The top freshmen in star-studded class
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Is it March yet? Hardly. With the NCAA tournament far in the rear-view mirror and Midnight Madness several months away, USA TODAY Sports examines several story lines for the 2013-14 college basketball season.
What if LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett played college basketball? If they played in this day and age, they’d have no choice. Whether good or bad, the NBA’s one-and-done rule has made freshmen matter in NCAA hoops.
Shortly after then-freshman Carmelo Anthony guided the Syracuse Orange to a national title, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden started the trend of NBA-ready stars lifting their respective college teams to new heights. That year, 2006-07, Oden led Ohio State to the national title game. Durant made history by winning the Wooden and Naismith Awards in the same season as the national player of the year. (And the Trail Blazers still passed on him at No. 1?).
In the 2011-12 season, Kentucky coach John Calipari proved that talent can trump experience as a necessity for winning on the college hoops landscape. He piloted the Wildcats to a national championship behind a freshman-heavy roster that featured top recruits Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — both players went on to be drafted No. 1 and No. 2 in 2012.
While Calipari has long been glorified as a recruiting genius, his 2013 class heading might be his best ever. The star-heavy lineup of five top-10 recruits has drawn comparisons to The Fab 5. And Calipari doesn’t even have the top three players in the class on his team.
This week, we take a look at the top freshmen and estimate their impact:
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: If you haven’t heard about this guy by now, it’s time to google him. His Wikipedia page will tell you he won every high school player of the year award that exists, including most recently winning Gatorade Athlete of the Year. His versatility — combining poise and athleticism — have earned him comparisons to LeBron James (at a young age, that is). The nation’s unanimous No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013, the 6-8 Wiggins … [For more on Starting Five: The top freshmen in star-studded class, click here.]