Tipoff: Freshman of the Year picks from 10 conferences

Tipoff: Freshman of the Year picks from 10 conferences

The new school year has begun (at least at Illinois), and the start of the 2018-19 season won't be far behind. Our college basketball writer celebrates all that's new by ranking 10 freshmen of the year from 10 conferences:

1. Nassir Little, North Carolina

Could this year's ACC Freshman of the Year come from Duke? Sure, the Blue Devils have four top-15 freshmen. But maybe they cancel each other out. That puts Little, a dynamic wing ranked No. 3 in the class, at the top of the list.

2. Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan

Big Ten Freshman of the Year might be Romeo Langford's to lose, but it's not a sure thing. In a world of "What have you done for me lately?" Brazdeikis' play in Spain this month has the 6-foot-8 Lithuanian looking like a legit top freshman.

3. Jahvon Quinerly, Villanova

Villanova might be Eric Paschall's team this year, but a third national title in four seasons will come easier with some freshmen production. Quinerly, a five-star guard, should step in at point guard immediately and vie for Big East honors.

4. Kevin Porter Jr., USC

The race for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year will be one to follow with five-star centers Bol Bol (Oregon) and Moses Brown (UCLA) certainly in the mix. Porter, though, should provide plenty of scoring on the wing for the Trojans.

5. Quentin Grimes, Kansas

The Jayhawks will have a new-look backcourt this season, so look for Grimes to play a key role as a combo guard — equally adept at facilitating and scoring (particularly the latter) — and a real contender for Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

6. Andrew Nembhard, Florida

Chris Chiozza's graduation creates a void at point guard for the Gators. A big one. Nembhard is considered one of the best passers in the 2018 class, and if he lives up to that billing — and scores some — SEC Freshman of the Year is a possibility.

7. Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky

Bassey is an outlier in Conference USA. The five-star center is already drawing "young Dwight Howard" comparisons but with a jumper. Challenging for C-USA Freshman of the Year, though, could be UTEP's Jordan Lathon, a former Northwestern signee.

8. Jordan Brown, Nevada

Yes, the Wolf Pack are loaded, and Brown will be sharing a frontcourt with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline. There's also not a more talented freshman in the Mountain West, so pencil the five-star big man in as freshman of the year.

9. Tyrese Martin, Rhode Island

Somebody will have to pick up the slack on the wing for the Rams after they were hit hard by graduation. Look to Martin, who had some high-major offers, and brings length and scoring as a legit contender for A-10 Freshman of the Year.

10. Javon Freeman-Liberty, Valparaiso

Mix production (19.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 as a senior at Whitney Young) plus athleticism (nephew of Flyin' Illini Marcus Liberty) and the Crusaders have a solid two-guard that will contend for Missouri Valley Freshman of the Year.

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