Strap yourself in college basketball fans because there will not be another game for nearly seven months.
That means that storylines that go beyond the lines will dominate headlines for quite some time. The coaching carousel will continue to spin; underclassmen will declare for the NBA draft, and schools will put the finishing touches on recruiting classes.
Who knows, Andrew Wiggins may even choose a school.
Those recruiting coups are the lifeblood of success at the collegiate level, so it is worth examining how next year’s top freshmen will fit in with their new squads. Read on to see the answer to that question for Scout.com’s top 10 commits (excluding the uncommitted Wiggins).
Considering the amount of talent Sean Miller had on his roster this season, Arizona’s No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and eventual trip to the Sweet 16 was disappointing.
The Wildcats will lose three of their top four scorers, but there is more than enough to make up for that in Miller’s latest recruiting coup. Rondae Jefferson is a primary reason.
Jefferson has the type of elite athleticism that will allow him to slide right into Arizona’s up-tempo attack. He will be integral in replacing the lost production from Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom from the stretch forward spots.
He isn’t the best long-range shooter, but Jefferson will help an Arizona team that ranked 99th in the country in total rebounding, especially on the offensive end. His motor allows him to be an excellent rebounder for his 6’6” frame, which will help keep possessions alive for a Wildcat group that also loses its point guard Mark Lyons.
Perhaps you have heard, but Kentucky is bringing in quite the recruiting class this offseason.
In fact, it is so talented and deep that someone with top-10 talent like James Young has flown under the radar as John Calipari chases the biggest fish in the recruiting sea. Young will look to slide into the small forward spot in a class that includes the Harrison twins (Andrew and Aaron) as guards and Julius Randle down low.
Young may end up surprising everyone and leading the freshmen on next season’s Wildcat team in scoring thanks to his athleticism and nose for the basket. He can slash to the basket and hit the open jump shots that he should see when the Harrisons penetrate the lane.
His strength could still use a bit of improvement, but considering Kentucky returns Willie Cauley-Stein and adds Randle, Young probably won’t be venturing down low much anyway.
Florida’s incoming freshman class will have its work cut out for it next season because the Gators lose their top three scorers from this past year.
Thanks to the departures of Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy and Kenny Boynton, coach Billy Donovan will probably look to play more of an inside-outside game in 2013-14. That is where Chris Walker comes into play.
The 6’10” power forward will slide right in alongside returning big man Patric Young. Unlike Young, Walker is not much of a banger in the low post on offense, so the paint will not be clogged. Walker thrives by using his mobility to get out in transition and stretch the floor.
If Young draws too many double teams, he can simply kick it out to Walker at the high post who can then slash inside from there.
Young is also an excellent shot-blocker on the defensive end, which means SEC opponents will quickly become frustrated trying to penetrate with the two big men waiting down low.
Chris Walker’s job next season of bolstering Florida’s front line that already includes Patric Young is certainly important, but the contributions of point guard Kasey Hill will likely be imperative to the Gators’ potential success.
With Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario no longer suiting it up in Gainesville, Hill will see plenty of playing time from the moment he steps on campus. If nothing else, he will be tasked with making sure that powerful front line gets enough touches.
Hill does basically anything a coach could ask for from a point guard. He can penetrate past the defense, which allows him to either score at the rim or find open teammates on the perimeter. He is also an excellent ball-handler that won’t let the atmosphere of a big-time college environment get to him.
Even as a freshman, expect Hill to make the correct play in a number of different situations. He will not be Boynton right away, but by the time Hill finishes in Florida, he should be a very special lead guard.
Perhaps no team in the country is losing as much talent as Tom Crean’s Indiana squad this offseason. Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls are all done in Bloomington, which means the freshman class will be imperative if the Hoosiers hope to contend in the Big Ten again.
Noah Vonleh is the crowned jewel of that group and will likely fill Watford’s role as the power forward. Vonleh is a talented rebounder who is particularly athletic for his 6’8” frame.
When Indiana is on a fast break next season, it will be a safe bet that Vonleh is a part of it. He will either be the one throwing the outlet pass to Yogi Ferrell off the rebound or the one running alongside the point guard ready to flush it down off an alley-oop pass.
Vonleh is versatile enough to hit jump shots as well. While Watford is the natural comparison and the player he will be replacing, Vonleh’s ceiling is probably even higher.
If Rondae Jefferson is the type of athletic forward that fits into Sean Miller’s up-tempo attack, then Aaron Gordon is the taller version that lives above the rim.
Gordon is a versatile power forward who pounds the glass and gets out in transition. Much like Jefferson, he will help Arizona replace the impactful loss of Solomon Hill in a number of ways.
On defense Gordon uses the combination of his quickness and size to match up with small or power forwards. He stands at 6’8”, but he rebounds like someone even taller and will have no issues running the floor with his quicker teammates.
Gordon isn’t the best jump shooter, but Miller likely won’t be asking his freshman power forward to be hitting many outside shots even if he is versatile. The Wildcats’ transition game, which frustrated opponents all season long in 2012-13, will not lose a beat with the addition of Gordon.
Yes, Willie Cauley-Stein will be in Lexington next season, but Kentucky was not the same this year after Nerlens Noel went down with his injury. John Calipari is hoping that Julius Randle provides him with that type of post presence the Wildcats were so sorely missing.
Randle is probably the best low-post scorer on this entire list, and he will unleash a variety of moves on the SEC. His footwork is superb, and he is strong enough to finish through contact, even at the collegiate level.
Randle will also help Cauley-Stein swallow up the majority of the rebounds that come anywhere near the vicinity of the paint. He may not swat shots at the rate of Noel, especially right away, but Randle will be a defensive force in the paint.
John Calipari is bringing in vital pieces at basically every position on the floor this offseason. Randle’s job will be the lock up the paint.
Aaron Harrison was a package deal with Andrew Harrison, and to nobody’s surprise John Calipari was able to lock up both brothers.
Aaron has a number of different weapons in his basketball arsenal, but his primary job will be one thing—drain three-point shots. Kentucky really missed the automatic long-range shooters it has had in the past this season, and Aaron will look to rectify that.
When brother Andrew (along with the number of other talented prospects) gets into the lane or Julius Randle draws double teams down low, look for Aaron to camp out behind the arc. But he isn’t just a three-point shooter. Aaron can attack the rim with an explosive first step and will make defenders that jump on his pump fake pay all season.
Look for Aaron Harrison to score plenty of points in a variety of ways for the Wildcats in 2013-14.
John Calipari’s list of point guards reads like a who’s who of NBA talent. He has tutored Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight to name a few and will look to add Andrew Harrison’s name to that list in the coming years.
Andrew isn’t quite the jump shooter that his brother Aaron Harrison is, but he makes up for that with his size and strength from the point guard position. He will simply be bigger than the majority of opponents who attempt to guard him, which will allow Andrew to penetrate the lane, get to the rim and even post up some.
If he doesn’t score himself by doing that, he will open up plenty of looks for his talented teammates. His brother will be waiting behind the three-point line; Julius Randle will be on the blocks, and perhaps even Andrew Wiggins will be ready to score as well.
Whether scoring or assisting, Andrew Harrison will play a vital role in Kentucky’s resurgence in 2013-14.
In this era of one-and-done players, Duke has not exactly developed the reputation as a freshmen-recycle house a la a Kentucky even if Kyrie Irving only played for approximately 14 minutes at the college level.
Oftentimes we see Coach K’s talented freshmen coexist with upperclassmen and pick and choose their spots to impact the game. However, that may not be the case next season as Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee have all played their last games in Cameron Indoor.
That leaves incoming freshman Jabari Parker as the heir apparent to the Duke-superstar throne. He certainly won’t be alone next year (think Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and transfer Rodney Hood), but Parker could very well be the Blue Devils’ best player.
He is an offensive force that can score by attacking the rim, posting up smaller defenders (he is 6’7”) and hitting his (gradually improving) mid-range jump shot. He is also athletic and will have no issues getting out in transition for Duke alongside the quicker guards.
Parker will be surrounded by talented teammates, but there is a legitimate chance he will be a featured player in the Blue Devils’ quest to return to a Final Four.