Skip to content

UNLV forward Anthony Bennett leads CBT’s Freshman of the Year rankings

Feb 4, 2013, 6:00 PM EST

Anthony Bennett AP

A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.

There have been a number of outstanding freshmen that have been cornerstones of their programs in 2012-13, but a select five stick out, along with some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (18.4 points, 4.8 rebounds per game)

After the eligibility debacle with the NCAA that forced Muhammad out of the first three games of the season, it took time for the five-star freshman to get into the swing of things at UCLA. As he got more into game shape and became more comfortable in the UCLA offense, the Bruins began to win games and gain traction in the Pac-12.

Isaiah Austin, Baylor (14.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks per game)

The seven-footer Austin is solidifying himself as a Top 10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, not only because of his ability to score and rebound, but also his willingness to stretch the defense by consistently hitting jumpers on the perimeter. He’s shooting 35 percent from three-point range and, though it’s not stellar, is a major asset for a player his size.

Dominic Artis, Oregon (10.2 points, 3.8 assists per game)

Often the mark of how valuable a player is rests on how well his team plays when he is not in the lineup. In the case of Artis, Oregon has a 1-2 record while he currently sits out with injury, averaging nearly 22 turnovers per game. The Ducks have slipped into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 and will welcome Artis back to the lineup with open arms when he becomes available.

JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s (14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game)

Sampson was originally a member of coach Steve Lavin’s big 2011 recruiting class, but did not qualify and headed back to Brewster Academy for a prep year. Much like his one-and-done former recruiting classmate Maurice Harkless, Sampson has been one of the most impressive freshmen in the Big East.

Siyani Chambers, Harvard (13.3 points, 6.1 assists per game)

Chambers leads all freshmen in assists per game and has the Crimson off to a 4-0 start in Ivy League play. He was perhaps biggest just this past Saturday, when his double-double of 17 points and 10 assists propelled Harvard to a double-overtime win over Brown.

The Countdown

5. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (10.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.6 blocks per game)

Since the day Noel stepped on campus, comparisons to Anthony Davis have been levied on him, fairly or unfairly. He may not have the offensive game that Davis had while with the Wildcats, but defensively he hasn’t missed a step. His 4.6 blocks per game have anchored the Kentucky defense, including a 12-block game against Ole Miss that sparked a Kentucky comeback victory.

4. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.9 steals per game)

No one game perfectly exemplified how important Smart is to the Cowboys than his 25-point, 9-rebound, 5-steal outing at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday to lift Oklahoma State to a win over Kansas. Smart does a little bit of everything and should be cashing in on draft day. First, though, he’ll likely be leading the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament.

3. Jahii Carson, Arizona State (18.3 points, 5.3 assists per game)

Carson is the biggest reason why Arizona State’s offense has been completely transformed this season and why the Sun Devils are competing in the Pac-12, en route to a likely NCAA tournament berth. The redshirt freshman is athletic and the offensive catalyst for Herb Sendek’s team. Even in a win over UCLA when he scored just 12 points, he controlled the pace of the game and was a key to Arizona State’s success.

2. Ben McLemore, Kansas (16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds per game)

After Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson left Kansas’ Final Four team last season, they needed a scoring star to go alongside returning center Jeff Withey. Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore has more than fit the bill. Not only can he dance, but he has been Kansas’ most productive offensive player and carried them in key spots. His bank three-pointer at home against Iowa State helped the Jayhawks to a win in dramatic fashion.

1. Anthony Bennett, UNLV (18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds per game)

In a tightly contested Mountain West race, the fact that Bennett has become such a dominant force only bodes well for the Rebels. Mike Moser’s production isn’t what it was last year, but Moser and Pitt transfer Khem Birch, in combination with Bennett, make for one of the most formidable front lines in the country.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. Right foot injury to sideline Tennessee forward for at least one game

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:44 PM EST

    Steve Taylor Jr., Kevin Punter, Jabari McGhee AP

    Jabari McGhee suffered the injury in Tennessee’s loss to NC State on Wednesday.

  2. Michigan State starting forward to miss next two games with non-displaced wrist fracture

    Dec 18, 2014, 7:09 PM EST

    Branden Dawson, Brandon Nazione AP

    Branden Dawson is the team’s leading rebounder, as he’s grabbing 8.7 boards per contest.

  3. Minnesota adds 6-foot-9 freshman power forward to roster

    Dec 18, 2014, 5:59 PM EST

    Richard Pitino AP

    Gaston Diedhiou was denied admission to Minnesota during the summer, and he is now eligible immediately after passing an English proficiency exam.

  4. New Year’s Resolutions: San Diego State Aztecs

    Dec 18, 2014, 5:08 PM EST

    Steve Fisher AP

    While the focus has been on the Aztecs’ shooting percentages, their ability to find quality looks has been a big reason why they’ve struggled.

  5. Pregame Shootaround: Is Duke-UConn a rivalry?

    Dec 18, 2014, 3:45 PM EST

    brimah AP

    When do we start counting Duke-UConn as a rivalry?

  6. Louisville loses former top 100 big man to transfer

    Dec 18, 2014, 3:33 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Agau was buried on the Louisville bench with a number of young guys in front of him.

  7. Film Session: What’s plaguing Marcus Paige?

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:34 PM EST

    Marcus Paige (Getty Images) Marcus Paige (Getty Images)

    A deep look into the early-season struggles of Marcus Paige and whether or not they are fixable.

  8. Throwback Thursday: UConn ‘Shocks The World’ against Duke (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:48 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The last two times these teams have squared off in big games, the outcome has been memorable.

  9. New Year’s Resolutions: Virginia Cavaliers

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:53 AM EST

    Justin Anderson (AP Photo) Justin Anderson (AP Photo)

    Three-point shooting might be the key to the Virginia season.

  10. Lauren Hill’s playing career over, to become honorary coach

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:59 AM EST

    Lauren Hill AP

    She may not be playing anymore, but Lauren’s time with the basketball program has not yet come to an end.

  11. Cal Poly’s David Nwaba spins through traffic for a two-handed finish (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:45 AM EST

    Cal Poly Athletics Cal Poly Athletics

    David Nwaba scored 11 second-half points to help lead the Mustangs back from a 14-points halftime deficit. Here are two of those points.

  12. Cody Doolin’s late-game heroics push UNLV past Portland (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Will Cummings, Cody Doolin AP

    Doolin finished the game with 15 points, three assists and no turnovers, and made two huge plays to get UNLV the two-point win over Portland.

  13. American’s struggles makes Cincinnati’s win over San Diego State enormous

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:04 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This is the first win that the American has landed over a ranked team.

  14. Michigan State’s Branden Dawson suffers sprained left wrist in win over Eastern Michigan

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:00 AM EST

    Branden Dawson, Jalen Hayes, Matt Costello AP

    Dawson’s injury occurred on the same night that freshman Javon Bess made his regular season debut for the Spartans.

  15. Senior forward/center Erik Copes leaves George Mason program

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:33 PM EST

    Fordham v George Mason Fordham v George Mason

    Copes played in just four games this season due to injury.

  16. Green Bay with an off-the-glass alley-oop in a half court set (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:07 PM EST

    AP AP

    The best part is that it was very much intentional

  17. Late Night Snacks: Ralston Turner, Trevor Lacey lead NC State past Tennessee

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    Ralston Turner AP

    Delaware State’s Amere May scored more points than anyone in college basketball has this season.

  18. Already lacking front court depth, Siena loses starting forward to ankle injury

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:19 PM EST

    Lavon Long,Karachi Edo Lavon Long,Karachi Edo

    With Lavon Long and Brett Bisping now sidelined, the Saints are without their two best rebounders.

  19. New Year’s Resolutions: Texas Longhorns

    Dec 17, 2014, 6:55 PM EST

    Rick Barnes Rick Barnes

    Defense and turnovers will be the keys for Texas when Big 12 play begins.

  20. Chase for 180: So far, so good for Virginia’s Justin Anderson

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:56 PM EST

    Justin Anderson, Jordan Price AP

    After shooting 40.7% from the field and 29.4% from three as a sophomore, Anderson’s off to a hot start for the sixth-ranked Cavaliers.