So we’re about halfway through the college basketball season, and it’s time to check in and see how our super hyped freshman class is doing. What started off looking like one of the most talented classes ever, has revealed itself to be a deep class, but a class that feels very young. Most of the phenom’s are quite clearly still freshmen, but the potential is there. With that said, let’s check in on how the ‘top five’ have looked through today.
What they said: You heard it from us, and you heard it from everyone. Clear cut number one pick, the best high school prospect since LeBron.
What they’re saying now: Tyler Conway from Bleacher Report sums it up pretty well “There are moments where you can see it. The first two wide-eyed dribbles in transition where he sees a helpless defender about to get posterized. Those fleeting moments where his jumper loses its inconsistent hitch and suddenly he feels empowered to take over a game… Then again, there are just as many times you want to ask for a refund for the Hype Check you cashed this preseason.”
Best game: Wiggins best game came against Florida, tallying his first career double double with 26 points and 11 rebounds. It wasn’t enough though, as the Jayhawks fell to the Gators 61-67.
Worst game: He has gone 2-9 twice – once scoring only 6 points in 34 minutes against UTEP, and most recently scoring 9 in 29 against Oklahoma. That said, Kansas won both of those games.
Parting shots: Look, he’s talented. Is he KD? Clearly not. But he’s no Shabazz either. People had doubts about Self’s ability to motivate and utilize freshmen, and some of those doubts are coming to fruition. Wiggins is still a dynamite prospect, but he’s a lot further from a franchise player – both physically and mentally – than we all thought.
What they said: Embiid is that one guy who didn’t start playing basketball until a few years ago, but has shown unlimited potential. Surely you’ve heard about him by now. Early on he got some pre-season hype (was on the wooden watch list), but was overshadowed by Wiggins.
What they’re saying now: Thanks to his upside, he is a dark horse candidate for the number one pick come June.
Best game: Embiid’s best game would probably be against San Diego State. While he was in foul trouble most of the game and only played 26 minutes total, he finished with 12 points on 6-7 shooting and 12 boards.
Worst game: His second. Against Duke, he only managed 2 points, but pulled down 7 boards.
Parting shots: Embiid benefits from Wiggin’s lack of fulfilling expectations. He’s got ‘the look’, and while his numbers don’t wow you, NBA scouts say he has the hand eye coordination and athleticism to be the best prospect in the class. If Wiggin’s were further along, Embiid wouldn’t be getting the hype that he gets now… but as is, he is becoming the NBA’s favorite Jayhawk one post move at a time.
What they said: Headed in to the season, Wiggins was clearly number one, and Randle clearly number two (with a few analysts thinking he might take Wiggins spot by the end of the season).
What they’re saying now: He’s slipping on the draft board, but still looks to be a top 5 lock, save for a few projections with the lottery.
Best game: There’s a bunch of great double double’s to pick from, but the best was against Belmont when Julius went for 29 and 10 in 28 minutes. That’s more points than minutes, y’all.
Worst game: There haven’t been many – Randle is consistently productive. That said, his quietest game was probably his last against Mississippi State, when he only managed 8 points – but still pulled down 14 boards.
Parting shots: Consistency can be a curse. On the BS Report, both Simmons and Jalen Rose said they believe Randle could be the best rookie pro next year – he’s the kind of guy that you know will get you 20/12 every night. Unfortunately for Julius, NBA scouts are starting to doubt his upside. It’s silly, but sometimes being the most consistent player on one of the most talented teams can be a disadvantage, I guess.
What they said: Headed in to the season, Jabari was coming off an injury, so he wasn’t talked about on the same tier that Wiggins and Randle were. Considered the universal third best prospect wasn’t too shabby though.
What they’re saying now: Jabari supplanted Randle in the discussion of overall number one pick, despite a recent slump.
Best game: Jabari has had a number of great games, but his best might have been against Vermont, when he went 11-16 for 26 points and pulled down 9 boards.
Worst game: Notre Dame zoned the Blue Devils and made Parker less than effective, and it resulted in him being benched for the end of the game. He finished with 7 points and 4 boards on 2-10 shooting.
Parting shots: Parker has been the most statistically dominant of all the freshmen, averaging just shy of 20 points a game. He’s currently going through a freshman slump that we’ve become pretty familiar with here at Kentucky. How he handles it – and how Coach K handles it – will say a lot when we get to draft day.
What they said: He was considered a lottery pick, in the mold of Blake Griffin. Outstanding athleticism, and a passable rest of his game.
What they’re saying now: Draft Express currently has Gordon at 7, just a few spots ahead of Willie Cauley-Stein.
Best game: Just two games ago against Washington, Gordon had 18 points and 11 boards and only had 1 foul in 35 minutes.
Worst game: In 31 minutes, he only tallied 3 points and 8 boards against UNLV.
Parting shots: Gordon hasn’t been asked to play as big a role on his team as the other freshmen have – and it shows. He’s afforded the luxury of not being the focus of an offense, and has been more efficient because of it. Gordon is probably right where he needs to be in draft discussions.