Five Freshmen to Watch

Last year, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant showed just how much freshmen could alter the landscape of college basketball. The Gators certainly have their share of freshmen talent, but here's a look at some more impressive newcomers around the country.

Eric Gordon, Indiana PG
6-4, 215 pounds
27.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 3.7 RPG

The Hoosiers have gone through some struggles under the coaching transition from Mike Davis to Kelvin Sampson, but they possess a gem of a talent in freshman point guard Eric Gordon. As a freshman, he already reminds me a lot of former Duke star Jason Williams. In short, he can do it all with tremendous shooting range, a strong drive to the basket and solid defensive technique. He could stand to work on his passing for the point guard position but otherwise there's little to criticize. He should make Hoosier forward D.J. White a happy man in the low post.

Michael Beasley, Kansas State PF
6-9, 235 pounds
26.7 PPG, 1.6 APG, 15 RPG

Though Coach Bob Huggins has left for West Virginia, he certainly left his mark on the Wildcat program with the signing of the No. 2 prospect in the country in power forward Michael Beasley. Beasley is averaging an absolutely absurd 26.7 points and 15 rebounds per game. While it hasn't been against the best of competition, he could very have an ever bigger impact on Kansas State than Kevin Durant had on Texas. The difference is that Beasley doesn't have quite the supporting cast that Durant did, though Bill Walker is a solid player in his own right. Nevertheless, Beasley could lead the Wildcats to an NCAA appearance.

Derrick Rose, Memphis PG
6-4, 195 pounds
17 PPG, 4.3 APG, 5 RPG

Though the Tigers were already posed for Final Four run with the talent already on their roster, they added one of the country's elite prospects in point guard Derrick Rose. Rose is the perfect distributor for a team built around speed and scoring in the transition game. He's silky smooth and reminds me a lot of Shaun Livingston, who left for the NBA right out of high school. He would be the star of nearly any other team in the country. But at Memphis, he doesn't have to be when he's surrounded by scorers like Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson. Coach John Calipari has recruited well for years but struggled to keep them from bolting for the NBA, but with the new rules he's kept his best talent.

Kevin Love, UCLA center
6-10, 250 pounds
18.1 PPG, 2.4 APG, 10.6 RPG

When you see a huge, strong player like Kevin Love, It's easy to assume that plays a lot other dominant big mean with physicality. And while Love certainly has those talents, perhaps his most gifted attribute is his amazing touch in passing and finesse around the basket. He's the perfect complement to UCLA's bevy of talented shooters and drivers. He provides the inside presence that the Bruins lacked in recent years and one of the main reasons they look primed for a title run this season.

O.J. Mayo, USC guard
6-5, 215 pounds
21.3 PPG, 2.9 APG, 4.9 RPG

While controversy has swirled over his signing with Southern Cal, O.J. Mayo has proved himself to be worthy of the No. 1 ranking that he garnered coming out of the high school ranks. Mayo is a pure scoring threat that can play either guard position. The Trojans have a solid team around him and they figure to contend for the Pac-10 title and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Blake Bonsack


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