Top 10 impact freshmen: Ranking college basketball’s best newcomers entering the 2021-22 season

Two of the top-five recruits within the 2020 class a yr in the past turned professional in favor of taking part in faculty basketball. The yr earlier than, No. 1 total recruit James Wiseman performed a complete of three video games for Memphis whereas No. 5 total recruit RJ Hampton went abroad to prep for the NBA. However the 2021-22 faculty basketball season ought to carry with it a recent and fruitful wave of younger expertise in a freshmen class stocked with star energy and unfold out from the west coast to east coast and a little bit of in all places in between. 

So we’re taking a look at these rookie abilities in our annual preseason freshmen primer piece. In it, I will rank the highest newcomers to the game from 1-10 utilizing just one metric: impression. Projected manufacturing and professional prospects do not issue into the equation. It is merely an analysis of what impact a participant may have on their new staff.

With out additional ado, let’s kick issues off with Paolo Banchero, the Duke freshman who ranked No. 2 within the recruiting rankings however ranks No. 1 on our record.

1. Paolo Banchero | Duke | PF

In basketball, match and state of affairs are the 2 most vital components to success. For Banchero, the match is nice at Duke however the state of affairs is even higher. This system misplaced its prime three scorers from a season in the past and wanted frontcourt expertise to replenish its roster. He steps in because the clear alpha on this staff and may dominate inside and outside due to his versatile offensive recreation that enables him to create and rating from anyplace on the court docket. 

2. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | C

Gonzaga returns a preseason participant of the yr candidate in Drew Timme so Holmgren, the No. 1 incoming recruit, will not instantly be the star of the preseason No. 1 Bulldogs. That does not imply he will not be a star in any respect, although. Alongside Timme within the frontcourt, Holmgren’s wiry arms, shot-blocking superpowers and guard-like abilities at 7-feet tall ought to make him among the many most watchable gamers within the recreation.

3. Patrick Baldwin Jr. | Milwaukee | PF

Baldwin Jr. was ranked a number of instances because the No. 1 highschool prospect within the nation earlier than coming into faculty because the No. 7 total recruit. And coming off a season-ending ankle damage, there’s understandably much less buzz surrounding him than the Bancheros and Holmgrens of the game. But it surely shouldn’t be by a lot. Baldwin is a 6-9 sharpshooter with the talent and savvy of a wing able to step in because the No. 1 choice on a Milwaukee staff that has the products to win the Horizon. 

4. Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee | PG

Chandler was a key piece of USA’s U19 staff that gained a gold medal on the World Cup this summer season. Averaging 7.7 factors and three.4 assists per recreation, he shot practically 40% from 3-point vary and may parlay that momentum right into a starring function for Tennessee. With the 2 main scorers from final seasons Vols staff gone — together with Jaden Springer — he figures to be an integral a part of this staff’s long-term potential as the ground basic in Knoxville. 

5. Emoni Bates | Memphis | SF

Simply probably the most spectacular inclusion on our record if solely as a result of Bates will not flip 18 years outdated till his second faculty semester. Equally spectacular are his credentials as a former No. 1 recruit who reclassified late to affix the Tigers. He figures to step in as a bucket-getter early for Memphis — and Penny Hardaway has even hinted at taking part in the 6-8 wing on the ball some, too. 

6. Jabari Smith | Auburn | PF

Auburn ranked within the prime three final season amongst SEC groups in rebounding, then went out and added star UNC huge man switch Walker Kessler and Smith,five-star huge man, to formulate one of the vital gifted frontcourts within the league. Smith must be the lightning to Kessler’s Thunder of that pairing with a easy taking pictures stroke and a giant, sturdy body that ought to permit him to house the ground and wreak havoc on the inside as properly. This Tigers staff has NBA expertise all through and Smith has the pedigree — and certain additionally the manufacturing — to be the very best of the bunch.

7. Jalen Duren | Memphis | C

Duren was the No. 1 recruit within the 2022 class earlier than committing — and reclassifying —  to Memphis. So even subsequent to Emoni Bates and a veteran group that features Landers Nolley and DeAndre Williams, do not anticipate him to take a backseat right here. He will not produce the identical flash as different prime frosh on this record however his measurement and power all however ensures he’ll be a lot productive and impactful on each ends for the Tigers.

4 of the seven newcomers for Kentucky are transfers, an unprecedented transfer for a one-and-done reliant coach in John Calipari, however TyTy Washington goes to nonetheless discover his method into the lineup with regularity. As soon as a borderline top-100 prospect, he completed his highschool profession ranked 14th nationally after a powerful senior season and his offensive versatility as a scorer and creator can carry this staff to new heights when he settles in — even with as a lot expertise that surrounds him.

9. JD Davison | Alabama | PG

Nate Oats and the Alabama workers are proving they’ve a method of figuring out — and producing — NBA-caliber abilities with consistency. Davison is subsequent in that line as he steps in at level guard to play alongside Jahvon Quinerly. The No. 3 prospect at his place popping out of highschool, he has a college-ready physique and prime stage imaginative and prescient in addition to bolster his profile as one of many prime newcomers within the recreation. Quinerly’s presence might impression his taking part in time and manufacturing however the expertise and presence he brings will have an effect on profitable — for the higher — in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

10. AJ Griffin | Duke | SF

There was some concern main into the season about Griffin’s knee after injuring it in October however he’s already again in motion and exhibiting promise. If wholesome, he’ll be among the finest freshmen within the nation as a result of Duke will want gamers round Banchero to step up.

Simply missed the minimize: Caleb Houstan (Michigan), Kendall Brown (Baylor), Max Christie (Michigan State), Hunter Sallis (Gonzaga), Peyton Watson (UCLA) | High 10 impression freshmen: Rating faculty basketball’s greatest newcomers coming into the 2021-22 season


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