Freshmen ready to shine for the Cardinal on the hardwood

Nov. 4, 2014, 9:52 p.m.

It is no secret that college basketball has largely evolved into a sport dominated by freshmen. Last year, referred to by many as the so-called “Year of the Freshman,” saw Kentucky advancing to the NCAA Tournament final with a freshman-filled roster, as well as the top two freshman recruits becoming the top two picks in the NBA Draft following a chaotic season of college basketball.

Robert Cartwright (above)
Robert Cartwright (above) has been called the “purest point guard” that the Cardinal program has had under head coach Johnny Dawkins. Cartwright averaged 21 points and 3.4 assists as a high school senior for Flintridge Prep. (DON FERIA/

With this in mind, the Stanford men’s basketball team will look to build off of last year’s Sweet Sixteen berth, aided by a new crop of freshmen that was ranked as high as the No. 13 recruiting class in the nation by ESPN.

Coach Johnny Dawkins expressed his happiness with this year’s freshman class.

“I’m really happy that we were able to have these four guys commit to Stanford,” Dawkins said. “I think they all fit our profile well, and that they all saw the value in what we do and of course the value in this University.”

The four guys Dawkins mentioned are Robert Cartwright, Michael Humphrey, Dorian Pickens and Reid Travis, a talented group of players that will all potentially be keys to the Cardinal’s success this year.

Cartwright has already drawn the attention of Dawkins with his work ethic and leadership ability. A 6-foot-2 point guard from Flintridge Prep in Pasadena, California, Cartwright has been called the “purest point guard” that Dawkins has ever seen at Stanford.

“For me, it’s important that my game is being a consummate point guard,” Cartwright said. “[Dawkins] expects me to be a leader, a guy that really commands the game offensively and defensively, a guy that works hard every single day, gets guys the ball in their spots, and just tries to have all the best qualities a point guard can have.”

Cartwright also noted how fortunate he is to have the chance to learn from All-Pac-12 point guard Chasson Randle during this coming year. Cartwright’s progression this year will be crucial for the Cardinal moving forward, as the departure of Randle will undoubtedly leave a void in the offense. Cartwright is a great candidate to fill that role.

Humphrey is a 6-foot-9 forward from Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix. A late bloomer in size, Humphrey possesses an incredible amount of potential as a front-court presence and an offensive threat. Dawkins said that “of the four players we recruited, [Humphrey] has the biggest upside,” a testament to how much progress Humphrey could make this year as a player.

“We all have roles on the team,” Humphrey said. “Right now my role is going to be to rebound well and play good defense, and hit the open shot on offense when it comes to me. I have to know my role and what’s going to get me on the court.”

Humphrey has tremendous potential as a rebounder, which can make him a valuable asset for Dawkins right away. Humphrey was a two-sport star in high school, also having started at quarterback for Sunnyslope. He thinks that his experience playing on the gridiron helped him on the hardwood as well.

“Both sports complement each other well,” Humphrey said. “Football teaches you physicality, and in basketball you have to use that physicality in a toned-down way.”

Fellow Arizona native Pickens, from Pinnacle High School, will be another versatile option as a guard or a forward. Pickens is a 6-foot-5 wing player whose shooting ability and basketball IQ have been lauded by Dawkins.

“Dorian seems to always make the right decision with the basketball,” Dawkins said. “[He] hits the right person at the right time, passes up shots that he shouldn’t take, doesn’t take bad shots, doesn’t force shots. He’s a guy that really does think about the game very well and plays within himself.”

Dawkins’ high praise for Pickens is well-deserved. Stanford fans may notice some similarities between Pickens and ex-Stanford star Landry Fields. Pickens hopes that he can “move the ball well, take good shots and provide energy” in order to help the team.

Rounding out the class is Travis, a 6-foot-8 forward from DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. Travis, who participated in the McDonald’s All-American Game earlier this year, possesses an explosive level of athletic talent. That, coupled with his scoring and rebounding abilities, may make him the best candidate of the four to play his way into a starting role.

Reid Travis (center)
Reid Travis (center) is perhaps the most highly touted member of the Card’s freshman class. The 2014 McDonald’s All-American averaged 26.1 points and nine rebounds in leading his high school to a third consecutive Minnesota Class AAA state title.

As a Minneapolis native and fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Travis drew a lot of inspiration as a kid from watching Kevin Garnett play.

“What he’s showed me is it doesn’t matter if your game’s off or if you’re struggling; you can always talk and lead,” said Travis of Garnett. “That’s a big thing especially as a freshman, to try and talk and get my voice heard.”

In Travis, Dawkins sees a clear floor presence with a degree of physicality that will be crucial for the Cardinal. It will be no surprise if Travis starts to get key minutes early in the year.

Together, the four freshmen comprise a recruiting class that is as good as any that Stanford has seen in a while. All four have said that they have gotten along really well and have bonded as a unit. However, Dawkins stressed that the four of them should also be as close with the whole team, and even the school, as they are with each other.

“We’re a team, and you definitely want those young guys to intermingle with the rest of our team,” Dawkins said. “I think it’s important for those guys to be close, but also make sure they don’t limit themselves. They should be close with everyone on this campus. Not just with our players, but in class, across campus. That’s part of the Stanford experience.”

Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandips ‘at’

Sandip Srinivas '18 is the Football Editor, a sports desk editor and a beat writer for men's basketball and football at The Stanford Daily. Sandip is a sophomore from Belmont, California that roots for the San Francisco Giants during even years and roots for Steph Curry year-round. He is majoring in Symbolic Systems and can be contacted via email at sandips 'at'

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