Saturday, May 7, 2011

Top newcomer? John Wall runs away from a talented field

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wall committed to John Calipari's program last spring after Calipari packed his bags from Memphis in favor of Lexington, and his playing style has been an ideal match for the Wildcats' system.

More than just his outstanding stats, Wall established himself as one of the nation's most potent offensive weapons in the clutch. He became the team's go-to scoring option almost immediately, and his mental toughness accentuated his vast physical gifts.

Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins was another top-five prospect in the class and arguably has been the nation's second-best freshman. Averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, even Cousins' controversial on-court antics could not overshadow his consistent effectiveness.

Moving on, Georgia Tech big man Derrick Favors was considered the No. 1 player in his class for two full years. Though not as scintillating as Wall, Favors generally played well for the Yellow Jackets and enjoyed some especially big games toward the end of the season.

Another success story among the top 25 was Oklahoma's Tommy Mason-Griffin. While many have questioned the wisdom of his decision this week to declare for the NBA Draft, there's certainly no disputing that he was a key figure for the Sooners.

But many of the other top-25 prospects struggled as freshmen. In the top five, both Avery Bradley and John Henson had brilliant moments for Texas and North Carolina respectively — and in Henson's case, especially once he moved to his natural power forward position — but both struggled to acclimate offensively to the college game.

In all, 13 of the 23 players in the top 25 range to play this season — Renardo Sidney was declared ineligible by the NCAA and Lorenzo Brown detoured to prep school — failed to crack double-digits in scoring. That isn't a huge indictment for mere freshmen, obviously, but more concerning is that nine of the 23 played no more than 15 minutes per game.

Other freshman classes have exerted a much more profound immediate influence, though in fairness some of the guys this year were shackled by the presence of more experienced players ahead of them who would have been difficult to unseat from the lineup.

Next season, however, pressure will be magnified on those players still in college. Below is a numerical progress report on the top 25 prospects according to our final rankings for the Class of 2009.


Rank/Name Ht. Pos. High School College
1. John Wall 6-4 PG Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.) Kentucky
16.8 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.1 rpg, 47% fg, 34% 3fg        
2. Derrick Favors 6-9 C South Atlanta Georgia Tech
12.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 61% fg, 63% ft        
3. Avery Bradley 6-3 SG Findlay (Henderson, Nev.) Texas
11.6 ppg, 43% fg, 38% 3fg, 55% ft        
4. John Henson 6-10 PF Sickles (Tampa, Fla.) North Carolina
15 mpg, 5.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 49% fg, 48% ft        
5. DeMarcus Cousins 6-10 C LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.) Kentucky
15.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 55% fg, 61% ft        
6. Xavier Henry 6-6 WF Putnam City (Warr Acres, Okla.) Kansas
13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 46% fg, 42% 3fg        
7. Kenny Boynton 6-2 SG American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) Florida
14.0 ppg, 38% fg, 29% 3fg        
8. Lance Stephenson 6-5 SG Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) Cincinnati
12.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 44% fg, 22% 3fg        
9. Renardo Sidney 6-10 C Fairfax (Los Angeles) Mississippi State
NOTE: Was ruled ineligible by the NCAA        
10. Jordan Hamilton 6-7 WF Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) Texas
10.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 41% fg, 37% 3fg, 58% ft        
11. Dominic Cheek 6-7 WF St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) Villanova
14 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 45% fg, 31% 3fg        
12. Mason Plumlee 6-11 C Christ School (Arden, N.C.) Duke
15 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 46% fg, 29% 3fg,
52% ft
13. Dante Taylor 6-8 PF NCA (Fort Washington, Md.) Pittsburgh
14 mpg, 4.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 58% fg, 58% ft        
14. Michael Snaer 6-4 SG Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley, Calif.) Florida State
8.8 ppg, 44% fg, 35% 3fg        
15. Keith Gallon 6-9 C Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) Oklahoma
10.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 55% fg        
16. Abdul Gaddy 6-3 PG Bellarmine (Tacoma, Wash.) Washington
4.0 ppg, 41% fg, 56% ft        
17. Wally Judge 6-8 PF ACD (Jacksonville, Fla.) Kansas State
12 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 42% fg        
18. Elijah Johnson 6-2 PG Cheyenne (North Las Vegas, Nev.) Kansas
7 mpg, 2.4 ppg        
19. Alex Oriakhi 6-9 C Tilton School (N.H.) Connecticut
5.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 46% fg, 54% ft        
20. Mouphtaou Yarou 6-9 PF Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) Villanova
15 mpg, 4.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 58% fg  
21. Milton Jennings 6-9 PF Pinewood (Summerville, S.C.) Clemson
11 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 37% fg, 17% 3fg, 64% ft
22. Tommy Mason-Griffin 5-10 PG Madison (Houston) Oklahoma
14.1 ppg, 5.0 apg, 40% fg, 42% 3fg, 81% ft        
23. Jamil Wilson 6-7 WF Horlick (Racine, Wis.) Oregon
4.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 43% fg, 28% 3fg        
24. Nolan Dennis 6-4 SG Richland (North Richland Hills, Texas) Baylor
9 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 44% fg        
25. Lorenzo Brown 6-4 SG Centennial (Roswell, Ga.) Prep School
NOTE: Re-classified and will be a freshman
at N.C. State in 2010-11


Rob Harrington also writes for

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