Previously on Wolfpack hoops review:
An injury to Manny Bates and an early decision to transfer by Ian Steere left Jericole Hellems as the only freshman contributor on the roster last season. And while his start was a promising one, he quickly hit a brick wall once the competition got tougher. ACC play especially was a painful eye-opener for him.
He’s hardly the first freshman basketball player to be doused with cold water in this fashion—the degree of difficulty keeps moving up throughout a season whether you’re ready or not, and it’s tough not to feel overwhelmed by it at times. Hellems certainly was.
His best games were early: 13 points on 5-9 shooting against UMES, 16 points on 5-7 shooting against Western Carolina, 16 on 6-11 against Loyola (MD). He hit double figures only once in ACC play, and missed all of his two-point attempts on eight separate occasions. (Mind you, he didn’t take a ton of them.) His confidence was killed early in January and he wasn’t able to recover from the setback.
The numbers are so rough, he’s best off putting the year behind him without thinking about it too much. Sometimes things snowball and you fall short of your capabilities as a result. It’s tough in this league, and it’ll wear on you.
He still has great potential, and after he’s got a full offseason under his belt, the game should start to slow down for him. If his reliable free throw shooting is any indication, his shooting percentages elsewhere are due to be quite a bit better. (It would be difficult not to improve on those conference numbers, regardless.)
The positives he did show last season make him a compelling potential x-factor heading into his second year. How much better can he be, and how much better will that make the team as a result?