College basketball’s freshmen class of 2016 was graced with the much-hyped Australian Ben Simmons, a polarizing blend of passing and rebounding whom Philadelphia selected first overall in the NBA Draft. There was also Duke’s Brandon Ingram ― unfairly compared to Kevin Durant ― and the Lakers’ choice with the second pick. Naturally, Kentucky was actively involved in this process, too. In fact, there were five freshmen drafted in the lottery and 10 in the first round last year.
The 2017 freshmen class is once again brimming with potential, perhaps even more than last year. Duke, for example, has a wealth of talent: Power forward Harry Giles, while small forward Jayson Tatum and combo guard Frank Jackson have also flashed tremendous ability, albeit not in consistent doses.
John Calipari’s quartet of ESPN Top 100 recruits in Lexington isn’t too shabby either. Malik Monk stole all the headlines when he dropped a school-record 47 points ― including the eventual game-winning triple ― against highly touted North Carolina in Las Vegas. But his backcourt mate, De’Aaron Fox, is a lightning quick point guard with splendid creative abilities and exceptional on-ball defensive characteristics.
Maybe the best freshman of all, however, is Washington’s Markelle Fultz, an enticing playmaker with few flaws. The 6-foot-4 guard hailing from the basketball-rich Washington, D.C., area averages over 23 points per game, which ranks sixth in the country. And he could very well be the No. 1 pick in June, should he turn pro.
With that in mind, here are my top 25 freshmen ― not ranked in order ― for this college hoops season.
All stats are through Feb. 8.