College Basketball Recruiting: Top Incoming Freshman for Each Top 25 Team
The top 25 college basketball teams for the 2012-13 season can thank their incoming freshmen for the honor.
The game today revolves much more heavily around underclassmen—especially freshmen. The one-and-done rule has made freshmen arguably the most important part of teams, and these 25 freshmen will be no different.
These players will all greatly influence the game as freshmen, and they are the ones to watch for each top 25 team.
25. Minnesota: SG Wally Ellenson
A left-handed wing, Wally Ellenson is a versatile player. He has great range and consistency from behind the arc, and he will be a big-time shooter for the Gophers.
He will most likely play shooting guard in college, although he can also play wing because of his athleticism.
A good defender who plays with grit and intensity, Ellenson will have a big impact at Minnesota. While he isn't a highly touted recruit, he will still have a big impact.
24. Gonzaga: C Przemek Karnowski
Gonzaga doesn't bring in any stars this year, and the school only brings in one player.
However, when that one player is 7'1" and 280 pounds, that's perfectly fine.
Przemek Karnowski is coming over from Poland as a highly touted recruit, but he is an unknown at this point. It's possible that he will be able to dominate inside and replace seven-footer Robert Sacre, but only time will tell.
23. Creighton: SG Isaiah Zierden
A 6'2" combo guard, Isaiah Zierden will look to add his scoring and passing ability to one of the best offenses in the country.
While he isn't going to have to be a star for a few years, this kid could easily emerge as one of Creighton's top players in time.
While he must add strength with his college weight lifting program, he currently has all the tools to become an elite combo guard at the next level.
22. Notre Dame: SF Cameron Biedscheid
Cameron Biedscheid is a long 6'6" wing who needs to add some muscle, but will be able to do so at Notre Dame under a college weightlifting program.
He's a good athlete who has a nice shot that extends out to almost 25 feet. He can also make pull-up jumpers, especially in transition.
Biedscheid has a lot of potential, but right now he is inconsistent. He needs to find a role with the Irish and fulfill it night after night. He is the first recruit on this list who should see a good amount of playing time as a freshman, but he needs to earn it with consistency.
21. Cincinnati: SF Titus Rubles
JUCO recruit Titus Rubles is the only player Cincinnati will be bringing in, and he could be a good player.
With good size at 6'8" and 220 pounds, he is like a smaller LeBron James in terms of pure size. He is also pretty athletic, and while he is nowhere near as skilled as The King, he could be an impact player.
It will be interesting to see if he can mesh with all of Cincy's guards.
20. Wisconsin: SF Sam Dekker
Sam Dekker is one of the hardest working and most clutch players in the Class of 2012. He has ice in his veins and is used to taking the final shot, and he works hard to knock them down.
Dekker also possesses a good amount of skill too. He uses his long frame to his advantage, and has a good all-around game. He is used to be his team's top scorer, and he could be given that role at Wisconsin in a few years.
While his conditioning could be a problem in the Big Ten, he will soon adjust thanks to his unrivaled work ethic.
19. Marquette: SF Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor is a tall, lanky player at 6'7" and 175 pounds, but once he fills out he has the potential to become an elite scorer.
He has the range, both from behind the arc and mid-range, and he can score in the lane or in transition. If he can put all of these together into a fluid game then he could become a star for the Golden Eagles.
With the departures of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette needs players to step up over the coming years, and Taylor can be one of those guys.
18. Michigan State: SG Gary Harris
Gary Harris is arguably the best shooting guard in the Class of 2012, and will be an immediate impact player for the Spartans of Michigan State.
Harris has a smooth shot that he is very consistent with. He has good range that he is still extending, but he can also drive through the lane like a pro.
He is a skilled scorer and a stingy defender, and he is going to be a stud in college. He might only be around for a year or two, but he is going to have a major impact for as long as he is in East Lansing.
17. Syracuse: C DaJuan Coleman
DaJuan Coleman is a big-bodied center who can dominate inside under Jim Boeheim.
He can use his girth and strength to bully smaller defenders and to keep opponents away from the rim in the 2-3 defense. He is also a good shot-blocker and will be a big part of Boeheim's schemes for as long as he is with the Orange.
Coleman is a good replacement for seven-footer Fab Melo. While he isn't as tall and may not be quite as skilled, he is much more reliable, and Orange fans should be happy to see him.
16. San Diego State: SF Winston Shepard
Winston Shepard is an freak of an athlete, and once he develops his basketball game he will become an elite college player.
At 6'8" he has excellent size, and he is a high-energy player who uses it well. He is constantly moving, and he is difficult to stop because of his stamina and athleticism.
Shepard could be a star at any program, and going to a mid-major like San Diego State will allow him to excel as the star of the team for the next few years.
15. North Carolina: PG Marcus Paige
Marcus Paige is an incredibly gifted point guard. He has great ball handling skills, incredible court vision and unrivaled passing ability in the Class of 2012.
Paige will be coming in and immediately be a starter with the Tar Heels. He will be replacing now NBA point guard Kendall Marshall, and he is not much of a step down from the best point guard in the country a year ago.
Paige is an excellent leader who always makes the right decision. He is a great floor general who will be distributing to North Carolina's many weapons next year, and could easily average six or seven assists per game.
14. Ohio State: PG Amedeo Della Valle
The combo guard from prestigious Findlay Prep, Amedeo Della Valle is a talented player who has a bright future ahead of him.
Della Valle is Ohio State's only commit from the Class of 2012, but he is a good one. He uses his good jumper to score well, but he can also drive and kick out to an open teammate.
He will soon replace Aaron Craft with the Buckeyes and could bring a new element to the team. A scoring point guard is a great addition for the Buckeyes, and he could see some major minutes this year before taking over next year.
13. Duke: PF Amile Jefferson
I almost put SG Rasheed Sulaimon in this spot, but the bigger recruit for the Duke Blue Devils is PF Amile Jefferson.
The Blue Devils need big, versatile big men like Jefferson. He will be relied upon to drive through the lane and score inside, as well as cover talented big men throughout the season.
Jefferson's role exceeds that of Sulaimon, and because he has less competition to start and have a bigger impact, he deserves this spot.
12. Baylor: C Isaiah Austin
Isaiah Austin will be given the task of helping to replenish Baylor's depleted frontcourt. The seven-footer will be taking over for Perry Jones III at center.
Austin has the body of a center, but he also has the skill of a point guard. He has great athleticism and skill, and he will be able to use both once he gets out in transition. It's tough to stop a seven-footer when only your guards are back on defense, and that's what makes this kid special.
Austin is an elite player who will have a major impact in college. He will be the best player the Bears have next season. Period.
11. Kansas: PF Perry Ellis
The 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas, Perry Ellis is a top power forward.
He has a good body for the college game, and he is strong enough to play inside. However, he also has the finesse and athleticism to play small forward.
Ellis has recently learned how to dominate the game, and he is now a complete player. He knows when to turn it on, and he can find the weak link on opposing teams and exploit it.
A smart, talented player, Ellis will have a major impact with the Jayhawks at Kansas.
10. Florida: PG Braxton Ogbueze
Florida's backcourt has been the strength of the team for the last several years, and point guard Braxton Ogbueze will help continue that tradition.
He has a good shot with excellent range that would allow him to play shooting guard if he didn't have such great ball-handling skills and court vision.
While he is still developing as a point guard, he has all the tools to become an elite player by the end of his first year and help the Gators for years to come.
9. UNLV: PF Anthony Bennett
Anthony Bennett is a great power forward with a bright future ahead of him. He can dominate inside or step out and knock down threes, which is what makes him such a special player.
While he will almost certainly be a one-and-done player, during that one year he will help UNLV become an elite program, along with returnee Mike Moser and transfer Khem Birch.
Bennett will be vital in the revival of UNLV basketball, and by helping the program gain national attention we could see the Runnin' Rebels start landing other top 10 recruits like Bennett over the next few years.
8. Missouri: PF Stefan Jankovic
Of the seven recruits Missouri will bring in next season, Stefan Jankovic is the best.
At 6'9" he has good size for a power forward, but he is also a very gifted player with the skill to be a combo-forward.
Coming from Canada his game looks more like that of an international level, as he can play well on the perimeter. However Frank Haith will be able to find a way to use him at Mizzou.
7. Michigan: PF Mitch McGary
While Glenn Robinson III is actually ranked higher than Mitch McGary according to ESPN, McGary is clearly the better player.
A dominant force inside, McGary uses his NBA-ready body to carve out space in the post and finish with a variety of post moves.
McGary will be an impact player from day one, and he should be starting for the Wolverines. He is going to be a double-double machine in college, and could help Michigan to an incredible season.
6. North Carolina State: SG Rodney Purvis
With three McDonald's All-Americans joining North Carolina State next season, SG Rodney Purvis is the best.
Purvis is arguably the best shooting guard in the Class of 2012, although I would rank him behind Gary Harris of Michigan State and Ricardo Ledo of Providence.
He can drive through the lane with apparent ease, but he can also step out and knock down threes, which makes him more valuable than Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State.
Also a good defender, Purvis is an incredible player who will be a star for as long as he is in college.
5. Arizona: C Kaleb Tarczewski
Kaleb Tarczewski is a seven-footer who will be playing center for Arizona next season. He is a great option inside thanks to his size, but he is also a versatile and athletic player.
Tarc can get up and down the court much faster than most big men, which makes him a threat in transition. However, it doesn't take away from his game inside, like it does for other athletic centers.
This kid has a bright future ahead of him, and he will be able to show off his talents at Point Guard U.
4. UCLA: Shabazz Muhammad
This was the toughest pick in this entire list, as UCLA brings in both Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, both of whom are top three recruits.
However, since the list is the best freshmen, and not the most important, skilled wing Muhammad edged the versatile point guard Anderson.
Muhammad is a future NBA star whose ability to drive through the lane is second-to-none. He also has a good shot and is a tough defender.
I see Muhammad developing into a shorter version of LeBron James, but it will all start with the Bruins.
3. Kentucky: C Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel is given the tough task of replacing National Player of the Year Anthony Davis, and while he may not be quite as good as Davis was, he's pretty close.
Noel is also a shot-blocker who is an incredibly skilled defender, and, like Davis, he too has an offensive game that is still developing.
Noel is the No. 1 recruit in the nation according to ESPN, and while I consider Muhammad to be much better, there is no doubt that he is the best that Kentucky will have.
2. Louisville: PG Terry Rozier
Terry Rozier is another point guard for Louisville, and while he won't be playing much this year behind Peyton Siva, he will become a big-time player in a few years.
Rozier has a great outside shot which he uses to rack up most of his points, but he is also a skilled point guard. If he can learn how to lead a team from Siva and coach Rick Pitino, he has a lot of potential.
Rozier won't have as much of an impact as fellow freshman Montrezl Harrell, but he will be the better player down the road.
1. Indiana: Yogi Ferrell
Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell is one of five recruits that Indiana brings in, and the point guard is the best of the bunch.
Ferrell is a small player at less than six feet tall, but he is highly skilled and will be a great distributor in college, not to mention using his quickness to score.
Ferrell probably won't be starting this year after the Hoosiers return all five starters, but he will be a key contributor for years to come.