ESPN analyst and former St. John’s coach Fran Fraschilla talks with The Post’s Justin Terranova about must-watch freshmen, surprise teams and the two teens playing on the other side of the world.
Q: Is there a Zion Williamson this year, as in a player who makes games must-watch?
A: I don’t think it’s as strong an incoming class as the one we just saw leave, but Cole Anthony has that Trae Young quality. He’s going to a high-profile program and he’s playing a style that fits him perfectly. North Carolina just lost Coby White, and Anthony is going to be allowed to play through any mistakes. It’s going to work out fabulously for Cole and Roy Williams.
Q: What does Mike Anderson bring to St. John’s?
A: I followed it closely because of my involvement with the school. He is a great mentor, a great teacher and will do a very good job at St. John’s. His philosophy of coaching tough, hard-nosed kids mirrors the type of kids St. John’s has had in the past. In a strange way, they ended up with a much better coach than fans had the right to expect given how the search process evolved.
Q: Who do you think could be a surprise Final Four team?
A: St. Mary’s. They have tremendous winning culture and all of their main pieces back, including one of the country’s best point guards in Jordan Ford. They’ve got size, shooting ability and I think they are going to blow through the majority of their schedule. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got to the NCAA Tournament in the top 10 in the country. That’s saying a lot because Gonzaga is loaded, as well. Those games will be must-watch TV on the West Coast this year.
Q: What is your scouting report on LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, who are playing in New Zealand?
A: I’ve watched every minute of those guys’ games so far, and both have shown tremendous NBA potential. LaMelo is an enormous offensive talent, particularly with his passing, ball-handling and ability to get anywhere on the court. His shot is a work in progress. RJ Hampton may not be as explosive, but he also has a lot of NBA attributes that are going to serve him well. The experiment Down Under so far has been successful to this point.
Q: How would you compare LaMelo to where Lonzo was at this point for UCLA?
A: They are very similar players. They both have an amazing feel for the game and especially with their passing. Lonzo was one of the great passers in college basketball over the last decade or two and I’d argue that LaMelo has the same type of IQ and basketball acumen. At this stage, I think he is an even better athlete than his brother.