I know it’s bleak but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Soon there will be a world where Brett Favre wallows in obscurity, Tim McCarver is put into a retirement home, Tom Brady’s potency on and off the field is irrelevant and, in the ultimate sign that order has been restored to the universe, Frank Caliendo will be no more. Yes, college basketball begins in just two short weeks.
For hoops fans, it will be the end to what seemed like an unusually excruciating wait this year. Parity, scandal and media shenanigans have marred the baseball season and both the professional and college football seasons. Part of the excitement for opening tip-off can be accredited to a ridiculous freshman class that looks to capitalize on the national prominence established by the first NBA age-limit class of last year. This class doesn’t have Kevin Durant but is better than last year’s in basically every other aspect. There were about 25 players not featured anywhere in this preview that should make huge impacts.
Below are the bold predictions that make up my unnecessarily comprehensive prologue to Year 2 of CHN’s biweekly Freshman 10 rookie ranking column. A more detailed analysis of the top incoming recruits will be presented in the first edition of the Freshman 10 on November 6.
Send questions, comments or angry rants here.
Freshman of the Year
Eric Gordon, Indiana – Not really going to elaborate much on this because plenty more will be written about Gordon this season. This might be a surprise because the potential for stats won’t be there in the scoring-anemic Big Ten, but I think the league’s emphasis on half court play will actually increase his impact. With the ball in his hands Gordon should step in and be the most devastating scoring guard in the country. His combination of handle, strength, finishing ability and shooting range makes it impossible to keep him out of the paint or off the foul line. Not only will this help Indiana in slowed down conference play (and especially tournament play) but he could develop into one of the more clutch players in the country because he can do so much with the ball in his hands in a one-on-one situation. Plus, with the controversy surrounding his recruitment, Gordon will have a huge chip on his shoulder.
Freshman All-America First Team
G Eric Gordon, Indiana
G Derrick Rose, Memphis
F Donte Greene, Syracuse
F Michael Beasley, Kansas State
C Kevin Love, UCLA
Again, not much discourse on these fellas, the Freshman 10 will allow for plenty of commentary on them this season. It was pretty easy to fill out this team, with the exception of the non-Beasley forward spot. Green gets the nod over Kyle Singler mostly because I’m a Syracuse fan. Deal with it. These guys are all future lottery picks and should all make a bigger impact than any of last year’s freshmen besides you know who. (Do check out this excellent Andy Katz feature on Kevin Love if you haven’t already).
Freshman All-America Second Team
G OJ Mayo, USC
G Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
F Kyle Singler, Duke
F Herb Pope, New Mexico State
C Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
Obviously the shocker is Mayo. I abide strictly by the two-guard, two-forward, one center rule for my All-America teams and until the National Governing Body of Blowhard Columnists sends me a uniform format for all writers to follow, OJ Mayo is relegated to the second team. I’m not as high on him because he doesn’t have the playmaking ability that Rose and Gordon have. He’s a scorer and a great one at that, but will he make his teammates better? (Actually, I’ll answer that. No, he won’t. Unless you’re idea of making teammates better is punching them in the face… and then covering it up).
As for the others, Singler could be Duke’s leading scorer and best playmaker overall, Bayless may be the quickest player in this year’s class, Koufos is light years ahead of where Greg Oden was offensively last year and I have no idea how the Aggies got someone as talented as Pope without using Cell Phones for Dummies: The Kelvin Sampson Guide to Recruiting. More on Pope’s amazing story in the High Major Freshman awards, coming later in the week.
Freshman All-America Third Team
G Corey Fisher, Villanova
G Austin Freeman, Georgetown
F Chris Wright, Dayton
F Anthony Randolph, LSU
C Andrew Ogilvy, Vanderbilt
Of these five I think Randolph has the best chance to make the jump into the upper tier. At 6-10, he’s unbelievably athletic, although the guy he’s replacing, Glen Davis, could probably eat Randolph’s weight in marshmallows in one sitting. Think Brandan Wright but without Hansbrough there to steal his touches. Ogilvie is a bit of a sleeper because he’s only played in Australia. He absolutely destroyed the FIBA Under 19 World Championships. I think Freeman and Fisher are both ready for Big East basketball but if they struggle initially, they at least have other guys — Jonathan Wallace and Scottie Reynolds, respectively — who will allow them to play off the ball a little. Wright is a 6-7 high Flyer (Worst. Pun. Ever) and should see big-time minutes for a really good team. In Dayton he is being considered the “most hyped recruit for the Dayton Flyers in at least a couple of decades.”
Check back tomorrow for Jason’s look at the top rookies in the high & mid-majors... and next week Jason Tomassini begins his biweekly Freshman 10 column!