College Basketball: Top Freshmen
Ah the new kids on the block. This year’s freshman class will have some big shoes to fill after last year’s epic group. While they probably won’t be on the same level, the class of 2013 has more than enough talented players to have a serious impact at this level before shipping off to the NBA. This group has a little bit of everything: freakish athletes, bruising post players, talented wings and speedy guards. While some of them will be expected to lead from day one, and others will fill in nicely as role players, all of them will have a major impact from the moment they step on the court.
Pick Six: Top Freshmen
CHN's Pick Six series highlights the Top 6 players by position, league, and class.
1. B.J. Mullens – Ohio State
There isn’t a better combination of size and athleticism in this class, or maybe in the country. Mullens is a legitimate 7-footer with the ability to run in the open floor, shoot from the perimeter and explode to the basket. He has soft hands and is able to score with either his right or his left; throw in his nicely developing footwork and Mullens could have a post game capable of putting up big numbers in the Big Ten this season. More often than not, Mullens will probably rely on his athleticism in the early going, but should be plenty to allow him to dominate the opposition.
2. Jrue Holiday – UCLA
UCLA is absolutely spoiled with backcourt talent and Jrue Holiday is a big reason why. He already possesses a pretty solid all-around offensive game at this point in his development; owning a strong perimeter shot with range out to the NBA line. Holiday showed last season that when defenders play him tight on the outside he is more than capable of taking them to the basket with a solid first step and excellent handles, or pulling up to drain a mid-range jumper. Holiday is such a valuable commodity because he can beat teams either as a point where he shows great passing instincts, or he can put up nice scoring numbers off the ball. This combo-guard will be a headache in Pac-10 play this season.
3. Al-Farouq Aminu – Wake Forest
This inside/outside threat is going to be a major part of the Demon Deacon resurrection this season. Aminu is an explosive athlete, able to take almost any defender to the basket and elevate with them for points around the rim. He’s long enough that he’ll be able to score in the paint on a regular basis, but also shows a nicely developing mid-range game at this point. His perimeter shooting needs to improve, but as he works on his range, these numbers will get better. Aminu is built in the same kind of mold that Marvin Williams is, but unlike Williams who spent his one season in college coming off the bench, Aminu will be a go-to player for Wake this season.
4. Demar DeRozan – USC
Yes, my love affair with the high flyer from out west continues. DeRozan has off the charts athleticism, capable of elevating with and over anyone in the country. While he is really only known at this point for his gravity defying dunks and impressive range on his jumper, the USC coaching staff has been raving about his ability to score points within the flow of the offense while not dominating the basketball. Is the freshman going to put up the kinds of numbers that OJ Mayo did last season? Probably not, but the Trojans don’t need him to. The real key for DeRozan won’t be how many points he gets, but how he gets them.
5. Tyreke Evans – Memphis
Being the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game certainly comes with its share of expectations; don’t be shocked when Evans lives up to them. The freshman already has an NBA body and the offensive ability to boot. He can beat teams from the outside with his shooting range, or cut his way to the basket with ease. Evans’ ability to hang in the air and adjust in traffic around the basket is very impressive for a player at his stage. He will excel in the up tempo style that the Tigers play, he just needs to avoid becoming too trigger happy as was sometimes the case in high school.
6. Samardo Samuels – Louisville
This beast out of New Jersey is going to feel right at home in the rough and tumble Big East and Cardinals fans should be excited. His frame alone will make him tough to stop on the block, standing an imposing 6’8” 240 pounds of solid muscle, but Samuels also has a very polished post game already. Once in a while he will choose to face up when he receives the ball inside and surprises with a pretty good first step for a player of his size. His jumper isn’t great at this point and he often winds up fading away when turning to shoot. Despite that, he more than has enough bulk and polish to do some damage in the post this season.
Next in Line: Scotty Hopson, Tennessee; Greg Monroe, Georgetown; Devin Ebanks, West Virginia; Chris Singleton, Florida State; JaMycal Green, Alabama
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