Justin Goldsborough was no different than most college freshmen when he arrived at Lehigh in the fall.
His athletic talent was obvious, but his learning curve was as steep as South Mountain.
"It was almost disappointing," Mountain Hawks coach Brett Reed admitted. "You could see the talent, the potential."
Goldsborough, a 6-foot-8 forward from Fort Washington, Md., was forced into immediate playing time when Lehigh's season began at Baylor because Lehigh's frontcourt depth was depleted thanks to a preseason injury to starter Gabe Knutson.
Goldsborough had a total of one point and four rebounds in his first three college games.
"When he first got here, there was a lot he had to figure out," Reed said.
For Goldsborough, it was like learning to play all over again. He was digesting new offensive and defensive schemes. He was adjusting to the speed of the college game. He was figuring out his new teammates.
It was a struggle. His athleticism wasn't going to be enough to get him consistent production at Lehigh.
There was little change in his production leading up to a game earlier this month against Division III Muhlenberg, in which he had six points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.
But Goldsborough opened the eyes of everyone in the Patriot League with his performance in his first league game against Holy Cross.
He had six points and 10 rebounds in a 79-47 rout of the physical Crusaders.
"We need that rebounding, athleticism and energy he is able to contribute," Reed said. "Those types of plays could become [his] signature.
"I couldn't be more pleased with Justin's ability to break through."
Though Knutson is healthy, sophomore Conroy Baltimore is struggling, having played single-digit minutes in the last four games against Division I competition.
With Baltimore trying to find his way back and Jesse Chuku having to sit out this season, Goldsborough's recent development is important for Lehigh, which also lost preseason All-American guard C.J. McCollum indefinitely with a broken foot.
"With Justin able to do that consistently in practice, teammates are able to see it and give him more respect," Reed said. "Now that he's able to do it in game situations and ultimately contribute to what we're trying to build is a great sign for him personally."
Freshmen are playing a significant part of the success of all local Patriot League teams.
The recent success of the Lafayette men can be partially attributed to freshman Bryce Scott's growth.
The El Dorado Hills, Calif., resident is averaging 5.7 points and 19 minutes per game in his first season in coach Fran O'Hanlon's complex offensive system.
The left-handed guard has made several clutch shots, including the game-winner at Penn earlier this month.