Upon reflecting on the first impressions series, I think it’s a little different this year than in the previous itineration of WWTR. In the old version, my first impressions were summer articles and largely based on observations of tendencies at the PGH Pro-Am. A lot of readers couldn’t get to Greentree or Montour, so these pieces were often the first comprehensive accounts fans read about new players. Now, we’re all getting the first impression at the same time, so if I’m missing something, please feel free to add it in the comments below. I’m not the only Duquesne expert among our fanbase. I’m just the one who pays wordpress for his platform. I’d love to hear from you!
So far, I’ve tackled the three newcomers in the starting lineup Sincere Carey, Michael Hughes and Marcus Weathers but today, I’ll start to have a look at the bench players with Austin Rotroff kicking us off. He’s been one of the first players off the bench along with Frankie Hughes and even as Keith Dambrot’s comfort grows with the other frosh bigs, Rotroff is his go to. He’s played multiple positions and has far surpassed my expectations for him when he signed his letter of intent.
What He Does Well
Poise and polish aren’t two words I’ve often used to describe a freshman big at Duquesne or even the Atlantic 10 for that matter. I can’t think of another Duquesne freshman who is as ready to play at both ends in the post as Rotroff. He currently leads the crop of Atlantic 10 freshman bigs in offensive efficiency. Against UMass-Lowell, we saw him play both the four and the five. His position flexibility will help keep Eric Williams, Jr in his natural small forward role and Rotroff’s ability to shoot three pointers from the five will spread defenses. He takes good care of the basketball and has only two turnovers so far.
Opportunities for Growth
Rotroff needs to get better on the defensive glass. He’s fourth among Dukes who have played in all five games in defensive rebounding percentage and is behind Amari Kelly in his small sample of playing time. He also doesn’t have an assist in his first 78 minutes of college ball though he hasn’t looked like the proverbial black hole no helpers might suggest.
The A-10 hasn’t recruited a ton of players larger than 6’8’’ in recent years, so Rotroff’s a bit of an oddity at 6’10. His statistical production is very similar to last year’s conference player of the year Peyton Aldridge as a freshman. That’s an incredibly lofty comp, but I’m setting the bar high for Rotroff. Freshman bigs are normally not close to finished products and I think that Rotroff has an almost unlimited upside. All – conference teams are in his future.
Rotroff had a ton of offers when he committed to Duquesne, but none from power conferences and only a hand full from top 100 programs. With the emphasis on stretch post players in the modern college spread half court offense, it’s amazing that one with as much polish and head height as him didn’t get much bigger offers. The rest of college basketball’s loss is certainly Duquesne’s gain. Strangely enough, Rotroff interested me the least among the incoming freshman, but he certainly has caught my eye in the early going.