College Basketball Preview: Top 15 Freshmen
Top 15 Freshmen
The Kentucky Wildcats proved last year that a group of young talented freshmen can win a college basketball national championship. This year, while Kentucky has certainly reloaded with a whole new arsenal of young guns, other teams have strong freshmen cores as well. The freshmen of 2012-2013 are a talented bunch to say the least. These 15 young players are bound to provide immediate help to their respective teams, and will also provide immediate entertainment to college basketball fans around the country.
While upperclassmen usually serve as the leaders to the team, their are always the rare freshmen that can come on a team and immediately establish a leadership role. While some of the players on this list are underdeveloped, there are incoming freshmen for 2012-2013 that are going to establish themselves as leaders almost immediately after they arrive on campus.
Last year we spent hours researching these high school seniors, picking apart every detail in order to speculate where they were going to go to college. Now, the recruitment process is complete. These players now have to prove to fans that they were worth all of the hard work put in by recruiters. They have to prove that they can turn a program around. They have to prove that they are the real deal. All we can do is sit back and watch these young players grow up in front of our eyes.
Note: this list is NOT in any particular order.
#15 Yogi Ferrell: Indiana
Indiana has high expectations going into this season. Their young freshmen point guard just might be the key to meeting those expectations. Ferrell is well regarded for his high basketball I.Q. as well as his strong leadership skills. Ferrell has a unique opportunity to serve as the floor general for one of the best teams in the country. The Hoosiers are hoping that Ferrel can take them to the next level.
#14 Rasheed Sulaimon: Duke
Duke has replaced last years freshmen scoring sensation Austin Rivers, with a new highly talented freshmen who can fill it like no other. Sulaimon is the best shooter on this list, and may even prove to be one of the top snipers in the country. His mid-range game is also excellent, and he can take the ball hard to the basket and draw fouls. He is talented enough defensively to hold his own, but he will most likely be making his headlines on offense.
#13 Steven Adams: Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has found a gem in this hulking big man from New Zealand. While Adams' game is raw, he has shown that he is a unique talent on both sides of the floor. While his arsenal on offense is limited, he has proved that he is an eager learner who is hungry to improve. He is very athletic for his size, and his defensive shot-blocking prowess makes him a prospect that should make Pitt fans very excited.
#12 Rodney Purvis: NC State
NC State is poised for a big season. The Wolfpack have a strong core returning from last season, and they look ready to take over the ACC. Purvis will provide an immediate impact by slashing to the basket and scoring the basketball. While he has some maturing to do on both sides of the floor, his immense amount of talent is indisputable.
#11 Shaquille Cleare: Maryland
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon has assembled a very strong freshmen class that is headlined by the big man from Houston, Texas. Cleare has a wide body and an even wider arsenal of post moves. He is an extremely talented rebounder who will to have an immediate impact on this young Terrapins team.
#10 Devonta Pollard: Alabama
Pollard may just have the highest ceiling out of anyone on this list. His all around game is scary good. He can beat you by shooting, driving, and making plays for his teammates. Alabama is a perfect place for Pollard, because he has the opportunity to be the star of a team where he can use his extremely diverse skill set to take over the offense, and turn around the fate of a program.
#9 Nerlens Noel: Kentucky
Noel certainly has big shoes to fill. Noel is not expected to mimic the season of last years national player of the year and NBA first round draft pick Anthony Davis. That being said, Noel certainly has large expectations playing for Kentucky after being so highly recruited out of high school. Noel is most well known for his prowess as a shot blocker. Many people even said he was better at that skill than Davis, but that remains to be seen. If Noel can establish himself as a defensive stalwart at Kentucky, then Calipari can work his magic and turn Noel into a star.
#8 Cameron Ridley: Texas
Texas has found themselves a highly talented big man who will help them immensely on both sides of the floor. Ridley's wide body provides him with the physical gifts he needs to make plays on both sides. He is very fundamentally sound on offense, with a wide variety of post moves he can use to overpower his opponent.
#7 Anthony Bennett: UNLV
Bennett is one of the most well-rounded players in this freshmen class. His offensive talents include a strong post game as well as a good range game, that even includes a 3-point shot. This unique combination of skills proves that Bennett will have an immediate impact on UNLV.
#6 Isaiah Austin: Baylor
Baylor has shown success with young players in the past, and the highly recruited big man Austin is not looking to break that trend. Standing at 7 feet tall, Austin has an unbelievable amount of ball skills for a player his size. With the skills of a point guard, and the size of an NBA ready big man, Austin's only problem is that he needs to gain some weight and muscle so he can fight down low with college big men. That being said, Austin's impact will be felt immediately due to his freakish talent.
#5 Marcus Paige: North Carolina
The Tar-Heels have a gaping void at point guard after Kendall Marshall landed a spot in the NBA. Paige has a lot of pressure to take over the coveted spot, and deliver immediately. Their are no upperclassmen guards that can fill this spot, so Paige has been handed a golden opportunity. While this task seems very high, Paige has the skills to deliver. Paige is more of a scorer than Marshall, but can also play the role of floor general and lead the offense. It is going to interesting to see whether or not Paige takes up a leadership role this season.
#4 Alex Poythress: Kentucky
Poythress may just be the best athlete on this list. His long, muscular build helps him outmuscle opponents and create matchup problems. Poythress can jump out of the gym and has freakish length. While his athleticism is the aspect of Poythress's game that stands out, he also has a wide variety of basketball skills. He can drive to the basket and can shoot the three. His athleticism also allows him to be an elite defender both on ball and off ball. Kentucky has yet another freshmen to be excited for.
#3 Kyle Anderson: UCLA
Kyle Anderson is basically a 6 foot 9 point guard. His playmaking skills are what set him apart from the rest of this list. He is an extremely craft ball handler and can completely take over a game with hi playmaking ability and size. Anderson is unstoppable on offense. He has nearly every single skill that a player needs to be successful. Those intense skills combined with his unusual height is going to create matchup nightmares for opposing coaches. This kid is going to make UCLA fans very happy.
#2 Shabazz Muhammad: UCLA
There is a reason that Muhammad was regarded as the number one recruit coming out of high school. Teaming up with Kyle Anderson is enough to make UCLA an instant contender. Muhammad is an unbelievable scorer who has that rate explosive factor when driving to the basket. Muhammad can play shut down, intense defense for the whole game. Muhammad is certainly a special player, he has been gifted physically, as well as basketball skills. Muhammad will prove that he is worth the hype.
#1 Kaleb Tarczewski: Arizona
Tarczewski is an explosive 7 footer that has a wide array of skills on offense. He can shoot the midrange jump shot, and has a lot of post moves he can use in order to both out power his matchup or use his craftiness to fool them. Tarczewski rounds out a very strong recruiting class for Arizona, and he will have an immediate impact on the team. His skill set makes him perhaps one of the most well-rounded big men in the country. Fans will definitely hear his name numerous times this season, as he takes the nation by storm.
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