An elite freshman class for the 2011 12 ncaa basketball season
An Elite Freshman Class for the 2011-12 NCAA Basketball SeasonSince there seems to be no end in sight with the NBA lockout, college basketballoffers the safest bet for basketball fans to get their hoops fix this season. A bevy oftalented freshman are flooding the collegiate ranks this season and many will playjust a single year before trading in their college textbooks for a multimillion dollarcontract.These 15 freshmen will provide the most must-see-TV among the crop of first-yearplayers:1. Anthony DavisKentucky coach John Calipari offers the latest evidence of his Midas touch on therecruiting trail with the signing of this impressive 6-foot-10 power forward. Davisis a versatile player who is a game changer on both ends of the floor. On offense,he is fast off the dribble and can blow past virutally any defender to get to thebasket. On defense, he has the speed and timing to guard both forwards and guards.Davis also uses his incredible wingspan to own the boards and block shots at will.2. Austin RiversWith his background as the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, there are fewplayers equipped with a better understanding of the game. Make no mistake.Rivers also has plenty of talent to draw on. He can score in bunches and possessesan incredible shooting range. Duke locked him up and the Blue Devils will counton the 6-foot-4 shooting guard to create plenty of offense for the team during theupcoming season.3. Michael GilchristAnother big signing for Kentucky. Gilchrist is a small forward who exudesathleticism. He can flat out dominate in so many areas. It is not a surprise to seeGilchrist lead his team in scoring, rebounding or assists. Gilchrist has the ability tomake plays virtually anywhere on the court. His specialty is defense. Gilchrist is inhis element when guarding an opponent. He can lock down any player he faces andno one can pull down more rebounds when Gilchrist is around the basket.4. Bradley Beal
Beal will give the Florida Gators a big boost in their backcourt with what he bringsto the table. He is a 6-foot-4 guard who fits the mold of a prototypical outsideshooter like Ray Allen. Beal knows how to move without the ball. He can drive tothe basket and create his own shot. When he has an open look from outside, he ismoney nearly every time.5. Quincy MillerMiller has the size and talent to help the Baylor Bears potentially duplicate theirrun to the Elite Eight from two seasons ago. The 6-foot-9 forward knows how tohandle the ball like a point guard. He can create shots for his teammates off thedribble and his shooting range is good for a big man. Miller is also an intelligentbasketball player who is well-grounded in the fundamentals. Baylor will be animmediate contender for a Big 12 title if he lives up to his promise.6. James McAdooScoring in bunches is in the genes for McAdoo. His uncle, Bob McAdoo, was aformer NBA rookie of the year who led the league in scoring three straight seasonsfrom 1974 to 1976. He will follow in his uncle’s footsteps by playing for the NorthCarolina Tar Heels. Like his uncle, McAdoo can simply dazzle fans on thebasketball court. He knows how to get to the rim and finish off a shot. Moreimportant for North Carolina will be his defensive prowess. McAdoo is not afraidto use his 6-foot-8 frame to get out there and block or alter shots.7. Adonis ThomasMany talented freshmen have suited up for the Memphis Tigers over the pastdecade. Thomas is the latest to sign up with the mid-major power. The 6-foot-6forward creates all sorts of matchup problems. His speed is better than the averagepower forward and his strength and athleticism leave other small forwards in thedust. Thomas is the type of talent who will make Memphis resemble the teamsCalipari put together in his final years with the program.8. Marquis TeagueNBA-ready freshman seem to grow on trees for the Kentucky Wildcats. Teague, a6-foot-2 point guard, is the perfect distributor to get the ball to Anthony Davis andMichael Gilchrist. His ball-handling skills and quickness are second to none.Teague can get to the basket with ease and create chances for himself at the free
throw line. When he does, look out. His free throw percentage is high enough thathe is almost automatic at the line. Teague is no slouch on defense either. Opposingguards have a tough time finding a rhythm around him.9. LeBryan NashBased on his versatility alone, Nash is an excellent signing for the Oklahoma StateCowboys. The 6-foot-7 forward has a variety of weapons in his offensive arsenal.He can score with his back to the basket. Nash can step back and drain a three-point shot with ease. He can get out and transition and finish off with a monsterdunk. Nash possesses a brand of athleticism and strength that will help OklahomaState get back to where it is an NCAA Tournament team once again.10. Myck KabongoKabongo adds to the flood of freshman talent landing on the shores of the Big 12.The 6-foot-2 point guard should help the Texas Longhorns continue their recenttradition of strong backcourt play. Kabongo is a natural leader. He can read thefloor and make the right decisions at the right times. It is like having a secondcoach out there on the floor. Kabonogo is valued for his quickness which makeshim tough to guard on offense and tough to get around on defense. When he gets alook at the basket, Kabongo knows how to make it count. His three-pointer isexceptional and he can penetrate a defense and get to the rim with the best of them.11. Khem BirchBirch is the perfect match for the rugged style of play that the Pittsburgh Panthersembrace like many other Big East teams. There is no stopping the 6-foot-9 centerfrom doing his thing on defense. Birch will cover tons of ground in a short amountof time. His willingness to be everywhere makes it easy for Birch to get in low andblock one shot after another. His athleticism lets him rule the boards and snagplenty of rebounds against much larger centers. Birch is also a true low-post scorer.He can convert passes down low into thundering dunks or snag a rebound for anice putback basket.12. B.J. YoungYoung will give the Arkansas Razorbacks plenty of options in the backcourt thisseason. The 6-foot-3 guard can either run the offense from the point or playshooting guard. He has the skill set to excel in both roles. Young can light it up
from the perimeter or slash to the rim with equal ease. He is in his elements atbeating opponents off the dribble to create his own shot or simply draining openjump shots off a pass from a teammate. His ball-handling skills are solid and hemakes good decisions in finding teammates and making the right pass. Youngbrings an added dimension as a strong defensive player. He uses his quickness tostick to opposing players like crazy glue.13. Cody ZellerSigning Zeller might just be the medicine the Indiana Hoosiers need to turn theirbasketball program around. The 6-foot-11 forward has shown a penchant fordominance in virtually every area of the game. Zeller can use his size to hisadvantage by scoring over smaller forwards and altering their shots on the otherend of the floor. He is good at cleaning up the glass and can run the floor well for abig man. His arrival could signal that the Hoosiers are finally ready to turn thecorner after the damage done by ex-Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson.14. P.J. HairstonHairston is simply a pure shooter and the North Carolina Tar Heels will benefitgreatly from signing such an explosive offensive presence. The 6-foot-5 shootingguard may not be at a Jimmer Fredette or Stephen Curry level yet, but he isdefinitely the best incoming freshman shooter on paper. Hairston can put it in thebasket over smaller defenders and he can extend defenses with a range that goesdeep beyond the three-point line. Besides being an outside threat, Hairston isequally dangerous at creating his own shot. He can drive to the rim and get shots todrop even amid contact from bigger defenders.15. Josiah TurnerIf Turner can deliver on his potential, the Arizona Wildcats have a good shot atbuilding on last season’s unexpected run to the Elite Eight. The 6-foot-3 pointguard knows how to run a team. He passes the ball like a quarterback. Turner canoperate in tight spaces and slip the ball past defenders to get a pass to an openteammate. His ability to make smart decisions will come in handy during crunchtime in Pac-12 play. What else will be helpful is his own scoring abilities. Turnerhas blazing speed that allows him to blow past defenders and get to the rim. He isjust as comfortable though pulling up from outside and knocking down a shot fromthe perimeter.