Every season there are countless freshmen who perform beyond expectations. In the era of the one and done players, some freshmen are among the most talented players on their own team and are counted on to perform at a high level.

This list is not a list of who are ranked the highest among recruiting services. It is who we believe will perform well but most importantly, will mean the most to their team. Here is “The Fabulous Freshmen”.

1.DENNIS SMITH JR. (NORTH CAROLINA STATE): Smith is coming back from a torn ACL which made him miss his entire senior year of high school basketball. He should be healthy at the start of the year. Smith is as explosive a PG as you will ever find. We expect him to play great. He has a chance to be a top 5 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

josh jackson pic

Josh Jackson

2.JOSH JACKSON (KANSAS): Jackson is the number 1 rated player in the class of 2016. He will remind Kansas fans of Andrew Wiggins, as their games are similar at the same stage of their development. Once he gets a consistent jump-shot, watch out. He is the early favorite to be the number 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

3.MARKELLE FULTZ (WASHINGTON): No player in the high school ranks has improved as much as Fultz has over the past 12 months. He went from a fringe D1 player to a top 10 player in the class of 2016. The PG will be handed the keys to the Huskies offense. Just like the 2 players above him on this list, he might only be in college for 1 season.

4.De’AARON FOX (KENTUCKY): Speed, speed, speed. The 6’3″ PG is blazing fast with the ball in his hands. The lefty shooting Fox will take over for star Tyler Ulis, who is now in the NBA. Fox has some attributes that reminds us of former UK great John Wall.

5.LONZO BALL (UCLA): UCLA struggled last year. However, head coach Steve Alford brought in 2 top 20 players in forward T.J. Leaf and Ball. The 6’5″ California native has the type of height and skill-set that NBA teams covet. There are high expectations for the young PG, however he seems ready to handle the bright lights.

6.HARRY GILES (DUKE): Giles missed his senior year because of a torn ACL as he was once ranked as the top player on the class of 2016. When healthy, he reminds us of Derrick Favors from the Utah Jazz and also a young Chris Webber. Giles is a very athletic PF. Our one concern is his health. When he gets 100% healthy, he will be a handful for opposing ACC defenders. Mike Krzyzewski will love the ability and talent of this youngster.

7.JAYSON TATUM (DUKE): Tatum is part of a monster recruiting class for Duke. The Gatorade National Player of the Year is as smooth a player as there is among the incoming freshmen. At 6’8″, he possesses outstanding size for the SF position to go along with a wide array of offensive moves.

8.JONATHAN ISAAC (FLORIDA STATE): The 6’10 PF is very versatile and is a huge recruiting coop for the Seminoles. He will form a very explosive and talented 1-2 punch with sophomore star shooting guard Dwayne Bacon. Isaac will instantly become one of the better big-men in the ACC conference next season. 

9.MILES BRIDGES (MICHIGAN STATE): Bridges is the headliner of a top 10 recruiting class for the Spartans and will be asked to produce from Day 1. The 6’6″ SF/PF is very athletic. His game reminds us of NBA All-Star Draymond Green when he was starring for the Big 10 power. If he plays like Green, head coach Tom Izzo will be ecstatic. 

10.RAWLE ALKINS (ARIZONA): The New York City guard reminds us of NBA veteran Lance Stephenson, himself an NYC legend. Alkins might be the most physical guard in the country and is a load for opposing defenders to handle. He should thrive in Arizona’s up-tempo system. He will be asked to score and play defense, and we believe he will do just that and more.

11.MALIK MONK (KENTUCKY): The explosive shooting guard will be expected to take over the position that was held by Jamal Murray last season. The Arkansas native is a 5 star recruit and part of another amazing recruiting class for head coach John Calipari. He is one of the best overall scorers among the incoming freshmen class.

12.MUSTAPHA HERON (AUBURN): Heron is perhaps the most talented player to enter the Auburn program in the last decade. We believe he will be an instant starter and will be given every chance to do what he does best, which is score. Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl will give Heron a lot of freedom on the court, as he will be the most talented player on the Tigers roster.

13.FRANK JACKSON (DUKE): Mike Krzyzewski will welcome Jackson with open arms after the point guard troubles that the Blue Devils had last season. With all the talent that will be surrounding Jackson, he will just need to run the offense smoothly and limit turnovers to be an upgrade at the position from last year. Jackson can also score when called upon to do so.


Kobi Simmons

14.T.J. LEAF (UCLA): Leaf will provide the Bruins with a needed inside presence as he already possesses an advanced low-post game. Expectations are extremely high for him and fellow freshmen teammate Lonzo Ball to produce immediately for head coach Steve Alford.

15.SHAMORIE PONDS (SAINT JOHN’S): Chris Mullin had a very difficult first season at the helm for the Red Storm. However, he got his point guard of the future in Ponds. The NYC born PG can really shoot it. He also has the competitiveness that NYC guards usually have. He will be handed the keys to the offense from Day 1 of practice and will be the leader of the rebuilding process for Saint John’s.

16.JARRETT ALLEN (TEXAS): Allen was one of the last 5 star players to commit as Texas and head coach Shaka Smart will reap the benefits of his talents. Allen will come in right away and provide a big defensive presence for the Longhorns. While his offensive game is a work in progress, he should do very well in Smart’s system.

17.KOBI SIMMONS (ARIZONA): The 6’5″ point guard will team with Rawle Alkins to give head coach Sean Miller a dynamic all-freshmen back-court to go along with sophomore star Allonzo Trier. Simmons should thrive in Arizona’s up-tempo system and his size for the PG position is a huge positive. He is only scratching the surface of his immense potential.

18.ALTERIQUE GILBERT (UCONN): Gilbert will provide head coach Kevin Ollie steadiness from the point guard position. The Georgia native reminds us of former UCONN star Shabazz Napier. We see a lot of similarities in their respective games. This should make the passionate UCONN fan-base very happy. 

19.ZACH COLLINS (GONZAGA): Collins is a very talented big-man who will help head coach Mark Few in the front-court. Collins will have big shoes to fill as he tries to replace some of the production that Domantas Sabonis provided. Sabonis was a 2016 NBA Draft lottery pick. He possesses a nice shooting stroke for his height.

20.De’JON JARREAU (UMASS): Jarreau had offers from multiple NCAA tournament teams, however chose UMASS in the end. He might be the most talented player to enter the program in a decade. He will be asked to do a lot of things for the Minutemen this season. Judging by his overall talent, he just might be up for the task.

 Article was previously published on 10/11/16

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