And no surprise… Nerlens Noel is #1. The rankings focused less on pure talent, and more on ability to make an impact (with minutes, plays, etc.), so it’s only natural to put the shot-blocking, flat-topped Noel at the top. The big man tasked with filling Anthony Davis’ shoes certainly has a lot of expectations on him, but CBS thinks he can handle it:
So Noel simply has to come in and replace Anthony Davis, the National Player of the Year last season and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. No big deal. Noel is up to the task – at least defensively. He’s a dominant shot-blocker and controls the paint at that end of the floor. His offense is still developing, but he made enormous strides over the last year.
This is all stuff that we’ve seen over the last few practices and scrimmages. Noel will absolutely be a force defensively, but he’ll have to work on his footwork and offensive moves to become the full-court threat that Anthony was. Not to mention he’s got fewer returning players around him to help him learn, and the burden on Noel’s shoulders is pretty substantial.
But, as with any Calipari team, there’s more than just one dynamite freshman. Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress also crack the top ten, at #6 and #8, respectively. And deservedly so.
Although it was a down class for perimeter players, Goodwin might have been the best scoring guard in the class of 2012. He has tremendous athleticism and knows how to get to the rim on nearly any defender. Goodwin improved his outside shot as his high school career progressed, and he will be ready to make an impact in Lexington.
Poythress is a future lottery pick. He’s an ultra-talented combo forward who continues to work on his game and fine-tune his weaknesses. He started out as a rebounding power forward, and is now an inside-outside matchup nightmare. Poythress has a great motor and is very aggressive at both ends of the floor.
Again, where the metric isn’t simply talent, but an ability to make an impact, it’s not surprising at all that three first-year Wildcats make the top ten. These guys have more than just talent, they have responsibility, and opportunity.
Notably, the #2 player on the list is NOT Shabazz Muhammed, as you might have thought, but rather Marcus Smart at Oklahoma State. That’s a little confusing, but he plays for Travis Ford, so I guess it’s okay. Apparently issues with the shoulder, as well as his eligibility, cloud Muhammed’s potential impact at UCLA.
Also, it’s something of a sham that Willie Cauley-Stein was left of the list, but it only shows that Jeff Borzello didn’t watch the Blue/White game. Because if he had, WCS would at least be in the top 15, for sure. Apart from that glaring exception, the Borzello seems to be pretty spot-on with his rankings.
Only a few more weeks until these freshmen get to prove their stuff.