2013-2014 Season Preview: Top 15 Impact Freshmen

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McDonald’s All-American Game

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

With each season that passes us by, freshmen become more and more important to the college hoops landscape. The one-and-done rule forces our nation’s most talented prospects to spend one year on campus, showcasing their talents to NBA scouts as they try to play their way into the lottery. This season is no exception, as one of the best classes in recent memory will be passing through college basketball. Here are 15 freshmen that you need to know:

Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid, Kansas: Wiggins is, quite obviously, the biggest name on this list. He’s got freak-of-nature athleticism and, as a 6-foot-8 shooting guard, has been put in the same category as guys like Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose when it comes to being a prospect. The issue with Wiggins is that he’s more of a long-term prospect than an instant impact guy, which means that people expecting him to have the kind of season that Kevin Durant did at Texas may be disappointed. Don’t be surprised if he “only” averages around 18 points per game.

The other reason is that he won’t be alone in this class. Selden is an aggressive, physical and athletic off-guard that can bully his way to the rim and is a perfect compliment to Wiggins on the perimeter. Embiid may be the best long-term center prospect in the class, although his major contributions this season may end up being on the defensive side of the ball.

(MORE: Freshmen outside the Top 15 that will have a major impact)

Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and James Young, Kentucky: What can be said about this group that hasn’t already been said? That’s an obscene amount of talent, and it’s not even Kentucky’s entire class. Randle will probably be the best of the bunch, as he’s a big, powerful forward that’s currently making the transition to being more of a wing than a bully on the block. He could end up being the best freshman in the country.

The rest of the class is impressive as well. The Harrisons will form one of the biggest back courts in the country, and their ability to lead this team — and, in Andrew’s case, be a distributor more than a scorer — will be the key to whether or not they fully reach their potential. Johnson is yet another big, athletic center coming through Kentucky’s ranks, while Young’s a left-handed wing that can score a lot of points in a hurry when he gets hot.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona: Gordon might be the best athlete in the country, as evidenced by the number of people that compare him to Blake Griffin. The key to Gordon’s season, and the key to Arizona’s chances of winning a national title, will be for Gordon to embrace the idea of playing a “stretch four” role instead of strictly playing the three in Arizona’s lineup.

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Andrew Wiggins

Jabari Parker, Duke: Parker hasn’t had quite has much hype entering this season as guys like Randle, Gordon and Wiggins, but there’s a chance that he could end up being the best of the bunch. He’s a combo-forward that is as skilled as they come on the perimeter. It’s refreshing to see a guy make a list like this for his skill set as opposed to simply being an athlete.

Noah Vonleh, Indiana: Vonleh has a ton of promise, and will be an incredibly important piece for a young Indiana team. He’s got the size and the athleticism to be an impact player up front, but just how good he ends up being will be determined by just how much of a mean streak he develops.

Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, Florida: Walker is more of a long-term prospect right now because of his academic issues, but Hill could end up being the x-factor for this team. There are plenty of quality pieces on Billy Donovan’s roster, but a lot of guys are out of action right now, be it the result of injuries or suspensions, meaning Hill has a chance to step in and perform right away.

Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Ennis is the key to the Syracuse attack this year. He’s the only point guard on a Syracuse roster that features quote a bit of talent that needs to have their shots set up for them. Is he ready to be a floor general in his first season?

Keith Frazier, SMU: Frazier has the potential to be a prolific scorer at the collegiate level, especially when you consider that he’ll be playing in the AAC. He should be SMU’s primary weapon offensively from Day 1.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.