Big 12 Freshmen Stand Out

Anyone watching Texas this season can point at freshmen Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson as key figures in the Longhorns' season.

That the Longhorns have two of the league's top five freshmen isn't a surprise, nor is the list of the league's top freshmen to-date. Only five Big 12 freshmen players this year have averaged double-digit points per game, and those five players happen to be the top candidates for the league all-freshman team. Four of those players to this point won't surprise you. They were five-star, all-everything prospects. But the fifth might be a bit of a shock.

Here are the top-five freshmen in the Big 12 to this point.

Guard: Josh Selby, Kansas

Selby has only played in two games after coming off an NCAA-mandated 10-game suspension. But in those two games, all he's done is average 19.5 points per game. Perhaps more impressively, he' appears to be the best player on a Kansas team that was undefeated and ranked in the top-five before he arrived. Touted as an elite penetrator, Selby has impressed even more from behind the arc, where he's knocked down 8-of-12 shots. That includes the game-winner in his first game, a close victory over USC.

Guard: Cory Joseph, Texas

Early on, Joseph appeared to be behind pace as he passed up open looks and didn't knock down the ones he took. But that was then. The Joseph of the last five games has scored 15 points per contest and served as one of Texas's most efficient players offensively. Additionally, like Selby, he's shown a penchant for taking, and hitting, big shots. One Joseph shot sent the Longhorns into overtime where they eventually ousted Illinois. And Joseph canned a difficult turnaround to lead the Longhorns past North Carolina. A high-level shooter, Joseph has made defenses pay for added attention to Jordan Hamilton. Joseph leads Texas in minutes played and is hitting nearly 41 percent from three-point range.

Forward: Melvin Ejim, Iowa State

Ejim is a bit of an oddity on this list in that he's the only player who wasn't a five-star prospect. Ejim was rated as a three-star prospect upon his exit from Brewster Academy, and he rated as the country's No. 36 small forward. But Ejim is a mature athlete who carries a strong 215 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame. He's scoring 13.1 points per game, good for third best on the Cyclones, while he's second in rebounds at 6.8 per game. He's also shooting a fantastic 60.2 percent from the field, while he's making a respectable 36.4 percent from behind the arc. Even better, the Cyclones are sitting at 11-2 and are second in the Big 12 in scoring margin. Ejim is the top freshman in the Big 12 in points per game, though Selby could take that title as he plays in more games.

Forward/Center: Tristan Thompson, Texas

Thompson's freshman year has gone about like most people would expect from an elite freshman big man. He's had some bright moments — he's averaging 11.2 points per game and eight rebounds per game — and some moments where he forgot to show up. Most importantly though, Thompson has emerged in big games. In wins against Illinois and Michigan State, and a close loss against Pittsburgh, Thompson averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. He still needs to work on being a factor when he's the opposing team's chief focus, but the guy can fill out a stat sheet. He's fourth on Texas's team in scoring and leads the squad in rebounds, blocks and steals.

Forward/Center: Perry Jones III, Baylor

Arguably the conference's top young post player, Jones is averaging 12.5 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per contest. The former figure is the second-best for a freshman in the league, while the rebounding figure is the top mark for a league freshman. Jones came into a talented veteran squad, but has still led the Bears twice in scoring and six times in rebounding. He had 20 points and eight rebounds against Jackson State, with a 19-8 against Gonzaga. Jones's length and athleticism gives him nearly limitless potential, and he should continue to get better as he develops.


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