Top 10 Freshmen in College Basketball — Week 13 Edition
Top 10 Freshmen in College Basketball -- Week 13 Ediiton
Last week in this space I praised the freshmen of this class for being so consistently good for the majority of the season, but this week was a wreck for some of the big names in the rankings. We have watched the play of Andrew Wiggins go up and down and everywhere in between for much of the season, but it was never as if he hit a wall -- he just plays with less passion and aggression some nights. But Wiggins' yo-yo play wasn't the only odd play this week; several other big-name freshmen had some of their worst weeks of this season this past week.
Most notably to me was Aaron Gordon. He has been a major cog in what Arizona has done this season, but this week was bad for him -- and Arizona as they had their first loss of the season while losing Brandon Ashley in the process. Gordon couldn't hit a shot this week and was ineffective on defense. Noah Vonleh scored in single-digits in three straight games all while Indiana's roller coaster season continued. Even Julius Randle had a bad week which would not be considered bad for too many guys, but we have grown accustomed to seeing so much more from him on a nightly basis.
While the superstar names struggled, guys like Jordan Mickey, Tyler Ennis, Isaiah Taylor and Bobby Portis played lights out and showed how deep and diverse this class is this season. Mickey and Ennis have even played their way into a first-round NBA draft picks if they do decide to come out this season. The one thing that stands out most about this class is just how many players can pop up each week with huge numbers. Vonleh and Gordon were so close to missing the rankings this week for the first time this season, and that is hard to believe considering both have been, and will continue to be, projected as top-10 picks this year. That just further proves the competition among the freshmen this year.
There was a lot of movement in this week's top 10 even though we didn't have any new freshmen crack the list.
10. Noah Vonleh
Consistency seems to be the biggest issue for Vonleh, which is something most freshmen deal with. This week he had a big double-double (10 points and 12 rebounds) in a win over Michigan, but he played terrible (seven points and three rebounds) in a loss to Nebraska. Vonleh is averaging 11.7 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game on the season, and he's also one of the best freshmen defenders. But three straight single-digit scoring performances is puzzling. (Last week: 8)
9. Aaron Gordon
Gordon had one of the worst weeks of his freshman season this past week. He was very ineffective from the field only scoring 13 points on 6-of-24 shooting. Being an efficient scorer isn't something that Gordon is particularly known for; he is known for his rebounding and defense -- which he did have 22 rebounds this week. But with Brandon Ashley going down in the loss to California, Gordon will need to pick up some extra work on the offensive end. (Last week: 7)
8. Joel Embiid
Three weeks ago Embiid was at the top of this list and was being talked about by everyone as the possible No. 1 overall pick. He might still be the No. 1 pick based on potential, but in the past three weeks he has taken a large step backwards. This past week Embiid only had 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting in two games and was also in foul trouble in both games. His season averages of 10.9 points per game, 7.6 assists per game and 2.6 blocks per game is still one of the best freshman seasons, but his recent slide is too big to remain in the top-half of the rankings (Last week: 3)
7. Bobby Portis
The Arkansas season has taken a nosedive since the start of SEC play, but it is no fault of Portis. The Razorbacks are only 2-6 in conference games this season, but this freshman is a bright spot. This past week he had 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, 12 rebounds, six steals and three blocks in two games. (Last week: NR)
6. Andrew Wiggins
This week was the perfect template for Wiggins' freshman campaign. He was on fire in a win over Iowa State, played like garbage against Texas and had a meh game against Baylor. This summarizes his entire season with flashes of greatness, signs of immaturity and signs of no aggression. When he plays 100 percent he is one of the best two or three players in the country, but that doesn't happen every game. This week he had had 50 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, but he only shot 16-of-41 from the field. (Last week: 6)
5. Isaiah Taylor
Texas continues their hot streak, which now stands at seven straight wins, and a big part of that is Taylor. This past week he had a 23-point performance over Kansas on 5-of-10 shooting and then had 11 points with seven assists in a win over TCU. He has come on strong during the Texas win streak averaging 14.7 points per game and 3.6 assists per game. (Last week: 9)
4. Julius Randle
Randle is falling victim to his previous success. This week he had a total of 30 points and 14 rebounds in two wins, and that seems like a bad week. The reason why is because we got used to 18 and 10 from him almost every night. I guess if averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game is considered bad, he must be doing something right. For the season Randle is still 16 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game. (Last week: 5)
3. Jordan Mickey
LSU is making a surge to grab one a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and Mickey is leading the way. In two big wins this week over Arkansas and Kentucky, Mickey had a total of 36 points on 14-of-25 shooting with 17 rebounds and 11 blocks. He has been a monster on the defensive end this year; his 3.75 blocks per game lead all freshmen and rank third in the NCAA. (Last week: 4)
2. Jabari Parker
Duke almost pulled off the upset over Syracuse this past week, and if it wasn't for Parker fouling out with just under two minutes left in regulation the Blue Devils might have gotten the win. Parker is still has the best balance of NBA potential and NCAA production this season; so much so in fact that last week's 36 points and 17 rebounds in two games seems ho-hum. Parker's 18.7 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game is still the most impressive season-long stat line. (Last week: 2)
1. Tyler Ennis
There has not been a hotter player in the past month of college basketball than Ennis. This week he scored 38 points, dished out 21 assists and only had six turnovers in three wins. The crazy part is the six turnovers is higher than the norm for Ennis. On the season he has only 32 turnovers compared to 125 assists and 51 steals. No point guard in the country is playing better than Ennis no matter their class. (Last week: 1)