In the two years since the NBA's age-minimum rule took effect, so many preternaturally gifted freshmen have flitted through college basketball on their way to the first round of the draft (24, to be exact) that the recently matriculated class of 2012 suffers by comparison. That's not exactly fair, considering that the recruiting crops of '06 and '07 were two of the best ever, but a quarter of the way through this season, no first-year players have emerged as surefire lottery picks next spring, or even appeared capable of leading their teams to a national title.
"There are five or six guys who are doing well," says Memphis coach
Still, this year's freshman crop has its potential gems. Consider Georgetown center
Indeed, Monroe may already be one of the best-passing big men in the nation. In one nifty sequence on Saturday, with the Hoyas clinging to a 69--68 lead late in the overtime period, he drove to the basket off a pick-and-roll, then deftly delivered a no-look bounce pass to trailing forward
Monroe isn't the only refreshing freshman. Second-ranked Connecticut (8--0 through Sunday) has been buoyed by the slashing, hyperquick play of point guard
At Memphis, after mentoring last spring's No. 1 overall draft pick, point guard
"He's showing signs of 'wow,'" says Calipari. "You'll see a different Tyreke at some point this year. But he's not there yet." Of course, neither is anybody else. But clearly, freshman orientation is in full swing.