During this downtime in the college basketball schedule, after the post-tournament cool-down but before recruiting season heats up, the big news stories tend to be the commitments of the final remaining seniors in this year's top 100. I'd posit that fans' expectations for all 100 representatives of that list are too high. Certainly, there will be a Trey Burke or two. But, generally speaking, the availability of the memory of Burke means that we forget the performances of some of those ranked close to him.
I propose to combat this by ranking the freshman performance of every player in last year's top 100, plus Jarnell Stokes (left out a year ago due to the lateness of his reclassification). I'll be assigning a heavy evaluative weight to playing time, whether due to coach's decision, injury, or eligibility, because we need to remember how often players fail to meet expectations because they aren't on the floor.
(Last year's player rankings appear in parentheses.)
Missing in Action
101. D.J. Gardner (98)
100. Joseph Uchebo (83)
99. Norvel Pelle (77)
98. Aaron Thomas (72)
97. Chris Jones (67)
96. Michael Chandler (44)
95. JaKarr Sampson (32)
It's always worth remembering how many top prospects don't make it to college right away. Chandler, Pelle, Thomas (who will attend Florida State in the fall), and Sampson (who will enroll at St. John's) spent the year at prep school. The other three went the junior college route: Jones spent last season at Northwest Florida State, Gardner was at Itawamba, and Uchebo played at Chipola.
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94. Jarrod Uthoff, Wisconsin (90)
93. Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State (82)
92. Trevor Cooney, Syracuse (65)
91. Jahii Carson, Arizona State (50)
90. Ben McLemore, Kansas (49)
89. Alex Murphy, Duke (41)
88. Marshall Plumlee, Duke (35)
This group includes five optional redshirts and two academic redshirts (McLemore and Carson). Uthoff will transfer.
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Unimpressive in Limited Time
87. Sidiki Johnson, Arizona (94)
Johnson saw seven minutes over three games before transferring to Providence.
86. Jabari Brown, Oregon (26)
In 51 minutes over two games, Brown scored 12 points, but missed eight field goals and seven free throws and turned the ball over 11 times. Then he transferred to Missouri. There's a legitimate possibility that Brown has a really strong 2012-13 season -- he's certainly talented enough -- but he played two awful games.
85. Kevin Ware, Louisville (96)
Ware became eligible for the Cardinals' December 17 game against Memphis. He saw time in most of the remaining regular season games, but only cracked ten minutes four times and saw just eight total minutes in Louisville's nine postseason games. When Ware did play, he shot just 30 percent from the floor and 33 percent from the line, scoring 20 total points and committing 21 turnovers.
84. Carlton Brundidge, Michigan (75)
Michigan added two top-100 freshman point guards for the 2011-12 season. Brundidge was ranked No. 75; Trey Burke was 84. Burke was second-team All-Big Ten. Brundidge played 44 minutes, made one basket, and transferred out of the program at the end of the year.
83. Antwan Space, Florida State (71)
After an injury-plagued season with the Seminoles in which he played 30 minutes, Space transferred to Texas A&M.
82. Mike Shaw, Illinois (91)
More than half of Shaw's 140 season minutes came in the month of December. He shot 6-of-21 (29 percent), but was very good on the defensive boards, grabbing 24 percent of opponents' misses -- as high as anyone on this list not named Anthony Davis.
81. Malcolm Gilbert, Pitt (58)
Though largely invisible on offense, Gilbert did block six shots in less than 100 minutes.
80. Paul Jesperson, Virginia (89)
Known as a dead-eye shooter, Jesperson played like a spot-up role player but didn't make his shots. He's a better marksman than his 7-of-31 (23 percent) season from behind the arc demonstrated. Jesperson was supposed to redshirt last year, but the transfers of K.T. Harrell and James Johnson forced him into action.
79. Zach Price, Louisville (57)
Price got double-digit minutes only once: it was against Fairleigh Dickinson, and he posted season-highs in points (six), rebounds (five), and fouls (five).
78. Jamal Branch, Texas A&M (51)
Branch was a turnover machine for 19 minutes a game before transferring to St. John's at Christmas.
77. Naadir Tharpe, Kansas (86)
Tharpe shot 29 percent and turned the ball over on 40 percent of his possessions as the 10th man for the national runner-up Jayhawks.
76. Nnanna Egwu (70), and 75. Myke Henry (97), Illinois
The first name on this list who can be considered a rotation player, Egwu produced little offensively but proved himself a capable shot-blocker. Henry played less for the Illini, but made 64 percent of his two-point attempts and rarely turned the ball over.
74. Wayne Blackshear, Louisville (27)
Blackshear suffered a torn labrum in October that, it appeared, would sideline him for the season. In his first game back, he posted 13 points in a close win over West Virginia, but he was then relegated to the far end of the bench for much of the rest of the year (although he played well against Kentucky in the Final Four). Blackshear was once the consensus No. 2 player in the class, and his ability is hard to miss. He's being touted by some pundits as a breakout candidate for 2013, but I think people may be slightly overvaluing the national face time he got against UK in New Orleans.
73. Dai-Jon Parker, Vanderbilt (33)
Among the players on this list only Pitt's Malcolm Gilbert used a lower percentage of his team's possessions than Parker, and the young Commodore wasn't particularly efficient in his small role, shooting 41 percent on 27 twos and 25 percent on 44 threes.
72. Shannon Scott, Ohio State (34)
Scott was more used than Parker, though he was still very much a role player on an excellent team. He had extreme turnover issues while shooting 36 percent on 53 twos and six percent on 18 threes.
71. Michael Gbinije, Duke (29)
Based on pure performance, Gbinije would rank higher than this, but he played less than ten percent of the Blue Devils' available minutes. His 113 offensive rating is the highest, save Khem Birch, outside the top 50 here, and his defense, though rarely praised in high school, was excellent. He transferred to Syracuse at the end of the season.
70. Erik Copes, George Mason (56)
Mason had a clear first team and second team, and Copes was the center on the second team. He entered the CAA fully-formed as a shot-blocker and rebounder, but he struggled with turnovers and hit just 42 percent of his free throws.
69. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State (53)
Ross didn't get much playing time even after being declared eligible in December, but in his limited minutes he demonstrated something shown by no player ranked lower on this list: the ability to take on a heavy chunk of the offense.
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Impressive in Limited Time/Unimpressive Rotation Players
68. Tyrone Johnson, Villanova (66)
Johnson just played too many minutes to rank lower than this, but his turnover rate was an outrageous 36 percent, and he made just 34 percent of his twos and 23 percent of his threes. He did make 88 percent of his 40 free throws, though.
67. C.J. Barksdale, Virginia Tech (100)
Barksdale was a bench forward for a Hokie team that didn't make a postseason tournament. He rebounded well, avoided turnovers, and got to the free throw line, where he shot 75 percent.
66. Angelo Choi, Arizona (61)
Chol was a solid backup big for an underperforming Arizona team. He hit 56 percent from the field and blocked a few more than his share of shots. Tracking nicely.
65. Julian Royal, Georgia Tech (69)
Royal spent his freshman season as a passable backup forward. This year he'll have to battle for playing time, not only with returning players but also against highly-rated newcomers Robert Carter and Marcus Hunt. Royal will have to have a strong offseason to avoid getting lost in the shuffle.
64. Khem Birch, Pitt (12)
Birch played his last game for the Panthers against Oklahoma State on December 10, before transferring to UNLV. He wasn't tracking to be an All-American or anything, but had he continued at the same pace for the whole season he could've landed 30 or 40 spots higher on this list. Birch was rebounding and swatting shots at a truly remarkable rate, much like Amir Williams (whom you'll run into in about ten spots). Offensively he was efficient but certainly not dominant. It's true that Birch was only playing rotation minutes at the time of the transfer decision, but he wasn't playing like a backup.
63. Sam Thompson, Ohio State (45)
Thompson wasn't asked to do much for the Buckeyes, averaging ten minutes and using just 12 percent of the team's possessions when he was in the game. He did make 60 percent of his two-point shots, which is impressive. When you shoot as rarely as he did, though, 1-for-14 shooting from three-point range can leave a mark on your overall numbers. And Thompson's rebounding numbers, at 6-7, looked far too much like a point guard's.
62. Deuce Bello, Baylor (54)
Bello didn't earn real rotation minutes for a very good Baylor team, but he was effective when called upon. His 56 percent two-point shooting and ability to get to the free throw line should be commended, though turnovers may be a concern going forward.
61. Mikael Hopkins, Georgetown (78)
While not trusted with rotation minutes, Hopkins showed four impressive skills in limited time: offensive rebounding, blocking shots, getting to the line, and shooting 75 percent on his free throws. On the flip side, he turned the ball over too much, shot just 42 percent on his twos, fouled constantly, and rarely got a defensive board. If I'm the Hoyas, I feel more comfortable sliding him into the frontcourt next to Otto Porter. He's likely still behind Greg Whittington and Nate Lubick in the depth chart, but my hook with both of those players would be quick knowing that Hopkins is lying in wait.
60. Kedren Johnson, Vanderbilt (85)
The primary backup for Brad Tinsley, Johnson had some issues in his freshman season. His turnover rate was a too-high 28 percent, and he shot just 41 percent on twos and 24 percent on threes. Johnson wasn't perfect, but that may have been because he was pushed into a role he wasn't quite ready for.
59. Tracy Abrams, Illinois (87)
The only starter from the Illini's class of four top-100 prospects, Abrams had serious turnover issues and really struggled to score for himself. There is one good sign for the future, however: he scored in double-digits three times, all of which came after Valentine's Day.
58. Norman Powell, UCLA (52)
Powell shot well from behind the arc for a Bruin team that seemed to succeed at nothing else. He wasn't bad, considering he was a rotation player for a team that didn't play past the Pac-12 tournament, but all he really did well was catch and shoot.
57. Jabril Trawick, Georgetown (80)
Trawick was the only Hoya last year who saw any amount of playing time while being listed between 6-2 and 6-8. His best skill was getting to the line, and he hit his shots once there. We'll just have to wait and see if Trawick is ready for the expanded role he'll have this season.
56. Amir Garrett, St. John's (99)
Garrett wasn't eligible until December 21, but he was immediately inserted into the rotation and saw his minutes expand as the season continued. In February and March, he averaged more than 30 minutes per game. Garrett was a solid interior scorer and consistently got to the free throw line. His rebounding could stand some improvement, however.
55. Adonis Thomas, Memphis (9)
By far the lowest-ranked top-10 player from last year. The "55" here is mostly a reflection of the ankle injury that held Thomas to 19 games, but even per-possession it's tough to argue he should rate above any top-10 rival except perhaps Le'Bryan Nash. Thomas was a perfectly acceptable wing for half the season.
54. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse (21)
Syracuse just had too many good players last year for a solid freshman to break the top seven, but MCW was quite good in his limited minutes. He shot pretty well, which was unsurprising, but he also posted an unexpectedly fantastic assist rate.
53. Amir Williams, Ohio State (43)
Williams didn't play much, just under 200 minutes, but he made a strong impact when he did. In limited time he posted offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, and block rates that compare with anyone on this list (and, considering Anthony Davis is on this list, anyone in the country). Williams wasn't nearly as effective on offense, but he really wasn't bad. It's an extraordinarily small sample size, but there's reason to believe he can step in and be a game-changer right away as a rebounder-defender.
52. Josiah Turner, Arizona (15)
Expectations for Turner as a freshman were far too high, but even his biggest doubters anticipated more than this. His disciplinary issues got more ink, but even when he was on the court he struggled. Turnovers were a problem, and Turner made just seven three-pointers on the season. After being suspended from the team before the Pac-12 tournament, he asked to leave the Arizona program in April and was arrested under suspicion of DUI a few weeks later. Turner transferred to SMU in early May.
51. Rashad Madden, Arkansas (36)
Madden never started for the Razorbacks, but he played more minutes than all but four teammates. Outside of his 24 percent three-point shooting (on 71 attempts, no less), he turned in a solid freshman campaign.
50. Robert Brown, Virginia Tech (81)
Brown wasn't ready to be the third scoring option for an ACC team. He shot an acceptable 32 percent from three-point range, but he had trouble producing inside the arc, shooting just 41 percent and rarely earning trips to the free throw line.
49. Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse (20)
He posted impressive rebounding and shot-blocking numbers, but Christmas represented quite a dropoff from Big East Defensive Player of the Year Fab Melo in Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone. The freshman wasn't expected to add much offensively, especially at first, but he made 57 percent of his two-point attempts in a small role. With another year of training for the key spot in the Orange D, Christmas should have plenty to offer this season.
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Starters/Strong Rotation Players
48. Joe Coleman, Minnesota (95)
Coleman started roughly half the Gophers' games and played about half their minutes. Like many in this section of the list, he had a perfectly solid freshman campaign -- an average starter on an average Big Ten team.
47. Hunter Mickelson, Arkansas (55)
Mickelson ranked fifth nationally in block rate, and behind only Anthony Davis and Jeff Withey among major-conference players. Between the giant team-quality gap and the fact that Mickelson played half the minutes the other two did, however, it's not hard to understand why the shot-blocking exhibited by Davis and Withey was so much more widely covered. Now, Mickelson went through some offensive struggles -- shooting 31 free throws as compared to 158 two-pointers is indicative of some larger issues -- but his fellow Razorback bigs didn't perform spectacularly, either. Given the opportunity, he's capable of becoming a minor defensive celebrity. Keep in mind Withey's high block rate in limited minutes didn't seem like a particularly big deal a year ago at this time.
46. Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia (73)
Brogdon had a solid season as a bench scorer for the Cavaliers, however turnover issues kept him from ranking higher than this.
45. Johnny O'Bryant, LSU (46)
O'Bryant played just half the Tigers' minutes, but he was clearly the player most responsible for their offense when he was on the floor, using 29 percent of the team's possessions. He was immediately an outstanding rebounder and a shot-blocker worth noting. That said, O'Bryant posted eleven assists to 66 turnovers, and he finished the season shooting a hair under 40 percent from the field. This is the kind of year that screams potential, but isn't particularly helpful as it's happening.
44. Quinn Cook, Duke (38)
Like teammate Gbinije, Cook suffers in these rankings from a lack of playing time -- in fact considering him a true rotation player is a bit of a stretch. Now the good news. His per-possession offensive numbers can stand with anyone's but Cody Zeller, Anthony Davis, and B.J. Young, and his perimeter defense was strong. I'm tagging Cook as a potential breakout candidate for 2012-13.
43. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (NR)
Stokes was ranked No. 18 in the class of 2012 until difficulties with his high school eligibility inspired him to enroll at Tennessee at the semester break. (As a comparison, Alex Murphy was ranked No. 9 in 2012 and slid into the 2011 rankings at 41). His effect on the Volunteers has probably been overstated, but, especially considering that he was dropped on the college scene unprepared, his semester of work is impressive. Among those who played at least a quarter of their team's minutes, only Anthony Davis and Boston College's Ryan Anderson posted higher defensive rebounding rates. Stokes ran into some issues with turnovers and free throw shooting, but he made the SEC All-Freshman team and it wasn't just on the strength of his rebounding. With a full season's worth of games, he's probably 25 spots higher, and that's without considering his increased preparation.
42. P.J. Hairston, North Carolina (13)
Early in the season Hairston wasn't missing from behind the arc, and it appeared he'd rank considerably higher than this. Then he stopped hitting, and it became tougher to look past his lack of playing time (largely due to defensive questions). On January 7 Hairston was 26-of-69 (38 percent) on his threes. From that point on he shot 12-of-70 (17 percent). Before last year I asked ESPNU's Dave Telep to pick two players from each group of ten in the top 100 who were the most college-ready, and two who were the most and least college-ready. Hairston was the only member of the "most college-ready" group who underperformed.
41. Adjehi Baru, Charleston (59)
Baru was one of just seven top-100 members to spend the season in a mid-major conference. (The others: Gary Bell at Gonzaga, Sim Bhullar at New Mexico State, Erik Copes at George Mason, Adonis Thomas at Memphis, TaShawn Thomas at Houston, and Dezmine Wells at Xavier). He was a quality third option for a team whose biggest moment came when they scared then-undefeated Louisville on December 20. Touted as a strong shot-blocker, Baru swatted an ordinary 19 shots on the season.
40. Andre Hollins, Minnesota (79)
Hollins turned in one of the more impressive shooting seasons of anyone on this list. He made 38 percent of his 116 threes and 90 percent of his 94 free throws. He, as much as anyone after the injury to star Trevor Mbakwe, drove the Minnesota offense, even if Rodney Williams was its most effective contributor. Hollins turned the ball over on 26 percent of his possessions last season; if he can get that under control, 2013 looks bright for the Gophers.
39. Julien Lewis, Texas (76)
Lewis had a nice season, particularly from a shooting and defending perspective, starting for the young NCAA-tournament-bound Longhorns.
38. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina (6)
Already being consistently mentioned as a breakout candidate for next season, McAdoo's hype is still almost entirely based on potential. He rebounded well, but it's tough to get too excited about the production of someone who shot 43 percent from the field without attempting a single three-pointer. I'm not saying McAdoo won't break out next year. I'm not even saying I don't think he will. I'm just reminding everyone that he hasn't proven anything just yet.
37. Dom Pointer, St. John's (25)
Pointer played nearly 75 percent of the Red Storm's minutes, though his offensive numbers leave a bit to be desired (he shot 45 percent on twos, 19 percent on threes, and 55 percent on free throws). He has a lot of potential and a lot to offer defensively.
36. Myles Mack, Rutgers (63)
The second-best member of a three-headed freshman backcourt that also included Eli Carter and Jerome Seagears, Mack turned in a season that most Big East teams would take from a starter. Only thing: from a guard listed at 5-9, you'd like more than 66 assists if you're getting 56 turnovers.
35. Nick Faust, Maryland (37)
Faust's season numbers aren't particularly impressive, particularly coming from a prospect touted as a natural scorer. Nine of his 14 double-digit scoring outings came in the last 11 games of the season, though, and in those games he shot 47 percent on twos, 38 percent on threes, and 70 percent on free throws (as opposed to an ugly 39/20/57 before that). Faust's season was broken up by lots of role switching between the 1 and the 2, and he was very good once he finally got it going. (For one thing he made the ACC All-Freshman team.) Next year's Terrapin squad has a lot of pieces but nobody to depend upon for points. Faust may need to step up and fill that role.
34. Anthony Gill, South Carolina (88)
Gill represented a consistent third option for a squad without much consistency. He transferred to Virginia after head coach Darrin Horn was fired.
33. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (19)
Wiltjer was used mostly as a spot-up shooter and as a spare big for the national champions, but he performed well in a role limited by the quality of his teammates. His post game is polished and, though we didn't see it much last year, that should become much more widely-known in the coming months.
32. Trevor Lacey (40), and 31. Levi Randolph (30), Alabama
Lacey and Randolph were both perfectly serviceable starters for a Crimson Tide team that could've been better than a No. 9 seed (although my expectations for JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell were higher than everyone else's).
30. Ryan Boatright, Connecticut (74)
Boatright was a shot-jacker for the ages in AAU ball, but he was only the fourth-most regular shooter for the Huskies once he was eligible. He again demonstrated that undersized guards, if skilled and athletic enough to force their way onto top-100 lists, consistently overperform their rank. Of the 29 players above him here, maybe half were this impressive as scorers.
29. Jonathan Holmes, Texas (62)
Holmes started half of the Longhorns' games, and he was highly efficient offensively. He hit 56 percent of his twos (though, and this seems to be becoming a trend, he made under 30 percent of his 40 three-point tries) and, on nearly 100 free throws, hit 72 percent from the line. Holmes is a pretty big guy, and he posted impressive offensive rebounding numbers. If he could really start hitting the defensive boards -- and if he can stave off the foul trouble that limited his minutes in 2012 -- he could be All-Big 12 material.
28.Nick Johnson, Arizona (22)
Johnson was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after turning in a solid, if not particularly impressive, freshman season. His year looked better before he quietly ended the season with a terrible stretch of shooting. In his last six games, he hit 4-of-23 (17 percent) from three-point range and 5-of-20 (25 percent) on twos.
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27. Dorian Finney-Smith, Virginia Tech (18)
Finney-Smith was an outstanding rebounder and he made the ACC All-Freshman squad, but he had some offensive issues. DFS was never known as much of a shooter -- he was always more respected for his basketball IQ at his level of size and athleticism than anything else -- but he made 37 percent from deep. The problem was that inside the arc he was making a putrid 31 percent of his attempts. Finney-Smith has since transferred out of the program, and his destination has yet to be determined. He should be just fine, especially considering that he'll get an extra year in the weight room during his transfer redshirt, but interior scoring will remain a real concern for the future.
26. Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State (10)
Nash shared the Big 12 Freshman of the Year trophy with Quincy Miller, but his case is largely one of voters giving undue importance to volume scoring. The OSU freshman used 29 percent of the Cowboys' offense when he was on the floor, and that's always impressive. But when you do that and shoot 44 percent on twos and 24 percent on threes, you're doing more harm than good. There's a reason he ranks this high, but understand that there's also a reason he ranks this low.
25. Gary Bell, Gonzaga (68)
He rightly lost the "Gonzaga stud freshman" ink to Kevin Pangos, but Bell was an excellent rookie guard in his own right. The fifth option for a highly efficient Bulldog offense, Bell made 48 percent of his 107 three-point attempts, and 51 percent of his shots when he ventured inside the arc. The Gonzaga backcourt is in good shape.
24. Branden Dawson, Michigan State (23)
A torn ACL kept Dawson from the postseason (and, potentially, the top 15 of this list), but he had a strong season regardless. He fostered a reputation as a tenacious rebounder as a high schooler, but as a freshman he really only demonstrated prowess on the offensive glass. (Then again tenacity probably has a much larger effect on that end.) Dawson made an impressive 59 percent of his two-point attempts and was a disruptive member of a disruptive defense. I expect big things this year.
23. Dezmine Wells, Xavier (48)
Wells scored easily in a multitude of ways for the up-and-down Musketeers. He hit consistently from long range, barreled toward the basket for buckets effectively, and made it to the free throw line at a decent rate. Wells kept turnovers down, rebounded a bit, and generally played like a veteran. He was named to the A-10 All-Freshman squad.
22. Sheldon McClellan, Texas (47)
McClellan started just nine games for the Longhorns, but he finished third on the team in minutes, behind Big 12 All-Conference selection J'Covan Brown and All-Freshman pick Myck Kabongo. McClellan walked onto the floor in November and was already a great third option 2-guard. He hit an impressive 54 percent of his twos, and combined that with 31 percent three-point and 76 percent free throw shooting. And he never turned the ball over (30 giveaways for the year). McClellan should've made the Big 12 All-Freshman team.
21. TaShawn Thomas, Houston (92)
The highest-ranked player of the seven non-major-conference signees, Thomas blended 58 percent field goal shooting with fantastic rebounding on both ends. He ranked in the top 100 nationally in block rate. Thomas lost out to Tulane's Ricky Tarrant in the C-USA Freshman of the Year race (a reasonable if debatable decision), and failed to make the C-USA All-Conference team (a choice that's more difficult to explain). This year Houston welcomes top-20 recruit Danuel House and top-60 performer Chicken Knowles. This is a team worth paying attention to come November.
20. Ryan Anderson, Boston College (93)
The bright spot for a team whose top six were all playing their first minutes with the program, Anderson was an effective scorer and a fantastic rebounder. True, in the future he should spend less time firing up three-pointers. Anderson's 27 percent shooting (on 84 attempts) wasn't good, and his 67 percent free throw shooting doesn't inspire confidence for marked improvement from behind the arc. That aside, he did earn his ACC All-Freshman nod.
19. Rodney Hood, Mississippi State (31)
Here's something interesting about the players here who won't be returning to their previous schools: Nobody ranked lower than Hood on this list went pro, and Hood's the highest-ranked of anyone who transferred. You can certainly play very well and, disliking the situation you're in, transfer up. Players who are much better than Rodney Hood just go pro, instead. Hood shot 51 percent on twos and 36 percent on threes while committing just 30 turnovers. He may be the best transfer prospect on the market.
18. Myck Kabongo, Texas (11)
Kabongo was handed the reins to the Texas team from day 1. He was in command of the team, distributed well, and played fantastic perimeter defense. Few players get to the free throw line at a rate as high as Kabongo. He'll be back this year, and if he wants to fulfill his potential he'll need to cut down on his turnovers and improve his shot selection.
17. Chasson Randle, Stanford (60)
Randle led all freshmen in three-pointers made (85) and he led major-conference freshmen in three-point accuracy (44 percent). Otherwise his year was just okay, but okay is plenty if you're such a serious long-range threat.
16. Chane Behanan, Louisville (28)
Behanan headed a Louisville freshman class with four top-100 members, and ended up playing more than triple the minutes of the other three combined. He was ranked so low as a high schooler not because he wasn't ready to be productive in college, but because he was a power forward who may not stand as high as 6-5 in reality. Behanan was Big East All-Freshman and the most effective offensive player on a Final Four team.
15. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia (24)
An SEC All-Freshman selection, it's really too bad Caldwell-Pope spent his year toiling for a team that went 5-11 in-conference. His expectations for himself as a shooter may be a bit too high -- he made 30 percent of his three-point attempts, of which there were a top-five-in-the-conference 214 -- but he was an otherwise very effective scorer. It's also possible that he did more than any player on this list in terms of helping his team win the turnover battle, collecting an impressive 58 steals and committing (even more impressively) just 36 turnovers. There's a good chance the Bulldogs struggle to achieve any national relevance again in 2013, but I hope people take more notice of Caldwell-Pope's performance this time around.
14. Andre Drummond, Connecticut (2)
It turns out Drummond was not the second-best freshman in the nation. For that matter Connecticut was not the third-best team in the country -- the conventional wisdom from last year's preseason was wrong on both counts. But the level of Drummond's contributions should not be understated. He was an interior defensive force to be reckoned with. Drummond rebounded and, offensively, was one of the top rebounders in the country. If it weren't for his truly abysmal 30 percent free throw shooting, he'd be considered more of a scorer than he is currently. Drummond's ceiling is so outrageously high that it's always difficult to watch him without wishing for more. That doesn't mean he wasn't productive, however. I'm not sure I could stomach drafting him second overall in June, but I'd have serious reservations in passing over him, too. Of draft-declaring freshmen, he is ranked the lowest here.
13. Otto Porter, Georgetown (42)
Porter was definitely the biggest enigma in the 2011 top 100. He was tucked away in Sikeston, Missouri, and never touched the AAU circuit, so many scouts never got multiple in-person looks, if they even got one. And then Porter stepped onto the floor at Georgetown as a fully-formed high-major big man. He rebounded, protected the ball, played defense, and hit 61 percent of his two-point attempts. Porter did shoot just 23 percent from three-point range on 53 attempts, but that was his only clear flaw. He's back this season, and this time we're ready.
12. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (8)
So this one-and-done thing worked alright for Kentucky last year, huh? Teague's the third-highest-ranked Wildcat on this list, and here he sits at 12. Only UK and Texas placed three guys in the top 30, and Wildcat Kyle Wiltjer landed at No. 33. It took Teague a while to find his footing (he was left off the eight-member SEC All-Freshman team, in an incorrect but, at the time, shockingly debatable decision), and even by the end of the season it was hard to call him feared, but he ran a totally respectable point guard for a team that will be go down as one of the more unbeatable champions in recent memory. He'll be in the NBA in 2012-13.
11. Quincy Miller, Baylor (7)
The co-Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Miller could have contended for 2013 All-American status had he not declared for the NBA draft. His season numbers are unnervingly similar to far more-hyped teammate Perry Jones, though Miller shot better. I didn't realize going into last season that Miller was capable of shooting 82 percent from the line.
10. D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's (64)
The Red Storm are placing two players inside this top ten, which would be extraordinary if it weren't for the ever-present example of Kentucky. Harrison put together a season a veteran 2-guard would be proud to claim. He attempted over 200 threes and made 37 percent of them, and his 38 percent two-point shooting is more forgivable when you realize it helped get him 189 free throws (of which he made 80 percent). Harrison made the Big East All-Freshman team, and he earned the honor.
9. B.J. Young, Arkansas (16)
Nobody had a more impressive freshman season with less fanfare. Of top-100 freshmen, only Tony Wroten and Johnny O'Bryant were responsible for larger portions of their teams' offense while on the floor, and they were both far less efficient than Young. He is a point guard, and his assist-to-turnover rate is almost exactly one. Noted. His season as a scorer, though, was remarkable, rightfully earning him a place on the All-SEC second team. Few players are capable of making 55 percent of their twos, 41 percent of their threes, and 74 percent of their free throws, much less capable of doing so while carrying a team offensively. Sans Young, the Razorbacks could have been one of the most inept offensive teams in the big six conferences (and the inability of his teammates to score is worth remembering if finding oneself frowning at his assist numbers). With him, the Arkansas offense was notably average.
8. Tony Wroten, Washington (17)
I'll always remember the 2012 Washington Huskies as a potentially great team that never put it all together. There aren't many teams with three talents like Wroten, Terrence Ross, and Abdul Gaddy who fail to make the NCAA tournament. Wroten ended up shouldering much of the offensive load -- whether that was a good thing is a debate for another time -- and was only marginally inefficient at a 32 percent usage rate, far and away the highest on this list. His passing was electric, as expected, but he struggled with decision-making, as expected. If his shooting stroke were a little better, he'd have been truly unstoppable. Wroten was always at the line, but he hit just 58 percent of his foul shots, and he shot just 9-for-56 from three-point range. Now he's off to the NBA and, as with Drummond, there is no amount of success or failure that can shock me.
7. Moe Harkless, St. John's (39)
The Big East Freshman of the Year, Harkless played an amazing 36 minutes per game and demonstrated a variety of skills. He rebounded, blocked his share of shots, and made 51 percent of his two-pointers. Harkless developed a reputation as a shooter, but that was truer from midrange -- he ended up making only 22 percent of his threes, which was the biggest blemish on his resume. He will spend 2012-13 in the NBA.
6. Austin Rivers, Duke (3)
Like Drummond, Rivers' season has been largely viewed as a disappointment, a label which seems particularly unearned in this case. Let's review: Rivers was ACC Freshman of the Year, a member of the All-ACC first team, and provided arguably the greatest rivalry in all of sports with arguably its greatest moment. (Just look at that win probability graph!). He wasn't an All-American like some (including me) may have predicted, but those expectations were unfair to begin with. Austin Rivers had an excellent season, and I'd happily use a mid-first-round pick on him in the NBA draft in a few weeks.
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5. Trey Burke, Michigan (84)
Along with Cody Zeller, Burke was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second team All-Conference. He and Zeller are also, comfortably, the top two freshmen returning to school this fall. Burke came out of nowhere (or, at least, the "obscurity" of the non-McDonald's All-American section of the ESPNU Top 100) to be a superstar do-it-all point guard for an NCAA tournament No. 4 seed. He scored often, he scored efficiently, he passed, and he took care of the basketball. The Wolverines' round of 64 loss to Ohio shouldn't alter the fact that Burke had a fabulous season. Michigan returns their three key players from 2012 and adds a pair of recruits capable of making an immediate impact. There's a reason expectations for 2013 are high.
4. Bradley Beal, Florida (5)
Beal helped push the three-headed Gator guard monster within five points of the Final Four. He was one of the eight members of the All-SEC first team, joined by a pair of Kentucky freshmen ranked above him here. Beal was a fantastic scorer, which you know; what you might not realize is that he led the Florida team (including six-inches-taller and 50-pounds-heavier Patric Young) in defensive rebounding percentage. His name's in the NBA draft, and if more than four people are picked in front of him, it will be a surprise.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (4)
I do think Kidd-Gilchrist became overrated. Now, lower the pitchforks -- he's number three on this list. He's a relentless defender, a good rebounder, and a capable slasher. He tends to be smart with the ball (though this, particularly, became overrated as the year went on), he's terrifying in transition, and his heart is undeniable. Yet his offensive contributions were not in the same stratosphere as Cody Zeller's, even considering how much more Indiana needed Zeller to score. Using noticeably, if not dramatically, fewer of his team's possessions, MKG shot 54 percent on twos, 26 percent on threes, and 75 percent from the free throw line. Zeller shot 62 percent from the field and 76 percent from the line without ever attempting a three-pointer. Zeller also turned the ball over less. I have more confidence that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be an effective NBA player than anyone on this list outside of the untouchable Davis. But I also have a really hard time understanding the argument that he was better than Zeller in 2012.
2. Cody Zeller, Indiana (14)
Zeller's freshman season was amazingly similar, statistically, to his brother Tyler's All-American senior year at North Carolina. Tyler made quite the leap between freshman and sophomore seasons; if Cody does that, it will be impossible to keep him off the All-America list twice in a row. Indiana has been ranked a preseason No. 1 by more than one outlet, and there's certainly plenty to like. However, a good portion of that preseason hype has been fueled by the Hoosiers' deep but starless incoming class, and coming up with this list has taught me that, save sub-six-footer Yogi Ferrell, it's presumptuous to expect serious contributions from non-elite freshmen. (He said commenting on a player that was ranked No. 14 a year ago.)
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (1)
I don't know how to tell you this without scaring you, but Davis, a force of nature on defense, also posted the second-best overall offensive season of any freshman last season (behind Zeller). I've probably made this clear by how often I've referenced Davis as an unimpeachable gold standard for hundreds and hundreds of words, but the performance gap between Davis and Zeller was enormous. Davis was the deserving National Player of the Year. I'm not very old, but I can't remember watching any college player better than Davis defensively except for Greg Oden and maybe Shane Battier. If anyone else is drafted first overall, there will be a Twitter riot. Anthony Davis has raised the collective expectations for every No. 1-ranked player to come.
It's interesting to think about this list like so: A player ranked, say, No. 46 in high school, should perform at about the level of No. 46 on this list. (It actually works pretty well.) I think you'd find that, except for the fact that few people expect Nerlens Noel to be Anthony Davis, there are unreasonably high expectations for every single member of the Class of 2012 top 100. Fine, only please don't do that with No. 1. That just wouldn't be fair.
Drew Cannon is a regular contributor to Basketball Prospectus. Click here to see Drew's other articles. Follow him on Twitter at @DrewCannon1.
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Drew Cannon is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
You can contact Drew by clicking here or click here to see Drew's other articles.