Kentucky's Julius Randle tops list after second-half performance
If Tuesday’s Champions Classic proved anything, it’s that the 2013-14 season is going to be a year for freshmen.
Not since the Kevin Durant/Greg Oden season in 2006-07 have so many great freshmen on top teams has college basketball seen the same fervor around rookies.
Now that we’ve seen most of the top freshmen all in one night thanks to Duke, Kansas and Kentucky in action in the unofficial tipoff to the college basketball season Tuesday night. Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins is the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, and he was the only top freshman to finish the doubleheader with a win.
But he may not have been the most impressive for a day.
Starting today, Athlon Sports is going to keep an eye on the year of the freshmen with a weekly power ranking of the top rookies around the country. Keep in mind, these power rankings are not meant as a reflection of how these guys are going to fall in the NBA Draft, nor is it meant to be an All-America team of sorts.
The weekly freshman power rankings is more of a ranking of who has the momentum and buzz in recent games. Here goes the first attempt:
Did we miss anyone? Think we got this wrong? Tweet us at @AthlonSports.
1. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle wrapped up his first week in college by averaging 24 points and 14.3 rebounds in three games. His key moment, though, came during Kentucky’s comeback against Michigan State. From the time Kentucky trailed by 13 in the second half to tie the game at the 4:41 mark, Randle had 13 points and five rebounds during a 20-7 run. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne missed time with foul trouble, but Randle was unstoppable for stretches agains the Spartans.
2. Jabari Parker, Duke
If there was a single-play highlight from the Champions Classic, it was probably Parker’s one-handed alley-oop. Parker was near-flawless as Duke built the early lead. The rookie finished with a stat line that reflected his reputation of a do-everything player: 27 points, 9 of 18 from the field, 4 of 7 from 3-point range and nine rebounds
3. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Wiggins had almost a quiet 22 points and eight rebounds against Duke, if such a thing is possible in one of two premier games Tuesday night. Wiggins played 25 minutes due to first-half foul trouble, but he hit mid-range jumpers and added a key dunk late in the game. After the game, Kansas coach Bill Self told reporters Wiggins begged to guard Parker for the night, but the coach was concerned about foul trouble.
4. Wayne Selden, Kansas
Overlooked because of the glut of freshmen Tuesday night, Selden won’t be overlooked for much longer. The Jayhawks shooting guard finished 5 of 10 from the floor with four assists and six rebounds in a 15-point effort against Duke.
5. James Young, Kentucky
Through three games, Kentucky has struggled shooting from outside. Young isn’t immune. He was 3 of 11 from 3-point range against Michigan State, but he was Kentucky’s second-leading scorer in the Champions Classic. He scored 19 points against the Spartans thanks to go 4 of 5 from inside the arc. Young is averaging 11.7 points in three games this season.
6. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The Wildcats forward picked up double-doubles in two games this season with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Cal Poly and 14 points and 10 board against Long Beach State. His first major test will be Thursday against San Diego State.
7. Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Like the rest of the Hoosiers, Vonleh has had his growing pains the first week of the season, specifically a 73-72 close call with LIU Brooklyn on Tuesday. Vonleh has had double-doubles in both games this year, but he’s shooting 9 of 22 from the floor.
8. Ben Elomogu, Virginia Tech
Wins will be tough to come by in Blacksburg without Erick Green this season, but at least Elomogu gave the Hokies an early spark by helping Virginia Tech come back from a 17-point deficit to beat West Virginia. Elomogu scored 22 points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer at half time to cut the deficit to five. Virginia Tech defeated the Mountaineers 87-82.
9. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
The Orange aren’t counting on Syracuse to fill up the scoresheet. That’s C.J. Fair’s job. Jim Boeheim is counting on him to get Syracuse into good scoring opportunities, though. Syracuse will probably take a 12-to-2 assist-to-turnover ratio in the early going even if it’s against Cornell and Fordham. Ennis added 15 points and 8 of 10 free throws against the Rams.
10. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Both Harrisons showed room for improvement after the loss to Michigan State, but Andrew Harrison has averaged 10.7 points in three games. He’s also shooting 81.3 percent from the free throw line, which could turn out to be an important number for the Wildcats.