A very talented and deep freshman class has already affected NCAA basketball futures, and the kids are ready to start making a name for themselves this season.
It was a group that had coaches salivating 4-5 years ago and kept college recruiters busy the entire time trying to get a kid's signature on a National Letter of Intent.
The Class of 2016 college basketball recruiting class has been hailed as one of the strongest and deepest group of young ballers in years, possibly ever. Depending on which set of rankings one chooses to follow, as many as 30 five-star recruits led the way, with several pro basketball scouts suggesting 60, 70 or more will one day be plying their trade in the NBA.
All of those kids are inked now, have gone through early practices and are ready to start proving the hype. The only questions now are how many will still be on college campuses a year from now and which ones will have the greatest impact on NCAA basketball odds?
Coach K & Coach Cal Corner The Market
If these were the good ol' days when freshmen were ineligible to compete in varsity athletics, there would be a definite spike in attendance at freshman games. Indeed, a matchup between the frosh at Duke and Kentucky could fill an entire arena.
Much to the chagrin of their many haters, Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils won the recruiting battle in the end when they managed to sign four of the consensus top 20 players on the 2016 list. That includes No. 1 recruit Harry Giles, though he does come with an injury caveat. Giles missed his senior year of high school with a knee injury, and just recently had some minor surgery on the same knee that will keep him out most, if not all of November.
Even without top-rated Giles, Duke still has plenty of freshmen talent to dazzle teams with. Point guard Frank Jackson could be the most important of all, and he'll have buddies Jayson Tatum (a matchup nightmare) and Marques Bolden (a huge presence under the basket) to grow with. With returning players like Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson, and Matt Jones, it's no wonder the Blue Devils top NCAA basketball futures heading into the season.
John Calipari remains the king of recruiting one-&-done's, and he landed another solid group for Kentucky with four top 20 recruits. Guard De'Aaron Fox and forward Edrice 'Bam' Adebayo are the two newcomers most likely to make Lexington their home for but a year. Malik Monk may wind up leading the team in scoring, and we expect minutes to increase for forward Wenyen Gabriel as the season progresses. Those four teamed with returnees Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis are why Bookmaker has the Wildcats 7/1 to win it all.
The List Goes On And On And On...
Coming off a terrible 2015-16 campaign, Steve Alford, and UCLA got a shot in the arm by landing three solid freshmen. Two of them cracked top 20 lists, so expect point guard Lonzo Ball and forward TJ Leaf to be regulars in Alford's rotation from the get-go. Less heralded yet definitely a big man to watch is 6-10 center Ike Anigbogu.
That's just 11 names on three teams, and there isn't enough time to really even scratch the remaining surface. Josh Jackson at Kansas will give Big 12 teams trouble all season as a force anywhere on the court. The Washington Huskies are on the NCAA Tournament bubble already and no threat to cut down the nets next April In Phoenix, but they do have Markelle Fultz to showcase in what is most certainly going to be his one and only NCAA season.
Shaka Smart and Texas might sneak up on Kansas in the Big 12 after landing Jarrett Allen and Andrew Jones, both expected to start right off the bat. Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell are two reasons why Miami is in the preseason top 25 and a lurking behind Duke, UNC, Louisville and Virginia in the ACC. And there are so much more to be mentioned in upcoming free college basketball picks at SBR.