- John Gasaway, ESPN Insider
With the 2012-13 season now in the books, it's time to present my final list of the top 25 freshmen in Division I. Feel free to have a look at versions 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, to see how the rankings evolved throughout the season.
As a reminder, these rankings are based on performance as a college player and nothing else. I realize Nerlens Noel will be drafted before many, and quite likely all, of the players above him on this list, and that's fine. The NBA is probably right, and so am I. This is not a mock draft, it's a ranking of college performance.
Naturally there's a good deal of uncertainty attached to April speculations on how much a very talented freshman might help his program in the future. With many of these players, we don't yet know whether they'll be around next season. So as you go through these rankings, keep in mind that my colleague Chad Ford has the complete list of who's in and who's out in terms of declaring for the draft.
Here are the top 25 freshmen of 2012-13:
1. Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks
McLemore was denied the chance to do amazing and memorable tournament feats, of course, by Trey Burke's amazing and memorable tournament feat. But the KU freshman's body of work this season -- up to and including his 20-point game against Michigan -- more than justifies his selection as the top freshman in the country. He was one of the most effective featured scorers in Division I, and the fact that he did so as a freshman for a national championship contender is truly exceptional. McLemore's shooting percentages from both sides of the arc and from the line would have been remarkable coming from a supporting player, much less from Bill Self's leading scorer. It was as if McLemore's shots were being pulled to the bottom of the net by a tractor beam all season. The NBA is about to make him a top-three pick, and rightly so.
John Gasaway provides his final ranking of the top 25 freshmen in the nation, based purely on performance at the college level.