SEC Hoops Top Freshmen
By: Mitch Light | 12/13/10, 2:14 PM EST
The recruiting services do an excellent job evaluating high school talent. But there will always be some players who far exceed expectations and there will be players who fail to live up to the hype. The 2010-11 season is still very young, but I thought it would be fun to rank the top 11 freshmen (I couldn’t trim the list to 10) in the SEC and compare my list to how the players were ranked by Rivals.com.
1. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (Rivals: No. 13)
The versatile small forward has been the best player in the Wildcats’ stellar freshman class. The one-time Washington commitment ranks third in the league in scoring (18.9 ppg) and is one of only two players in the league averaging a double-double (Mississippi State’s Kodi Augustus is the other). Jones struggled in Kentucky’s loss at North Carolina (3-of-17 from the field) but bounced back with 27 points and 17 boards in a 14-point win over Notre Dame.
2. Tobias Harris, Tennessee (Rivals: No. 7)
Harris is everything he was supposed to be: A highly skilled power forward who can do a little bit of everything on the court. He shoots well from the field (.500) and can step out and hit the three (7-of-10). Harris isn’t a jump-out-of-the-gym athlete, and he isn’t a high-volume rebounder (6.0 per in 26.6 minutes), but he is already a great college basketball player who will make a huge impact in the SEC.
3. Brandon Knight, Kentucky (Rivals: No. 6)
Knight was recruited to be the next great point guard for John Calipari, following in the footsteps of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. But he is not a true point guard; he’s got far more Evans than Rose or Wall in him. He is scoring a lot (17.4 ppg), but he is taking over 13 shots per game, and he has more turnovers (36) than assists (33). Bottom line: Knight is very good player, but he isn’t a dominant point guard.
4. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (Rivals; No. 96)
Ellington looks to be the next standout point guard in Columbia, following in the footsteps of Tre’ Kelly and Devan Downey. The former high school football star is playing big minutes (30.6 mpg) and filling up the stat sheet by scoring (12.7 ppg), rebounding (3.7 rpg) and distributing (4.4 apg). He shoots it well from three (.464) but is only .311 from 2-point range and .522 from the line.
5. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (Rivals: No. 21)
Lamb is just what Kentucky needed: A shooting guard with size who can knock down the 3-point shot with consistency. The New York native is averaging 12.0 points per game and shooting .485 from the arc. He has had some big moments (20 points in the opener vs. ETSU, 24 points in a loss at North Carolina) and has been a non-factor in other games (six points vs. Washington, five vs. UConn, six vs. Notre Dame).
6. Andre Stringer, LSU (Rivals: No. 107)
The diminutive (5-9, 170) point guard from Jackson, Miss., is putting up solid numbers (16.1 ppg, 3.0 apg) against a relatively soft schedule. Stringer is shooting the ball well from outside (.395), but his overall percentage isn’t strong (.403) and his assists-to-turnover ratio (21-to-18) needs to improve.
7. Ralston Turner, LSU (Rivals: No. 142)
Turner, a shooting guard from Muscle Shoals, Ala., has been a consistent producer for Trent Johnson’s club. He is averaging 12.1 points per game and shooting .444 from 3-point range. He has scored in double figures in five of eight games and has at least two threes in all but one game.
8. Trevor Releford, Alabama (Rivals: No. 21)
Releford has been a bright spot on a Crimson Tide team that is struggling. The point guard from Kansas is averaging 9.8 points and 3.3 assists in just under 30 minutes of action. In four games (all losses) against teams from Big Six power conferences, Releford is averaging 13.0 points, but his assist-to-turnover ratio is a brutal 8-to-15.
9. Brian Richardson, South Carolina (Unranked)
Richardson, a shooting guard, teams with Ellington to form the SEC’s youngest starting backcourt. He is doing a a nice job scoring (8.5 ppg in 23.9 mpg) but not much else (2.3 rpg, 1.4 apg).
10. Rod Odom, Vanderbilt (Rivals: No. 92)
The lanky forward from Long Island has been extremely productive in his limited playing time (14.3 mpg) for Kevin Stallings’ club. Odom is averaging 5.8 points and is shooting .478 from three.
11. Trae Golden, Tennessee (Rivals: No. 63)
Like Odom at Vanderbilt, Golden has been very good on a per-minute basis for the Vols. Backing up senior Melvin Goins, the Georgia native is averaging 5.8 points and 3.2 assists in 19.6 minutes per game.
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