Basketball

College Basketball Extra | Ten freshmen making an impact | Sports

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Freshmen will have their moments — both good and bad. These 10 newcomers have had more of the former so far this season, earning the spotlight from our college basketball writer:

1. Cameron Thomas, LSU

Three games, three 20-point performances. Not a bad start for what might wind up being a brief stay in Baton Rouge. Thomas has provided the perfect complement to LSU big man Trendon Watford as an efficient backcourt scorer with a 49/44/87 shooting slash.

2. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State

Everyone’s choice as next year’s No. 1 NBA draft pick, Cunningham has lived up to the preseason hype. His debut was a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double, and the 6-foot-8, 220-pound POINT GUARD has been and will likely remain an matchup nightmare.

3. Josh Christopher, Arizona State

What was already a pretty deep Arizona State backcourt has benefited from two freshmen. Christopher leads the Sun Devils in scoring — and had 28 points on the biggest stage so far in a close loss to Villanova — while classmate Marcus Bagley has also thrived in the early going.

4. Evan Mobley, USC

At home in Los Angeles or on the road in “Bubbeville” at the Mohegan Sun, Mobley has simply been steady. The Trojans’ 7-footer had a double-double in a win against BYU (17 points and 11 rebounds) and is averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and two assists.

5. Moses Moody, Arkansas

Moody’s made his presence known in the first two weeks of the season, and he’s done it at both ends. The Little Rock native is doing plenty offensively, leading the Razorbacks in scoring heading into the weekend, but he’s been a menace defensively, too, in averaging two steals.

6. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

That Suggs didn’t blow out his Achilles on Wednesday night in Indianapolis was some good news early in the season. The Bulldogs would have pulled through with Andrew Nembhard and Joel Ayayi, but Suggs could very well put Mark Few and Co. over the top this season.

7. Jalen Johnson, Duke

The college basketball world at large was introduced to Johnson via his 19-point, 19-rebound performance in the Blue Devils’ season opener against Coppin State. The 6-9 Johnson could shape up to be one of those jumbo wings that thrives for Duke.

8. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan

Michigan had a steady, productive Jon Teske-sized hole to fill in its rotation this season. Dickinson has managed to do a pretty good job through three games, averaging 14 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 62.5 percent from the field to give the Wolverines some punch inside.

9. BJ Boston, Kentucky

Boston has shown an incredible knack for knifing through the lane and then using his incredible length to dunk on his opponents’ heads. He’s aggressive with the ball in his hands and productive, averaging 15.7 points, but he’s made exactly zero of his 11 three-point attempts.

10. Brandon Newman, Purdue

The Boilermakers had some notable veterans return this season in Trevion Williams, Sasha Stefanovic and Aaron Wheeler. It’s been their freshmen, though, that have grabbed the early headlines. Newman gives Purdue another shooter and, so far, a legit go-to offensive option.

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected], and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

Read more at www.news-gazette.com

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