One week remains in the college regular season for this year’s impact freshmen to make their move. Okafor and Russell have the top two spots locked up, but Melo Trimble jumps up to No. 3 and Winslow goes from outside the Top 10 to number six on the Freshmen Tracker.
1. Okafor, C, Duke
18.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 66.3 FG%
Okafor needed a game to recover from his ankle injury suffered during the UNC game and he scored 30 points in his return in a close overtime win at Virginia Tech. Okafor only scored 13 on Saturday against Syracuse but added 14 boards. The top rated recruit in the 2014 high school class has also been the top freshmen throughout the year and is in the front running for ACC Player of the Year and also the National Player of the Year. The only down fall for Okafor right now comes at the charity stripe. He’s shooting 52.5% and is just 5-22 in his last three games.
2. D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
18.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.4 apg
Russell has gone the last five games shooting under 50% from the field, but spurred the Ohio State comeback on Sunday night against Purdue. The 6’5” freshman finished with 28 points and seven rebounds and was fantastic in the second half. Despite the low shooting percentage, Russell has still knocked in two or more three’s in 11 of his last 12 games. He’s scored in double figures in every game this year besides his second game of his career against Marquette and has been one of the best players throughout Big 10 play.
3. Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland
16.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg
The Terps have quietly won five in a row in Big 10 play and they just notched a pair of home wins against Wisconsin and Michigan in the past week. During the winning streak, Trimble has been scoring just under 20 points per game. He struggled for a few games in the middle of conference play, but Trimble has helped revitalize the Maryland program in their first year of Big 10 play.
4. Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
14.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 apg
Playing for one of the top teams in the country, Stanley Johnson took over the early role as Arizona’s leading scorer. He’s had significant struggles from the field in two of his last three games, but managed to grab double-digit rebounds in both. In the primetime Saturday match-up, Johnson went just 3-19 from the field just one week after going 1-9 against UCLA. Despite the poor performances, Johnson is a lock for first team all Pac-12 for an Arizona team that is looking for their first final four appearance under Sean Miller.
5. Karl Anthony-Towns, PF, Kentucky
9.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 56.0 FG%
Anthony-Towns is still only playing 20 minutes per game on an undefeated Kentucky team, but with his play he is starting to get more consideration for the No. 1 pick in this summer’s draft. Over his last five games, Anthony-Towns has missed just three shots (20-23) and sits at No. 5 in the Ken Pomeroy player of the year ratings due to his 121.2 offensive efficiency rating. He also put up double-doubles in wins over Auburn and Mississippi State.
6. Justise Winslow, F, Duke
12.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.9 apg
Justise Winslow makes the biggest leap from the last Top 10 rankings as he previously just missed the cut. Winslow made a key defensive stop against Brice Johnson in the final minutes of Duke’s comeback win and then subsequently took advantage of his offensive miss-match by hitting an open three and a driving and one. Winslow then went for 20 points and 13 rebounds against Clemson, 15 points and seven rebounds at Virginia Tech, and 23 points and nine rebounds against Syracuse.
7. Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
12.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg
The Milwaukee native hasn’t recorded a double-double since UCLA’s win over Oregon; however the lanky freshmen is still a double-double machine. Over his last six games, Looney has been on a quiet tear from three going 10-16 from behind the arc making him a viable pick and pop threat. Looney recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in his last game as UCLA moved to 10-7 in Pac-12 play.
8. Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
11.1 ppg, 43.6 3PT%
Booker has come down back to earth a bit over the last few games; however the freshman reserve is still the co-leading scorer for the top ranked Wildcats at 11.1 points per game in just under 22 minutes. He’s scored in double figures over his last four games and is shooting 43.6% from behind the arc and 83% from the line.
9. James Blackmon Jr., SG, Indiana
15.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 82.4% FT’s
The sweet shooting Indiana guard has teamed up with Yogi Ferrell to re-unite the Bloomington faithful. He struggled in an upset loss at Northwestern going just 1-10 from the floor, but Blackmon is hitting 39.4% from three and just put together a 17 point, seven rebound performance against Rutgers.
10. Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
11.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.7 apg
Yes, having Tyus Jones on the list gives Duke three players in the top ten; however the highly regarded freshman has lived up to his billing as the best pure point in the freshman class. Jones keyed Duke’s comeback win against UNC recording 22 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists including the game winning lay-up. His turnovers are up as are his minutes. Will his legs start to go over the next few weeks?
Daniel Hamilton, SF, UConn
10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.6 apg
By no means is Daniel Hamilton having an efficient freshman season (94.9 ORTG) and he certainly isn’t shooting well from the field (40%), but he is certainly filling up the stat sheet. The 6’8” Hamilton put together a strong February in AAC play highlighted by a 25 point, 13 rebound, seven assist performance against Memphis and a 16 point, seven rebound game in a win against SMU. Despite the lackluster field goal percentage, Hamilton is hitting three’s at a 35% clip.
Players that just missed the cut:
· Eric Paschall (Fordham)
· Myles Turner (Texas)
· Riley LaChance (Vanderbilt)
· Domantas Sabonis (Gonzaga)
· Schadrac Casimir (Iona)
Who did I miss? Send me a tweet @seanmohoops