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,
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,
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 email@example.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).