Everyone knows that the second part of a trilogy is the best part. There was "The Empire Strikes Back," "The Godfather II" and even "The Matrix: Reloa ..." OK, it doesn't always work out. This is the second in a three-part series of the top freshmen in college basketball in 2013-14. This freshman class was supposed to be one of the all-time greats, but it hasn't completely worked out that way. There was a lot of hype smoke, but only some fire. Let's look at eight through 14 and hope the series progresses better than the Matrix movies did.
14. Jon Severe, guard, Fordham Rams
A Fordham season that started with some promise - partly based on the nice play of Severe – fell off rapidly in conference play. The 6-3 gunner's play also fell off, but he still had moments of brilliance against conference opponents. Severe is a volume shooter from long range and had games of both seven and eight 3-pointers, but the Rams lost two of the three games in which Severe made long range shots in bunches. For the season, he averaged 18.3 points and 2.8 3-pointers, but more is going to be expected in 2014-15.
13. Jared Brownridge, guard, Santa Clara Broncos
In many ways, Brownridge and Severe are similar players. They are both big time shooters who are on teams that are struggling. The Broncos have not been as bad as the Rams, and the 6-2 Brownridge has put up some big numbers in wins. In the regular season finale on Mar. 1, he scored a season-high 38 points to help the Broncos beat Pepperdine for their sixth conference win. It was Brownridge's third 30-point game of the season and his first in a win.
12. Nigel Williams-Goss, guard, Washington Huskies
Big things were expected from Williams-Goss coming into the season and the 6-3 point guard did not disappoint. He has averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and a team-leading 4.1 assists to help the Huskies continue their run of respectability (8-8 in the Pac 12). While it looks like Washington will miss the NCAA tournament for the third straight year (barring a miraculous Pac 12 tournament run), Williams-Goss is a nice building block for coach Lorenzo Romar.
11. E.C. Matthews, guard, Rhode Island Rams
Like the first three guards on the list, Matthews is not playing for an NCAA tournament berth with the Rams. He has, however, turned on his afterburners in February with at least 17 points in all but two games. The 6-5 Michigan native sprung for a season-high 32 points, including six 3-pointers in the Rams' loss to Duquesne on Feb. 15 and has scored at least 20 points eight times this season (all since Jan. 1). On the season, he is averaging 14.2 points and 4.3 rebounds.
10. Julius Randle, forward, Kentucky Wildcats
Having Randle this low might be controversial (and speaks to my system's reliance on all-around play), but to say that Randle and Kentucky's season is a disappointment is not wrong. He is a fine scorer and has a nose for rebounds (he opened the season with six straight double-doubles and as of writing has five double-doubles in his last six games), but passing is not a top option on his mind and team play is not his forte. It is hard to diminish Randle's 15.5 points and 10.4 rebounds, but he may have raised expectations beyond his ability with his early play.
9. Cameron Payne, Murray State Racers
Finally, we have a freshman contributing to a winning situation. Payne has helped the Racers back into the mix in the Ohio Valley with 15.9 points and 5.6 assists. The shoes of Isaiah Canaan were not going to be filled by just anyone, but Payne has found them a snug fit. The 6-2 point guard has scored at least 20 points eight times and has averaged 6.1 assists over his last eight games. Because players like Payne tend to stay in school for at least a few years, fantasy owners who have him should be smiling.
8. Bobby Portis, forward, Arkansas Razorbacks
Portis has been one of the key players for the Razorbacks this season and has helped pushed Arkansas near the top of the heap in the SEC. The team has won seven of its last eight games, and Portis has averaged 13.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. Despite playing in such a frenetic system, the 6-10 forward has been able to stay on the court and out of foul trouble. He is putting up some defensive numbers with 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks on the season to go along with 12.6 points and 6.7 boards.