10 Freakishly Athletic College Basketball Players
Defining a college basketball player as "freakishly athletic" is a little futile.
Just as soon as you talk about a competitor's strength and speed, someone else will suggest that it's all about agility and stability. If you cite a baller's vertical leap, someone else will mention the importance of quickness and coordination.
In spite of the fact that labeling someone "freakishly athletic" has nothing to do with hard data, let's look at 10 college basketball players from the 2012-13 season who could truly be given that title.
This list is not the "Top 10 players in College Hoops" or even Top 10 Dunkers in NCAA Basketball. We'll leave those for other people to hammer out.
Finding someone who scores more, steals more or dishes more than these 10 isn't impossible.
But finding players who have more ridiculous, natural, athletic ability among the current group of collegiate hoopers may be challenging.
Stats for this article are provided by ESPN.com
10. Rodney Williams (Minnesota)
Rodney Williams is one of the best high-flyers in college hoops.
The 6'7" senior forward proves that 360 dunks are not just for competitions.
NBADraft.net says this about Williams:
Explosive, physical freak type of athlete with great length and an improving game ... Makes highlight reel plays on a regular basis, an absolutely breath taking athlete ...
Don't think that Williams is a one-trick pony. He uses his blow-you-away abilities to average 12.5 ppg and 5.9 rpg, second in both categories for the Golden Gophers.
9. Andre Roberson (Colorado)
Andre Roberson may be the most under-the-radar player on this list.
Playing ball for Colorado doesn't exactly keep you front and center among college hoops fans from across the country.
But the 6'7" junior doesn't take a backseat to many players when it comes to raw athleticism.
NBADraft.net can't say enough about the combo forward from San Antonio:
Explosive athlete that is able to make a big impact on the game without having to score ... Great length and leaping ability, and he doesn't put either to waste ... Nice frame that looks like it should hold a good amount of muscle ... Super-high motor ... Excellent overall defender ... With added weight, should be the kind of player that can defend three or four different positions due to his intensity and lateral quickness ... Terrorizes the passing lanes and disrupts the opposition by deflecting anything he can
Roberson is a double-double waiting to happen (averaging 10.9 ppg and 11.8 rpg in the Buffalo's first 16 games).
8. Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)
For everyone who has only seen Shabazz Muhammad play with a UCLA uniform on, you might be tempted to think that the freshman phenom from Vegas is an average athlete.
If you haven't already done so, watch this slide's video and you might change your evaluation.
In the last six months, Muhammad suffered a high-ankle sprain (that Bruin head coach called "one of the worst" he'd ever seen) and a right shoulder injury that sidelined him for almost a month before he was finally cleared to play by the NCAA.
Just in the last month, Muhammad has started to resemble the explosive "killer" (he proudly calls himself) that drove everyone berserk while he was still in high school.
He has a deceptively quick first step and he is rediscovering his impressive hops. If he stayed around Westwood long enough, Bruins head coach Roy Howland would probably turn Shabazz into a lock-defender. He has all of the talents to be just as good on the defensive end as he is on the offensive end.
7. Ben McLemore (Kansas)
Ben McLemore is an amazing combination of ups and burst, and he is just getting going.
If you don't focus your full attention on him, he will blow past you. If you give him too much space, he will pull up from anywhere. If you give him an opening, he will get to the rim and drop the hammer.
He is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars of the 2012-13 College Basketball season, and people are noticing.
His pro stock is rising rapidly. In NBADraft.net's most recent (Jan. 10) 2013 Mock Draft, McLemore is listed as the overall No. 1 pick.
Sorry, Jayhawks Nation...this one looks to be one-and-done.
6. Jahii Carson (Arizona State)
Jahii Carson may be on the short side of this list, but it doesn't mean that he can't elevate with everyone else here.
Just because he's 5'10" doesn't mean that he only throws up alley-oops. Carson is just as likely to throw one down.
He is lightning on the court all the time. But, he can find "that next gear" and...BOOM!....He leaves defenders doubting their defensive abilities.
When Carson was in high school, Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic reported that he had a 42-inch vertical leap. After watching the video on this slide, you will have absolutely no problem believing that.
As a freshmen point guard, Carson paces the Sun Devils in scoring (16.9 ppg; No. 5 in the Pac-12) and assists (5.3 apg; No. 2 in the Pac 12), and is doing everything he can to help ASU jump into the top half of the conference standings.
5. Pierre Jackson (Baylor)
Pierre Jackson, like Jahii Carson, doesn't let being "vertically challenged" get in the way of getting things done on the court.
Crazy quickness and serious hops make the stellar senior tough to stop.
He regularly breaks opponents ankles with his tight handle. He punishes players who play off of him by knocking down shots from all over.
And the sub-six-footer can throw it down!
Because Jackson is fearless, he doesn't hesitate to go into the paint with the ball or to go up for it on a rebound.
No big surprise when Jackson was selected by his conference's coaches as the 2012-13 Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.
Sounds about right!
4. Patric Young (Florida)
Patric Young is a Beast!
At 6'9" 250 lbs., Young more resembles a monstrous NFL tight end than a college hoops post player.
He was physically intimidating when he arrived in Gainesville three years ago. Now, after hitting the weights and adding 30 lbs of muscle, he's a terrifying enforcer in the Gator paint.
As a junior, Young has increased his scoring (11.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg), but where he has stepped up the most is in blocking shots.
Last year, as a sophomore, Young swatted 30 shots in 37 games. This year, as a junior, he has already thrown back 27 shots in Florida's first 14 games.
3. Mason Plumlee (Duke)
From day one at Duke, Mason Plumlee has been a high-flier waiting for take off.
The 6'11" PF has always ran the court like a maniac and, when given the smallest reason, jumped out of the gym to block shots or grab boards.
As a senior, it's all coming together.
The crazy athleticism is definitely still there, but Plumlee has added an impressive array of moves that help him own the low-post, as he leads the Blue Devils in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (11.4 rpg).
I know that you've seen someone dunk two balls before. But have you ever seen a guy throw down three at once?
MP2 can! (0:24)
2. Victor Oladipo (Indiana)
Victor Oladipo is having an explosive junior season, taking full advantage of his full-tilt approach to hoops.
The 6'5" wing with the non-stop motor is relentless on both ends of the court.
He is a cold-blooded penetrator that turns a normal drive to the basket into a posterizing opportunity.
NBADraft.net hits the nail on the head when it describes Oladipo this way:
One of the best finishers in the country around the rim due to his athleticism and body control…Moves well without the ball and doesn’t need to have plays drawn up for him to be effective…
Oladipo has elevated every part of his game this year, averaging 13.8 ppg and 5.9 rpg. He also leads the Hoosiers in steals with 2.4 spg (No. 24 in the nation).
He has really improved his shooting percentages: 68.3 percent from the field (as opposed to 47.1 percent last year) and 48 percent from beyond the arc (compared to 20.8 percent last year).
1. Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
Nerlens Noel is the biggest Freak of all, and he has just scratched the surface of all that he could become in the future.
Even in the first half of his freshman season at Kentucky, Noel has made great progress as a legitimate scoring option, averaging 10.8 ppg.
What really demonstrates his out-of-this world athletic abilities is the defensive end of the court.
It is rare for a player of Noel's size to have such mobility.
For a 6'11" dude, he combines unreal quickness with uncanny anticipation as he leads the Wildcats in rebounding (9.3 rpg), blocks (3.7 bpg; No. 4 in the nation) and steals (2.7 spg; No. 12 in the nation).
NBADraft.net knows Noel:
An elite-level shot blocker with an extremely high ceiling...Measured 6'11 in shoes with a 7'4" wingspan, giving him very good length for the center position in the NBA...Explosive athlete with a very quick reaction time...Gets up well on both his first and second jumps, giving him an advantage on the offensive glass...An absolutely intimidating presence in the paint...Blocks an unreal amount of shots due to his length, athleticism, reflexes and timing...Agility allows him to rotate quickly to help teammates defensively ... Remarkably fluid runner...Will outrun other bigs down the floor, to set himself up for a number of easy baskets per game...
The Wildcats' 2012-13 season is still unsettled, undecided and undetermined. What is resolved is that John Calipari has the most freakishly athletic player in the country as center.
It's his job to figure out how to maximize Noel's unbelievable athleticism before this year's SEC schedule and March Madness comes and goes.