On the Rise: The players to watch next season

Daily Sports Desk

Men’s Basketball

Regardless of the outcome of Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament hunt, the program will have to deal with an uncomfortable reality in the 2012-13 season. And that reality is a team without senior forward John Shurna and his 20.1 points per game. That’s where sophomore guard JerShon Cobb comes in. Despite his injuries, Cobb has shown himself to be an excellent defender this season and ranked fifth among Big Ten freshmen during the 2010-11 season in scoring, with 8.8 points per game. A fully healthy Cobb would go a long way to easing the loss of Shurna and would take the pressure off untested freshmen and sophomores to step up and produce. Should Cobb develop into the excellent two-way guard that scouts saw when they rated him as a four-star recruit coming out of high school, coach Bill Carmody’s squad will be dangerous next season.

Dan Ryan

Women’s Basketball

After a win early in the season, coach Joe McKeown said junior forward Dannielle Diamant might be “the most improved player in college basketball.” Now, as the Wildcats get set to open Big Ten Tournament play, Diamant has lived up to her coach’s billing, receiving third team All-Big Ten honors from the conference’s coaches. She averaged just 2.8 points per game and 1.9 rebounds per game in 18 games last season. This year, she’s averaging 13.9 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. She’ll be a leader of an experienced team next year that returns four starters – Diamant and fellow junior forward Kendall Hackney, along with freshman point guard Karly Roser and freshman guard Morgan Jones. The versatile forward is Northwestern’s best post player, but is still able to knock down shots from behind the arc and at the free throw line.

Kevin Trahan

Wrestling

While many Northwestern fans are familiawr with stars Jason Welch and Levi Mele, observers will be wise to keep an eye on redshirt freshman Mike McMullan. In McMullan’s first year wrestling attached, the Easton, Pa. native sported an impressive 20-8 record at heavyweight, including 5-3 in the Big Ten. McMullan’s season kicked into gear when he finished eighth at the Midlands Championships. In dual season, McMullan toppled three top-10 opponents, including No. 8 Bobby Telford from Iowa. The redshirt freshman finished the season ranked 13th in the nation at heavyweight, poised to be a force for the Wildcats the next three years.

Rohan Nadkarni

Men’s Swimming

If there is one thing you do during your time at Northwestern, go to the Norris Aquatics Center and check out “Finnsanity”. Freshman Uula Auren and his quick breaststroke have taken Evanston by storm. The Finnish star nearly finished the season undefeated in the 100 breast and continues to cut seconds off his 200 breast time. Coach Jarod Schroeder had no idea what to expect from Auren when he walked onto campus in September. But Auren has produced since the beginning of the season and has taken on a leadership role for the swimming team. So if you hear a funny noise coming from the Norris Aquatics Center, don’t worry. It’s just the crowd chanting, “UUUUUUU-LAAAAAA.”

John Paschall

Women’s Swimming

Freshman Rachel Kim did not see much race time this season, as a back injury kept her out for the entire fall season and limited her in the winter meets. But when the backstroker returns to full strength next year, other Big Ten teams will have no choice but to take notice. In her first collegiate competition, a dual meet against Michigan and Notre Dame on Jan. 14, Kim finished fourth in the 100-yard backstroke. Against Iowa and Denver, she led off the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 56.88, the third-fastest time for the Wildcats this year. At the Big Ten Championships, Kim earned an NCAA ‘B’ time and the second-fastest time in school history with her backstroke leg of the 200-yard medley relay.

Callie Counsellor

Fencing

Courtney Dumas’ first season at Northwestern has been anything but ordinary. After starting off the year winning the USFA Burton Open in November, Dumas has continued to dominate throughout the season with a fifth-place finish at the USFA Remenyik Open and third place at the USFA November Junior North American Cup. On top of placing in the top 20 at every individual event she has partaken in this season (excluding the Uhlmann Cup, an international junior competition she took part in over winter break), Dumas has also been a regular starter for the Wildcats