Today marks the start of the 2022-23 college basketball season. This also means fans only a few days away from seeing the incoming freshmen of this season. While there are a lot of notable veterans to keep an eye on this season, the freshmen talent will be remarkable. Here are 10 freshmen to watch in the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Amari Bailey | UCLA | G
UCLA enters the season as the favorite in the PAC 12 and top 10 in the preseason AP Top 25. Bailey and veteran point guard Tyger Campbell will make up one of the best backcourts in the entire country, and they’ll also be playing with preseason All-American Jaime Jaquez Jr. That combination will make the Bruins deadly as they try to get to their second Final Four in three seasons. Bailey has good size and tremendous athleticism. He is a crafty offensive player, performing well off the ball and using his nifty handles to get into driving lanes. His athleticism and length make him a good perimeter defender as well, making Bailey a useful player in all aspects of the game. He will be a human highlight reel in transition this season with countless dunks.
Cason Wallace | Kentucky | G
Kentucky is one of the most talented teams heading into this season, as they are No. 4 in the preseason AP Top 25. The Wildcats have veterans Sahvir Wheeler, Jacob Toppin and Antonio Reeves returning, along with reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tschiebwe. John Calipari also brings in a talented freshmen class led by Wallace. A defensive force both on the perimeter and in transition, Wallace will already be one of the best defending guards in the country. He is a reliable jump shooter, and can play on or off the ball very well. He is a projected lottery pick, and while Wheeler is possibly out to start the season, Wallace can show he can handle the bigger role.
Dariq Whitehead | Duke | F
Whitehead will be one of the most entertaining offensive players in the country this season. He plays super fast using his athleticism and length to make the opposing defense uncomfortable. He can shoot, dunk, and pass all at exceptional levels. His size and length let him have the potential to be great on the defensive end. Duke is loaded with freshmen talent in Jon Scheyer’s first season, and Whitehead will be his star wing making explosive plays on offense.
Dereck Lively II | Duke | C
As mentioned, Duke is loaded with freshmen talent, and Lively is another member of this amazing class. He is the No. 1 player in the class and will be one of the best players in the country on both ends. At 7’1, Lively has outstanding athleticism for his size and utilizes it to get rebounds and move quick in transition. He values rim protection and being hard on the glass, and on offense, he can shoot from the perimeter along with a terrific post-game. Lively will be a consistent player this year for the Blue Devils and keep his place as a first-round draft pick.
GG Jackson | South Carolina | F
Jackson was the former No. 1 player in the class of 2023, but decided to reclassify to the class of 2022 when he committed to South Carolina. The Gamecocks are in their first season under Lamont Paris, and while they don’t have high hopes to compete for an SEC title, Jackson is looking to push for SEC Freshman of the Year. He has a great frame, motor and skill set to be successful in his freshman season. The speed and athleticism he has for his size will let him be great.
Gradey Dick | Kansas | F
Bill Self loses some good offense from last year’s Jayhawks team, but he gains a lot in top 20 freshman Gradey Dick. Dick has a lot of upside on the offensive end with an amazing three-point shot. He is a good athlete with great size and should be an immediate impact player for Kansas this season. He’ll be joined by three 4-stars and returning Jayhawks Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris Jr.
Jalen Hood-Schifino | Indiana | G
Indiana is the favorite in the Big Ten heading into the season due to the returns of preseason All-American Trace Jackson-Davis and veterans Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson. The addition of Hood-Schifino is a part of that too, as he brings size to the backcourt along with tempo on the offense. He has a reliable pull-up game from the arc and in the mid-range, and he gets into driving lanes with his good handle and strength. Hood-Schifino will be a great addition to the Hoosiers as they look to win their first Big Ten title since 2016.
Jett Howard | Michigan | F
CBS Sports’s Gary Parrish was at the Iverson Classic back in April. And as he detailed on the Eye on College Basketball Podcast, there was one player at the event that caught his eye of him and the former professional players there such as Allen Iverson and JR Smith. That player was Iverson Classic MVP Jett Howard. Howard, son of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard, was only ranked No. 42 in the class of 2022, but some predict he will be one of the better freshmen in the country. He is a flashy wing that can facilitate, drive and shoot it well.
Keyonte George | Baylor | G
George, ranked No. 7 in the class of 2022, is going with Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer at Baylor to form arguably the best three-guard lineup in college basketball. He is one of the most gifted offensive guards in the class, scoring at ease in all three areas. He is precise with his every move, prioritizing his skillset over anything else to make plays. George is not afraid of the big moment and is willing to take on any challenge on the court. Scott Drew has a lot of returning talent for this year’s Bears’ team, but look for George to be the star offensively.
Nick Smith | Arkansas | G
Arkansas has arguably the most turnover from last year’s season. They lost five of their top six scorers from a team that went to the Elite Eight in the 2022 NCA Tournament. However, they bring in the No. 2 ranked recruiting class led by top three ranked guard Nick Smith. Smith is confident, poised and tremendously gifted. His scoring ability on the offense makes him a threat from all areas of the court, and it also allows him to be a good playmaker. Drawing defenders off of teammates leads to opportunities to pass the ball and make plays to score. Smith will have the ball in his hands a lot at Arkansas, and he’ll look to have a good year in hopes of keeping his place as a top-five pick.
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