Two schools have the most talented groups of freshmen this year. Thus far, neither Kentucky nor Kansas has really distinguished itself through non-conference play. The Jayhawks did have the win over Duke in the Champions Classic, but it looks like both teams are flawed. Since the Kansas young'uns are fresh in my mind, I'll hit the three most prominent Jayhawks this week, then spin around the country for a few others. As always, freshmen are always important in fantasy leagues because they either go pro or become sophomores.
Let's start with the second coming!
Andrew Wiggins, forward, Kansas Jayhawks
Wiggins continues to be the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA draft despite some rather pedestrian numbers: a team-leading 15.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists. In fact, I took a look in the recent past a noticed that the player I compare Wiggins most often with had very similar stats. In his freshman year, Harrison Barnes provided 15.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. I don't think Wiggins will stick around for a second year so his numbers may not be eye-popping in Lawrence. He is not an aggressive offensive player and doesn't look to take the basket to the rim very often.
Joel Embiid, center, Kansas Jayhawks
Embiid has looked like the most talented Jayhawk freshman. In his last four games, the progression has been obvious with averages of 15.3 points and 9.0 rebounds. He has battled centers such as Georgetown's Josh Smith and New Mexico's Alex Kirk. Embiid showed off some smooth post moves and looks like he has shot blocking potential. He needs some seasoning, but he should also be a one-and-done player who causes NBA GMs to salivate with his upside.
Wayne Selden, Jr., guard, Kansas Jayhawks
The broad-shouldered Selden looks like a pro as well, but his production – 8.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists – has been diminished in the All-Star Jayhawk lineup. He has topped double digits four times, including a season-high 15 in the win over Duke on Nov. 12 in the Champions Classic. The 6-5, 230 lb wing has hit 37.5 percent of his 3-pointers in limited attempts. On a different team in a different system, Selden might be a star. If he sticks around in Lawrence that star could ascend in 2014-15.
Bobby Portis, forward/center, Arkansas Razorbacks
Freshmen centers do not have to be super productive to be excellent addition to fantasy college basketball teams. Portis qualifies at center in most leagues and has been getting decent minutes for the Razorbacks. The 6-9, 242 lb Arkansas native is averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. He has put in 15 points in his last four games, and has scored in double digits in nine straight games. He has barely missed to finish up the non-conference schedule with 21-of-23 from the field in his last three games.
Chris Perry, forward/center, South Florida Bulls
I generally approve of players named Perry, even though they had nothing to with the name. The 6-8 freshman for the Bulls has given the team a low post presence and a decent chance to make some noise in the American Athletic Conference. He is averaging 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. He posted back-to-back double-doubles in games against George Mason and Alabama. Fouls have been limiting his playing time of late, but he did have 10 points and six boards in the loss to Houston on Saturday.
DeAndre Bembry, forward, St. Joe's Hawks
With Halil Kanacevic and Ronald Roberts Jr. already on the team, you might not expect the Hawks to have a productive freshman forward. The 6-6 wing has given the team scoring (10.5 points) from the wing and has hit 36.8 percent of his 3-pointers. Of late, he has been inconsistent with double-digit scoring in every other game in his last five. Despite just two points in the New Year's Eve win over Binghamton, he did have a career-high eight assists. Next year Kanacevic and Roberts will be gone, so it will be Bembry's show.
Tevon Saddler, guard, UNC-Greensboro Spartans
If Saddler's name sounds familiar, it is because he is the brother of Delaware Blue Hen guard Devon Saddler who is averaging 20.4 points after coming back from a month-long suspension. The younger Saddler is averaging 11.7 points in his freshman season with the Spartans. He opened many eyes with 34 points on Nov. 12 in the loss against East Carolina. He added eight boards and five assists in his career game. His second highest total is 18 points. Saddler sat out the Dec. 28 win over Virginia Tech with an undisclosed injury, but has played in the last two games.