Big South Hoops: Two Freshmen You Need to Know

Ari KramerSenior Analyst IIJanuary 15, 2009

The conference that flaunted college basketball's tallest player and last year's leading scorer is sending a message to viewers: Even though Kenny George and Reggie Williams are out of college basketball, there is still reason to watch Big South basketball (even after Chavis and Travis Holmes graduate at the end of this season). 

Seth Curry and Keith Gabriel will be around for three more seasons after 2008-09 and will keep the Big South entertaining to watch. 

You all know Stephen Curry, and by now lots of you know his younger brother, Seth, who plays for Coach McKay at Liberty University.

Somehow, Lil Curry, as I like to call him, did not receive any attention from the media before the season started. In fact, he still has not been the topic of any discussion—outside of Big South country—despite averaging 20.1 points per game and shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from long range.

Fun fact: Stephen Curry had slightly superior stats as a freshman. He averaged 21.5 points per game and shot 46.3 percent from the floor and 40.8 percent from deep. 

Like his older brother, Seth has shown up against the best of competition. He led his team past Virginia with 26 points and four treys on nine-of-17 shooting from the floor. In a win against George Mason, Lil Curry dropped in 22 points on eight-of-19 field goal shooting. And, the freshman nearly led his team past Clemson with his 24 point performance—he was six-of-nine from deep and nine-of-16 from the floor. 

What's most impressive about Seth curry is that he is a freshman who has had a dramatic impact on his team. Liberty was 16-16 last year. This year, they are 12-6, largely because of Curry. The team is winning big games that they never won before this year.

Pretty much, Lil Curry has proven he can play. Time will tell if he will transcend his brother's achievements, but he's certainly on his way. 

In order for Liberty to make the NCAA Tournament and allow the national spotlight to find Lil Curry, the Flames will need to beat out VMI for the Big South championship. 

The Keydets of VMI have always been a high scoring team, but this year their points are actually leading to wins. They are currently undefeated in Big South play and are 14-2 overall. 

Senior twins Chavis and Travis Holmes lead the fast-pace offense and sophomore Austin Kenon is third, adding 17.8 points per game. Behind those three is freshman Keith Gabriel. 

Gabriel, who grew up in Charlotte like the Currys, is flourishing in VMI's offense. He is averaging 15.9 points per game and he is shooting 45 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from long range.

Sure, it isn't too hard to average 15.9 points per game on a team that scores 96.7 points per game. However, Gabriel could average mid-20s in this style of offense. The only block that is preventing him from doing so is the three other options ahead of him.

Gabriel's statistics against the upper echelon of competition are not as impressive as Lil Curry's, but he has played well. In his college debut and season-opening upset at Kentucky, Gabriel fouled out but scored 20 points in 19 minutes.

He nailed four three-pointers and shot eight-of-12 from the floor. At Virginia, he played in foul trouble and scored 14 points on six-of-18 shooting.

Gabriel has been vital to the success of the Keydets and if it weren't for Lil Curry, he would probably be the favorite to win Freshman of the Year in the Big South.