In one of the deepest recruiting classes in college basketball history, Aaron Gordon will surprise many by winning National Freshman of the Year in his first season at Arizona.
The two-time Mr. Basketball in California is the No. 5 prospect in the country according to 247 Sports. Most will predict that this prestigious honor will go to one of the top players rated above Gordon. However, these rankings do not always accurately predict college performance.
Who will be the best freshman in the country next season?
This past season, Marcus Smart was named the nation's top freshman after being ranked No. 10 in the same composite rankings. The point guard had a terrific year with Oklahoma State and dramatically outperformed those predicted to be better.
Gordon has that same type of potential and could put up huge numbers next season with the Wildcats.
The small forward is one of the most athletic players in the class and uses that to be a dominant force on both ends of the court. He will rack up blocks and rebounds on defense and throw down thunderous dunks on offense.
He has already shown an ability to produce against the best young talent in the country. Gordon scored 24 points and had eight rebounds to earn MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game.
While he still must improve his outside shot, his ability to slash to the rim and finish once he is there will lead to plenty of success at the next level.
However, it is not just skill that will allow him to be the best freshman in the country. There are plenty of players with talent, but Gordon also has great opportunity.
Arizona will lose three of its top four scorers from last season and will need someone to take over the main scoring load. There is talent in the frontcourt with Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski, but there is no true wing where the incoming freshman will play.
In addition, Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell will be the pass-first point guard that the Wildcats lacked last season. He will get the ball to Gordon with an opportunity to succeed, and you should expect plenty of alley-oops between the pair.
If you look at the rest of the freshman across the country, few are likely to have as much success in their first season.
Kentucky will bring in a plethora of talented players next year, led by Julius Randle and Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The problem is that each of these stars will have to share the basketball and are unlikely to put up huge statistics.
Jabari Parker has the versatility to be a huge help for Duke, but his unselfish ways will allow the veteran players to succeed more next season. Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook and transfer Rodney Hood should get most of the points for the Blue Devils.
That brings us to No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins. The athletic small forward has yet to decide where he will go to school, but he is down to Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.
The problem is that he is a better pro prospect than he is a college one. While he is a strong defender, he will not be able to score points consistently at the next level, especially if he chooses a squad with other talent around him.
Gordon is more ready to play right now, and he is on a team where he will be asked to succeed right away.
If he can live up to expectations, he will put up huge numbers in his first season and become the best freshman in the nation.