Instant Grades for Top College Basketball Freshmen Through 1 Week

What kind of week did the freshmen have?

With Jahlil Okafor dominating veterans and Kentucky starting something like 725 McDonald’s All-Americans (and where’s the NCAA when you need them), all eyes are on the new guys here in college basketball’s opening stretch. 

But when you look at the nation’s best, there has been some inconsistency. Probably to be expected, given the newness. Here are grades for the nation’s 10 top freshmen after their first game or three at the next level.

For structure’s sake, we’ll use the top-10 list of the country’s most dynamic freshmen, set forth a couple weeks ago by my Bleacher Report contemporary Kerry Miller. The goal today is not to set up a new ranking, but to evaluate what the top guys did in their first week.

Also, national team rankings are courtesy of ESPN.

Got it? That’s great. Here we go, then.

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Most Indispensable Player on Each Top 10 College Basketball Team

All it takes is one injury to the wrong player to completely derail an otherwise promising season for the nation’s top college basketball teams.

Without Joel Embiid last year, Kansas went from a serious candidate to win the national championship to a team that almost no one expected to reach the Final Four.

Fifteen years ago, Cincinnati was in the same boat. The Bearcats spent the entire regular season ranked in the top four in the AP poll before Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the Conference USA tournament. They went from one of the favorites to win it all to a second-round loss to Tulsa.

When news broke this morning that Texas’ starting point guard Isaiah Taylor could be out for a few weeks with a non-shooting wrist injury, we were instantly left to wonder what this means for the rest of the season for the Longhorns.

Is Taylor the team’s most indispensable player? And what about the other teams ranked in the Top 10? Who is the one player that those teams cannot possible live without?

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Under-the-Radar College Basketball Teams Most Likely to Crack Top 25 in 2014-15

Every college basketball season, a bunch of under-the-radar teams play their way into the Associated Press Top 25 after failing to get any sort of recognition in the first two polls of the season.

Last year, 13 teamsCincinnati, Dayton, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas State, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, San Diego State, SMU and Texaswere ranked at some point during the season despite receiving fewer than 10 votes in both the preseason and Week 2 AP polls.

In light of that statistic, we went searching for 10 teams we think have a good shot at reaching the Top 25 this season despite a complete lack of respect to this point.

The rules are simple: If a team received 10 or more votes in either the preseason AP poll or the one announced this past Monday, it’s not eligible for this list.

Everyone else is fair game. Everyone except for Dayton, that is. The Flyers didn’t quite reach the votes minimum for exclusion, but we can’t call them an under-the-radar team after reaching the Elite Eight last season. Don’t worry, though. We’ve listed three other A-10 teams to make up for it.

Miami is a no-brainer after upsetting Florida on Monday night, but most of these teams are still being overlooked by the general population.

Once they catch our attention, though, it’ll be hard to look away.

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College Basketball Recruiting: Biggest Winners, Losers from Early Signing Period

As college basketball teams are just getting started on playing this season, work off the court continues to get next year’s roster bolstered with future talent. But not everyone had as good a week in the recruiting department as others.

The early signing period for college hoops began November 12 and ended Wednesday, with dozens of the nation’s top players in the Class of 2015 either signing with schools or announcing their commitments for next season. These decisions made for much movement on 247Sports’ composite recruiting rankings, with schools moving up and down after each high school senior made his choice.

Who won and who lost? We take a look at the teams that had the best and worst early signing periods, detailing what went well (or didn’t).

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College basketball boasts plenty of talent, just not star power

What can — and should — shine in a season like this are great teams.

      
 

 

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‘Team’ comes first this college hoops season

Unlike last season, this is setting up to be the year of the team.

      
 

 

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1 Thing We Learned About Each Top 25 College Basketball Team in Opening Games

The 2014-15 college basketball season is still a newborn baby, but we’ve learned at least one thing about each AP Top 25 team after just five days of action.

For instance, we’ve learned that Ryan Boatright actually does possess the ability to join Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier on the list of recent Connecticut guards who can take over a game whenever they so choose.

We learned that Kevin Pangos and Briante Weber are among the best players in the country, mid-major or not.

And we learned that Quinn Cook had something to prove to everyone who wrote or said that he didn’t deserve to be a starter.

Most important of all, though, we learned that TaShawn Thomas will play this season for an Oklahoma team that now needs to be taken seriously as a Final Four candidate.

What did you learn about your favorite Top 25 team?

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Ranking the Best Freshman Seasons from College Basketball in the 2000s

The NBA’s one-and-done rule, if nothing else, has given college basketball some of the greatest freshman performances over the last 10 years or so.

We’ve seen any number of NBA talents take the college detour and leave an indelible impression on the landscape. 

Some, like Carmelo Anthony, graced college basketball for 35 games and cut down the nets. Others, like Greg Oden, put his team on his back all the way to the Finals. 

There are Crock Pot players that stew for several seasons in college hoops, while others, namely the freshmen, combust on the scene like alcohol in a skillet, giving us one flash of brilliance before moving on.

Read on to see some of the more iconic freshman seasons of the 2000s.

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Predicting the Biggest Overachievers in College Basketball in the 2014-15 Season

Recruiting rankings are a highly inexact science. For every can’t-miss 5-star megastud who misses, there’s an unknown player who barely rates a scholarship and blossoms into a pro.

Just in the last two years, we’ve seen unknown prospects Trey Burke and Russ Smith become All-Americans, while a consensus 3-star forward, according to VerbalCommits.com, who wasn’t even the best player on his high school team became one of Division I’s five most prolific scorers ever. And it wasn’t just because Doug McDermott played for his dad, either.

The current college-hoops landscape is dotted with players who play much larger roles for their teams than they were ever expected to. These nine playerspresented alphabeticallyare merely the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to respectfully and intelligently suggest a few more in the comments.

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The Signature Move for College Basketball’s Top Stars in 2014-15

The best players in college basketball are considered as such for many reasons including their skill level, effort, drive and dedication—and the kind of moves they can break out at a moment’s notice.

Just being able to hit a shot, grab a rebound or make a pass isn’t what makes them so highly regarded. It’s being able to do these things at a high level, often in a way that few others can.

And all of college basketball’s top stars have particular moves that stands out, what you might call signature moves. It’s what got them to this point and what’s likely to get them to the next level as professionals.

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