Top 10 Freshmen in College Basketball — Week 11 Edition
Top 10 Freshmen in College Basketball -- Week 11 Edition
We are entering the part of the season when all the March Madness talk starts to dominate the airwaves. You know the buzzwords and topics I am talking about; there are resumes, RPI numbers, bracketologists and bracket-buster games. But while the rest of the NCAA basketball world is focusing on March, we are focusing in on one of the greatest freshmen classes college basketball has ever seen.
For the majority of this season we have watched Jabari Parker take hold of the No. 1 spot in these rankings. Only twice has he not been first this season. We have also seen one of the quickest and largest rises ever from a basketball player in Joel Embiid. Embiid was once a prospect who was going to be in college for two seasons or if he did leave after one season was going to a borderline lottery pick. Instead, Embiid has improved every week and become the most exciting player to watch this season as well as the potential No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.
As great as Embiid has been this season he was someone we were looking out for to be a lottery pick if not this season then at least next year. The biggest surprise to me has been the play of Jordan Mickey. I know I have said it before, but he is what is keeping LSU in the NCAA Tournament picture. He wasn't even a highly recruited player until his senior season and almost didn't get cleared to play this year. Now he is one of the best freshman in the country, and if he decided to come out this year he would be a likely first-round choice.
Embiid and Mickey along with Zach LaVine and Tyler Ennis have all outplayed what anyone could have expected for them to do this season, and that is what makes this so fun -- watching these players grow from week to week and improve more than guys like Parker or Andrew Wiggins who were, and probably still are, surefire top-three picks. This season has been full of twists and turns. Let's take a look at how the freshmen shape up this week.
10. Marcus Foster
Foster is making his first appearance in the rankings this week. He is a smooth shooting two-guard for Kansas State who is averaging 14 points per game and shooting 37.7 percent from three on almost six attempts per game. Foster has also scored 17 points or more in five games this season. (Last week: NR)
9. Zach LaVine
LaVine is becoming the yo-yo of these rankings; he's in, then he's out, he's up, then down. This past week LaVine posted another strong week and is starting to show why so many NBA scouts have started to take notice. This week he had 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists in two games. (Last week: NR)
8. Aaron Gordon
Gordon is having a bit of a lackluster run of late. He was once one of the top four players in the rankings on a regular basis but has slipped here recently. He is still one of the best teams on the No. 1 team in the country, and it's not like he is putting up real stink-jobs out there so he will remain in the top-10 this week. Last week he had 16 points and six rebounds in his one game. (Last week: 8)
7. Andrew Wiggins
If you can figure out Wiggins then you are better than me. He might have the biggest upside of any prospect in this year's class, but it is rare that we see that upside on display. Maybe he is disinterested, maybe he is protecting himself from injury or maybe he just isn't that aggressive of a player. Who knows? This past week he had 20 points and nine rebounds in two big wins for Kansas. (Last week: 5)
6. Noah Vonleh
Indiana continues to have a surprisingly bad season, but no blame should be placed on Vonleh. This week the Hoosiers dropped two more games, but Vonleh notched 30 points on 11-for-23 shooting and snagged 25 rebounds. He has been a beast on the boards all season long. (Last week: 7)
5. Jordan Mickey
It is getting hard to explain just how much Mickey has exceeded expectations this season. He had yet another big week for LSU scoring 27 points on 11-for-20 shooting, grabbing 18 rebounds and blocking six shots in two Tiger wins. (Last week: 6)
4. Julius Randle
Randle had a big test this week when he went up against the tough front line from Tennessee. He sort of held his own by scoring 18 points, but he only grabbed two rebounds and allowed Jarnell Stokes to get 15 boards. Randle had a decent bounce-back 13-point 11-rebound performance against Texas A&M. It wasn't his best week, to say the least, but Randle is still having a great season. (Last week: 3)
3. Jabari Parker
Parker has burst out of his two week funk that he was in. In the lone Duke Blue Devil game of the week Parker poured in 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting and grabbed seven boards. He is still one of the leaders among freshmen in scoring and PER, but his two-week lull was so bad he has ground to make up on the next two. (Last week: 4)
2. Tyler Ennis
Syracuse remains undefeated, and Ennis remains the steady force behind their methodical attack. In an Orange victory over Pittsburgh this week, Ennis had 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting and dished out three assists. The biggest statistic from that game was the in 40 minutes of action he only had one turnover. (Last week: 2)
1. Joel Embiid
Embiid is one of the most exciting players to watch in college basketball. He grabs offensive rebounds and slams them home, he blocks any shot within eight feet of him and he goes up high to throw down alley-oops. Embiid was expected to be this developed as an athlete and a defender, but everything you see on the offensive end is a plus for Kansas. This week he put in 25 points, grabbed 15 boards and blocked nine shots in two games. (Last week: 1)