There are plenty of freshmen scoring in double-digits and playing integral roles for their teams. Instead of tracking down those guys, we culled through the NCAA lists of best scorers, rebounders, shot blockers, steals, assists and 3-point shooters. What’d we learn?
Despite all the attention the incoming players garner, ranking nationally in a statistical category isn’t easy. Here are the highlights of the freshman class.
*Numbers are national rankings from the NCAA website
Anthony Bennett, UNLV: He’s the highest-scoring freshman in the nation at 18.7 points per game and ranks No. 56 overall. He’s just outside the top 50 in blocked shots.
Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: Last year’s No. 1 overall prospect ranks 14th nationally in blocks, 37th in rebounding and 11th in steals. We knew his offense trailed his defense coming in. These are solid numbers out of the gate but it’s the shadow of Anthony Davis that skews expectations.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: “Smartacus” is the best stat-stuffing freshman guard. He sits at No. 32 in assists, 60 in steals and leads the Cowboys in rebounding while averaging 14 points a night.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan: All he’s doing is making 62.1 percent of his 3-point attempts, which ranks second overall in that category. He’s knocked down 18-for-29 behind the line and he’s in the perfect spot to display his talents. In case you might still want to question his stroke, Stauskas is No. 5 in the country from the free throw line at 95 percent.
Chris Obekpa, St. John’s: We told you he was a big-time shot blocker coming out of high school. Is No. 4 in the nation good enough for you to believe us now? Obekpa swats 4.38 shots a game, meaning what he did in high school is also working at the collegiate level.
Josh Gray, Texas Tech: There isn’t a better freshman thief in the country as Gray averages 3.4 steals a game good for fifth overall.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State: The redshirt freshman ranks No. 56 in steals and No. 72 in scoring. The word blazing fast also comes to mind when you think about Carson’s game.
Javan Felix, Texas: The Longhorns freshman is more half court than full speed but it’s been good enough to be a top 20 assist man. No BCS-level freshman point guard in the country ranks higher.
Semaj Christon, Xavier: For a guy still learning to run the point, Christon’s off to a good start and ranks No. 23 in the country in assists.
Jordan Adams, UCLA: There aren’t many freshmen in the Top 100 in scoring. Adams is at No. 81. He’s 1.8 points better than Shabazz Muhammad’s 17.8. Adams is also shooting 90 percent from the charity stripe.
Cameron Ridley, Texas: The gentle giant is beginning to come alive and is currently No. 20 in blocked shots. Give him an offseason to develop and he should make a jump with his game.
Jordan Hare, Rhode Island: Remember this guy? He was hard to find on the AAU circuit and then didn't play as a freshman last year. Now, he’s in the Top 25 nationally in blocked shots.
Dominic Artis, Oregon: The freshman is the pilfers king in the Pac-12 and is 34th in steals in the country.
In case you were wondering:
The best freshman point guard in college basketball is Smart. Marcus Paige (UNC) and Yogi Ferrell (Indiana) were the highest-ranked point guards coming out of high school; Smart was listed as a shooting guard. Ferrell is No. 81 nationally in assists and Paige has yet to crack the top 100.