Arizona's Aaron Gordon takes top spot among Big Four
The freshman power rankings are going to change from week to week. That seemed inevitable before the season started, and it’s been even more clear through a little more than a month.
Andrew Wiggins had his time in the spotlight. Jabari Parker had his. So did Julius Randle. Noah Vonleh turned the big four freshmen into a big five for a bit, and he may again.
This week, Arizona's Aaron Gordon takes the top spot. He’d been given second billing to start the season, despite standout performances against San Diego State and others. The reason was the early showcase for Duke, Kansas and Kentucky in the first days of the season.
But the Thanksgiving week gave Gordon a chance to face Duke and Parker. In proving Arizona’s resume as a top-five teams, Gordon takes the top spot this week.
The only question is if he can stay.
College Basketball Freshman Power Rankings: Dec. 6
1. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Gordon will have an advantage Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh and to a lesser extent Jabari Parker won’t have this season: Playing with an ample supply of veterans. That helped Gordon in the last week or so, especially in the NIT Season Tipoff. In a 72-66 win over Duke, Gordon had 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a balanced effort from the Wildcats. He’s still averaging nearly a double-double at 13 points and 9.1 rebounds.
2. Jabari Parker, Duke
Parker is still averaging 22.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, including 19 points in a loss to Arizona and 15 in a win over Duke last week. His torrid pace efficiency-wise has slowed, as was bound to happen. Parker was 11 of 16 from 3-point range in the first three games (including 4 of 7 against Kansas). He’s 3 of 14 since. Duke is still running good deal of its offense through Parker as he shot 14 of 38 from the field against the Wildcats and Wolverines. Parker is second among freshmen and 47th overall in kenpom’s efficiency rating.
3. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle’s pace has slowed a bit since the first week of his career, but he’s still had a double-double in all but one game this season. Randle is averaging 18.1 points and 12.5 rebounds and is the the top freshman and 39th nationally in kenpom’s offensive efficiency rating.
4. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Wiggins struggled with illness in the Battle 4 Atlantis, contributing to Kansas’ loss to Villanova and close call with UTEP. Wiggins’ (short) career-low came with six points and seven rebounds against the Miners. With Florida and Colorado coming up, Wiggins will have plenty of opportunities to return to form on the mainland.
5. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Syracuse is looking the part of a national championship contender in the early going thanks in part to the play of its new backcourt. Stepping in for point guard Michael Carter-Williams, Ennis was one of the key cogs in a statement week for Syracuse. The Orange won the Maui Invitational (defeating Minnesota, Cal and Baylor) and defeated Indiana. Ennis averaged 17 points and 6.5 assists in four consecutive games against high-major competition.
6. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
Put Harrison onto the free throw line at your own risk. The line doomed Kentucky against Michigan State, but Harrison went 9 of 11 against Eastern Michigan and 10 of 10 against Texas Arlington. The shot will come along, but he hit 7 of 9 against Providence while filling in at point guard for his brother, Andrew, who was on the bench with foul trouble.
7. Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Vonleh’s early results were slowed in the last two weeks as the Hoosiers’ competition improved. Vonleh played only 10 minutes with four fouls against Connecticut in the 59-58 loss in the Legends Classic. Vonleh acquitted himself with 17 points and six rebounds at Syracuse in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
8. Austin Nichols, Memphis
The Tigers are back to where they’d hope to be after winning the Old Spice Classic. Nichols averaged 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds against Siena, LSU and Oklahoma State.
9. Zach LaVine, UCLA
The Bruins have yet to play a top team this season, but LaVine has been a stud sixth man, averaging 14.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists coming off the bench. His big moment could come this week against Missouri on the road.
10. Joel Embiid, Kansas
Embiid fouled out in the loss to Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but he finished 12 of 19 from the field with 17 rebounds in the tournament. He added seven blocks in a consolation game against UTEP.