Many freshmen have fallen victim to the grueling grind of conference play in the past. The constant rivalry games and high-intensity contests eventually cause newcomers to hit a wall and struggle to the finish line. With league play kicking off this week and next week in every league, it will be interesting to see which players keep up their stellar non-conference play. As coaches shorten rotations and rely more on certain players, which freshman studs will begin to falter?
As always, the Freshman of the Year rankings are released on Thursdays, shortly after the Player of the Year rankings.
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (Last Week: 1): 11.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 4.5 bpg, 62.6 FG%
Davis’ scoring has dipped the last few games, but he’s picked up it on the defensive end. Davis is averaging 12.8 boards and 4.8 blocks his last four.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (Last Week: 3): 13.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 54.1 FG%
He’s missed a grand total of two shots in the last two games, averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists during that span.
3. Cody Zeller, Indiana (Last Week: 2): 14.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.0 spg, 65.0 FG%
His numbers have fallen in the last three weeks, including a four-point, four-foul performance vs. Michigan State. He’ll bounce back.
4. Brad Beal, Florida (Last Week: 4): 15.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg
It looks like the touted high school shooter is finding his 3-point stroke. He’s shot 7-for-12 from behind the arc in his last two games.
5. Moe Harkless, St. John’s (Last Week: 7): 15.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg
Harkless continues to get better as he takes on a bigger role for the Red Storm. Started Big East play with 32 points and 13 boards vs. Providence.
6. Austin Rivers, Duke (Last Week: 5): 15.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.3 apg
Rivers hasn’t played since week’s rankings, as Duke took an 11-day hiatus over the holidays. He resumes against Western Michigan on Friday.
7. Trey Burke, Michigan (Last Week: 8): 13.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5.0 apg
Burke is really coming on strong, as Big Ten play kicks off for the Wolverines on Thursday. Had eight assists against Bradley last week.
8. Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech (Last Week: NR): 15.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg
Tolbert is producing as well as any newcomer in the country. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 24.3 points in his last four games, shooting 38-for-54 from the field.
9. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (Last Week: NR): 15.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Harrison is another player who has picked up his play lately. He’s averaging 19.0 points in his last four games, limiting his turnovers and bad shots.
10. Adam Smith, UNC-Wilmington (Last Week: NR): 17.0 ppg, 42.9 3PT%
The weekly mid-major special. Smith had 32 points last week against Wake Forest, knocking down seven 3-pointers. Fifth among frosh in scoring.
- Three players were knocked from the rankings. Arkansas’ B.J. Young is averaging just 10.3 points in his last four games, and his shooting has fallen off. LaDontae Henton of Providence was outplayed by Harkless and also struggled against Rhode Island. Cal State Northridge’s Stephan Hicks went just 3-for-14 against Washington.
- The last player left out of the rankings was Georgetown’s Otto Porter. He had a monster performance against Louisville, going for 14 points and 14 rebounds, but struggled the previous game vs. Memphis. He could crack it next week.
- What happened to Kansas State’s Thomas Gipson? He was in the rankings two weeks ago, but is averaging just 4.8 points and 5.3 boards in his last four games.
- It was only Winthrop, but Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope needs to have more performances like the one he had Tuesday: 18 points, six boards, four assists, 6-for-10 shooting.
- North Texas’ Chris Jones might get overshadowed by Tony Mitchell as the season progresses, but he’s averaging 15.6 points on 30-for-50 shooting in his last five games.
- Campbell’s Trey Freeman is going to be a stud. His mid-range game is as good as anyone at his level, and he knows how to run an offense.
- Freshman leaders – Points: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State (20.2); Rebounds: Anthony Davis, Kentucky (10.2); Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State (6.9).
Photo: US Presswire