Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 at 12:08 pm  |  22 responses

College Breakout

Effectively forced to play NCAA ball, these five freshmen reside in the “must-watch” category this season.

anthony davis

by Cub Buenning / @cubbuenning

Effectively forced to play college ball, top freshmen have become some of the most compelling guys to watch. Here’s five for this year:

Anthony Davis, Kentucky
The expression “meteoric rise” was created for youngsters like this phenom from Chicago. A few busy summers on the court coupled with a growth spurt matured the now 6-10 forward into a can’t-miss prospect. Davis’ aggressive, attacking game is no longer a secret as he backed up an amazing 2010 summer with an outstanding senior prep season at Perspectives Charter. Under the tutelage of pro creator John Calipari, Davis is obviously in good hands. His eventual explosion in the upcoming college season could have the forward first up on the podium next spring shaking another hand—that of NBA commissioner David Stern.

Brad Beal, Florida
Often the last trait that an NBA prospect develops is a consistent perimeter jumpshot. For St. Louis native Beal, however, that aspect of his game needs no further development. Beal will immediately become one of the country’s best shooters, but at 6-4, the soon-to-be Florida Gator will need to learn to spend more time on the ball. A bit undersized for an NBA off-guard, Beal has the strength, game and aforementioned ability to put the ball in the basket, making himself extremely valuable to any team near the top of next spring’s Draft.

Andre Drummond, Connecticut
Before enrolling at UConn in August, the top center in this year’s freshman class toyed with the idea of preparing for the NBA Draft in prep school. Wise choice, Dre. Jim Calhoun has turned big men with way less potential and physical tools than Drummond has into NBA Lottery picks. Whether he decided to join the defending National Champs or not,  Drummond, who’s drawn comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwight Howard, would have been a frontrunner for the No. 1 overall selection in next June’s NBA Draft, regardless.

Austin Rivers, Duke
It’s almost easy, with this influx of seemingly NBA-ready talent, to overlook the player who’s long been the most famous player in this class. Since he started his prep career at Winter Park (FL) High, Rivers has been in the spotlight. Granted, the 6-4, do-it-all combo-guard was raised around the game as the son of Doc Rivers, but Austin has been doing his own thing since Day One. Yes, he can pass like his dad, but Austin’s essence is combining the mentality of a scorer with the body of a high-flying slasher. Far more athletic and quick than often given credit for, the younger Rivers will be a perfect fit in Durham with Mike Krzyzewski.

Quincy Miller, Baylor
This long and lanky wing out of Chicago via High Point (NC) Westchester is ready to wow the folks in Waco, TX. Miller is a matchup nightmare for most on the wing with his 6-10-frame and his ability to handle the ball. A boisterous personality on and off the court, last year’s SLAM High School Diarist loves to break defenders down with his length and quickness and often relies on a spin move that he unleashes at any point on the court. Whether finishing with a pull-up jumper or at the rim, Miller can get points in a hurry. Adding a Texas-sized  diet to this kid’s frame will go far in preparing him for the 2012 NBA Draft.

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  • Ugly_fish

    Davis STILL hasn’t shaved his unibrow???

  • Ugly_fish

    Looks like that evil one eye browed baby from the Simpsons Lol

  • http://www.kobebeefnba.com LDR4

    Tony Mitchell

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Good stuff, Cub.
    I’m pumped for this college season, with no NBA season likely.
    Davis’ rise still boggles my mind.
    No one had heard of dude in the summer of 2010, now he’s a lock to be a top 5 player in any draft he comes out for.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    This is just a random question. If the Raptors end up with the first pick, who do you guys think would be the best fit for the Raptors? Barnes to fill the SF void or Drummond to replace Bargnani? OR pick up Anthony Davis and make him play SF?

  • http://www.twitter.com/BigFutureLG BigFuture

    Watch out 4 tony wroten jr, the 6-5 southpaw pg with crazy court vision

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    niQ, none of those guys is European, so the chances of the Raps drafting one of them is like 10%

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I think the Raptors should worry about getting the best player, not the one who would be the best fit.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    @Engimatic, well that’s what Bryan Colangelo presumably did with Jonas Valanciunas. Claiming him to be the best player avaiable, so I’m not worried about that. I was just curious what people thought would be the best fit. I know it’s still early (ridiculously early at that), but who do you think is the best player available? Barnes, Drummond, or Davis? (I actually really like Quincy Miller’s game, but he doesn’t seem to be ranked as high as the 3 mentioned..I’m guessing because of that injury he had and cause dude is also mad skinny..)

  • Jeff

    @ugly fish

    He shoots he scores. Great reference.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Honestly, the guy with the most “potential” in my opinion is Perry Jones.
    I mean, a 6’11″ dude who can handle the rock, slash to the basket, and all that?
    If he realized his potential he’d be at best Kevin Garnett, at worst Lamar Odom.
    But who knows if he’ll ever be as good as he could be.
    I think the safest choice is Harrison Barnes.
    I like Sullinger but you wonder if he’ll be able to beast on NBA cats like he does college kids.
    Anthony Davis is a freak of nature, but he’ll get pushed around in the L.
    I honestly haven’t seen much of Drummond. He has great size, 6’10″ 270.
    They say he has a frame and skill set comparable to a young Dwight Howard and STAT but they said the same sh*t bout Derrick Favors and I just don’t see it w/ Favors, but who knows.
    Also, don’t sleep on Marquis Teague, he’d automatically be a top 5 all time Raptors PG if they snatched him up.

  • Kareem

    Nothing about Khem Birch…smh. One of the best big men in the NCAA this year.

  • http://dodgers.com Joey E.

    damn get some tweezers

  • Ismail

    Watch out for Myck Kabongo at Texas, mans a beast. Q Miller is nice too

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Enig: Drummond will beast this year. He’s a legit center, not a forward like Favors. Given the lack of physicality of NBA centers today, I think his game will translate well.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Double J

    What about kidd-gilchrist?

  • letsrun

    lmao at dude with the unibrow

  • BRAD

    unibrow or not he will soon be a rich man….

  • CMD

    Myck Kabongo was completely SHUT DOWN by Villanova’s Tyrone Johnson back in Febuary.

  • Pugz

    Why wouldn’t you wax that thing? Does he think it looks good? Maybe he beleives unibrows are normal these days.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Or maybe his unibrow is his good luck charm. I mean, it’s given him a late crazy growth spurt already…

  • Jim Farmer

    Why is Kabongo so high on the list? Several freshmen guards are better.