Where do Parker, Randle, Wiggins rank among freshmen in one-and-done era?
This week has already seen a flurry of NBA draft decisions by top collegians who elected to either remain in school (Kentucky's Willie-Cauley-Stein and Louisville's Montrezl Harrell) or leave for the pros (Arizona's Nick Johnson, Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III and Michigan State's Gary Harris,). But college basketball's most impactful stay-or-go decision has yet to be made public. Jabari Parker will either come back to Duke for next season and in so doing turn the Blue Devils into a prohibitive national title favorite, or he'll move along to the NBA and battle for a spot near the very top of the draft board.
Parker is expected to announce his decision within the next day or so. Should he move on, his only college season will be considered among the best of the one-and-done era, but not as high up as might have been anticipated when this so-called Year of the Freshmen began last November. Here's a ranking of the best one-and-done seasons since the NBA instituted its age minimum in time for the 2006-07 season:
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky, 2011-12
It's difficult not to view Davis through the prism of the budding NBA monster he's become. But even as a college freshman, his impact was pronounced. He averaged 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds with 186 blocks for a team that won the national championship. His Win Shares total – a measure of how many victories were attributable to his production – was 10.0, leading the nation. By comparison, Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier had the highest Win Shares this season at 7.9.
2. Kevin Durant, Texas, 2006-07
A loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament only somewhat dims the ridiculous individual numbers Durant put up in one college season. He averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game -- fourth in the nation in both categories -- while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range and won the Wooden and Naismith awards, among others, as national player of the year.
3. Michael Beasley, Kansas State, 2007-08
People spent much of that '07-'08 season debating between Beasley and Derrick Rose for the No. 1 overall pick in that year's NBA draft, and here's why: Beasley averaged 26.5 points (third nationally) and 12.5 rebounds (tops nationally), posted a double-double in 29 of 33 games and had 13 games with 30 or more points. Kansas State, however, bowed out in the second round of the NCAA tournament and Beasley followed top-pick Rose as the No. 2 choice in the draft.
4. Kevin Love, UCLA, 2007-08
While maybe not quite as prolific as a Durant or Beasley, Love was still a double-double machine, averaging 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds for the Bruins while shooting 55.9 percent from the floor -- and 61.1 percent on his two-point attempts. He paced UCLA to a 35-win season that ended with a loss to Memphis in the Final Four.
5. Greg Oden, Ohio State, 2006-07
Despite missing the first seven games of the season due to a wrist injury the 7-foot Oden proved to be the game-changing force he was anticipated to be for the Buckeyes. He averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game and helped Ohio State reach the national title game, where it lost to defending champion Florida. Oden was a first-team AP All-America and the draft's No. 1 overall pick, though knee injuries derailed what promised to be a long and prosperous NBA career.
6. Derrick Rose, Memphis, 2007-08
Technically, this never happened, thanks to an NCAA investigation and subsequent penalties that wiped out the records of Memphis' season that came within one Mario Chalmers three-pointer of a national championship. But Rose was sensational as the first of John Calipari's one-and-done point guards, scoring 14.9 points, handing out 4.7 assists and grabbing 4.5 rebounds per game en route to becoming the top pick in the NBA draft that June.
7. Julius Randle, Kentucky, 2013-14
Randle actually had the best Win Shares total among this year's other super-hyped freshmen, coming in at 5.9. And while his scoring average wasn't quite as impressive as Parker's, at a modest 15.4 points per game, had the Wildcats needed him to play as forceful a role in the offense as Parker did for Duke, there's little doubt that figure would be much higher. Randle also recorded 27 double-doubles and averaged 10.4 rebounds per game for the year, helping fuel Kentucky's comeback run to the national championship game, where it lost to Connecticut.
8. Jabari Parker, Duke, 2013-14
After a midseason slump led to a course correction toward more aggressive play, Parker wound up averaging 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds on 47.3 percent shooting for the Blue Devils. He was the only player in a vaunted freshman class to earn first-team All-America status. But Duke's shocking first-round loss to Mercer in the NCAA tournament helps knock him behind Randle on this list.
9. John Wall, Kentucky, 2009-10
Wall sparked Calipari's first Kentucky team to a 19-0 start and what seemed like a national title run until it got derailed by West Virginia in the East Regional final of the NCAA tournament. Wall, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds and was just barely ranks ahead of . . .
10. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky, 2009-10
The raw numbers for the bruising 6-foot-11 Cousins were good: 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game on 55.8 percent shooting. Then consider this: He only played 23.5 minutes per game, so his 40-minute averages were a staggering 25.8 points and 16.8 rebounds per night. It was incredible production in the time that Cousins actually spent on the floor, but the limited minutes slots him behind Wall. Both Wildcats wound up as first-team AP All-Americas.
This isn't a commentary on Wiggins failing to meet the stratospheric expectations heaped upon him. He simply posted a good but not transcendent year, averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds for a Jayhawks team that lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. While he surged late in the season, averaging 28 points over one four-game stretch in March, his Win Shares total (4.9) wound up being lower than that of not just Randle (5.9) and Parker (5.5) but also fellow freshmen Tyler Ennis (5.5) and Aaron Gordon (5.4).
12. O.J. Mayo, USC, 2007-08
Mayo provided the Trojans with exactly what he promised: High-volume shooting and scoring, though there was at least a hint of playmaking in other areas. He averaged 20.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting a so-so 44.2 percent from the field for the Trojans, who bowed out in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a loss to Beasley's K-State team.
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