Every season college basketball is diundated with a new wave of freshman talent. This season is no different. From coast to coast, these freshman are leading some of the country’s best teams to fantastic records. It’s time to rank these talented superstars.
1. Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Lonzo Ball is astounding and his play almost infuriating. Ball possesses talent that few others do; he flings perfect full-court outlet passes, reads the defense, shoots well from distance, and truly commands the court. Lonzo Ball’s play style is so effortless that it has been frustrating opposing players and coaches alike for the past few months. The UCLA freshman looks to be a top pick in the NBA Draft come summer.
2. Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Unlike Ball, who plays for a national title contender, Markelle Fultz is stuck in the depths of Seattle, Washington biding his time until the 2017 NBA Draft. Fultz has reached the 30 point mark 5 times so far this season and is one of the best scorers in all of college basketball. If anyone can begin to turn Washington’s basketball program around, Markelle Fultz is the man.
3. Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
Kevin Durant. Kobe Bryant. James Harden. Malik Monk. What do those four players have in common? They are all scorers. Monk is averaging over 20 points per game on a stacked Kentucky team. That is quite an accomplishment, especially for a freshman. Malik Monk even scored 47 points in a game earlier on this season. Nobody wants to guard Malik Monk.
4. Dennis Smith Jr, PG, N.C. State
Dennis Smith Jr. is single handedly trying to rescue North Carolina State’s season, but frankly it may be a lost cause. There can be no doubt that Smith is doing his best, however. The point guard has had three 30 point games already this season and even recorded a triple double. NBA scouts are extremely high on Dennis Smith Jr. and NBA teams will be clamoring over him come June.
5. Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
Coming into the season, Lauri Markkanen was one of college basketball’s largest unknowns. Fortunately for Arizona, the Finnish freshman has been performing better than anyone could have anticipated. Markkanen has been hitting three’s at a ridiculously high percentage, a skill that has proven pivotal to Arizona’s success. But shooting is not the only skill the freshman has in his arsenal; Markkenen is a fantastic pick and roll player and excels in wing isolation looks. As far as Lauri Markkanen goes in 2017, Arizona goes.
6. Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida State
After Lauri Markkanen, Jonathan Isaac might be the most surprising player in all of college basketball. He’s teamed up with Dwayne Bacon in Tallahassee, and the two of them have turned Florida State into a national title contender. Isaac fits the modern forward prototype: he’s an above average shooter, he can handle the ball, and he excels in space. At 6’11”, Jonathan Isaac has the physical tools to become a basketball superstar.
7. Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
By far the most physically imposing freshman, Josh Jackson is an extremely unique talent. The only thing standing between Jackson and greatness is shot, or lack thereof. The Kansas freshman is not a very good shooter, in fact, he isn’t even average from beyond the arc. If Josh Jackson’s shot can improve this season, he could become the most dominant player in all of college basketball.
8. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The last point guard on this list, but certainly not the least, De’Aaron Fox is a superstar in his own right. Fox is a fantastic all around point guard. He throws perfect passes, rebounds excellently, and commands the attention of the entire opposing defense. All of these attributes are quite unique for a freshman. Like Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox needs to improve his shooting, but on this loaded Kentucky team, it’s certainly not an issue.
9. Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
Jayson Tatum is somewhat of an enigma. He was one of the very top recruits in his class and his talent is undeniable. However, Tatum seems to be indifferent at times, showing a lack of effort on the court. That has got to change. Jayson Tatum has the tools to become a fantastic NBA player; he has already mastered the midrange game and his length allows him to get to the basket almost at will. NBA scouts will be waiting to see if Jayson Tatum can improve throughout the rest of the year.
10. T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
Partnered up with Lonzo Ball at UCLA, T.J. Leaf is loving the pace and space offense utilized by head coach Steve Alford. UCLA runs the court like few other teams do, and Leaf is fantastic on the break. He can use his size to get to the rim or use his great jump shot to freeze the defense. T.J. Leaf has flourished in college, and will continue to flourish when he reaches the NBA, where his game fits the needs of nearly every team.
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Published by Joseph Lowery