Well, it happened again. After the last edition came out I got e-mails calling for some recognition for Bill Walker, including one from editor Shawn Siegel (who deserves just as much blame as me). I had left him off that list because he hadn’t played that many games and was all set to have him debut this week, you know, with him being a potential lottery pick and all. So of course, a couple days later Walker tears his ACL. Eerie, huh? Personally, I think the evidence is there to put the Freshman 10 E-Mail Jinx right next to the Madden Jinx and the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. Other freshmen beware.
In other news, it’s apparently not easy to play against good teams every night. A week into conference play, many of the freshmen below are struggling to put up the numbers they had in the non-conference schedule. Chase Budinger, Spencer Hawes and former Freshmen 10 members Daequan Cook, Tajuan Porter and Darrel Arthur are all feeling the effects of league play, jeopardizing their future placement in this hallowed Web space.
As always E-mails are welcomed, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
1. Kevin Durant, Texas – Pretty good article by Adam Stanco touting Durant as the player of the year despite the acknowledged fact that he probably won’t win it. I’m not sure if Durant is better off by going to college, but I agree with Stanco that the NBA age limit is certainly going to have a huge impact on college hoops, especially in this year’s NCAA Tournament. I’ll let Adam’s article do most of the talking, but I have to mention that Durant, to no surprise of his teammates, is averaging 33 points and 14 rebounds on 61 percent from the field and 8-18 three-pointers in three conference games so far (all Texas wins). So he’s got that going for him.
Stats- 23.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.8 bpg, 1.6 spg, 3.1 TO, 50 FG%, 38 3-PT%, 85.6 FT%
Freshman perk- The founder of Dell computers showed up at one of his games. No joke here, I just know I’d want a hell of a lot of people to know if that happened to me.
2. Greg Oden, Ohio State – Everyone was ready to jump off the Oden bandwagon and declare him a bust after the Wisconsin game but he responded with 24 and 15 against Tennessee Saturday. Although he’s been foul prone, defensively he’s still been incredible. Because of all the hype, his occasional deficiencies on offense are being over-scrutinized. The guy clearly isn’t comfortable with that right wrist and his post game and coordination is suffering because of it. Plus, it’s got to be tough to deal with a grueling Big Ten schedule and playing Wise LeBron in those Nike commercials at the same time.
Stats- 14.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 3.9 bpg, 1.8 TO, 61.1 FG%, 59.1 FT%
Freshman perk- Because nothing else can better describe what it’s like to be Greg Oden, here it is, for the third week in a row… no comment necessary.
3. Brandan Wright, North Carolina – The third spot on this list is getting passed around like… well, use your imagination, but Wright backs into this spot this week basically by default. He played decently in UNC’s lost to Virginia Tech but went 1-8 from the foul line. His efficiency in the post and his deficiency at the line could be a real problem for the Heels in the postseason. If he gets the ball down low late in a close game, I’m hacking him every time. That being said, his consistency is remarkable (between 11 and 21 points every game and only one game with over two fouls) for a guy who isn’t even the first option at his position on his own team.
Stats- 15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.5 bpg, 0.9 spg, 1.5 TO, 64.1 FG%, 55.4 FT%
Freshman perk- I Googled Wright in Blog Search and this came up. Not sure about the credibility of German-speaking college hoops commentators, but Wright must feel special that this guy is blogging about him.
4. Chase Budinger, Arizona –Against Washington, in a game where freshmen shined, Budinger was the best. But since that game, his numbers have been pedestrian (with the Cats losing two out of those three). Marcus Williams finally got his act together, which has caused Budinger’s number to suffer, but he only had four against Oregon, looking generally lost, and was the defensive victim on Aaron Brooks’ game-winner. The Pac-10 is looking like the best conference in the country and it might be getting to him.
Stats- 15.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.4 TO, 54.7 FG%, 37.1 3-PT%, 82 FT%
Freshman perk- Sure Budinger’s good but how about those squirrels, (I’m as confused as you).
5. D.J. Augustin, Texas – I really like the Longhorns right now, even if they’ve benefited from three weak Big 12 opponents so far, and Augustin deserves the most credit (well, second-most). In his last six games he’s had 45 assists and just 17 turnovers for an assist/turnover ratio way above the Paulus line (college hoops’ version of the Mendoza line, roughly 1:1). I think he’s cemented himself as the best of a stacked freshmen point guard class. The perimeter defense of Oklahoma State and Villanova this week should be a tough test so we’ll see how he holds up.
Stats- 13.4 ppg, 6.5 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.6 spg, 3.2 TO, 50.7 FG%, 18-38 3-PTs, 80 FT%
Freshman perk- Because the Longhorns are so young, the freshmen formed a mutiny and started pre-emptively hazing senior Craig Winder.
6. Ryan Anderson, California – Anderson is definitely the most underrated freshmen in the country and maybe the most underrated player in the Pac-10. Cal is staying afloat after the big injury to DeVon Hardin and it’s due in large part to his play. He’s third in the conference in scoring, fifth in rebounding and outplayed (18 points, 14 boards in 42 minutes) one of the conference’s most well-known players, Spencer Hawes, in the Bears win over Washington Saturday. He’s the guy on this list least likely to jump to the pros so we’ll see if Cal can develop him into more of a low-post presence next year.
Stats- 17.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 0.4 spg, 1.3 TO, 48.6 FG%, 40.2 3-PT%, 78.3 FT%
Freshman perk- Even at the most routine of photo shoots, Golden Bear groupies still show up to flash Anderson and show their support.
7. Spencer Hawes, Washington- I know he’s battling the flu, but in the last week Hawes has been outplayed by fellow freshmen Ryan Anderson and both of Stanford’s Lopez twins. Not so coincidentally, the Huskies have lost five of their first six Pac-10 games during Hawes’ struggles. With an injury to Quincy Pondexter, Hawes can’t afford any more growing pains in Pac-10 play or Washington could miss the tournament.
Stats- 15.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.9 bpg, 0.6 spg, 2.9 TO, 55.6 FG%, 72.7 FT%
Freshman perk- Gheorge Muresan gave him his ID to use at the bars (Google image them both, trust me).
8. Brandon Costner, NC State – Without much talent or experience the Pack’s success has been placed on Costner’s shoulders whether he likes it or not. Before Saturday’s win over Wake, Costner had played no less than 38 minutes in his previous five games and he’s averaging 35 per game for the ultra-thin NC State. If they continue to struggle he might fall off the list. Good numbers on a bad team aren’t really that impressive for me.
Stats- 16.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 bpg, 0.6 spg, 2.9 TO, 49.5 FG%, 36.8 3-PT%, 62.9 FT%
Freshman perk- He’s not a freshman so no perks for him, he’ll get over it.
9. Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech – I’d like to welcome Crittenton back to relevance after a barrage of turnovers had him looking less like Stephon Marbury and more like the point guard for the Knicks (oh, that’s Stephon Marbury too? Man, his career went downhill). He’s halfway through a tough six game stretch (Clemson, Duke, Florida State, UNC, Maryland, Va Tech) and had one of the more clutch performances by a freshmen this year, making some big plays at the end of the Jackets win against Duke. He sandwiched that performance between 22 in a one-point loss (including a go-ahead basket with 6.5 seconds left) at Clemson and 23 in a big win against Florida State. Many left Tech for dead but if Crittenton can keep up this resurrection, they could be a tourney team after all. Saturday’s game at UNC (matched up with another freshman, Ty Lawson) will be a great test for Crittenton.
Stats- 14.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.9 spg, 3.6 TO, 50.6 FG%, 21-47 3-PTs, 75.9 FT%
Freshman perk- Students at Point Guard U are discouraged to graduate.
10. Stephen Curry, Davidson – His shooting hasn’t been too accurate in his last few games but Davidson certainly wouldn’t be 15-3 and 6-0 in the Southern Conference without him. Possibly the most impressive thing about Curry are the 4.6 rebounds per game. For a 6-1 point guard (and a rail-thin one at that) that’s pretty impressive. If you know as little about Curry as the average hoops fan, here’s a good feature on him.
Stats- 19.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 spg, 3.3 TO, 43.3 FG%, 39.6 3-PT%, 83.3 FT%
Freshman perk- He makes bald men rejoice.
Heading out- Daequan Cook, Ohio State
Honorable mention- Taj Gibson, USC; Mike Conley, Ohio State; Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall; Wesley Johnson, Iowa State; Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech; Wayne Ellington, UNC; Paul Harris, Syracuse; Darrell Arthur, Kansas; Luke Harangody, Notre Dame; Ishmael Smith, Wake Forest; Ty Lawson, UNC; Patrick Beverly, Arkansas; Trevor Booker, Clemson; Jerome Dyson, UCONN.