#TankForWiggins? 15 Other Franchise Changing Freshman To Know This Season
October 11, 2013 - 9:13 pm
Kansas Jayhawk’s forward Andrew Wiggins made headlines this week as the cover boy for Sports Illustrated. SI’s newest issue talks legacy for Rock Chalk and aligns Wiggins with the legacies of Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning. The Canadian wonderkid was the most coveted high school player in North America this year and makes Kansas a true threat to win a national title. He's a one-and-done prospect who could make an immediate impact on an NBA franchise. While the Toronto native is considered the consensus lock for No.1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, there are a few other freshmen who could challenge him for that top spot.
15. Chris Walker, Florida
Florida native, Chris Walker is just the kind of athletic big man that Billy Donovan turns into superstars. No coach has done more with less in recent history than Donovan, who took raw talents like Joakim Noah and Al Horford and turned them into two-time championship lottery picks. Walker comes in with more skill and athleticism than both of them and might only need one season to show scouts he’s ready. The only problem for this Gator is that he won’t see the floor until December because of discrepancies over his high school grades. Still, Walker has enough talent to top his peers come tournament time.
14. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
The only other kid from Canada that can challenge Wiggs for that top spot is Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis. The prototypical floor general has the court vision, savvy and ability to play at higher level than most would expect. Ennis has a game that sneaks up on you. One minute he’s an active distributor and the next he’s aggressively giving out buckets to whoever’s in front of him. The NBA is all about point guards who can play off the pick-and-roll right now, and Tyler’s real creative with it.
13. Keith Frazier, SMU
Not many people peg SMU guard Keith Frazier as a one-and-done type, but scouts will be all over this high volume scorer if he can lead Larry Brown’s revitalized Mustangs to a run in March. The 6-foot-5 Texas native has the bounce and ability to play at a pro level. By choosing to be the man at a school like SMU over being a piece at a program like Arizona, UCLA or Kansas proves he’s got the cojones to play with the big boys.
12. Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
No college freshman has more heart or ability to develop than Nigel Williams-Goss. Over the past four years at Findlay Prep, NWG went from borderline top-100 payer to bonafide superstar. Fans literally got to watch him blossom into a stud as he lead his team to win after win, including this buzzer beater at the Basketball Hall Of Fame Hoop Hall Classic that made national headlines. One year on the collegiate level might be all he needs to show he’s a true pro point guard.
11. Kuran Iverson, Memphis
When you have a famous last name (and relation to an icon) you better live up to it. Memphis freshman Kuran Iverson gets buckets in a bevy of ways. At 6-foot-9, this hybrid wing’s combination of size and aptitude for scoring makes Memphis an immediate contender in the newly formed American Athletic Conference which houses schools like UConn, Rutgers and defending champion Louisville.
10. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
The recruitment of the Harrison Twins had the country at a standstill, as the duo decided between the University of Maryland and the University of Kentucky. Aaron Harrison, the older of the two, was widely accepted as the best shooting guard from the class of 2013. He’s tough, can create his own scoring opportunities and is one of the best players in a historic recruiting class for the Wildcats. NBA GM’s have been watching him work for a long time, so don’t be surprised if he leads Kentucky to a chip and is the first named called next June.
9. Rondae Jefferson, Arizona
The NBA loves springy, athletic wings who can jump out of the gym and defend. Rondae Jefferson fits that mold perfectly. Nothing was given to him, as the Chester, PA native shed the “potential” tag to a top 25 player in a matter of two seasons. Arizona’s first big signee, Jefferson joins a team that can’t be overlooked in the Pac-12 or anywhere else.
8. Troy Williams, Indiana
Perhaps the most athletic wing entering college this season, Troy Williams brings basketball royalty to an already crazed basketball culture at Indiana. A Student of the game, he plays above the rim and reads defenses like a game of chess. More importantly, he has the tools to counter whatever opponents throw at him. He might a bit slight—OK, he’s mad skinny—but that hans’t stopped him yet. Since he looks up to Kevin Durant, who just now put on weight, he’s probably figured out how to bang with bigger bodies and still dominate.
7. Wayne Seldon, Kansas
Who better to test yourself against than the best? Well Wayne Seldon wont have to travel far to see where he measures up because he’ll share a court with Wiggins for the 2013-14 season. Seldon has an NBA body and leaping ability to match, but he doesn't rely on those things to be effective. He can shoot from both the outside and the mid-range, which is a lost art. No doubt the focus will be on Wiggins, but Seldon will keep teams from doubling on the Canadian prodigy.
6. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Andrew Harrison might be the prize get of the one-of-a-kind recruiting class for Coach John Calipari. At 6-foot-5, this hard nosed point guard is an NBA dream. He’s smooth, physical and loves to create for himself and others. Regarded as the best point guard in a pretty loaded class, Andrew is already a lock as a lottery pick. A rise in stock after a deep run in March won’t be that hard.
5. Dakari Johnson, Kentucky
Simply put, they just don’t make centers like Dakari Johnson any more. Scouts love how this power post player dominates the paint and with his noted work ethic, his potential is through the roof. Teams are founded on point guards and centers, even in the wing dominated NBA. Not too many teams will be able to pass on Johnson and after a year under coach Cal, he could be the No.1 overall draft pick.
4. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Julius Randle held it down as the number one overall player in the class for a bit and nothing motivates a player of his caliber like doubters. Keep in mind that players are drafted off of potential and it’d be a tall order to find an elite freshman with skills and as much room to grow as Randle. The 6-foot-9 Texas native reminds most of Michael Beasley minus the headache. A season of college to polish off what he already can do might land him in the top spot by June.
3. Joel Embiid, Kansas
You want to make the NBA? If you’re not a do-it-all guy like LeBron, Kevin Durant or what Wiggins is projected to be, you have to do one thing better than almost anyone else in the world. Enter Joel Embiid, the best shot blocker of the 2013 recruiting class. Embiid and Wiggins will surely challenge each other in practice, prepping for games ad the next level. If Wiggins can throw it down on him, he’s ready for NBA defenders. If Embiid can stop Wiggins at the rim, he can stop anyone the NBA has to offer (Not named LeBron, Durant or Bryant) . As far as the most NBA ready skill, Embiid’s defense is it.
2. Jabari Parker, Duke
There isn’t a more complete freshman than Duke’s Jabari Parker. The Chi-town native is often compared to New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and with good reason. He can score from anywhere, on anyone, pretty much whenever he wants. Parker’s tools helped him lead Simeon high school to four state titles and had him widely considered the best player in the nation for a long time. Having already been on the cover of SI, it would shock no one if he beat out Wiggins for that top spot after a year in Durham, too.
1. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Why does Aaron Gordon top this list? He has the potential to be an NBA superstar—sooner than anyone else. His size, speed, athleticism make him a stud and reminds everyone of Clippers power forward Blake Griffin. No, not just because they’re both light skinned, but they both jump higher and with a viciousness that not many people walking the planet can match. Gordon can even handle the ball and knocks down outside shots, skills Griffin still doesn’t really have in his repertoire. There’s no doubt that if all goes right, Gordon could be the No.1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft.