NCAA Basketball Picks: Five Freshmen to Watch in 2015-16

Jake Walker

Monday, October 19, 2015 5:21 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 19, 2015 5:21 PM UTC

Here’s a look at some of the freshmen that are expected to have the biggest impact on the NCAA Basketball odds of their respective teams this season.

Ben Simmons (LSU)
Ben Simmons is considered the best LSU recruit since Shaquille O’Neal and the most college-ready player in his class. Many even go as far as saying that he could be a Top 3 pick in next year's NBA Draft. The Tigers expect Simmons to contribute right away after losing their top two scorers Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey to the NBA.

Simmons has the size of a big man and the vision of a point guard, so he will likely be LSU’s primary ball handler this season. He’ll certainly put up big numbers but can he guide LSU (+5000 to win the National Championship) deep into the NCAA Tournament?


Skal Labissiere (Kentucky)
Skal Labissiere has been compared to Karl-Anthony Towns. He is a strong rim-protector with a good jump shot and he will be a dominant force on a Kentucky team that eyes their fifth Final Four appearance in six seasons.

Labissiere isn’t as big as Towns but the fact that he can shoot the ball well and block makes him the best possible candidate to replace Towns and gives him the tools he needs to be considered an NBA-ready talent. Labissiere will thrive with Kentucky and be a Day 1 starter on their frontcourt next to either Alex Poythress or Marcus Lee. The Wildcats are at the top of the NCAA Basketball odds board at most sportsbooks at +700 to win the National Championship.


Brandon Ingram (Duke)
Brandon Ingram is the premier recruit on another young but supremely talented Duke roster. Ingram is a proven winner; four state championships and the North Carolina Mr. Basketball award prove that. He can handle the ball like a point guard and he can hit three-point shots but he’ll likely play at power forward most of the time. 

If Ingram can handle the ball well and shoot at a high percentage from three then he can be extremely valuable for a Duke team that is at +800 to repeat as National Champions. Ingram has the talent to become Duke’s best scorer but it helps that he won’t have the pressure to be that type of player right away. You just can’t overlook Coach K’s team while placing your NCAA Basketball picks next season.


Jaylen Brown (California)
Jaylen Brown’s decision to go to California gives the Golden Bears (+2000 to win the National Championship) an amazing opportunity to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament while establishing them as one of the most fun to watch teams in the nation. Brown, along with fellow five-star big man Ivan Rabb gives California an intriguing mix of talented recruits and veterans.  

Having Brown, Rabb, Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Matthews and Jabari Bird means that the Golden Bears are loaded with athleticism and shooting. Brown might not be as touted as Andrew Wiggins was but their game is similar, both are athletic players with a great frame and the desire to improve on the defensive end of the floor. 


Malik Newman (Mississippi State)
Malik Newman is an explosive scorer who’s already a local legend after winning four state titles in high school. He is the type of talent who normally ends up at North Carolina, Duke or Kentucky, which makes him the biggest basketball recruit in Mississippi State since Renardo Sidney.

Mississippi State finished 13-19 last season and Newman gives the Bulldogs a great chance to get to their first NCAA Tournament since 2009, as he takes the reins of an offense that finished 255th in efficiency last season. He’ll benefit from the play of senior guard Craig Sword while showcasing his excellent outside shot for a Mississippi State team that is at +50000 to win the National Championship at Bovada.

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