Bossi's Best: Zion Williamson finishes atop freshman tracker
The season is nearly over and it’s getting to be time to hand out postseason awards. In this week’s edition of Bossi’s Best, national analyst Eric Bossi presents our final freshman tracker of the 2018-19 college season.
1. Zion Williamson
How he got here: One of the most closely followed recruits of the Rivals.com era, Williamson surprised most of the recruiting world when he picked Duke over Clemson, Kentucky and others midway through his senior season.
This season: 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Analysis: Despite missing the last three games after suffering a knee injury against North Carolina, there’s no doubting that Williamson is the nation’s top freshman. He’s been arguably the biggest story in college basketball this season and could win both freshman and national player of the year awards.
2. R.J. Barrett
How he got here: One of the most decorated high school players of all-time - and arguably the best prospect that Canada has ever produced - Barrett picked Duke over Kentucky and Oregon prior to the start of his senior year.
This season: 23.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
Analysis: In any normal year, Barrett would likely be the runaway pick as the top freshman in the country - and the truth is it could still be argued. He’s faced some criticism over shot selection, but Barrett has put up ludicrous numbers all season long and has improved in virtually every aspect of the game since the beginning of the season. Barrett has already set Duke's all-time scoring record for a freshman and likely has several games left to play.
3. Antoine Davis, Detroit Mercy
How he got here: The son of then Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis, Davis initially committed to play for Houston. However, when his father got the head coaching job at Detroit Mercy, he got out of his commitment to the Cougars and headed to the Motor City.
This season: 26.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
Analysis: Playing for his father or not, what Davis has done as a scorer and deep jump shooter this season deserves a lofty ranking. He’s set the all-time freshman record for three-pointers made, and he’s earned his spot among the nation’s top freshmen.
4. Coby White
How he got here: There was never really any doubt where White would end up, and he ended things early committing to North Carolina prior to his junior year in high school. He’s the state of North Carolina’s all-time leading scorer at the high school level.
This season: 16.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
Analysis: The duo in Durham has gotten more national hype, but White has been pretty awesome in his own right. He’s emerged as a reliable go-to scorer, and while it’s looking like his time in Chapel Hill will be shorter than expected, he’s at least been heavy on the production.
5. Romeo Lanford
How he got here: Maybe the most heavily pursued prospect the state of Indiana has produced in 20 years, Langford was the center of an intense recruiting battle. The decision ultimately came down to the Hoosiers, Kansas and Vanderbilt with then first-year head coach Archie Miller scoring his first major recruiting win.
This season: 16.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Analysis: Indiana had a seriously rough patch in January and February, and Langford hasn’t been quite the savior that Hoosier fans were hoping for. Still, if you take a look at his entire body of work Langford has been pretty darn good and perhaps he’s been unfairly penalized by some for impossible-to-meet expectations and because he doesn’t show his emotions.
6. Tyler Herro
How he got here: Herro initially committed to Wisconsin before backing off the pledge shortly before the beginning of his senior year. Others tried to get involved but he was Kentucky’s to lose from the minute he opened it up and he ended up signing early with the Wildcats.
This season: 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
Analysis: As Kentucky has played better over the course of the season, it’s no coincidence that Herro has taken over as its best freshman. He’s an explosive scorer and very good playmaker for others off the dribble who has flourished over the last month.
7. Ignas Brazdeikis
How he got here: Part of an outstanding class of Canadian players, the dynamic scorer was pursued heavily by many programs. But early on, Michigan appeared to be a good fit and outlasted any competition.
This season: 14.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.
Analysis: As with most freshmen, Brazdeikis’ production tailed off a bit during Big Ten play, but he’s been terrific this season. He’s got an edge about him, plays without fear and has emerged as one of those guys that opposing fan bases love to hate.
8. Luguentz Dort
This season: 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Analysis: It was impossible for Dort to keep up the crazy pace he set at the beginning of the year, and like the rest of the Arizona State players, he’s been a bit up and down. However, Dort has been showing signs of his early-season dominance of late, just when the Sun Devils have needed it most.
9. Charles Bassey
How he got here: Originally a member of the class of 2019, Bassey was always tied closely to Western Kentucky and head coach Rick Stansfield. His mentor/summer coach, Hennssy Aurential, was hired by Stansfield and Bassey enrolled early.
This season: 14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Analysis: A bit of a forgotten man nationally because he doesn’t get a ton of high-profile national television exposure, Bassey has been outstanding. He’s put up the type of numbers you would expect from a five-star big man at a mid-major, and he’s got 14 double-doubles under his belt.
10. Keldon Johnson
This season: 13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
Analysis: Early in the season, Johnson carried the load offensively for the Wildcats. Over the past month sophomore P.J. Washington and Herro have taken over. Still, Johnson can be explosive and carry the Cats for stretches as he showed in a 22-point outburst on the road at Ole Miss in UK's latest victory.
More impressive freshmen: Moses Brown (UCLA), Derek Culver (West Virginia), Lamine Diane (Cal State Northridge), Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois), Devon Dotson (Kansas), C.J. Elleby (Washington State), Jayden Gardner (East Carolina), Jaylen Hoard (Wake Forest), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Isaiah Joe (Arkansas), Xavier Johnson (Pitt), Tre Jones (Duke), Kira Lewis (Alabama), Mac McClung (Georgetown) Jalen Pickett (Siena), Cameron Reddish (Duke) Nazreon Reid (LSU), Jalen Smith (Maryland), Neemias Queta (Utah State), Joe Weiskamp (Iowa)