Best Freshmen Of All Time
The first freshman named to the AP's preseason All-America team, Harrison Barnes enters his freshman season at North Carolina with lofty expectations. Thus far he's off to a good start. In the Tar Heels' two-game exhibition tour of the Bahamas, Barnes netted 44 points, 13 rebounds and seven three-pointers. If he wants to be one of the best freshmen in NCAA history however, he has his work cut out for him. SI.com takes a look at the competition.
The leader of the "Ernie and Bernie Show" at Tennessee (along with future TNT analyst Ernie Grunfeld), Bernard King (right) dazzled Knoxville as an 18-year-old. He tallied 26.4 ppg, 12.3 rpg and shared the SEC Player of the Year honors with Kentucky's Kevin Grevey. In 2007, the Volunteers retired King's number 53.
An often-unstoppable scorer, Mark Aguirre led a DePaul squad, which featured only one other future-NBA player, to the Final Four in 1979. Aguirre would later go on to win the AP and Naismith College Player of the Year awards as a sophomore, but he would not advance past the second round of the NCAA tournament again.
In a harbinger of things to come, Magic Johnson averaged 17 ppg, 7.9 rpg and 7.4 apg for a Michigan State team that went 25-5. Despite Magic's multifaceted brilliance, the Spartans would lose in the Elite Eight to Kentucky.
The ACC Rookie of the Year in 1980, Sampson was a dominant force on the boards and in the paint even as a 19-year-old. He averaged 14.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 4.6 bpg (the latter two of which led the ACC), and he powered his Virginia team to the NIT championship.
While Patrick Ewing never made wearing T-shirts under your jersey cool, his time at Georgetown transformed the school from an also-ran to a perennial Big East contender. Ewing blocked 3.2 shots per game as a freshman and led his Hoyas to the national title game, the first of three trips Ewing would make while at Georgetown.
When the Big 12 was still the Big 8, a big man named Wayman Tisdale dominated the conference. He averaged 24.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 2.5 bpg and was named the Big 8 Player of the Year as well as first-team All-America.
It's rare that a freshman comes up big in the NCAA tournament. Usually, it is during those moments that we are reminded that they are merely 18- or 19-year-old kids. But Pervis Ellison was the exception. He averaged a modest 13.1 ppg and 8.2 rpg for Louisville during the regular season, but stepped up big in the tournament, averaging 18 ppg and 12 rpg to lead the Cardinals to the 1986 national title.
Chris Jackson, later known as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, might be the best freshman of all time. In the third game of his LSU career, he scored 48 points. Two games later, he scored a NCAA freshman-record 53 points. With several other LSU players suspended as a result of Prop 48, coach Dale Brown turned Jackson loose, allowing the freshman to use his blinding speed in the open court. The result? Jackson was the first freshman to be named SEC Player of the Year and was also given first-team All-America honors.
Sharing the spotlight with former freshman-sensation Chris Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal wasn't given the full opportunity to shine during his freshman season at LSU. Nevertheless, he made his impact felt in other ways, tallying 12 rpg, 3.6 bpg and an efficient 57.3 field goal percentage.
New York City is known as the breeding ground for the nation's best point guards. Georgia Tech has produced its share of great point guards as well, and thus it made perfect sense that New York legend Kenny Anderson would take his talents to Atlanta. Known for his ball-handling prowess, Anderson led the Yellow Jackets to the Final Four on averages of 20.6 points and 8.1 assists per game during his freshman year.
Carmelo Anthony's first collegiate basket was a dunk in Madison Square Garden. Quite an auspicious beginning for the Syracuse freshman, who, as the focal point for the Orangemen, would average 22.2 ppg and 10 rpg and lead his team to a national championship. Anthony would declare for the NBA following his freshman season, but his legacy at Syracuse is everlasting.
The first freshman to lead the Tar Heels in points (18.9) and rebounds (7.8) per game, Tyler Hansbrough displayed his crafty low-post game even as a freshman. He was named first-team All-ACC, ACC Rookie of the Year and third team All-America. His jersey (50) was retired by the Tar Heels in 2010.
In his only season at Texas, Kevin Durant carried the Longhorns on his narrow shoulders to the tune of 25.8 ppg and 11.1 rpg. Durant was unable to lead Texas past the second round of the NCAA tournament, but he was the first freshman to win the both the Naismith Award and the AP College Player of the Year award.
Michael Beasley enrolled at Kansas State and effortlessly led the country in rebounding with 12.4 per game. He combined this with a 26.2 ppg, and led the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament, where they lost in the second round. He was named first-team All-America and was a finalist for the Naismith Award.