In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. We move to the No. 8 overall recruit, Kansas's Quentin Grimes. (You can view all of the profiles to date here.)
What he means for the Jayhawks’ recruiting class
Quentin Grimes is Kansas's top-ranked recruit of 2018 and caps off a talented group of freshmen for head coach Bill Self. Coming in at No. 8 in the RSCI rankings, Grimes is a 6’5”, 210-pound combo guard from The Woodlands (Texas). The sharp shooter joins fellow five-star guard Devon Dotson (No. 20) in the backcourt with center David McCormack (No. 30) and small forward Ochai Agbaji at the front. The fifth-ranked recruiting class brings depth all over the court for Kansas to help replace three lost starters from its 2018 Final Four team. The Jayhawks will need Doston at the point and Grimes at the two to lead the charge in reloading this season. Self coached Grimes to a gold medal earlier this summer on USA Basketball’s under-18 men’s national team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championships in Canada, where Grimes averaged 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists and earned tournament MVP honors under the direction of his new head coach. His talent combined with Dotson’s playmaking ability will make for a difficult duo to beat in the backcourt and will be a nice complement to Kansas’s incoming big men.
How he fits
Kansas reached the Final Four this past March and then lost the starting guards who helped it get there. A younger-than-usual backcourt for the Jayhawks means that Dotson and Grimes will both have to shoulder significant responsibility from the start. Those two, despite being arguably the most talented duo on the team, will not be left to run the backcourt completely by themselves. The return of senior Lagerald Vick and sophomore Marcus Garrett, plus the eligibility of transfers Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson means experienced players to help the two freshman floor generals transition into Self’s guard-centric system. Grimes, a shooting/combo guard, fits perfectly on Dotson’s wing, either at the two or even the three in a small-ball lineup. Fellow freshman Agbaji will also be fighting time at the three, adding more depth to KU’s roster.
Self has a physical frontline and a talented backcourt, but Grimes brings a unique ability to get buckets from all over the floor to the team. He’s an efficient shooter and effective scorer, averaging 29.5 points per game his senior year while shooting at a 57% clip, and will play well off the moves made by whoever is running the point. While Grimes plays with precision from the outside, he can also attack the basket at a moment’s notice if needed. He’s as complete of a guard as Self says he's ever had and will bolster any backcourt he’s part of. He can play well both on and off the ball, and is a strong passer and a high impact player who, like Dotson, has defensive promise, which is an added bonus. His potential soars even higher when you consider how many talented wings Self has developed (think: Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson, Kelly Oubre Jr.). Expect Grimes to make immediate contributions offensively with his ability to play from anywhere on the perimeter and his willingness to power through just about any defender in the paint. He has the size and skillset to make a smooth transition to college play, especially in a system like the one Self runs in Lawrence.
Importance to Kansas's success/team outlook
Grimes is eager to be part of KU’s winning tradition and bring a 15th straight Big 12 conference title to Lawrence, something the Jayhawks’ can easily do if these recruits turn out even half as talented as they’re touted to be. Grimes is the most obvious physical embodiment of the ‘deep and complete’ characterization of Self’s 2018 class and, while 2018–19 Kansas will look a lot different from last year’s Final Four team, Grimes all but guarantees that the Jayhawks will be in this season’s national title picture. He’s already getting buzz for the Big 12’s preseason First Team thanks to all the hype. Add in returning 7’0” center Udoka Azubuike, the returning experience and the help of three key transfers and Self has plenty of talent to keep the wins coming in Lawrence this season.