It's now a reality that freshmen impact college basketball's hierarchy. Championship-caliber teams lose players early to the NBA each year, and for that program to remain elite, its newcomers must step in and immediately produce at a high level. Its success is a direct relation to the seamless transition of the freshman class.
Most fans equate one-and-done players with John Calipari and Kentucky, but in reality, this is more of a college basketball issue than one particular program. Elite programs all recruit elite players, and the Wildcats are simply getting more than the rest. But next season, Kentucky won't be relying on its first-year players as much as it has of late. Meanwhile, the fate of some other big programs next season might rest on the shoulders of their freshman arrivals.
With a multitude of talented first-year players entering college basketball this fall, the landscape will once again be shaped by their production. Which potential contenders will rely more than most on freshmen? Here are five that fit that mold.
Duke's leading scorer and rebounder last season was freshman Jabari Parker, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 boards per game. That production will be difficult to replace, but the Blue Devils have enough incoming talent to make it happen.