I've got to admit, I wasn't so certain that this freshmen crop would make
this kind of impact on college basketball. The talent was unquestionable, but it
was the off-the-court issues that had me wondering if this freshman class would
live up to the expectations.
There were numerous signs — such as O.J. Mayo's run-in with a referee or being
in a car that was pulled over by the police with marijuana inside.
Michael Beasley's track record certainly brought up its share of valid
question marks. He attended six high schools, was taught at home for one year
and wound up reneging on his verbal pledge to Charlotte after his former AAU
coach, Delonte Hill, left the 49ers program for a spot at Kansas State.
Derrick Rose never even spoke to college coaches. Everything was handled by
his brother, Reggie, and Memphis supporter William Wesley, who helped facilitate
Rose's arrival in Memphis.
Eric Gordon reneged on his verbal pledge to Illinois (with the help of his
father) and ended up going to Indiana.
DeAndre Jordan was part of a package deal along with his AAU coach, Byron Smith, to go to Texas A&M when Billy Gillispie was the head coach.
First-year Aggies coach Mark Turgeon basically had no choice but to hold true
and give Smith a job in order to make certain Jordan arrived in College Station.
However, the freshmen haven't just been terrific on the court this season.
They haven't had any issues off the court, either.
Beasley has been the prize of the class this season, eclipsing Kevin Durant's
numbers a year ago that earned the Texas freshman National Player of the Year
honors. He's versatile and has basically carried Kansas State to the Big Dance
The Pac-10 has a trio of elite freshman — and don't be shocked if all three
decide to bypass their sophomore seasons in college.
UCLA big man Kevin Love could be the missing piece for the Bruins' national
title hopes. He's a presence in the paint that can score and rebound and is a
terrific passer as well. Questions abound regarding his NBA potential, but his
skill level is so high that there will be a spot for him for a long time in the
Across town, Mayo has been a model citizen this season. That's what Tim Floyd
and the USC coaching staff says. There was the preseason incident in which Mayo
broke teammate Daniel Hackett's jaw with an elbow, but all involved have
maintained it was an accident.
Anyway, Floyd gushes about Mayo — and the talented guard hasn't
disappointed. He's been terrific, especially since he started to buy into the
team concept around the middle of the year.
Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless has basically gotten lost in all the Love-Mayo
talk. Bayless, one of the top scoring guards in the nation, would have received
far more attention had he been healthy all season and if the Wildcats enjoyed
Rose and Gordon have been everything as advertised. Rose, an electrifying
point guard, has stepped right in and led Memphis to a No. 1 seed while Gordon
has wasted no time establishing himself as one of the elite scorers in the
Even Duke's resurgence can be attributed to freshmen. Versatile forward Kyle Singler, who played with Love in the summer on an Oregon AAU team, has been the
key for the Blue Devils -- who also have athletic and defensive-minded guard
Nolan Smith and forward Taylor King.
Tom Izzo has integrated a trio of freshmen into the fray quickly — point
guard Kalin Lucas and wings Chris Allen and Durrell Summers.
Blake Griffin has led Oklahoma into the Big Dance as one of the most
underrated freshmen in the nation. The 6-foot-9 power forward has been a warrior
all season, coming back in record time from a pair of injuries.
DeJuan Blair has given Pittsburgh a similar physical presence. Purdue has a
quartet of freshmen that have matured quickly in Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore,
Scott Martin and JaJuan Johnson.
Two first-year imports from Australia have led their teams to improbable NCAA
tournament berths. Big man A.J. Ogilvy has given Vanderbilt the ideal complement
to Shan Foster while guard Patty Mills has led Saint Mary's to the Big Dance.
Oden and Durant may be history, but this freshman crop has a lot more than
just two guys to watch.
Top freshmen to watch
Eric Gordon, Indiana
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Michael Beasley, Kansas State
O.J. Mayo, USC
A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt
Davon Jefferson, USC
Austin Daye, Gonzaga
Austin Freeman, Georgetown
Derrick Rose, Memphis
DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
Patrick Mills, Saint Mary's
Kevin Love, UCLA
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Kyle Singler, Duke
DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
Watching the Big Dance
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky (INJURED)
James Harden, Arizona State
Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
Donte Greene, Syracuse
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Nick Calathes, Florida
J.J. Hickson, N.C. State
Anthony Randolph, LSU
Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. He
can be reached at GoodmanonFOX@aol.com
or check out his blog, Good