eagles, although he has only played in 2 of the 3 games. I understand that it is still a minuscule sample size and that many things could change from now to conference play to the end of the year, but I'd like to look at Heckmann's game a little bit closer.
In a sample size this small, it's important not to get caught up in the stats. However, it cannot be denied that, on paper, he's been the Eagles most productive player. Heckmann posted 19 points and 8 rebounds against New Hampshire and 11 points and 5 rebounds against UMass. Regardless, what I actually see on the court is more important to me at this point and allows me to believe that he will develop into a very solid basketball player for BC in years to come. The most apparent thing that stands out to me about Heckmann is his aggressiveness. While the rest of the young players on this team seem a bit reluctant to take shots even when they are open, Heckmann has pulled the trigger. He shot 16 times against UNH and drove to the basket several times against UMass, leading to 12 foul shots. At one point against Massachusetts, Heckmann had scored 7 points without an official field goal attempt. He gets to the free throw line and he (usually) knocks them down. He still makes inexperienced mistakes as all freshmen will, but he has also shown flashes of brilliance, demonstrating that the potential is there.
This is what you like to see in a young player. He's not intimidated by the level of competition and believes in himself and his abilities. He's seem like the one guy on this team that is not afraid to make a play. He seems to know that someone on this team has to take control on the offensive end and wants to be that guy. On defense, he is still adjusting to the speed of the college game, but plays aggressively and has the skill set to be a competent defender. He's long and athletic, which should lead to him improving significantly on defense as he matures.
Another thing that attracts me to Heckmann's game is what he brings to the table outside of just scoring. He's demonstrated that he can be a talented scorer and a good shooter from any spot on the floor. However, he is among the best rebounders and passers on the team as well. He has a 6'9.5" wingspan and a great motor. He follows his shot and is fighting for every rebound despite not being one of the biggest guys on the floor. He should continue to grab a decent amount of rebounds because of how hard to pursues the ball on every possession. Monday night against UMass, there were very few positives for the Eagles. One of the things that I was very impressed by, however, was Heckmann's passing ability and court vision. He's a very talented passer and he sees lanes that aren't very easy to see. The only problem is that he and his teammates do not have the necessary chemistry to make these passes smoothly. There were several occasions when Heckmann made a beautiful feed to KC Caudill or Dennis Clifford in the post that they were not ready for and simply bounced off their hands. As they get to know each other better on the court, those passes will start being completed and lead to easy buckets.
Patrick Heckmann is far from a finished product. He would ideally be the third or fourth best player on a team his freshman year and be allowed to develop slowly. Unfortunately, that is not the case. He and Ryan Anderson are probably the most talented players on this team and will have to carry much of the scoring load this season. Heckmann will undoubtedly have some real bad games as the Eagles enter ACC play, but if given the necessary time and coaching, I believe he will develop into a very good player for BC in upcoming years.