There’s an adage that says things get better with age. However, this is not necessarily the case it comes to big-time college basketball.
The freshman class of 2010 has some phenomenal players who have stepped into leadership roles for some of the nation’s top teams. I guess that sometimes age doesn’t really matter, especially for these key first-year players that have made an immediate impact during the early part of this season.
Kyrie Irving, point guard, Duke
When the season began, there were some very large expectations for Irving as he stepped into the starting lineup of the defending NCAA champions. He has lived up to the hype, leading the Blue Devils in scoring and assists. A toe injury has slowed down his fast start, but as soon as he comes back I’m sure Irving will pick up right where he left off.
Jared Sullinger, power forward, Ohio State
After being ranked Number 2 on the ESPNU top 100 recruiting charts, Sullinger decided to stay at home and signed with the Buckeyes. The 6’ 9”, 280-pound big man averages 18.0 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game, leading his team in both of these categories. Those numbers include a 40-point, 13-rebound outing against IUPUI last Thursday. Sullinger has teamed with another fabulous freshman, Deshaun Thomas, to create one of the deepest frontcourts in the Big Ten.
Harrison Barnes, small forward, North Carolina
Barnes was the top-ranked prospect in the freshman class of 2010. He’s averaged 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds for the Tar Heels so far this season. Barnes was also the first freshman to make the Associated Press Preseason All-America team since voting began in 1986-87.
Brandon Knight, point guard, Kentucky
Possibly no freshman had bigger shoes to fill than Knight. He succeeded John Wall, the NBA’s No. 1 pick, as the leader of the Wildcats’ offense. Knight has responded nicely, averaging 17.4 points per game.
Doron Lamb, shooting guard, Kentucky
Lamb is another fabulous freshman for Kentucky. After attending prestigious Oak Hill Academy Lamb signed with the Wildcats, joining Brandon Knight and giving his team a great pair of guards.
Terrence Jones, power forward, Kentucky
In my eyes, Jones is the best overall freshman this season. The 6’ 8”, 244-pound forward is averaging 18.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. If he keeps up this pace, I believe that Jones could become a college basketball legend.
Others to keep an eye on include Fabricio Melo (Syracuse), Kyle Marshall (Butler), Marquise Carter (Gonzaga), Joe Jackson and Will Barton (Memphis), Roscoe Smith (Connecticut), and Perry Jones III (Baylor). Kansas is also waiting on the NCAA to clear high-scoring guard Josh Selby to play. Once that happens, Jayhawks coach Bill Self could be positioned to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Of course, there are many other first year players who will make big contributions as the season goes on. Who will come out on top? Who knows, but what’s for sure is that these outstanding freshmen will not disappoint all of us college hoops fans.