The time has come for college basketball, baby. The Men’s AP poll has Michigan State ranked no. 1 to start this season led by National Player of the Year candidate Cassius Winston.
As usual, we can expect some special diaper dandies to poke their heads out and make names for themselves quickly at this level. Here are some players in the freshman class whose names you’ll likely hear mentioned throughout the season.
Anthony Edwards – Georgia
Edwards’ pure talent and ability are no secret as arguably the best high school player in the country last year. I had the chance to watch him up close at the 2019 McDonald’s All-American Games. Physically he’s just ahead of his peers, and his shot creation ability is on a pro-level right now. When you see him operate on the floor his presence won’t seem like a freshman. I wouldn’t put it past him to figure things out quickly and churn out some explosive performances this college basketball season.
Anthony Edwards is projected as a top 3 pick in the NBA Draft next summer.
I think it’s him or LaMelo Ball that goes #1.
Here is Edwards in UGA’s first preseason game. pic.twitter.com/eCJf4cCIGv
— Ben Stinar (@BenStinar) October 19, 2019
Scottie Lewis – Florida
Lewis has projected NBA Draft potential in 2020 because he carries all of the right attributes both on and off the floor. His 6’5 lanky frame paired with innate instincts offensively and defensively made him one of the nation’s top spectacles in his senior season of high school. He stands out not just with his talent but with his intangibles, a craving for being a vocal leader, and the natural ability to make noise quickly.
Samuel Williamson – Louisville
Another prospect I was able to see up close at McDonald’s All-American was Samuel Williamson, perhaps the smoothest perimeter offensive player I saw outside of Anthony Edwards. Williamson’s pull-up jumper is simply a thing of beauty. Louisville might not be known for high-volume individual offense, but Williamson is the kind of talent that can quickly turn that around.
Kahlil Whitney – Kentucky
Whitney is a prime example of someone whose game can only get better with more time and experience. He’s built up his game into an elite skill set, especially when it comes to his ability to shoot the basketball and knock down shots in a variety of settings. It takes more than just an ability to gain John Calipari’s trust, and if Whitney earns that then he’s going to make plenty of things happen with his opportunities.
James Wiseman – Memphis
I saw exactly what the hype was about with Wiseman when I saw him operate in person. He’s another product of this high versatility era, perfectly willing and able to bang down low with his near 7-foot frame, but also a tuned skill set with shooting touch and ball-handling ability. He’ll have plenty of eyes on him as he anchors an anticipated recruiting class for Penny Hardaway and the Tigers.
Bryan Antoine – Villanova
The partner of Scottie Lewis at the Ranney School last year did an equal amount of damage. Bryan Antoine became the New Jersey Shore Conference’s all-time leading scorer with over 2,300 career points. Antoine has that kind of explosive scoring ability and certainly the IQ and discipline to thrive under Jay Wright.
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Eric Dixon – Villanova
Dixon is a crafty, lefty big who was able to bully most people at the high school level. As his conditioning develops at this level, he can turn him into one of Jay Wright’s patented stretch front-court weapons and one of the best bigs in college basketball.
Aidan Igiehon – Louisville
Igiehon has always stuck out because of his physical frame. The physicality of the next level won’t bother him which should help him adapt quickly. Igiehon is known to elevate his game under any circumstance and his versatility will keep developing. He has the means to show true impact as a freshman.
Cole Anthony – North Carolina
Of course, Anthony has garnered attention with the combination of his game and name recognition. It could be safe to say that he has the potential to light up college basketball this year, or at the very least be the spark for making the Tar Heels a national title contender.
Nico Mannion – Arizona
Mannion has the most poised playmaking instincts I’ve seen out of this class. He has a mastery-type feel for the game, from shooting the ball to pick-and-roll action. His toolbox is sharp and he’s going to put viewers on notice quickly.