|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
Every season, I look forward to the new faces arriving in college basketball. I love looking at diaper dandies and seeing the impact they have on big-time programs.
Just look at last season, when Anthony Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats to the national championship. Freshmen have been major factors in the success of many programs. Most of them have gained valuable experience in high school, so they are not your average diaper dandies. They have played on AAU teams, they have traveled all over the country playing against the crème de la crème. That experience helps prepare them for the road trips taken by major college teams.
This season is no exception as newcomers have helped out. College basketball has a number of talented diaper dandies this season.
So far, I feel the best of the best has been Anthony Bennett of UNLV, who is averaging almost 20 points and 9 rebounds per game. He was clutch in scoring 25 points in a big win over California. Bennett had another double-double over the weekend, though his Runnin' Rebels lost to North Carolina on Saturday.
Bennett isn't the only freshman making an impact. Go out to Stillwater, where Travis Ford's team is ranked. Marcus Smart of the Cowboys is a key reason, as he has been a consistent contributor in all areas. Also in the Big 12, Ben McLemore of Kansas is a legit pro prospect and he has been impressive. He showcased his talent before a national television audience, scoring 22 points while grabbing six rebounds in a win at Ohio State.
|Shabazz Muhammad has been steadily improving.|
Shabazz Muhammad made some recent noise for UCLA. Muhammad, who sat out several games, had 27 in the win over Missouri. His Bruin teammate, Jordan Adams, got off to a fast start. Throw in Kyle Anderson and the Bruins have a solid threesome of diaper dandies. Kentucky has a trio of note in Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin.
Rasheed Sulaimon has been a factor for No. 1-ranked Duke. Jakarr Sampson has been super on the glass for Steve Lavin's St. John's squad. Nik Stauskas has been a terrific outside shooter for the Wolverines. Isaiah Austin has had several big games for Baylor. T.J. Warren has been a positive factor for Mark Gottfried at NC State. Arizona State has an unsung freshman in Jahii Carson.
One unsung diaper dandy is R.J. Hunter of Georgia State, a guard who is playing for his father, Ron Hunter. He is also the godson of former NBA star Ron Harper. Hunter is averaging 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Panthers, and posted a double-double in his college debut against Duke.
The VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) rates the top diaper dandies so far as Bennett, McLemore, Muhammad and Smart in that order. That's not looking ahead to their NBA draft status, just their impact on the college level as freshmen. These young men have made a splash already this season.