College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

Cade Cunningham

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel

Montverde Academy guard Cade Cunningham is introduced before a game on Dec. 6, 2019. The No. 1 overall recruit in the 2020 class and the early favorite to be the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA Draft, Cunningham is set to play his freshman season at Oklahoma State.

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The last two weeks our college basketball writer highlighted some of the top returning players in the county — big names and under-the-radar stars. This week? His take on 10 top incoming freshmen:

1. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State

There’s just something special about a 6-foot-6, 215-pound point guard that can dominate with the ball in his hands. The only bummer is Oklahoma State isn’t eligible for the NCAA tournament this season.

2. Evan Mobley, USC

Freshmen guards have the potential for a bigger breakout because the ball is more likely to be in their hands. Mobley, though, isn’t your average 7-footer as a fluid athlete with ball handling skills to boot.

3. Sharife Cooper, Auburn

Auburn is basically starting over after losing all five starters from last season. Cooper would have likely filled a key role anyway, with the 6-foot point guard coming off a monster senior season (30.6 ppg, 7.8 apg).

4. BJ Boston, Kentucky

While Boston is going to have to share the ball with fellow freshman Devin Askew, that’s OK. The 6-6 wing is a legitimate scorer and put up 21 points per game last year playing a loaded schedule at Sierra Canyon (Calif.).

5. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

Gonzaga hasn’t really had a player like Suggs, a five-star recruit. He immediately jumps to the top of the Bulldogs’ point guard depth chart.

6. Jalen Johnson, Duke

Johnson will have plenty of competition for “best freshman” at Duke. While Mike Krzyzewski added a pair of five-star guards in Jeremy Roach and Whitney Young product DJ Steward, the Blue Devils’ coach hasn’t shied away from giving big wings like Johnson playmaking duties.

7. Ziaire Williams, Stanford

The Cardinal have landed some solid prospects in its history, but Williams, an effective wing scorer, jumped to the top of the list when he committed.

8. Scottie Barnes,

Florida State

Just look at the success other players like Barnes have had under Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. All Hamilton does is recruit high-level athletes with length and then send them on to the NBA.

9. Caleb Love,

North Carolina

Cole Anthony was about all the Tar Heels had going last season, so his departure for the NBA leaves a substantial hole to fill. Love is a day one type of point guard — equal parts scorer and facilitator.

10. Jaden Springer,


A less than notable backcourt opens the door for Springer — one of two incoming five-star guards alongside Keon Johnson — to make an immediate impact.

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).