Freshman File: Top 10 Freshman in College Basketball
Top 10 Freshman Ballers
This is the first installment of the Freshman File. With this year's freshman crop being one of the best in recent memory, we need to have a weekly ranking to help us keep track on which frosh is out-performing his peers. I have waited until the fourth week of the season to start -- that way we have a good baseline to start with. You will notice that having a big game against a good team is more important than posting video-game stats against Multi-Directional Community College.
Every week, I will update which freshman is the best. These rankings are going to be fluid, with each week being based mainly on what each player did the previous week, but not solely on the previous week's games. If a guy has struggled for a few weeks, then has a huge week, he will not automatically jump to the top, but if a player who has been lingering around the top of the list clearly blows out the others in a given week, he would probably jump to the top.
This list isn't intended to tell you who is the best player or who will be drafted first. This list is strictly to give recognition the freshman that are putting up big numbers. Either Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle or Jabari Parker are 100 percent going to be the first player drafted next season, but that doesn't mean that they are having the best freshman season. As we progress in the season, freshman that lead their teams to big winning streaks, wins over a superior team, or that come up big in a clutch spot will also be shown a more favorable ranking.
With all that being said, please, jump on and ride with me as we dissect the top 10 freshman up to Week 4 of the college season.
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10. Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is the only true big on this week's list, and he is a legit 7-footer. Embiid got off to a slow start, which was predictable considering he has only been playing basketball for a few years, but he is starting to heat up. After only notching a combined 11 points, 11 rebounds and one block in his first two collegiate games, Embiid had 24 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks in his next two games. He is a guy I expect to move up these rankings with each passing week.
9. James Young
James Young is another one of the heralded five-star recruits that are at Kentucky, and he is living up to the hype. He is an athletic wing that can get to the rim at will. Young and Randle were the only reason Kentucky hung with Michigan State at the Champions Classic. The Wildcats were getting ran out of the gym, then Young turned up the heat and started getting in the lane and knocking down jumpers. He is currently averaging 13.3 points per game, but that will rise sooner than later.
8. Jabari Bird
Jabari Bird is a big guard that can get to the rim or shoot the lights out. California got off to a 5-1 start, and Bird deserves most of the praise for their hot start. He is leading the Golden Bears with 14.3 points per game, while shooting 51.9 percent from three.
7. Nigel Williams-Goss
Nigel Williams-Goss is not a household name just yet, but he is filling the box score every night. Williams-Goss is a stat-stuffer; he has registered at least three rebounds and three assists every night. He never takes a night off. Even when Williams-Goss isn't having a productive game as far as scoring goes, he still does all the other small things. He is a real gamer.
6. Noah Vonleh
Noah Vonleh is in one of he toughest positions of any freshman this season; he has to replace All-American Cody Zeller. Replacing a guy with as much talent as Zeller is always hard, but Vonleh has done an admirable job. His rebounding has been great (10.4 rebounds per game). With an Indiana team that is lacking star-power, Vonleh is doing his part in leading his team.
5. Jordan Mickey
Jordan Mickey has been a machine for LSU in the early part of the season. He is sixth in the country in blocks per game (4.8), second on the team in rebounds per game (9.8), and third in scoring (14.8). Mickey wasn't as highly regarded coming out of high school as the guys ahead of him on this list (he was ranked 38th by ESPN), but he has been a big-time player for the Tigers. His athleticism and length have helped him become one of the better rim-protectors in the country.
4. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon is the sleeper of out of the group with Wiggins, Randle and Parker. Gordon is, and has been, widely considered a sure-bet top-10 pick for the past two years. Him being on the west coast is part of the reason he gets forgotten, but pay attention people, this kid is going to be a star. Gordon is a superb athlete that can run the floor as well as any big, or jump as high as any big. He is leading Arizona with 9.0 rebounds per game and 1.8 blocks per game, while also throwing in 13.0 points per game.
3. Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins is the prohibitive favorite to be the first pick in next June's draft. While he has put up very solid numbers, he just hasn't put up the gaudy numbers of Ranlde and Parker. One thing Wiggins has going for him that the other two do not is the fact his team is still undefeated. Wiggins is joined by sophomore Perry Ellis, so there isn't as much burden on him to takeover games, but if he needs to he can, as evidenced by his 22 points and eight boards against Duke.
2. Jabari Parker
Julius Parker saw his stock drop among the other big freshman as this season started. All the hype was on Wiggins and Randle, but Parker has come out and shown the world why he is a legitimate threat to be the first pick in the next NBA draft. Parker leads Duke in points per game (23.0), rebounds per game (8.8), steals per game (1.3), and blocks per game (1.8). He is a do-it-all type of player. Parker is very reminiscent of Grant Hill; let's just hope he has better health.
1. Julius Randle
Julius Randle has started off his collegiate career with six straight double-doubles. He is averaging 19.8 points per game and a staggering 13.7 rebounds per game. Randle put up a 27-point 13-rebound performance against Michigan State, so he's not just beating up on the weaklings of the NCAA. He needs to cut down is almost four turnovers per game, but other than that, he has been terrific, and even shows a tremendous touch out to 18 feet.