As I wrote last October, the odds are always stacked against incoming Freshmen when they join the DIII landscape. In the grand scheme of things, most of the athletes in any freshmen class are simply not going to make an impact on the division as a whole (at first). While they may have been dominant in High School, the college game is intrinsically different even at the DIII level.
This is not to say that first year students cannot make waves though! Talented newcomers always end up making a name for themselves. The 2021 season had a ton of new talent showcased across the landscape, and I suspect 2022 will not be any different. Many programs are losing a large amount of upperclassmen production (New Paltz, Wentworth, etc) and it will all need to be replaced by someone.
Programs are beginning to release their full incoming classes, and we will have the fullest possible picture of the landscape by the end of the summer. Harvey and I have decided to do a deep dive of the possible impact recruits coming into D3VB. We will be releasing multiple segments of athletes we have our eyes on coming into 2022.
Like the piece I wrote last year, the list below is by no means exhaustive, and is displayed in alphabetical order so no one should be saying they are “ranked” in any meaningful way. For emphasis, we’ll be doing several segments throughout the summer, so don’t email me asking “why was my son not listed ☹” (looking at you parents!).
Billy Fan (Outside Hitter, Vassar)
The OH2 is one of my favorite position roles to write about, and incoming recruit Billy Fan checks all the boxes I look for in an OH2. Ball Control, Check. Serve Receive, Check. Strong Swing, Check. Strong SMART Swings, DOUBLE CHECK. He does not have the strongest jump, but everyone’s jump pales in comparison to Andrew Kim (OH1). The other facets of his game more than make up for this, and he can only get stronger as he develops. He can potentially challenge for the OH2 role on this Brewers team immediately.
Evan Kane (Outside/Opposite, New Paltz)
New Paltz is losing an entire senior class of champions/All-Americans. One of those athletes happens to be Aaron Carrk, one of the best Opposites in D3VB the last two years (my opinion). The New Paltz Hawks have lived and died on the right pin since 2008, and Coach Petrus is to Opposites what Mike D’Antoni is to Point Guards. Look back at the Opposites who have played for New Paltz over the last ten years, and you will see they thrive and produce at the highest level under Coach Petrus.
This is where Evan Kane has a great opportunity. The entire incoming New Paltz class is talented (kudos to the Long Island Volleyball Podcast for organizing an All-Star game which gave me a chance to see them play), but the New Paltz bench is very deep, except on the right pin. Kane is a skilled left-handed pin hitter who has shown the ability to play both Outside and Opposite. I could easily see the potential watching him play, given New Paltz’s need at the position I think he can compete for the spot
Jason Kougan (Middle Blocker, Dominican)
Dominican returns a championship ready roster with 4 of 7 starters returning to capitalize on their most recent final four run. However, the loss of Troy Kates (MB) is real, and they will need to replace this MB2 slot to keep pace with Carthage, Benedictine, etc.
Jason Kougan is an incoming Middle Blocker out of Lincoln-Way East High School in Illinois who could very likely fill that need for the Dominican Stars. He’s a tad undersized at 6’3, but he makes up for this with good timing, hustle, and intensity. He won’t need to carry the offensive load on this team, which is ideal. Once he gets acclimated to the speed of this level I see him closing blocks and joining his older brother George on the FrogJump highlight reels regularly.
Robin Liu (Setter/Opposite, MIT)
It has been a whole year since MIT graced us with their presence in D3VB, and the UVC only becomes deeper with their return. The Engineers incoming class is very strong, and Robin Liu is the first of two setters in this class who caught my attention (more on that in part 2!).
Liu has a great technical framework, decent size, and good physicality. He can dish every set in the book and has a release which will make my colleague Pepperjack salivate. Further, he has shown the versatility to play Opposite alongside setting. Smith and Lutjen (New Paltz 2012-2015) ran the last elite 6-2 in D3VB as Setters/Opposites who never left the floor. Liu gives MIT the flexibility to be the next team to do it.
Christian Mosley (Outside Hitter/Libero, Alvernia)
Alvernia is losing a lot of upperclassmen production this year, and they will be incredibly young in a strengthening MAC conference. Christian Mosely I expect to easily make a name for himself in the coming year. I do not use this comparison very often, and for good reason, but his play style reminds me a lot of Dave Evans from Stevens (former NCAA Champion, All-American, Player of the Year).
Mosely, at 6’0’’ won’t be the most physically intimidating outside in the conference. But he will be one of the most athletic. His serve receive is top notch (fantastic platform), he plays excellent defense, has strong court awareness, and can swing both tough and smart (yes there is a difference). I see him sliding directly into the OH2 slot at Alvernia, keep your eyes on him next season in the MAC.
If you like this and other D3VB related content, feel free to join the conversation by liking our Facebook page and following us on Instagram and Twitter at FrogJumpVball! Get After It!