Five freshmen to watch in the MVC

July, 19, 2012
7/19/12
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Missouri Valley, click here.

Five freshmen to watch in the MVC...

Kori Babineaux, Drake: Mark Phelps touted Babineaux's maturity during last month's MVC media teleconference. The 6-4 shooting guard, who scored 48 points in a playoff game last season, attracted multiple scholarship offers to play football in college. With Rice transferring, Babineaux could play big minutes for the Bulldogs.

Aaron Simpson, Illinois State: ISU is stacked so he might not play right away. But Simpson is a capable scorer (22.5 ppg in North Chicago) who could help the Redbirds.

Gavin Thurman, Missouri State: Thurman had offers from Iowa, Colorado State and Wichita State following his high school career in Wichita, Kan. The 6-7 forward played next to Kansas signee Perry Ellis last season at Wichita Heights, which won a state title.

Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State: The 5-11 point guard was named first team all-state by the Associated Press in Illinois last year. The Shockers have lost their five top players, including Ragland, so Van Vleet will be asked to step in and make an immediate impact. He's the only ESPN 100 player in the Missouri Valley's 2012 class.

Isaiah Zierden, Creighton: He's a pure shooter, as evident by his second-place finish at the nationally televised high school Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships during the Final Four. The 6-1 Zierden, son of former Washington Wizards assistant and Minnesota Lynx coach Don Zierden, was one of the top shooters in Minnesota throughout his prep career. That touch could help him crack Creighton's rotation.

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