Youth Gone Wild

Nearly 20 years later Skid Row seems to still have it right. Their first single of their multi-platinum debut album was titled "Youth Gone Wild". Although that song was about teen rebellion and rock and roll excess, it could easily apply to the Pac-10.

Every year freshmen make in impact on college basketball, but not like this season. This year we are seeing an influx of ready-to-play talent that is almost staggering.

In most years Washington's Quincy Pondexter with his 15.0 ppg and 5.2 rpg would be a near lock to contend for Freshman of the Year, but he isn't even the best freshman on his own team.

Three of the top four scorers in the Pac-10 are freshmen. All told six of the top 20 scorers in the league are ‘diaper dandies'.

They can do more than score. USC's Taj Gibson leads the league in total rebounds and is fourth in rebounding average. Cal's Ryan Anderson is second in total rebounds.

Freshmen Spencer Hawes and Robin Lopez lead the league in blocks at 2.5 and 2.4 respectively. Third place Davon Hardin is over half a block behind Hawes. Oh yeah, Gibson is fourth.

A look at the top freshmen in the league:

Ryan Anderson – California Despite the hype and pedigree of Budinger, Hawes and others, so far Anderson has had the best season. He was rated as a four-star player, but just 34th out of all power forwards. In ways of comparison, Jordan Hill was the 26th rated power forward. All Anderson has done is lead the Bears in scoring and rebounding at 17.8 and 9.0 respectively. At this stage he is the frontrunner to be Newcomer of the Year.

Chase Budinger - Arizona He's already in rarified air in Tucson, being mentioned with the likes of Sean Elliott and Mike Bibby. As it stands he's clearly in the Bibby, Elliott, Arenas and Gardner class of impact freshmen seasons. He's led the Wildcats in scoring twice and has only been held under double figures once so far this season.

Taj Gibson – USC Gibson has made quite a splash in his first year. He's among the best rebounders and shot blockers in the Pac-10 and can score as well. He's the Trojans best big man and putting together quite a season.

Daniel Hackett – USC Hackett may not have the best numbers, but he has the best story. The young guard graduated high school early to begin his college career. When USC's Ryan Francis was killed over the summer and it became apparent that Gabriel Pruitt was not taking care of business in the classroom, Hackett accelerated his studies and became a starter.

Spencer Hawes – Washington In most years he'd be a near lock to win the top freshman honors, and he still could, but there is enough competition that his 15.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 2.5 bpg are not enough to guarantee it. He's one of the best big men in the league and already the best pure center.

Robin Lopez – Stanford A five-star recruit coming in, Lopez has played well, but has been overshadowed by the likes of Anderson and Hawes. He's averaging 9.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Twin brother Brook has only played in four games, but is averaging 8.3 points per game.

Christian PolkArizona State Polk had the potential to be a big time scorer down the line, but most did not feel that he could be an instant impact guy. With the departure of Bryson Krueger and Kevin Kruger Polk got thrust into the line-up and leads the Sun Devils in scoring at a 14.7 ppg clip. He's already eclipsed 20 points four times this season.

Quincy Pondexter – Washington Loses some headlines to Hawes, but he's putting together a great freshman campaign. He's second on the Huskies in scoring and third in rebounding. He's not quite making Washington fans forget Brandon Roy, but he sure is tempering the loss quite a bit.

Tajuan PorterOregon The diminutive guard can flat-out score. He leads the Pac-10 in scoring (18.2 ppg) and averages four three pointers a game. The only drawback so far is the fact that he has a bad assist to turnover ratio. He's another surprise, being rated as just a three-star player.

Josh TarverOregon State It was supposed to be Seth Tarver, not older brother Josh who was supposed to make the early impact for the Beavers. Josh sat out last season with an injury and has come out this season averaging 10.4 points and 3.5 assists per game.

We'll take a look at how this class stacks up against recent Pac-10 classes in a future article.

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