New faces who won't take long to make a name for themselves
This will closely resemble the Class of 2017 recruiting rankings in college basketball, but it’s not a list of the 15 top freshmen in the nation. It’s our prediction of the 15 freshmen who will have the biggest impact on the court this season.
1. Marvin Bagley, Duke
Bagley's decision to reclassify to the Class of 2017 increased Duke's national title hopes. His impact will be enormous. He is a 6'10" forward who can score on the low block, run the floor and step out to hit the occasional 3-pointer.
2. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
Missouri will be a factor in the SEC thanks to the arrival of Porter, who switched his collegiate choice from Washington to Missouri after the coaching carousel slowed down in the spring. He is a highly skilled 6'10" forward who can score from anywhere on the court.
3. Collin Sexton, Alabama
Sexton’s stock continued to soar throughout his senior season to the point where he’s a virtual lock to be one-and-done in Tuscaloosa. The point guard from Georgia won both the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest and the Marine Men’s 3-point Championship.
4. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
Ayton, a skilled 7-footer with elite athleticism, could be the player who sends Sean Miller to the Final Four for the first time. Ayton will team with All-America guard Allonzo Trier to give the Wildcats a devastating inside-out duo.
5. Mohamed Bamba, Texas
Shaka Smart edged out Kentucky and Duke for Bamba, a 7-foot rim protector who will replace Jarrett Allen at center for the Longhorns. His offensive game is a still a bit raw, but Bamba can be effective rolling to the basket and cleaning up the offensive glass.
6. Trevon Duval, Duke
Duval gives the Blue Devils the true point guard they lacked last season. He is an outstanding athlete who can get to the basket with ease and create open shots for his teammates in the halfcourt.
7. Wendell Carter, Duke
Carter is a good but not great athlete who will excel in the collegiate game on offense thanks to his outstanding footwork and nice shooting touch and on defense due to physicality and length. He is a an ideal power forward.
8. Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky
Diallo has a leg up on the rest of the top-rated freshmen after spending the spring semester practicing with the Wildcats. He is an outstanding athlete who will make some unbelievable plays in transition. He is not, however, a consistent 3-point shooter.
9. Kevin Knox, Kentucky
Knox is one of several Kentucky freshmen who will need to be very good very soon for the Wildcats to get off to a good start this season. He is a combo forward whose skill set might be better suited to play in the paint, though he likely will be asked to play on the wing for the Wildcats.
10. Trae Young, Oklahoma
A Norman, Okla., native, Young opted to stay home and play for Lon Kruger and the Sooners. He will have the ball in his hands from Day 1 for an Oklahoma team hoping to bounce back from a school-record 20 losses last season.
11. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker, a shooting guard from Canada, isn’t entering the ACC with much notoriety, but he has a chance to make a huge impact for the Hokies. He can play either guard spot (though he’s a more natural fit at the 2) and excels on the defensive end thanks to his long arms.
12. Lonnie Walker, Miami
Walker tore a meniscus in his right knee in a July practice but should be ready to go when the season opens in November. He is a versatile scorer who can shoot from long range and attack the basket.
13. Troy Brown, Oregon
The Ducks lost four starters from their Final Four team, but Brown and a pair of high-impact grad transfers (Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh) will keep Oregon relevant in the Pac-12. The 6'7" Las Vegas native is a natural 2-guard who could also play some point for Dana Altman’s club.
14. Gary Trent, Duke
Trent will team with fellow freshman Trevon Duval to form a devastating backcourt in Durham. Trent, a natural shooting guard, can score from the perimeter and create his own shot off the dribble.
15. Jaren Jackson, Michigan State
A stretch big at 6-11 who can knock down shots with a bit of a funky release. Also a good athlete who can affect the game defensively. If he can defend on the perimeter in Year 1, he could be the perfect athletic partner for Nick Ward inside.