Every year, there are freshman that step up their game and dominate college basketball. This season, we saw many impact games from freshmen, including UConn's Jeremy Lamb, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Baylor's Perry Jones and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes. Many of these players go pro after their freshman seasons and talent is always coming in and out of college basketball.
It's tough to predict which freshman will be able to translate their games to college basketball effectively, but there will be impact freshman playing next year. We're still a long ways away from the season, but a preview to keep us thinking is necessary.
Provided will be every player's measurements, team and a short analysis of what each player brings to the table and how he can contribute.
6'4" 206 pounds PG, Washington
Wroten Jr. is one of the top prospects in the country this year. He is a big, strong point guard who can score as well as distribute. He's not really a great shooter, but his mid-range game isn't bad. He can play either guard spot and will be valuable immediately.
Wroten Jr. is a player who certainly needs work and he is inconsistent, but he will get much better with experience. Seeing as Isaiah Thomas has declared for the NBA draft, Wroten Jr. could be a big part of Washington's offense next year. He may not start right away, but my guess is that Wroten Jr. will be a big part of the rotation as we get closer March 2012.
He probably isn't a one and done player and we will probably see him on campus for at least two seasons.
6'11" 210 pounds, PF Indiana
Indiana has been down for the last few years, but Tom Crean has excellent recruiting classes lined up for the next two seasons. It all starts with forward Cody Zeller. Zeller is one of the top recruits in the nation this year. He probably isn't the best player as far as immediate impact goes, but Indiana really needs him. He wouldn't start on a top-tier team, but Indiana needs all the help they can get.
Zeller has a nice set of moves, and while he is small, he can be an effective rebounder for the team right away. He won't be a one and done, so when Tom Crean's excellent 2012 class comes in he will be a sophomore. The Hoosiers will once again be one of the premier teams in college basketball. Watch out for Zeller in the Big 10 this year.
6'2" 175 pounds, PG Kentucky
Teague is the number one point guard in the class of 2011 and is one of the best pure scorers in the draft. He reminds me a lot of Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight. He is great at getting to the basket and is a solid point guard, although he isn't a great shooter. He will struggle to beat the zone, but he will be great at leading the Wildcats in transition.
Marquis Teague is the next great point guard to play for John Calipari making four and counting. With so many other great recruits around him, Teague should excel leading Kentucky's high-powered offense next season.
6'2" 170 pounds, PG Texas
Myck Kabongo may not be the scorer that Teague is, but he is a great point guard nonetheless. He is a solid perimeter shooter and will be an excellent anchor to the Longhorns' offense next season. He is a great defender and shows great leadership abilities.
Kabongo will add to an already great Texas team if Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson stay true to their commitments to stay in school. It will be interesting to see if Texas could potentially play returning sophomore Cory Joseph and Kabongo in the backcourt together. Regardless, Texas is getting a great point guard who will come in and make a difference right away.
6'4" 205 pounds, SG Florida
Beal is going to join a good, experienced backcourt in Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. He may not start, but he will get plenty of playing time for the Gators. They will be losing their entire starting frontcourt due to graduation this year, so it's possible that the Gators will play all three at the same time. None of these guards are capable of playing small forward, but it's possible that they will play with a small lineup at times.
Beal is potentially the best pure shooter in the class. With deep range, Florida will probably run Beal off plenty of screens and try to set him up with as many good looks as possible. He is a little bit undersized, but he should find himself a spot in Florida's rotation.
6'7" 210 pounds, SF Kentucky
Gilchrist has a great all-around game. He can score, defend, and rebound and is a complete player who can start immediately for the Wildcats. He does struggle with his outside shooting, but other than that, he should be an asset for Kentucky in all facets of the game. He can drive and run the floor well, is an above-average defender and a great rebounder for his position and size.
Gilchrist's freshman season will depend on decisions from Kentucky's current players on whether or not to enter the NBA draft. If they decide to stay, there will be too much talent on the roster, creating a jam and competition for playing time. If they go, Gilchrist should have a fantastic season and will likely bolt for the NBA after his first season in Lexington.
6'8" 216 pound, F North Carolina
Nephew of former NBA great Bob McAdoo, James has the potential to be a special player. He is a combo forward who will likely see significant minutes at both spots. Both Harrison Barnes and John Henson could potentially declare for the NBA draft this season, leaving a huge hole in the frontcourt. Both would probably be lottery picks, so it will be interesting to see if they decide to come back for another year.
If they decide to declare, McAdoo will be a big part of North Carolina's offense and will likely start. He may start anyway, moving Barnes to the two, with McAdoo taking over the three. Either way, McAdoo will be a star sometime in his college career. He is extremely skilled and has a chance to be a lottery pick in 2012.
6'4" 190 pounds, SG Duke
Duke will get one of the best new guards in college basketball for the second time in a row. Hopefully, he'll stay healthy this time. Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith will probably both be gone, leaving an opportunity for Duke's group of young guards to fill the gaps left. Seth Curry will likely take over duties at the point, leaving Rivers and returning guard Andre Dawkins at the two (and maybe a little three, too). Duke is losing many of their key players this season and Rivers is going to need to step up in a big way.
Austin Rivers is the most dominant offensive player of this years class. He can drive, he can shoot,and he can get to the foul line. He is going to be hard to stop to say the least. He may not be the best defender, but his offense will make up for that. I wouldn't doubt Austin Rivers leading Duke or potentially, even the ACC in scoring this upcoming season. He has all the tools and should be capable of keeping Duke competitive even after the graduations and early NBA entrees from this years team.
6'10" 200 pounds, C Kentucky
Although senior Josh Harrellson caught fire towards the end, Kentucky needed someone to fill the void left by Enes Kanter in the middle after he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA before the season. For the most part, it didn't happen. Next year, though, is a completely different story.
Anthony Davis will come to Lexington next year with lofty expectations. He and Austin Rivers seem to be in a class of their own when it comes to this year's recruiting class and for good reason. Davis is a former guard who happened to have a growth spurt. He has great vision, and perimeter skills, but he is also dominant under the basket. He is also as good as they come on the defensive end. As he continues to develop, put on more weight and learn new moves under the basket, Davis will only become better and better.
Davis will probably dominate from day one, but we have to keep in mind that the best is yet to come. I expect substantial improvement to occur during his first year on campus, which will probably be enough to earn one of the top five picks of next year's draft. Time will tell if Davis or Rivers will be better, but for now, I expect Davis to be the best player come March Madness 2012. Making sure you keep an eye on these two guys, especially heading into next season.