Freshmen have never meant more to college basketball than they do right now, but not all first-year collegians are up to that challenge. Even some stars have started to wilt early in the 2012-13 season as they’ve entered the grind of major-conference play over the past couple of weeks.
One major name who’s bucked that trend in a big way is Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. The Wildcats’ defensive ace is playing his best ball of the season since the beginning of SEC play, an achievement that’s sure to do wonders for his already lofty draft projections.
Read on for more on Noel and the rest of the 20 best freshmen (including redshirts) in the country, with an eye to where their prospects have been heading in recent games.