Mid-Major Freshmen to Watch: Fordham's Jon Severe Leads the Way

Rich Barnes

Freshmen have be all the talk in college basketball this year but why aren't any around the mid-major ranks getting any love? We take a look at the nation's top freshmen thus far this season beyond the talk around Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, and others.

Freshman hype has never been higher this year with daily updates on Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, and others. While the hyperbole can be overwhelming at times, there are plenty of quality mid-major freshmen who are not getting the same hype as those at the top.

Here are our top mid-major freshmen thus far this season along with some input from you, the people, when we asked Twitter who the nation's top mid-major freshmen were:

Jon Severe, Fordham: Jon Severe is supposed to be the savior on Rose Hill for Tom Pecora and his Fordham Rams who have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1992. Severe turned down Wake Forest, Florida, Creighton, Cincinnati, and plenty of others to play for the Rams and has lived up to his billing leading the country in scoring for freshmen with 20.9 points per game. Severe started off his Atlantic 10 career by dropping 35 points at Duquesne. He is averaging 35 minutes per game right now and is adding 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Fordham still isn't turning many heads with a 7-10 record and a 0-4 mark in the A10, but expect the Rams to become more of a story over the next couple of years with Severe at the helm.

Eric Mika, BYU: Dave Rose found a gem in 6'10 freshman center Eric Mika. Mike is averaging 13.5 points per game for the Cougars and is also hitting the boards hard for 6.2 rebounds. Most impressively, Mika has scored in double-figures in every game this season except the season opener against Weber State. West Coast Conference fans should get ready for this freshman to grow into a dominant force in the paint over the next four years.

QJ Peterson, VMI: The biggest question mark on VMI coach Duggar Baucom's squad this summer was who was going to replace the scoring production of Big South Player of the Year Stan Okoye. The answer came in 6'0 shooting guard Q.J. Peterson. Peterson leads the Big South in scoring with 20.1 points per game and hit 38 points in a game earlier this year against Division III opponent Bridgewater. Peterson isn't just a scorer though, he also leads the conference in steals with 2.4 per game and is adding 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists as well. VMI's venture back into the Southern Conference may be bright with Peterson on their roster.

Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine: It's hard to believe that a 7'6 Anteater would fly under the radar, but thus is the case wth Mamadou Ndiaye. Ndiaye chose the Anteaters over Pepperdine and this far he's delivered averaging 9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. It's Ndiaye's presence in the paint that stands out though as he leads the Big West in blocks with 3.2 on a nightly basis. In the Anteater's highest profile game of the year against Washington, Ndiaye had 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 blocks. Big men like Kenny George and others always seem to become a story, Ndiaye seems to have the game to back the story up though.

Cameron Payne, Murray State: Freshman Cameron Payne has made Racers fans forget about the dysfunctional Zay Jackson. The 6'2 guard is averaging 15 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game and is squarely at the front of the Ohio Valley Conference's Freshman of the Year race. The Racers are certainly leaning on the freshman guard and seem to go as Payne's performance goes. It's safe to say he's a big reason why the Racers are 5-1 in the OVC.

Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: Jared Brownridge is another guy that WCC fans need to get used to for the foreseeable future. The 6'2 guard is fifth in the WCC for scoring with 16.6 per game and has plenty of big nights for the Broncos, including 30 point performance in their last outing against BYU. While the Broncos have struggled a bit early in WCC play this year, the future is bright with Brownridge on the roster.

Brandan Stith, East Carolina: Having a dad who played a decade in the NBA isn't a bad pedigree and such is the case for Bryant Stith's son Brandan at East Carlona. Stith hasn't grown into a tremendous scoring presence for the Pirates yet at 6.2 points per game but his rebounding has been a difference maker for the Conference USA squad. Stith is now fifth in the conference in rebounding with 8.8 per night, a team high. Look for this 6'7 big man to be a key piece to ECU's transition into the American Athletic Conference.

Omar Prewitt, William & Mary: The Tribe are off to a 10-6 start at William & Mary and a big reason for the revolution in Williamsburg is freshman Omar Prewitt. Tony Shaver's new weapon is averaging 13.5 points and 5 rebounds per outing this season. Earlier this year Prewitt had back-to-back games against VMI and Howard where he posted 46 combined points and went 15-for-17 from the free throw line.

Alec Peters, Valparaiso: Horizon League opponents have started to focus in on the Crusaders freshman big man due to his strong early season performance. Despite only scoring 4 points in Valpo's last two outings, Peters is averaging 12.5 points and 5 rebounds per game on the season. He's dropped 30 points twice this years in games against Evansville and Loyola Marymount, and also had a night against Ohio where he posted 16 points and 13 rebounds. If Valpo wants to make it back to the NCAA Tournament then they'll need to find a way to get Peters going again.

Others Considers:

Jeremiah Worthem, Robert Morris
Andrew Rowsey, UNC Asheville
Evan Payne, Loyola Marymount
Tim Kempton, Lehigh
Tavon Blackmon, Brown
Nick Coppola, Louisiana Monroe
Marquis Wright, Siena
James Daniel, Howard
Vince Hunter, UTEP

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