Jaren Jackson


Jaren Jackson

College Basketball Preview 2017-18



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. Click on each player’s name and hyperlink to read their individual player profile and scouting report. The college in parenthesis is where each player will be attending college. Here are our choices for the Top 20 Best Freshmen in college basketball for the 2017-18 season.

1.MICHAEL PORTER JR. (MISSOURI): Porter had a phenomenal summer in 2016 and continued his stellar play through last year’s high school season. The former Washington Husky commit followed his father to Missouri, where he is now an assistant. The 6’9″ SF can do it all. He’s as smooth a player as we have seen in years. Expect Porter Jr. to have a monster freshmen campaign and to be the favorite for the number 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

2. MARVIN BAGLEY III (DUKE): Bagley reclassified into a 2017 recruit. Listed at 6’10”, Bagley III can do everything on the basketball court. While listed as a power forward, his skill-set allows him to play SG, SF, PF, and C. By landing Bagley, Duke secured the top recruiting class in the country and will be a popular pick to win the NCAA title. He has a good chance to go number 1 in the 2018 NBA Draft, along with Porter Jr. Bagley is clearly one of the top 20 best freshmen in college basketball for the 2017-18 season. By the end of the year he might just be sitting at the top of this list.

3. DeANDRE AYTON (ARIZONA): The 7’0″ center is one of the most impressive big-man prospects in the last decade. He displays excellent athleticism along with a nice little jumper. He will make his impact on the defensive end, where he should be a dominant player. Ayton’s addition to the Wildcat roster might be the final piece for head coach Sean Miller to reach the elusive Final 4

DeAndre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton

4. TREVON DUVAL (DUKE): Duval is the top PG in the class of 2017. We compare his athletic ability to 2017 lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. While his jump-shot needs improvement, the high school all-american has everything else needed to be a star in what will likely be his only year on Duke’s campus. Mike Krzyzewski will hand the offense over to Duval. His job will be to distribute the ball and keep Duke’s talented players happy while also getting his fair share of points.

5.MOHAMED BAMBA (TEXAS): Bamba is a 6’11” jumping jack with enormous defensive and long-term potential. He impacts a game with his shot-blocking and rebounding ability. While his offensive game is a work in progress, Texas head coach Shaka Smart will love Bamba’s work ethic. The 5-star recruit is a phenomenal basketball player who is only just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.

6.COLLIN SEXTON (ALABAMA): The PG had his national coming out party during the summer of 2017, where he wowed college coaches and recruiters. The 6’3″ Georgia native is in the mold of a scoring point guard. He shows the ability to become a combo guard. Alabama head coach Avery Johnson secured the commitment of Sexton, who is the most decorated recruit for the Crimson Tide in years. Sexton will be looking to get the SEC school back into the NCAA tournament before he likely declares for the 2018 NBA Draft.

7.JAREN JACKSON (MICHIGAN STATE): The PF/C is the headliner of a loaded Michigan State Spartans recruiting class. 2 words come to mind when describing the PF. “Stretch-Four”. We firmly believe that the 225-pound freshmen will thrive in this role when he heads off to play in the Big-10 conference. Jackson should be able to come in as a freshmen and put points up on the scoreboard. The 5-star recruit has the necessary ingredients to become a difference maker for Michigan State. 

8.WENDELL CARTER Jr. (DUKE): The McDonald’s high school all-american already looks like an upperclassmen. The 6’10”, 260-pound PF/C has a refined low-post game to go along with range out to 15-feet. He is very advanced for his age. While Carter Jr. isn’t an elite athlete, he makes up for it in his overall skill and high basketball IQ. He is part of the number 1 rated recruiting class for Duke this season. The Georgia native was named the Morgan Wooten National Player of the Year.

9. TROY BROWN Jr. (OREGON): The all-american from Nevada is going to a system that should fit his style of play very well. The SG/PG has great size (6’6″, 210lbs.). Brown’s versatility to play both guard spots will get him the playing time needed to make an immediate impact. His overall game reminds us of Evan Turner while he was at Ohio State. With his scoring ability and defensive ability, the freshmen should help off-set the loss of former Oregon stars Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey.



10. TRAE YOUNG (OKLAHOMA): The Sooners took a big step back after a Buddy Hield Oklahoma team made the Final 4 in 2016. Young became a 5-star prospect based off his 2016 summer on the AAU circuit. The Oklahoma native is in the mold of a scoring PG. The 6’2″ PG impressed coaches with his ability to score from anywhere on the floor. We see Young as being an excellent college point guard from the first game of his freshmen season until the end of his college career. He is exactly what the Sooners needed.

11. BILLY PRESTON (KANSAS): The Oak Hill Academy star oozes potential. While he can be inconsistent, Preston has the makings of being a big-time player at the “stretch-4” position. The top 10 recruit offers a very unique skill-set in his 6’10”, 230-pound body. He does things on the court that are rare for players his size and age. He sports an excellent mid-range game and an improving 3-point shot. He has a great first-step. Kansas head coach Bill Self will put Preston in situations where he can cause match-up problems due to his height and ability.

12. KEVIN KNOX (KENTUCKY): Knox is the headliner of Kentucky’s star studded recruiting class. The 6’8″ SF is exciting and very tough to stop while attacking the rim. He shows excellent body control and finishes with highlight reel dunks. The Florida native is and should be a mis-match problem in college as he can play both SF and PF. The top 10 recruit in the class of 2017 has the size, athleticism, and overall skill-set to do the same in college.

13. BRANDON McCOY (UNLV): McCoy is arguably the best recruit UNLV has landed in years. The seven footer should step right into UNLV’s starting lineup and produce at a high level. His length, size and athleticism will have the NBA scouts flocking to his games this upcoming season.  He rebounds the ball well on both ends of the court and has good form on his shot. Once he develops a few low-post moves, watch out.

14. GARY TRENT Jr. (DUKE): The SG has a college made body and good size for the position. The 6’5″ California native has a picturesque shooting stroke. He might have the purest shooting stroke in the class of 2017. He has an outstanding basketball IQ, which will help him offset his lack of elite athletic ability. Trent looks like a future multi-year starter for the Blue Devils.

15. LONNIE WALKER (MIAMI (FL): Walker will join sophomore stars Dewan Huell and Bruce Brown in the Hurricanes starting lineup. Walker has the potential to be an excellent defender at the collegiate level. He is an excellent overall scorer with a wide array of offensive moves. The addition of Walker will give Miami head coach Jim Larranaga a trio that rivals any in college basketball for the 2017-18 season.

Kris Wilkes

Kris Wilkes

16. KRIS WILKES (UCLA): The UCLA Bruins had a remarkable turnaround last season, in large part due to the stellar play of PG Lonzo Ball and PF T.J. Leaf. With both of those players off to the NBA, the 6’7″ Wilkes will be counted on to produce in a big way this upcoming season. The Indiana native is lethal in an uptempo style of play. On the offensive end of the floor, he displays a nice touch as well as a solid mid-range game. We really like his pull-up mid-range jumper, which should be a very effective weapon for him once he gets to college. UCLA and Wilkes look like a perfect fit together.

17. JAYLEN HANDS (UCLA): Hands might be one of the top 5 most important freshmen in college basketball this season. Why? The 5-star recruit only has to replace program changer Lonzo Ball. The high-riser is more in the mold of a shoot-first PG, unlike the unselfish Ball. Hands will have a lot of pressure on him this year, although his talent should get him through it. Once he becomes a more consistent shooter, Hands will have the opportunity to become one of the more important players for the Bruins not only this year, but in the future as well.

18.JOHN PETTY (ALABAMA): Petty is the second part of the dynamic back-court that head coach Avery Johnson is bringing into the SEC school. He should form a lethal 1-2 punch with Collin Sexton. John Petty will be an instant contributor to the young but talented Crimson Tide.  We fully expect him to be a very good SEC player and one of the foundation players for the Alabama program.

19. NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER (VIRGINIA TECH): The 4-star recruit is one of the best prospects to sign with the Hokies in years. Look for Alexander-Walker to come in and pay immediate dividends. The Canadian-born SG possesses excellent long-term potential. If he ever develops into a PG, we look for Alexander-Walker to become a major and key piece for the Hokies next season and beyond. He has all the characteristics of a big-time player.

20. QUADE GREEN (KENTUCKY): Green is a tough-nosed PG from Philadelphia. While only 6’0″, his toughness and all-around skill makes up for his lack of height. He most likely will be handed the keys to the Wildcat’s offense. The 5-star recruit’s main job will be to distribute the ball around to the wealth of young and talented players that head coach John Calipari has on his roster for the 2017-18 season.


The following players would have most likely made our top 20 freshman list. However, multiple factors played into our decision. Let’s take a look why.

JARRED VANDERBILT (KENTUCKY): The 5-star combo-forward was injured recently as he fractured his left foot. Reports are that Vanderbilt is healing faster then expected, which is god news. With such a talented 2017 freshmen class, we believed a spot on this list should go to a player who will be on the court, which is why the versatile youngster didn’t make our top 20 best freshmen list.

MITCHELL ROBINSON (NO SCHOOL): Robinson shocked the college basketball recruiting world when he spurned offers from all the big-time programs to commit to Western Kentucky. The 6’11” center practiced for the first few days of the season before abruptly leaving the program. The talented big-man ended up returning to WKU, however, his return didn’t last long. Robinson has stated he will not be attending college and will now prepare or the 2018 NBA Draft. There is a slight chance that he goes to play professionally overseas. 

Brian Bowen

Brian Bowen

Mitchell clearly didn’t want to attend college. It will remain to be seen if this was the right decision. NBA scouts will now not be able to scout him. Will he put in the necessary work with a trainer to improve his game. We hope that this doesn’t become a cautionary tale as this is a huge risk that he is taking. If everything goes right, Robinson has a chance to become a lottery pick in 2018. He is that talented. However, this is now a huge what if.

BRIAN BOWEN (LOUISVILLE- ELIGIBILITY IN QUESTION): The world of college basketball was rocked recently with the scandal of coaches paying recruits. At the center of an FBI investigation was Louisville and Brian Bowen. It was reported that an assistant coach gave Bowen and his family $100,000 to get Bowen to attend Louisville.

Bowen ended up committing to the Cardinals late in the recruiting process when he wasn’t even considering the school, which shocked everyone. Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired. The school has a major scandal. Bowen’s basketball career is in limbo. The 5-star wing was supposed to be the player that could lead Louisville to a Final 4. Instead, he is now known as the player who got Rick Pitino fired. Whatever happens in Brian Bowen’s future, he will always have this stigma attached to his name. It is unclear what the next step in his basketball career will be.


What changes would you make to this list?

Which players do you think will have the biggest impact this season?

Please leave all comments in the section below for future discussion.







STEPH CURRY              ISAIAH THOMAS                JOEL EMBIID

 (In affiliation with fanatics.com)



4 thoughts on “TOP 20 BEST FRESHMEN”

  1. RunningPilot says:

    Wow, that’s a detailed rundown! I’m a Michigan State fan, so I’m happy to hear that you think Jared Jackson will be good for us. What do you think our chances are in general this year? Hopefully another good year! Also, how cool is the name Mohamed Bamba? You kind of have to be 6’11” with a name like that.

    1. Rob Giannotti says:


      Michigan State is one of the top 5 teams in the country in terms of overall talent. They have the favorite for National Player of the Year in Miles Bridges. The sophomore class is outstanding. Tom Izzo is one of the best head coaches in college basketball. I personally really like this team. They have a great shot at winning the BIG-10 conference championship and will be one of a handful of teams that will be in the hunt for the national championship at the end of the year. Simply put, they have all the ingredients necessary to win it all.


  2. JeffWA says:

    Hi, Rob. With the collegiate basketball season starting some 12 days ago, I can tell you that #2 on your list, Marvin Bagley III playing for Duke is a beast, (I live in NC although I am an alumnus of UConn). He got poked in the eye accidentally against Michigan St., however with what I saw in a previous game he is a man playing against boys in the paint.

    Duke has 4 freshmen players on that top 20 list. Coach Krzyzewski, one of the best recruiters in the sport of college basketball did it again.

    I looked it up but could not find any info, but do you know if that Kris Wilkes (#16 on the list) a freshman at UCLA is related to Keith Wilkes who played for UCLA on some of their great teams alongside Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul Jabbar back in the late 1960s? With the Ball kid and two other knucklehead freshman on the team being suspended indefinitely for the silly, juvenile shoplifting incident in China a few weeks ago, (to which they could still easily be in a Chinese prison) it might be up to Wilkes to play a bigger role in the fortunes of the Bruins’ season this year.

    My team UConn, with key players back from season-long injuries last season could play Michigan St. in that tournament out in Oregon over the Thanksgiving weekend. It will be a test should the Huskies go up against the Spartans.

    Arizona has a few players on the list. However, as usual I expect the Wildcats to come up short again in the tournament. Sean Miller is overrated as a coach.


    1. Rob Giannotti says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Another outstanding post as usual. Recruiting is the name of the game in college basketball and Duke has been phenomenal at landing highly recruited players. Bagley has been superb and might be the number 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Keith Wilkes is not Kris Wilkes’s father. It is a shame what happened with the 3 kids from UCLA. Hopefully, they will learn from this and improve as young men. UCONN is struggling this year and I am shocked at how poorly Arizona has played so far. However, I believe they will right the ship and be fine. They are missing their 2nd best player in Rawle Alkins. Thank you for your outstanding comment.


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