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Bossi's Best: Top 10 one-and-done players of the past 10 years

RANKINGS: 2019 Rivals150 | 2019 Team rankings | 2019 Position rankings

2020 Rivals150 | 2020 Position rankings

Top 75 of 2021

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Anthony Davis (AP Images)

Zion Williamson is one of the most heavily publicized players, let alone freshmen, in college basketball history. The phenom is likely moving on to the NBA after his one season at Duke ended without a title. How highly does Williamson rank among the top one-and-done players of the last 10 years? In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, national analyst Eric Bossi ranks his top 10 one-and-done players of the last 10 years.

MORE: 3-Point Play on P.J. Washington, Michigan State and Caleb Grill


1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky 

His season: 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game in 2011-12.

Bossi’s take: As far as I’m concerned, Davis is the best one-and-done player in NCAA history -- though Carmelo Anthony would be able to make a case for himself. I know there are some guys who have put together more impressive scoring numbers, but nobody else in the last 10 years has anything near the body of work that Davis does. He won a title, he won National Player of the Year, he was a revolutionary defensive player and he’s gone on to be one of the five best players in the NBA.

*****

2. Zion Williamson, Duke 

His season: 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 2018-19.

Bossi’s take: Duke fell short of reaching the Final Four, but there is no doubting that Williamson was one of a kind. I know that there has been some Zion fatigue for the general fan because of the coverage he has received, but we shouldn’t let that get in the way of a special performance. The guy put on shows on a regular basis, was incredibly efficient and was just as big of a freak on the defensive end as he was offensively.

*****

3. Trae Young, Oklahoma 

His season: 27.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game in 2017-18.

Bossi’s take: It may take a few years, but sooner or later more people are going to realize just how special Young’s only season in Norman was. The man led the country in points and assists and it’s something that has really been undersold. That he and Oklahoma didn’t make more noise in the Big 12 or the NCAA Tournament probably holds him back in some people’s eyes, but not mine. In the NBA he has proven his college exploits were no fluke, and he’s a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.

*****

4. John Wall, Kentucky 

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John Wall (AP Images)

His season: 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game in 2009-10.

Bossi’s take: John Wall was a game-changer and one of the most impactful freshman point guards of the last quarter-century. He backed up his status as the nation’s top-ranked high school player by winning SEC Player of the Year and being named first-team All-American while helping to set the standard for John Calipari’s recruiting excellence in Lexington. A five-time NBA All-Star, Wall is easily one of the most successful point guards we have ever covered at Rivals.com.

*****

5. Ben Simmons, LSU

His season: 19.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in 2015-16.

Bossi’s take: Had Simmons’ LSU squad had a bit more team success, I would have him in my top three. But, without so much as leading his team to an NCAA Tournament during his single season he drops a little. Otherwise, Simmons was a total game-changer. We’ve simply not seen many other guys with his size, ball-handling ability and feel for making plays for others with his passing. I don’t know If we will see many more like him. Even without the threat of a jump shot, his game has translated to the NBA, where he was Rookie of the Year before becoming an all-star.

*****

6. Jahlil Okafor, Duke 

His season: 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 2014-15.

Bossi’s take: One of only two players on this list to help lead his team to a National Championship, Okafor’s excellence as a freshman has been forgotten over the years. He was the ACC Player of the Year, a first-team All-American and went on to be picked No. 3 in the 2015 NBA Draft after leading Duke to the 2015 title.

*****

7. Karl-Anthony Towns 

His season: 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in 2014-15.

Bossi’s take: Here’s where it’s important to look beyond pure stats and realize what a difference maker and trend setter Towns was. He was the prototype stretch five-man and the type of big that we’d not really seen in college hoops. That Towns only played 21.6 minutes per game, no matter how loaded that Kentucky team was, has never made any sense. Even so, he led UK to a Final Four, was the SEC Freshman of the Year and after being taken No. 1 overall has become an all-star in the NBA.

*****

8. Markelle Fultz, Washington 

His season: 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in 2016-17.

Bossi’s take: If I was making this list on individual production alone, Fultz would rate higher. But, it’s impossible not to account for Fultz’s inability to help Washington into the NCAA Tournament. That being said, Fultz was a special scorer and never got enough credit for his playmaking as a college player. The No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz is fighting injury and confidence problems.

*****

9. Deandre Ayton, Arizona

His season: 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 2017-18.

Bossi’s take: Looking back, I was pretty worried that Ayton could be a bit of a bust at Arizona because he wasn’t the hardest-working high schooler. Those fears proved unfounded, though, as Ayton put together a truly spectacular season in Tucson. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, but the Wildcats' early exit hurts his legacy. The No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, he’s had a great first season in the NBA.

*****

10. Marvin Bagley, Duke 

His season: 21 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in 2017-18.

Bossi’s take: It was really tough deciding between Marvin Bagley and other Duke players such as R.J. Barrett and Jabari Parker, who had great freshman seasons. But in addition to individual numbers, Bagley was a first-team All-American and ACC Player of the Year while getting the Blue Devils to overtime of an Elite Eight game. The second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, he’s come on strong as a rookie for the Sacramento Kings.