Stacking college basketball’s best freshmen — Biggest stars, surprises, those waiting their turn

  • Basketball recruiting insider.
  • Joined ESPN in 2014.
  • Graduate of University of Delaware.

The transition to college basketball is always difficult for freshmen, but the learning curve has steepened even more this season with limited offseason time, shortened preseasons and a choppy first month and a half of the season that saw dozens of games canceled or postponed. Moreover, most of the teams we’re seeing at the top of the rankings are ones loaded with returnees and/or upperclassmen that needed less time to develop chemistry this season.

That said, there have been plenty of impact freshmen — and most of the top college players in this summer’s NBA draft will be graduates of the 2020 class. In fact, the top eight and 13 of the top 15 college players in ESPN’s 2021 NBA draft rankings are freshmen.

With just over six weeks in the books, it’s time to take stock of this year’s freshmen. Which ones are living up to the hype, which ones are surprising, and which ones have not gotten a chance to make an impact just yet?

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