Freshman seem to rule the college basketball world now, as all of the top high schoolers can often determine a college program's success for the next season before they move to the NBA.
Last year was the perfect example of this as freshmen Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, and Tyler Ulis nearly led Kentucky to an undefeated season, while Duke's four freshmen (Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, and Grayson Allen) led the Blue Devils to the national title.
Who are the top freshmen that will have similar impacts in the 2015-16 season?
8) PF Ivan Rabb - Cal
Rabb is built like former Baylor star Perry Jones - at 6'10" and 220 lbs., he doesn't quite have the strength to battle in the post every time down the court, but his athleticism, versatility, and shooting ability allow him to play on the perimeter as well. He has the frame to add on muscle quickly, and his 7'3" wingspan has Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin raving about his potential as a defensive shot blocker.
7) PF Cheick Diallo - Kansas
Diallo is built like Rabb at 6'9" and 220 lbs., but is much more of a true big man. He's already a feared shot-blocker with his 7'4" wingspan and plays well above the rim, but doesn't have the range to stretch his offensive game outside of the lane. Still, his athleticism and motor will allow him to have a big impact for the Jayhawks next season.
6) C Diamond Stone - Maryland
The 6'10", 250-pound already has an NBA-ready body, and he hasn't even played a game for Maryland yet. Stone makes his money around the basket, using his strength to create space and his soft touch allows him to shoot a high percentage. He's also comfortable stepping away from the basket and is a proven winner (four straight high school state titles). Mark Turgeon's Terrapins turned heads last season, but Stone's arrival is the biggest reason why they sit atop many preseason polls.
5) PG/SG Malik Newman - Mississippi State
Newman surprisingly committed to the Bulldogs once Ben Howland was named as the head coach, but he's expected to be a one-and-done player with his combination of size (6'5") and quickness. He's been compared Emmanuel Mudiay (who went seventh overall to the Denver Nuggets in June's draft), and his explosiveness, finishing ability, and good shooting will make him one of the toughest players to defend in the country.
4) SF Brandon Ingram - Duke
Ingram has as much potential as anyone in the draft, and could be competing for the No. 1 pick after the college season. He's a 6'8 small forward who has all the skill in the world on the offensive end, but his lack of strength (198 lbs.) will be a big negative going forward. However, he can often make up for his lack of strength with his insane leaping ability that allows him to touch the top of the backboard.
3) SF Jaylen Brown - Cal
Brown shocked most people in the college basketball world by signing with Cal over Kentucky, but the 6'7", 220-pound small forward has the potential to be the best player in the country this season. He has elite athleticism and is excellent attacking the rim, but needs to work on improving the consistency of his jump shot. Still, his overall talent and leadership - coupled with Rabb's abilities - has Golden Bears fans dreaming of a Pac-12 title.
2) PF/C Skal Labissiere - Kentucky
As Kentucky's latest blue-chip big man, Labissiere has the height (7'0") and elite athleticism to be a dominant, versatile big man on both ends of the floor (though he is at his best blocking shots). He's still extremely raw and needs work the the fundamentals - particularly with his footwork - but has an unlimited amount of potential. Look for him to progress similar to the way Karl-Anthony Towns did under John Calipari last season.
1) SF/PF Ben Simmons - LSU
Simmons is the kind of player that gives opposing head coaches nightmares. He has elite NBA size at 6'10" and 240 lbs, and has the ball-handling ability and perimeter skills to play point forward. Simmons is an excellent passer and is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor, giving the Tigers the expectation of competing with Kentucky atop the SEC this season.Back to the NCAA Newsfeed