Every season, one thing that excites me most is seeing the new kids on the block, the diaper dandies, coming aboard.
Many of these former high school All-Americans moving up to the college game enter with a great deal of hype. The question often is, will they live up to that fanfare?
The crème de la crème of this year's class will offer numerous impact players. Just look at Lexington, Ky., and the newcomers who will be called upon to shine in Big Blue Nation, baby!
Can they earn that ink and notoriety that they have received for years? A lot of these young men already have traveled to tournaments during their high school careers and have dealt with the added pressure of lofty expectations.
Often, they respond. It can take a while to adjust to the different level of competition, going from the BMOC (big man on campus) in high school to blending in with a different unit in college. Just look at Harrison Barnes down at North Carolina last season. It took a little while, as he started slowly, but the cream rises to the top.
Here is a look at my dazzling dozen diaper dandies for the coming season:
1. Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
He is a genuine low-post threat who makes everyone else better. Drummond is a solid passer for a big man, and Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun has to be thrilled with this late addition to the Huskies.
2. Anthony Davis, PF-C, Kentucky
Name it, and this young man can do it. He can be a major force inside for the Wildcats. Davis also possesses great versatility.
3. Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
The son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers has a great basketball IQ and will fit in perfectly in Coach K's system. He can shoot the jumper from long range and has exceptional passing skills.
4. Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
The Hoosiers are looking to move up the ladder in the Big Ten, and there is excitement galore in Bloomington over this big man. He will be called upon right away to make a difference for Tom Crean's club.
5. Michael Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
Gilchrist is a physical factor who must improve his range as a shooter. He can dominate on both ends of the court and has a winner's mentality.
6. Adonis Thomas, SF, Memphis
7. Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
A lot has been made about the talent Texas lost in the draft (Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and Jordan Hamilton). The 6-foot-2 guard from Findlay Prep will help Rick Barnes' club bounce back quickly. This kid can score, dish the rock and rebound.
8. LeBryan Nash, PF, Oklahoma State
I recently spent some time in the Midwest, and a lot of fans told me that Oklahoma State will be a sleeper team. One key is Nash, an athletic and powerful player who is great at attacking the rim.
9. Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Teague has great ballhandling skills and is a talent on the perimeter. His presence will be vital to the young Wildcats squad.
10. Khem Birch, C, Pittsburgh
He should fit into Jamie Dixon's lineup, providing size and great timing on defense. Birch has great shot-blocking ability, and his length inside will provide problems for opposing post players.
11. Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Beal can handle the rock and score as a pure shooter. Although Florida is deep at guard, he will fit into the Gators' transition game.
12. James McAdoo, PF, North Carolina
In any other place, he would be an instant star of stars. He is going to a school with an NBA-caliber front line. You will still hear a lot from McAdoo, as Hall of Famer Roy Williams will find some playing time for him.
There you have it, my dazzling dozen diaper dandies. Believe me, it was not easy going with just 12. A number of other newcomers will make noise as freshmen. The likes of Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan at Louisville, Josiah Turner at Arizona, P.J. Hairston at North Carolina, Dorian Finney-Smith at Virginia Tech and Tony Wroten Jr. at Washington will be called upon to contribute right away.
I cannot wait, baby! We are getting closer to tipping off a great season of college hoops. There will be a lot of quality teams with these newcomers hitting the hardwood.