Most coaches give a first-year player at least a half-season before declaring that the player is no longer a freshman.
Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli might have given rookie point guard Jared Bynum four practices.
Bynum "is not a freshman,” Martelli said. “He might be a freshman academically and socially, but he’s a basketball player.
“He belongs in these games.”
Of course, Bynum has things to learn on the court that will come only from experience, but the freshman has picked up in college what he left as the Instate Athletic Conference Player of the Year at Georgetown Prep.
That’s allowed Martelli to look past the fact that Bynum has played only 10 college games.
Bynum has started all the games for the Hawks and is second in minutes played (314) to redshirt junior Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble (316). Bynum is third on the team in scoring (13.6 ppg) and is shooting 51.2 percent from the floor and 50 percent (15-30) on three-pointers.
He leads the Hawks with 35 assists and 16 steals. His assist/turnover ratio is an outstanding 4.375, which ranks in the top 10 nationally.
Last week, the 5-foot-10 freshman was named Atlantic 10 rookie of the week after he averaged 20.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He converted 68.8 percent of his shots (11-for-16) from the field and 94.1 percent (16-of-17) from the foul line.
“I think the adjustment [to college] is going well,” Bynum said after he had 19 points, a season-high six assists, two steals and just two turnovers Wednesday at Princeton. “I study all of the film so that I can try to get better every game.
“My attitude is every game I’ve got to play better than I did that last one.”
Last Saturday, Bynum made his Big 5 debut by scoring a career-high 23 with five assists in a loss to Temple.
This Saturday, he’ll get introduced to the Big 5’s “Holy War,” when St. Joe’s plays at Villanova.
“I live for big games,” Bynum said. “There was a lot of hype leading up to the game with Temple. You’re hyped for it. They’re hyped for it. Our fans are hyped. Their fans are hyped. It was everything I expected.”
Being the Hawks' lone freshman in the 2018-19 class, Bynum did not have a teammate with whom he had a natural kinship of newness.
“At first it was kind of hard,” Bynum said. “You have to make new friends, get to know new teammates. Still, they’ve all been freshmen so they all took me under their wing.”
Bynum’s ability and court savviness have also allowed his teammates to trust him and allow him to spread those wings on the court.
Kimble and redshirt sophomore Charlie Brown Jr. are both players with handles who can and will be ball-dominant. Those, however, are circumstance-by-circumstance situations.
The Hawks point guard is Bynum, and his teammates have accepted him as that.
“Jared is beyond his level,” Kimble said of his backcourt mate. “He’s really showing to be one of a kind.
“He’s here. He’s got the ball in his hands now, and he’s going to have the ball in his hands for the next four years. He’s only getting more comfortable game by game. The sky is really the limit for him.”