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Freshman Haze: Season Finale

Perry Missner

Missner covers the NBA, college football and college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, Missner also serves as treasurer for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

This is it. The final Freshman Haze of the season. I don't know about you, but I always get emotional about good byes. So, excuse me while I shed a tear for another campaign coming to an end. What a year it has been! The best and brightest future basketball players are represented in the top seven of this countdown. There are also some major surprises, so hold on to your seats as we go for a bumpy ride.

7. Noah Vonleh, forward, Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers came into the season with big holes to fill (two lottery picks) and they were hoping Vonleh would step into Cody Zeller's shoes. The 6-foot-10 forward is not as polished offensively as Zeller, but he has brought a rebounding presence to Indiana. Vonleh had a stretch of seven Big 10 games in which he had six double-doubles. He was slowed toward the end of the season with a foot injury and played in just 21 minutes in the season finale against Michigan after missing two games.

6. Q.J. Peterson, guard, VMI Cadets

The Cadets are known for their crazy, up tempo style, but it usually takes players a year or two to accustom themselves to their high octane role. There was no such warm up period for the 6-0 Peterson who started hoisting shots the moment he landed at the institute. He was not highly efficient (40.4 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from 3-point land), but he made up for that with sheer volume. Peterson averaged 19.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. He scored a season-high 37 points in the win over UNC-Asheville on Jan. 28.

5. Tyler Ennis, guard, Syracuse Orange

As the Orange moved through mid-February undefeated, Ennis became a bit overrated (in my humble opinion). He is a very heady guard who had a couple of game-winners in the streak, and he can attack the basket, but the history of Syracuse point guards who are overrated (particularly as NBA prospects) is a long one. Ennis, a 6-2 Canadian, did provide scoring (12.3 points) and passing (5.6 assists), but I still wouldn't call him a dynamite lottery pick.

4. Milton Doyle, guard, Loyola (IL) Ramblers

Doyle is the biggest surprise on this list. He initially went to Kansas before returning home to play for the Ramblers, so it wasn't as if his Tier 1 talent was not apparent. The 6-4 guard had a season-high 32 points on Dec. 13 against Campbell and scored 28 points twice in Missouri Valley play. Doyle wasn't just a scorer with 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.2 steals. He even has room for improvement (31.5 percent on 3-pointers, 69.9 percent from the line) for his sophomore year.

3. Jordan Mickey, forward, LSU Tigers

Barring a miraculous run through the SEC tournament, the Tigers will not be heading to the Big Dance in two weeks. That is a shame because the country won't get to see Mickey on a bigger stage. The 6-8 shot blocker extraordinaire swatted 3.2 shots per game. He rejected seven shots in a Jan. 15 overtime loss at Ole Miss. Mickey also proved to be a capable scorer (13.0 points) and rebounder (7.6 boards) on a team that already had Johnny O'Bryant III. It will be interesting to see if the NBA comes a-calling for Mickey.

2. Andrew Wiggins, forward, Kansas Jayhawks

Maybe Wiggins saved his best for the last game of the regular season as he abused West Virginia for 41 points, including 15-of-19 from the line. The Mountaineers won the game, but Wiggins the presumptive number one pick in the 2014 draft for the past two years made some fans. The 6-8 Canadian did not display his skills on a consistent basis, but it is not hard to see his athleticism and ability to do pretty much anything on the court (board, shoot threes, defend). I still think he is Harrison Barnes 2.0, but he might be more.

1. Jabari Parker, forward, Duke Blue Devils

This was a little bit predictable. Parker opened the season with big performances, then had his season-high 30-point performance in the finale against North Carolina. If I were an NBA general manager and had the first pick, I'd take Parker. His upside may not be as high as Wiggins, but he is much more polished offensively and looks like he could be substantially bigger. Parker finished with averages of 19.2 points and 9.0 rebounds as well as double-doubles in his last six regular season games.