Top 10 Freshmen in College Basketball — Week 12 Edition
Top 10 Freshmen in College Basketball -- Week Edition 12
There is no doubt that this season has been the year of the freshman in college basketball. Well before the season even started we were all salivating over Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Joel Embiid and Noah Vonleh. The good thing about all this focus on the freshmen is that it isn't all about those guys. Players like Tyler Ennis and Jordan Mickey have both been two of the best freshmen all season long, and coming into this season no one thought that would be the case.
Don't get me wrong; Wiggins, Parker, Randle and company have been great as well, but I think so much attention being focused on them has caused other really talented players to say "hold on, I'm good too" so now we have more freshmen showing out than in any season before. This list of top-10 freshmen has been compiled each week, and other than the original six players it was hard to come up with a top-10. But as the season has progressed we have seen more and more freshmen stepping up and playing tremendously.
At this point in the season the list could go from top-10 to top-20 or top-30 since there are so many freshmen outplaying preseason expectations. So far we have had 18 different freshmen ranked in the top-10 which seems crazy to me. In previous seasons when there were big-time freshmen, those one or two freshmen dominated the headlines all season long. There was Kevin Durant and Greg Oden and then Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love. But this season there has been a revolving door of fantastic freshmen. Randle, Parker, Ennis and Embiid have all held down the No. 1 spot at least once this season, and Wiggins is still the consensus favorite to be the top pick in June's NBA Draft. How is that even possible? With each passing week I expect someone to hit a wall or fall off the map. Some have hit walls, but they always bounce right back up.
This season has been a gift to college basketball fans everywhere. I just hope you are all taking notice and enjoying a phenomenon that we might never see again.
10. James Young
Young has been the second-best player on Kentucky for most of the season, but he hasn't really had many sustained stretches of good play for the Wildcats. This past week in two games Young had 36 points, nine rebounds and he shot 13-of-28 from the field and 8-of-19 on three-pointers. He is a vastly talented scorer and has a big frame. If he can play with more consistency he will be the second lottery pick from this Kentucky roster. (Last week: NR)
9. Isaiah Taylor
Texas has been on a roll as of late, and Taylor is a big reason why. They have won five in a row -- the last three being against ranked teams -- and Taylor is averaging 13.4 points with 3.2 assists per game during the winning streak. On the season he is averaging 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He is a phenomenal freshmen and maybe should have been in the rankings sooner. (Last week: NR)
8. Noah Vonleh
This was not the best week for Vonleh. He only had one game, and it was not a good game for him; he had four points and 14 rebounds in Indiana's lone game this week. He is still averaging 12.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game on the season. He has proven to be one of the best freshmen on the glass this season; now if he could be more consistent on the offensive end he'd move higher in the rankings. (Last week: 6)
7. Aaron Gordon
Gordon continues to be a big success for Arizona. In two games this week he averaged 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while he also added two blocks and three steals. He has been a monster of an athlete for the Wildcats who brings havoc on the defensive side of the ball, and he's a player who doesn't need plays ran for him to be a positive on the offensive end. (Last week: 8)
6. Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins set a career-high in points (27) and assists (5) this week in his only game. Wiggins has played well in four of his last five games and six of his last eight games; he is starting to show his skill with more consistency and proving why so many mock drafts still have him in the No. 1 spot. Most importantly for Wiggins over the past few weeks is that he is getting to the free-throw line more. In his past seven games Wiggins has shot 46 free-throws. The more he stops settling for jumpers and gets in the lane, the better he will be for Kansas. (Last week: 7)
5. Julius Randle
Randle had a good game against Georgia (14 points on 4-for-8 shooting, nine rebounds and three assists) but he was manhandled against LSU (six points on 3-for-11 shooting, five rebounds and one assist). After having seven straight double-doubles to start the season, Randle has only four double-doubles in Kentucky's last 13 games. It is safe to say he has hit a wall. (Last week: 4)
4. Jordan Mickey
Mickey had another big week, especially on the defensive end. In two games this week Mickey had 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting, 12 rebounds and seven blocks while only committing one foul. That's right, seven blocks and only one foul in two games; that is insane. On the season Mickey is averaging 3.63 blocks per game and only 1.95 fouls per game. His defense has been amazing. (Last week: 5)
3. Joel Embiid
Kansas only had one game this week, so Embiid didn't have too much of an opportunity to show how great he has been. The Jayhawks wiped the floor with TCU, but Embiid only saw 19 minutes of action due to fouling out. Fouling is the turd in the swimming pool when you talk about Embiid. He is currently averaging 6.4 fouls per-40 minutes. We have mentioned all year how raw he is offensively, but being raw will also get you in foul trouble. (Last week: 1)
2. Jabari Parker
Parker had a couple of tough games this week. He and the Duke Blue Devils had to go up against Pittsburgh and Florida State, both of which are slow, tough, defensive-minded teams. Duke came away 2-0, and Parker averaged 17.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Even though he had a good week scoring and rebounding the best part was Parker went to the line 16 times in two games. He is being more aggressive, and an aggressive Parker is the best Parker. (Last week: 3)
1. Tyler Ennis
Ennis was another player who only had one game this week, so we have to rank him more on his body of work. But in the one game Ennis had he scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. Shockingly he had two turnovers. That normally isn't a big deal for a college freshman who handles the ball as much as he does, but for Ennis whenever he has more than one it is a surprise. On the season he is averaging 5.4 assists to only 1.4 turnovers per game. It is very easy to forget a player this smart is only a freshman. (Last week: 2)