Top 10 Impact Freshmen

Last year Jabari Parker and Julius Randle sat at the top of's Top 10 Impact Freshmen list. While there are new names on the list, the Blue Devils and Wildcats managed to have the top two players on the list again.

When college basketball games officially begin on November 14th, basketball fanatics will already be familiar with players like Marcus Paige, Frank Kaminsky and Montrezl Harrell. But who are the new names college fans needs to know?

If you want to look at the best long term prospects entering college basketball, here’s our 2014 Top 100. While that list gives you a great snapshot of the top players entering college basketball, who I think is the top prospect in the country differs from who I think will have the biggest impact this season, as some freshmen are positioned better than others for immediate success.

Last year, for example, I thought Andrew Wiggins was the top prospect in the 2013 class, but I slotted Jabari Parker – the only freshman on the First Team All-American list last year -- at the top spot in this exercise (here’s a link to last year's list: 2013 Top 10 Impact Freshmen ). This time the player ranked at the top of our 2014 rankings also happens to be the freshman that I think will have the biggest impact in college basketball.

#1 Jahlil Okafor

2014 Recruiting ProfileC | 6'10 | 245
Rank: #1 (C #1)

Whitney Young Magnet HS (Chicago, Ill.)

At 6-foot-10, 245-pounds, Okafor has the size, strength and frame to bully opposing defenders in the post. While he clearly has the physical features, his offensive ability stands out in a major way. He has terrific hands, impressive touch inside, a variety of scoring moves and is a shot maker form mid-range. On top of all that, he’s a very good area rebounder. I think averaging a double-double is a legitimate possibility. One Duke source even said if he were to put up 14 points and eight rebounds a game, it would be a disappointment. The expectations at Duke are high for him and they intend to run the offense through him as much as they can. His impact will be significant and I expect him to arguably be the best post player in all of college basketball.

#2 Karl Towns

2014 Recruiting ProfileC | 7'0 | 250
Rank: #4 (C #2)

St. Joseph HS (Metuchen, N.J.)

As a prospect and player, Towns is trending upwards. Going back to June of 2013, Towns showed up at NBA Top 100 Camp, which is one of the better high school camps in the country, out of shape and didn’t perform up to expectations. He ended that summer ranked outside the top 10. My next viewing of Towns came at the McDonald’s All-American festivities, where he was a vastly different player. He was noticeable trimmer and undoubtedly was in the best shape of his life. He moved better and impacted the game in those practice sessions in ways he previously hadn’t. His play actually lead to a lot of discussion at headquarters in regards to his ranking and long-term projection. He finished the rankings at No. 4, which at this point may even look a little low. Even with the amount of talent on Kentucky’s roster, I think Towns will put up notable numbers and will be Kentucky’s best post player. He’s turned himself into a good rebounder and will protect the rim for the Cats. At near 7-feet tall, Towns possesses terrific hands, touch and can even make jump shots to 22-feet, so expect him to put up points as well.

#3 Rashad Vaughn

2014 Recruiting ProfileSG | 6'5 | 190
Rank: #8 (SG #1)

Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)

While Vaughn didn't finish in the top five in the 2014 top 100, he was still regarded as a five-star prospect and he has some serious potential as a perimeter scorer and that's why he's high on this list. His impact will be felt early and often. He'll likely be their primary wing scoring option for UNLV and I expect his scoring numbers to be at the very least in the mid-teens. At 6-foot-5, he's a strong, aggressive driver. He's also a confident scorer from mid-range range and is a solid long-range threat. One source in the UNLV program told that they wouldn't be surprised if Vaughn averaged 18 points and six rebounds a game.

#4 Stanley Johnson

2014 Recruiting ProfileSF | 6'6 | 225
Rank: #3 (SF #1)

Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Ranked as a top three prospect coming out of high school, it shouldn’t be a shock to see Johnson on this list. In fact, Johnson accomplished as much as any player on this list during his prep days, winning 135 games, four consecutive state titles and averaging 25 points a game as a senior. At 6-foot-6, 225-pounds, Johnson is a powerfully built wing that turned himself into an exceptional scorer by the end of his high school career. He’ll certainly put up points and I think it’s a safe bet that he’ll average at least a dozen points a game (probably more), but he’ll also grab his fair share of rebounds and record assists. His game is versatile, as he’s a terrific rebounder for a wing, a tough competitor and a very good passer.

#5 Cliff Alexander

2014 Recruiting ProfileC | 6'8 | 240
Rank: #6 (C #4)

Curie Metropolitan HS (Chicago, Ill.)

Honestly No. 5 may be a tad low for Alexander. He excelled in high school as a rebounder and that is one area that translates extremely well to the collegiate level. He always plays with energy and had one of the best motors in the 2014 class. Alexander is a physical player that utilizes his strength and elite athleticism in the paint. I think it’s reasonable to say he will average around eight boards. He’s not overly skilled on offense, but he’ll get enough put back and dunk opportunities to average double figure points.

#6 Isaiah Whitehead

2014 Recruiting ProfileSG | 6'4 | 195
Rank: #14 (SG #3)

Abraham Lincoln HS (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

This list is full of scorers and Whitehead is up there with the best of them. Whitehead is a strong, aggressive and physical driver. His mid-range game is a weapon and he gained consistency from three throughout his high school career. Expectations at Seton Hall for Whitehead are high and the belief is he can average in the ball park of 15 to 18 points and more than three assists a game. One source at Seton Hall told that “he’s getting better every week.” While he’s always commended for his scoring, he’s an underrated passer with impressive vision as well.

#7 Romelo Trimble

2014 Recruiting ProfileSG | 6'3 | 185
Rank: #30 (SG #7)

Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.)

Based on high school rankings this may be the biggest surprise on this list. But all the talk out of Maryland surrounds Trimble, a 6-foot-3 combination guard, and the expectations for him this season are high. A source at Maryland told that he would play between 32 and 36 minutes a game. In high school, Trimble was a terrific long-range shooter, but also an impressive scorer in general. At Maryland, he will be relied on to not only put up points, but also run the team. In his first exhibition game, he went for 18 and dialed up four three-pointers. He’s going to get plenty of opportunity and he’ll have free range to fire up shots.

#8 D'Angelo Russell

2014 Recruiting ProfileSG | 6'4 | 180
Rank: #13 (SG #2)

Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)

There’s a lot of buzz out of Columbus surrounding Russell, a 6-foot-4 combination guard out of Louisville (Ky.). A true combination guard, Russell can influence a game in various ways. With Shannon Scott in the fold, Russell, who finished his high school career ranked No. 13 in’s 2014 rankings, will spend majority of his time off the ball, but he’s certainly capable of playing minutes at the point because of his ball skills and terrific passing ability. Where he’ll be the most effective is in the scoring department. One Ohio State coach told that they “need him score.” Russell will have plenty of opportunities and will likely lead Ohio State in scoring. He could legitimately put up 15 points a game.

#9 James Blackmon

2014 Recruiting ProfileSG | 6'3 | 175
Rank: #33 (SG #8)

Marion HS (Marion, Ind.)

Scoring is what Blackmon does best and he hasn’t wasted any time proving he will put up points for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. After averaging 33.3 points as a senior in high school, Blackmon led Indiana in scoring at 18.8 points a game during their five-game Canada tour in early August. At 6-foot-3, Blackmon is an elite level shooter. While his long-range shot has always been his strength, he’s certainly developed as an all around scorer and he’s comfortable scoring off the bounce from mid-range. The combination of Blackmon and Yogi Ferrell will be one of the best backcourts in the Big Ten.

#10 Myles Turner

2014 Recruiting ProfileC | 7'0 | 240
Rank: #5 (C #3)

Trinity HS (Euless, Texas)

Early feedback out of Texas on Turner has been up and down. The 7-footer landed at Texas after an impressive close to his high school career. Statistically his numbers won’t match the others on this list partly because of Texas’ depth inside with the likes of Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh, Conner Lammer and Jonathan Holmes. With all that said, Turner is a big time talent and one you make room and time for. If Texas is going to reach their full potential as a team, Turner will have to contribute. His impact will be felt in the paint, as he’s a very good shot blocker and because of his size and length will grab his fair share of rebounds. At this point his offense comes off face up jumpers, but he has great hands and touch and will get his fair share of points in the paint.

NEXT FIVE: Kelly Oubre, Kevon Looney, Justin Jackson, Justise Winslow & Kaleb Joseph

Scout Hoops Top Stories