What Role Will Vermont’s Latest Canadian Prospect Assume in Year One?
Moving forward with the roster preview series, we arrive at incoming freshman forward, Georges Lefebvre. The 6’9, 200lbs big man from Montreal, Canada was recently featured as part of the “New Cats, Who Dis?” series, but now it’s time to take a deeper dive into Vermont’s latest addition and best determine how the young forward will fit in during year one in Burlington. Lefebvre is another Catamount with ties to the great white north, who possesses an immense skill set and strong basketball IQ, but without setting a foot on the court yet the big man is still unproven and will have his work cut out for him before he’ll see any serious action.
As you may recall, Lefebvre spent the majority of his high school/prep career down in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he starred for Cape Fear Academy. With offers from other mid-major programs such as Boston University and Siena, Lefebvre had plenty of potential suitors, but ultimately landed on Vermont citing the winning culture as a significant selling point and has already begun to build a solid rapport with his teammates and coaches.
Even without any experience competing at the division one collegiate level, Lefebvre looks the part and shouldn’t encounter too many growing pains along the way. He could have easily chosen to play for a lesser program, where he would have likely earned a larger role straight out of the gate, but as they say, patience is a virtue. Vermont offers Lefebvre the chance to be a part of an elite mid-major program that has won the America East regular season title four straight years and boasts a 142-32 record since the start of the 2015-16 season.
The lion’s share of Lefebvre’s minutes will likely come from the 4 spot, though expect to see John Becker slide the young forward over to the 5 or possibly even wing positions depending on various mismatches he could create. Coach Becker is typically hesitant to give freshmen considerable minutes early on, as even some of the most talented Catamounts have had to wait and earn their stripes before becoming part of the rotation. Lefebvre has a great deal of basketball dexterity and could possibly be a star in the making for the Cats, but he still has to walk before he can run.
How Lefebvre can Make an Impact
As previously mentioned, Lefebvre’s immediate impact to the team was covered already, but let’s head back to the well and see if we can nail down a more precise role for the incoming forward. Right off the bat Lefebvre’s three-point shooting and defensive accum stand out as his areas of strength, as they should help the big man see the floor in year one and give John Becker another great frontcourt asset.
However, since coach Becker generally eases freshman into game action, it might not be until later in the season until Lefebvre sees any type of consistent rotation. Like most freshmen, Lefebvre’s biggest impact early on will be supporting his teammates, while continuing to learn and adapt to the pace of play at the division one level. Outside of redshirt freshman Nick Fiorillo, every other forward/center on the team will be an upperclassman and are expected to have seniority over Lefebvre at least in the early stages of the season. Lefebvre’s impressive skill set and athletic abilities might be too much to keep him on the pine for long, but he’s still going to have to earn John Becker’s trust before he can anticipate serious minutes.
Flashing his potential in games is a great start, but Lefebvre will also have to consistently out-peform his peers in practice as well, as coach Becker values a players work ethic through practice as a key factor in their on-going development. We identified Lefebvre’s three-point shooting and defensive versatility as his primary strengths. Those areas will most likely be where Lefebvre adds the most impact to the team during his freshman campaign and could even leverage himself into a bigger role if he excels in other facets of his game quicker than expected.
Nonetheless, even if Lefebvre goes through some growing pains, he and the rest of the Catamount faithful just need to find patience. Trust the process. By all accounts Lefebvre has already formed a strong bond with his new teammates and continuing to support and encourage them throughout the season should be a main point of emphasis. Lefebvre looks to be a great foundational building block for the Cats for the next four years. His on-court impact might not be that extensive in year one, but he should be a force to reckon with in the years to come.
Room for Improvement?
Without trying to sound like a broken record we briefly glanced over a few aspects of Lefebvre’s game that could use some fine tuning, but let’s take a deeper dive into what he should be working on over the summer. It was noted that Lefebvre’s post game arsenal could use some improvement and studying under the tutelage of Ryan Davis and Tomas Murphy should definitely help in that department. Likewise, adding a bit more muscle mass and strength will go a long way towards establishing himself as a physical presence underneath the basket on both ends of the court.
Despite all his strengths, there are still plenty of holes in Lefebvre’s game, as he’s still a work in progress. John Becker and the rest of the coaching staff at Vermont have done an excellent job at developing their players through building off their strengths and putting them in positions where they can find the most success. There’s no doubt that coach Becker has a plan for Lefebvre and has certainly spoken with him about what areas the young forward should be focusing his improvement on.
Realistically it’s a bit tougher for someone in my shoes to point out Lefebvre’s weaknesses without having ever watched the young man play at the collegiate level. As is the case with the majority of freshmen it’s going to come down to how quick Lefebvre can accommodate himself to the pace of play at the division one level. Although he’s a great athlete, Lefebvre will have to focus on his conditioning, as the season will be much longer and the Catamounts will once again be looking to make another postseason run through the America East and NCAA Tournament.
Furthermore, when Lefebvre checks-in he needs to prove that the moment isn’t too big for him. More often than not inexperienced players will rush themselves at the first sight of game action and end up hurting their team more than helping. Lefebvre can earn the trust of his teammates and coaches by playing calm and collected. John Becker isn’t going to ask the young forward to carry the team in year one, nor will he put Lefebvre in situations that might be too big for him. Staying level headed and with a strong sense of composure will go a long ways towards building confidence as the year goes on.
The obvious season goal for Lefebvre in year one should be slowly, yet surely progressing as the season winds on and ultimately working his way into the rotation. That’s well and fine, but let’s try to get a little more creative. Lefebvre’s best offensive forte is his outside perimeter shot and as an athletic stretch-four he should be able to get some solid looks from beyond the arc throughout the year. Ideally he won’t be jacking up shots left and right, but if he aimed to hit an average of around 35% from deep he’d be a real threat and a huge asset for the Cats after losing sharpshooter Everett Duncan.
Another goal of Lefebvre’s should be to make the America East All-Rookie team. Lefebvre will undoubtedly be one of the more talented freshmen in the America East next year, but the committee tends to value statistical outputs, which could put Lefebvre at a disadvantage if he is unable to crack the rotation come conference play time. For reference Aaron Deloney was able to string together a solid first season in Burlington just a year ago and proved he could handle a bigger workload by averaging over 20 minutes a contest in the final four games. Unfortunately for Deloney by that time it was too late, as the young guard would just miss the cut. Robin Duncan was the last Catamount to be selected (2019) and if Lefebvre can earn enough minutes, he should have a good shot at making the cut.
This may be a bit unrealistic due to Vermont’s plethora of depth, but if everything breaks right for Lefebvre he could find himself in the hunt for America East Rookie of the Year contention. Again, this award has typically been handed out to players who have a significant impact for their respective teams, so Lefebvre will likely find himself on the outside looking in once more. Anthony Lamb was the last Catamount to take home the award (2017). In all likelihood it’ll either take an injury or two up front or an absolute dominant freshman performance from Lefebvre to even be considered. If for some reason Lefebvre is able to pull off the seemingly impossible, it would signal yet another Vermont superstar to wreak havoc on the America East.
There’s a chance – albeit very slim, that the coaching staff could redshirt Lefebvre for the upcoming year. Vermont’s big men have all seemingly dealt with nagging and persistent injuries from time to time, so even if Lefebvre wasn’t quite ready for the bright lights, the coaching staff knows they’ll need the extra depth. On the other end of the spectrum, should Vermont make it through the season without any sort of injuries upfront and a resurgence from back-ups Duncan Demuth and Isaiah Powell, then Lefebvre will likely be relegated to mop up duty. Again, that seems unlikely and a redshirt year would still be a bit far-fetched, but this is the offseason and as of this moment all options are on the table.
Predicting Lefebvre’s role on the team next year is going to be tricky. There are numerous factors that weigh into the outcome. As just mentioned, any injuries (or lack thereof) could play a big role into how many minutes Lefebvre sees. His talent and skill set are a perfect fit in John Becker’s system, though it typically takes an adjustment period before freshmen become part of the rotation. So what role does Lefebvre take on?
John Becker ideally has a better sense of where Lefebvre fits into the rotation next year. Assuming Vermont stays relatively healthy (few bumps and bruises, but nothing excessive), expect to see Lefebvre eased into the rotation over the course of the season. Aaron Deloney was another highly talented freshman just a year ago, who progressed well as the season went on and ultimately carved out a nice role for himself in the latter half of conference play. Lefebvre will definitely flash at times, but for the most part year one will be about the big man finding his footing. Lefebvre looks the part of a cornerstone player for the Catamounts and should be a menace in the America East for years to come. Here’s hoping the Catamounts have found their next Canadain star.
2020-21 Statistical Predictions
- 10.2 minutes per game
- 3.1 points per game
- 0.4 assists per game
- 1.8 rebounds per game
Share Your Thoughts…
*Full disclosure I have no idea what number Lefebvre is going to wear. He previously wore #1, but that’s taken, so let’s give him #11. If you’re reading this Georges and decide to pick #11, don’t forget to shoutout FTPL!