Although the Fordham Rams men’s basketball team (2-23, 0-13) is nearing the conclusion of an extremely unsuccessful season, one of its freshman players has already become an impact player. Chris Gaston, a freshman from the state of New Jersey, has received Atlantic-10 honors as Rookie of the Week four times this season. His play, thus far, makes him the favorite to win the yearly award as the top freshman for the 2009-10 season. Gaston has received recognition from beyond the conference in which he plays. The website Rivals.com ranks Gaston 13th among freshman players this year. The highly recruited New York City native, Lance Stephenson of Cincinnati is ranked only one position above Gaston.
The statistics Gaston has reached are not only impressive for a college freshman but are among the best of any player in the A-10. He has already accomplished a double-double 16 times this season, but has double figure averages in points and rebounds. Among Atlantic-10 competitors, Gaston ranks fourth in scoring average (17.6 ppg.). He ranks second among Fordham freshman with 450 points, exceeded only by Bevon Robin with 495.
Gaston has three games remaining in which to break the Fordham mark. This should not be difficult as Gaston has scored 32 points in three different games. His field goal percentage has only been bettered by eight A-10 players. The great shooter and aggressive offensive threat is no less effective on defense.
Although only 6-7, Gaston is second in the A-10 with 10.9 rebounds per game. His leaping ability not only contributes to his capability to rebound but makes him one of the top shot blockers in the conference. He is seventh in the conference in shots blocked with 1.8 blocks per game. In a February 6 contest against A-10 leading Charlotte, Gaston tied his season-high of 32 points in a single-handed attempt to win the game.
Fordham coach Jared Grasso effusively praised Gaston, “He’s the best freshman in the league. Today, he was the best player in the league. He’s fun to coach.” In the early minutes of the second half, Gaston scored 14 straight points for Fordham. When asked whether Gaston took the responsibility or whether he as coach asked Gaston to accept the load, Grasso replied, “It kind of happened hand in hand. He loves to compete [and] I have a lot of confidence in him.”
With Gaston as centerpiece and last week’s decision of the Board of Trustees of Fordham to greatly increase its spending on men’s basketball, the Rams made be much improved in the near future.