Which freshman does Scout expect to make the biggest impact in each high major conference?

May 25 -- The six high major conferences will be welcoming some serious talent next season. The Scout staff breaks down which freshman we expect to have the biggest impact in each conference...



No conference is bringing in more talent than the ACC, so it is tough to pick out one guy who will have the greatest impact. The ACC signed eight five-star prospects, and 19 top 100 prospects overall. Still the guess is that NC State pledge Dennis Smith will make the biggest freshman impact.

While Duke will have plenty of elite newcomers, and probably kids who will be drafted higher than Smith, Smith will get the ball from day one and will be asked to do everything.

An elite athlete with major skills, Smith can score as well as any point guard in the country, but he also isn’t afraid to get teammates involved. Also having spent time already at NC State after enrolling in the winter, Smith should have a head start on the other freshmen in this class. With immediate playing time and the immediate need to produce, Smith is the freshman who looks in best position to make the biggest impact.

Big East


The Big East has 12 four-star prospects headed to their league next year, including nine prospects ranked among Scout’s top 100 players in the 2016 recruiting class. The highest rated prospect – Omari Spellman – is the most likely candidate to make the biggest impact.

A 6-foot-8, 255-pound post player, Spellman is a versatile scoring threat that will give Villanova a look that didn’t have last season. Spellman has the ability to score on the block with hooks and has very nice touch around the basket. But he can also step away from the rim and make shots from the high-post or face up and attack defenders. To go with his scoring ability, Spellman is also a very good area rebounder.

With Daniel Ochefu graduating, Spellman and Dylan Painter, the second member of Villanova’s 2016 class, have an opportunity to step in and get quality playing time.

Big Ten


When looking at the Big Ten it comes down to which Michigan State signee will have the biggest impact. The safest choice is Cassius Winston. Winston is likely going to get the ball from day one for Tom Izzo, and his ability to score combined with his ability to run the team is going to be very important and very impactful for the Spartans.

Michigan State does have junior Tum-Tum Nairn, but Winston is a far more complete point guard who brings more of a punch on the offensive end. With the need for shot making and playmaking on what will be a very young team, Winston should step in right away and make a huge impact, and be someone who is the leader of one of the most talented teams in the entire country.

Big 12


The nation's top prospect is usually also going to be the player expected to make the biggest impact as a freshman and with Josh Jackson heading to Kansas, that's exactly the case.

The 6-foot-7, 185-pound small forward is a freak athlete who will help set the tone for the Jayhawks defensively, as he's going to be able to use his motor, toughness and quickness to guard almost any position on the court.

On offense, Jackson is an explosive finisher who thrives in transition. His unselfishness and vision on offense will make the rest of the team better, while he's an improving ball handler and shooter.

When your most talented player also is the guy who plays the hardest, the rest of the team almost always follows suit. That will be exactly case with Jackson and KU next season.



Between point guards Markelle Fultz at Washington and Lonzo Ball at UCLA, there are two Top 10 prospects entering the Pac-12 next season that should both have extremely big impacts from day one.

However, given the fact UCLA has so many options to play point guard besides Ball, it's tough to say he'll have a bigger impact than Fultz, who will be relied on heavily from day one.

At 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, Fultz is a terrific ball handler, passer and scorer. He'll be able to run the offense, while at the same time if the Huskies need a bucket, Fultz will be able to create his own shot.

Fultz is entering a Washington program which has a huge hole to fill on the ball due to the departure of Andrew Andrews, and his presence will make a big difference for the Huskies.



The freshman that will make the biggest impact in the SEC is a tough call and comes down to a pair of recruits headed to play for Kentucky. De'Aaron Fox is our selection, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if it ended up being Bam Adebayo.

Fox, a 6-foot-4 point guard that ranks No. 6 overall in the 2016 class, gets the nod because of how important this position has been to John Calipari in the past, the need for someone to fill a void, plus he’s a supreme talent with impressive athleticism, speed and defensive potential.

Calipari has had a long line of terrific lead guards, including Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and most recently Tyler Ulis. With the loss of Ulis to early entry into the NBA Draft, the table is set for Fox to come in, handle the point guard duties and get major minutes.

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