Top 16 Impact Freshmen
Jones is more famous for his recruiting saga -- which involved a Web-televised commitment to Washington, then a switch to Kentucky at the 11th hour in May -- than he is for his skills. But that could change within a few weeks of the '10-11 season, because the Lamar Odom-like power forward has a versatile offensive arsenal, and is likely to be the Wildcats' only oversized scoring option.
The highest-ranked player (we're aware of) to ever sign with a Horizon League team, Ray McCallum had a good reason for passing on the likes of UCLA, Florida and Arizona in favor of Detroit: His father, Ray Sr., is the head coach. Ray Jr. is a four-star point guard whom Rivals.com ranked the No. 43 overall player in the Class of 2010; he joins a Detroit squad that could challenge Butler for the conference crown.
Like Ray McCallum, Trey Ziegler valued family first when it came to his recruitment, passing on a horde of major-conference offers to play for father Ernie, who's the Chippewas' head coach. Ziegler is Rivals.com's No. 28 overall player in the 2010 class, and should immediately be the best wing scorer -- if not the best overall player -- in the MAC this season.
Tobias Harris arrives at a perfect time for the Vols: Power forward Wayne Chism, a double-double machine, exhausted his eligibility in March, and they desperately need a versatile frontcourt scorer. Harris' inside-out game is well-suited for coach Bruce Pearl's flex offense, and he should be a featured part of their offense from Day 1.
Jereme Richmond might be the most versatile player other than Harrison Barnes in the Class of 2010. The 6-foot-7 Waukegan product is a phenomenal athlete who should be able to defend every position other than center. He played four positions as a key member of the U.S.' gold-medal-winning Under-18 team in this summer's FIBA Americas tournament, and should slide into the Illini's starting lineup at small forward.
Will Barton had a brief scare this offseason when he was deemed academically ineligible by the NCAA in early August, then cleared to play near the end of the month. He's an excellent offensive player who'll be the perfect complement to point guard Joe Jackson in the Tigers' up-tempo offense. Memphis was in dire need of a big, scoring guard after losing Elliot Williams to the first round of the NBA Draft in June.
Tigers coach Josh Pastner has been making Joe Jackson compete for the starting point-guard gig along with transfer Charles Carmouche and fellow freshman Will Barton. But when all is said and done after fall practice, Jackson, a wiry speed demon, should emerge as the guy to lead Memphis. He was its leading scorer in an exhibition tour of the Bahamas, and while he isn't an NBA prospect at the level of Derrick Rose or Tyreke Evans, Jackson is a hometown product who'll quickly endear himself to the Tigers' fan base.
Patric Young could very well make the biggest defensive impact of any freshman. He's a defense-first power forward who patrols the paint like a middle linebacker, thwarting would-be drivers and using his solid frame to establish rebounding position. While Florida already has center Vernon Macklin and power forward Alex Tyus in its frontcourt, Young should force his way onto the floor and play a major role in the Gators' run at an SEC title.
Brandon Knight is the second of what could be a long line of elite point guards to play for John Calipari at Kentucky; John Wall ran the show in 2009, and a third five-star floor general, Marquis Teague, arrives in 2011. Knight isn't a lock to go one-and-done like Wall, but big things are expected of the lanky Floridian, who led UK in scoring (at 25 points per game) with a 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in an August exhibition tour of Canada.
Perry Jones is the highest-rated recruit ever to commit to Baylor; he's an intriguing physical specimen whose NBA future is on the wing, not the block, as a hybrid shooting guard/small forward. He won't score like Kevin Durant did as a freshman at Texas, but he'll still be an incredible matchup problem for opposing forwards in the Big 12.
Fab Melo should take over the center spot vacated by Arinze Onuaku, who was a physical force last season before a quadriceps injury kept him out of the NCAA tournament. Melo is a Brazilian import who'll be perfect in the middle of the Orange's zone, altering shots of any guards who penetrate the top level of the 2-3. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is already hyping Melo as a possible Big East Freshman of the Year.
Cory Joseph may not be the sixth-best player in the Class of 2010, but the Longhorns are in such dire need of a point guard that he'll have a chance to make a major impact. He's an extremely polished backcourt player -- both as a scorer and distributor -- out of Toronto who starred at Findlay Prep, the same Henderson, Nev., school that produced former Longhorn Avery Bradley.
There was no consensus among the recruiting sites over the No. 1 player in the Class of 2010, but Rivals.com chose Josh Selby, a powerful, aggressive Baltimore combo guard who's extremely difficult to contain off the dribble. He's still awaiting clearance from the NCAA, although KU coach Bill Self recently said, "Josh hasn't done anything wrong," and seemed optimistic about him being allowed to play.
How convenient, for the Buckeyes, to have a 280-pound beast like Jared Sullinger grow up in their backyard. The Columbus product, and younger brother of former Ohio State player J.J., should be a hit as a freshman. Jared plays a no-nonsense, physical brand of basketball in the post, and could very well be the Big Ten's most imposing big man -- in any class -- in 2010-11. He, fellow elite recruit Deshaun Thomas and senior Dallas Lauderdale will form one imposing frontcourt.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has vowed that Kyrie Irving will "transform" the Blue Devils' offense into a far more up-tempo attack than we saw in 2009-10. He's an extremely mature point guard -- clearly the best point guard in his class, and perhaps the best in college hoops -- who'll start from Day 1 and create plenty of scoring opportunities for Duke's multitude of offensive weapons. Recently departed point guard Jon Scheyer was brilliant as a senior, with a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, but Irving could very well be better.
Harrison Barnes is the rare Kobe Bryant/Tracy McGrady-like player to hit college hoops, and the Ames, Iowa, product will be a savior for the Tar Heels' offense, which uncharacteristically bumbled through '09-10. UNC desperately needs a wing scorer, and Barnes' silky-smooth skill set allows him to score from long-range, mid-range and in the paint. He should be considered a strong candidate for the Wooden and Naismith Awards -- and a likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.