The impact of freshman in the college basketball season last year was unprecedented. Sure, we've seen players like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant carve up the NCAA their freshman years, but never so many in one class: Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayliss, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, JJ Hickson... the list goes further.
While this class might not have the monumental influcence of last year, this year should still produce an exciting class of freshman who will earn a lot of burn on the hardwood.
5. Devin Ebanks SF, West Virginia
At 6'8 185, Ebanks is a big man with a serious athletic streak. He's not the prototypical big man to bang in the post, but his agility and foot speed ought to allow him to produce in an already talented Big East Conference.
Ebanks is the antithesis of returning leading scorer DeSean Butler who stands at 6'7 225. The two should work very well together in the post and Butler should draw teams more physical defenders, thus freeing up Ebanks for rebounds, offensive putbacks, and more than a few opportunities for dunks.
The Big East is loaded this year from top to bottom. Ebanks could get lost in the crowd and not receive as much media attention as he would in another conference.
Comparison : JJ Hickson
4. Tyreke Evans SG, Memphis
He's a silky-smooth shooter that gives off the "look how easy it is" vibe when you watch him play. He extends his range well beyond the three point arc, and isn't afraid to pull with distance.
Watching him play, I was surprised at how well he handles the ball and at 6'6 has the ability to split defenses and get to the lane. His ability to both score from the outside, and get to the rim will plague the C-USA defenses.
With Memphis riding high from the Derrick Rose Freshman Era, Evans will be given a solid opportunity to lead the Tigers.
The Tigers return Antonio Anderson, Willie Kemp, and Doneal Mack—all three are very talented uber-athletic guards averaging significant points and minutes. Memphis made the minutes spread last year, hopefully they can recreate the same luck this year.
Comparison: James Hardin
3. Scotty Hopson SG / SF Tennessee
His last name describes it all. This kid can jump out of the gym. Hopson is incredibly athletic and has knack for running the break and producing on the fly. He should fit in perfect with Bruce Pearl's run and gun Tennessee offense.
Hopson will run the opposite wing from Tyler Smith and the two should function well together creating a tandem that is tough for any SEC program to match up with.
Tennessee is the perfect place for a player like Hopson, who fits the stereotypical 6'7 6'8 agile build that Pearl has utilized the past three seasons. The dismissal of Duke Crews and Ramar Smith should secure Hopson more burn on the hardwood too.
Ramar Smith would have been the point guard of the team had he and Crews not violated the NCAA Substance Abuse Policy. The Vol's don't have a clear established point guard on the roster and this could obviously effect Hopson's touches.
Athleticism of pre-knee surgery Bill Walker and the physical swagger of OJ Mayo.
2. Greg Monroe C Georgetown
First of all I couldn't stand Roy Hibbert and never respected his game. I am completely against glorifying mediocre players just because they are big. Monroe on the other hand is a true talent and I believe has a fundamentally solid low post scoring game.
His 6'11 225-pound frame ought to make him a nightly threat on the glass. With a nucleus of Dujuan Summers, Jessie Sapp and Austin Freeman, Monroe ought to make them a fierce starting line. The inside-out basketball that JT3 runs will flow nicely through Monroe. Also, Georgetown desperately needs a low post player with the absence of Roy Hibbert and Pattrick Ewing Jr.
Same as mentioned earlier, the Big East has so many talented teams and gifted low post players that not everyone can put up the numbers they are capable of.
1. Samardo Samuels PF Louisville
Rick Patino has said Samuels is the hardest working player he's coached in a long time. After the Derrick Caracter disaster, its refreshing to see a player whose hard work has paid off so much. He's got a physical game that should make it tough for a SF to cover and incredible agility and foot speed that should be a nightmare for a PF to guard. Defensively, Samuels is a force. His wingspan is upwards of 7'0 and he has a knack for defending around the rim. As we know from Patino's past, if he doesn't like you... you aren't going to play. If he does like you, as he does with Samuels, you'll get plenty of opportunities to showcase your skills and take charge.
Louisville is a very talented team and it might be tough for Samuels to get as many touches as he would on another squad.
Patrick Patterson, but more talented on a better team.