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Top 5 impact freshmen in college basketball

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

The incoming 2022 college basketball recruiting class is absolutely LOADED with talent. A multitude of guys will be able to showcase their skills on upper echelon college basketball squads. In this piece we dissect the top 5 guys in the class based on who will have the biggest impact at the collegiate level.

1 - Cam Whitmore, Villanova

The 6'6 wing for Villanova will have a plethora of opportunities in the first year of Wildcat basketball in the post-Jay Wright era. Star player Justin Moore is sidelined indefinitely with an injury, and Nova will be looking for a stud to step up in his place. As a big forward, Whitmore showcases elite skills above the rim and excels defensively. All summer Whitmore dominated on the Team USA U18 team, and there are no signs of that slowing down once he suits up for the Cats.

2 - Nick Smith Jr, Arkansas

Arkansas has received boatloads of hype heading into the 2022-23 college basketball season, and that is primarily headlined by incoming combo guard Nick Smith Jr. Smith will be the go-to guy on a top ten team in the country, and already lands on our list as a projected first team All-American. The sky is the limit in Fayetteville, and Smith will be the focal point of what should shape up to be an extremely entertaining season.

3 - Keyonte George, Baylor

Keyonte George has been the most popular name among incoming freshmen all summer, and for good reason. George was Baylor's lone spark during their run in GLOBL Jam. George looked absolutely electric for the Bears, putting up spectacular performances highlighted by his shooting and defense. The only thing that prevents George from being a spot or two higher on this list is a common theme--opportunity. Baylor returns two studs in the backcourt: Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer, and although they will almost always have three guards in action on the court, George may not get to be the high roller as much as he may deserve to be. Do not be surprised if George finds himself on an All-American team by seasons end or even as the Freshman of the Year, the talent is absolutely through the roof.

4 - Cason Wallace, Kentucky

Cason Wallace claims the title of Kentucky's top incoming recruit, which almost always has big shoes to fill. As a combo guard, Wallace will find himself on the court quite a bit. Wallace is an elite scorer and lockdown defender that should impose a threat on the SEC backcourts that he will be facing. Although he lacks a bit of size, Wallace's defense and quick hands should make up for it. With the addition of Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves, Kentucky should field one of the best backcourts in the country, headlined by Sahvir Wheeler and Wallace.

5 - Dariq Whithead, Duke

Prior to injury, Whitehead would find himself much higher on this list. But due to the fact that there is no timetable for a foot injury, and they often last longer than expected, fifth on this list seems like a fitting placement. Whitehead is electric on the court and is the highlight of Duke's unreal recruiting class that features FIVE 5-star recruits. Whitehead, a projected early lottery pick, will be the focal point of Duke's offense whenever he returns from injury, which is hopefully sooner, rather than later.

Honorable Mentions:

Brandon Miller, Alabama: Complete stud. Similar situation to Whitmore (above), and should thrive in the SEC with his jaw-dropping athleticism.

Kel'el Ware, Oregon: There is no question that the talent is there for Ware. If he was guaranteed to play a large role for the Ducks, he would almost certainly be on this list, but the one question for him is opportunity.

Dillon Mitchell, Texas: Mitchell, like others, is brought down by limited opportunity. Texas is returning almost all of their primary contributors following their first NCAA tournament win since 2014. Mitchell is a freak athletically and should make himself known right out of the gate for the Longhorns.

Dereck Lively II, Duke: Lively is incredibly gifted athletically and is the next great Duke front court player. People I have spoken to expect him to be a 15 and 10 type player on any given night, along with 3 blocks. If his game translates immediately, Lively could cause Havoc in the ACC.

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