In preparation for the 2012-13 season, the college basketball staff here at Rant Sports will be running through a number of player and team breakdowns from now until the start of the season.
Another year is approaching and so too are the debuts of many highly-regarded freshmen.
Let’s take a look a look at the Top 5 Freshmen Centers heading into the 2012-13 season:
No. 5: Cameron Ridley (Texas)- The Longhorns could be set to surprise some people in 2012-13 and Ridley’s production is a key component to their success. Ridley highlights the Longhorns’ incoming freshmen class and at 6-foot-10 his size will give him the opportunity to impact the team right away. His continued improvement has Texas’ fans very excited and there’s more than enough reasons as to why.
No. 4: Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona)- The Wildcats and head coach Sean Miller will be young down low, but there’s no question that they will be talented. Incoming freshmen forwards Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett will join Tarczewski in forming one of the Pac-12’s top front court, despite their lack of experience at the collegiate level. Tarczewski is a true 7-footer and comes to UA by way of the St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts. His ability to run in transition and finish easily around the rim are what made him so highly-sought-after in high school.
No. 3: Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)- Adams is a native of New Zealand and for a while he was under the radar. Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon was able to land Adams and that is huge for a Panthers’ program that is looking to rebound from a disappointing season in 2011-12. Adams won’t be a secret for much longer, as he has the potential to instantly be one of the top big men in the Big East this year.
No. 2: Isaiah Austin (Baylor)- Austin was the top rated center in the class of 2012 for a long time and for good reason. The Baylor freshman has incredible ball-handling skills for a big man and his talent level is through the roof. At 7-feet, Austin has the ability to anchor the Bears down low on the defensive end and should be an instant impact guy for head coach Scott Drew. Austin is a native of Texas, and after the losses of Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy in the front court, the paint now belongs to Austin in Waco.
No. 1: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)- The jewel of this year’s recruiting class for head coach John Calipari is Noel, and the 6-foot-11 Massachusetts-native has very high expectations in Lexington this season. Noel reclassified to 2012, joining the Kentucky program after a tremendous high school career at the Tilton School (NH). Noel will replace Anthony Davis in the starting lineup and his drive to raise banner No. 9 at UK is the forefront of his goals this season.
Other Freshmen Centers to Watch: DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse), Tony Parker (UCLA), Shaquille Cleare (Maryland), Josh Scott (Colorado), Adam Woodbury (Iowa), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Daniel Ochefu (Villanova), Robert Upshaw (Fresno State), Prince Ibeh (Texas), Joel James (North Carolina), Christopher Obekpa (St. John’s), Mike Tobey (Virginia), A.J. Hammons (Purdue), Grant Verhoeven (Stanford)
Be sure to follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @TheArenaPulse