April 9, 2011

Rivals.com Five-Star Freshman Tracker

The 2010-11 freshman class featured a Naismith Award finalist and a Final Four point guard, but it seemed capable of delivering so much more.

A look at three of the top four prospects in the 2010 recruiting class underscores that feeling of what could have been.

The No. 1 recruit was Kansas guard Josh Selby, who sat out the first nine games of the season and struggled through the second half of the season. Kentucky forward Enes Kanter, the No. 3 recruit, was ruled ineligible before he ever got a chance to start his college career.

Duke's Kyrie Irving arrived on campus as the nation's No. 4 prospect and was playing as well as any point guard in the nation before a toe injury knocked him out for the majority of the regular season. He didn't return to action until the NCAA tournament. Irving now has decided to enter the NBA Draft, which means the potential No. 1 overall pick's college career lasted a total of 11 games.

Selby also is pondering whether to turn pro, so we may never know whether he would have thrived after a year to adjust to Kansas coach Bill Self's system.

Of course, this group of 27 five-star prospects from last year also produced plenty of highlights.

North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, the No. 2 overall prospect, led the Tar Heels to an ACC regular-season title. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger was a finalist for the Naismith Award given annually to the nation's most outstanding player. Kentucky's Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb were the three leading scorers for a Final Four team.

Here's a season-ending look at how each of the 27 recruits rated as five-star prospects last year fared in their freshman seasons. The players are listed in the order of their recruiting ranking.

1. Kansas G Josh Selby
Season averages: 7.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 20.4 minutes
Buzz: After serving a nine-game suspension to start the season as punishment for accepting illegal benefits, Selby got off to a hot start. He scored 21 points and made a go-ahead 3-pointer against USC in his debut performance. But he struggled quite a bit in conference play. After scoring in double figures in eight of his first 12 games, he never exceeded nine points in a game after Feb. 1. He turned pro after the season.
2. North Carolina F Harrison Barnes
Season averages: 15.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 29.4 minutes
Buzz: Barnes' second-half surge sparked North Carolina to an ACC regular-season title and an appearance in the East Regional final. Barnes delivered a 40-point performance in an ACC tournament victory over Clemson. He averaged 21.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in four NCAA tournament games.
3. Kentucky F Enes Kanter
Season averages: None.
Buzz: Kanter was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA for receiving more than $30,000 above his actual and necessary expenses while playing for a professional team in Turkey.
4. Duke G Kyrie Irving
Season averages: 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 27.5 minutes
Buzz: After missing the majority of the regular season, Irving recovered from a toe injury to rejoin his teammates in the NCAA tournament. He scored 28 points in the Blue Devils' West Regional semifinal loss to Arizona. Irving turned pro and was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
5. Ohio State F/C Jared Sullinger
Season averages: 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 31.7 minutes
Buzz: Sullinger was the lone freshman first-team pick on The Associated Press' All-America team. He closed his freshman season by collecting 21 points and 16 rebounds against Kentucky in an East Regional semifinal loss.
6. Kentucky G Brandon Knight
Season averages: 17.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 35.9 minutes
Buzz: Knight made game-winning baskets in NCAA tournament victories over Princeton and Ohio State. He also scored 30 points against West Virginia and 22 against North Carolina, though he closed his season by shooting 6-of-23 in an NCAA semifinal loss to Connecticut. He turned pro.
Season averages: 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 29.2 minutes
Buzz: Harris came on strong even as his team struggled late in the season. Harris scored at least 18 points in each of his last five games and averaged 21.4 points during that stretch. Harris turned pro.
Season averages: 10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 32.4 minutes
Buzz: Joseph was unspectacular but steady throughout his freshman season. Although he never cracked the 15-point mark in a game after Jan. 11, Joseph rarely made mistakes. He exceeded three turnovers in a game just twice all season. He turned pro.
Season averages: 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 33.9 minutes
Buzz: Jones' freshman season ended early when the NCAA ruled him ineligible for the Big 12 tournament amid charges he had received improper benefits. Baylor didn't qualify for the NCAA tournament or NIT.
10. North Carolina G Reggie Bullock
Season averages: 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 14.5 minutes
Buzz: Bullock tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee Feb. 27 and missed the rest of the season. His return next season should boost the perimeter shooting of a team that went 3-of-16 from 3-point range during a 76-69 East Regional final loss to Kentucky.
Season averages: 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 30.6 minutes
Buzz: Barton was the only Memphis player with a scoring average in double figures this season. He also ranked second on the team in rebounds and assists and was third in steals.
Season averages: None.
Buzz: Mitchell was ruled ineligible by the NCAA in January and never played a minute for the Tigers. He has enrolled at North Texas with hopes of becoming eligible to play this season.
13. Kentucky F Terrence Jones
Season averages: 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.9 blocks, 31.5 minutes
Buzz: Jones led the SEC in rebounding and ranked seventh in the conference in scoring, though his production dipped late in the season. He exceeded 12 points just once in his last eight games. Jones had 11 points and 15 rebounds in a 56-55 NCAA semifinal loss to Connecticut, though he also was 0-of-5 from the free throw line that night.
14. North Carolina State F C.J. Leslie
Season averages: 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 24.6 minutes
Buzz: Leslie didn't show many signs of improvement over the course of his up-and-down freshman season. He scored in double figures just once in his last four games and shot 10-of-35 during that stretch.
15. Memphis F Jelan Kendrick
Season averages: None.
Buzz: Memphis coach Josh Pastner dropped Kendrick from the team in the preseason. Kendrick had been suspended, then reinstated before Pastner decided to dismiss him for good. Kendrick has transferred to Ole Miss and will be eligible to play for his new school in December.
Season averages: 2.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 9.9 minutes
Buzz: Melo struggled to earn playing time for most of his freshman year, but his role increased late in the season. He played at least 12 minutes in four of Syracuse's last five games. He had 10 points against DePaul and 12 against St. John's in back-to-back March games, which marked the only times he scored in double figures all season.
17. Texas F Tristan Thompson
Season averages: 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.4 blocks, 30.9 minutes
Buzz: Thompson recorded five double-doubles in a six-game stretch late in the season, though he scored just seven points in a Big 12 championship game loss to Kansas and tallied only three points in an NCAA tournament loss to Arizona. Thompson turned pro.
18. Memphis G Joe Jackson
Season averages: 9.9 points, 3.1 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 21.9 minutes
Buzz: Jackson grew up in Memphis and spent much of his freshman season struggling to live up to the expectations that came from playing high school ball in his hometown. He played well in the postseason, though, and was named the most valuable player of the Conference USA tournament. His two free throws with seven seconds remaining gave Memphis a 67-66 victory over UTEP in the conference championship game.
19. North Carolina State G Ryan Harrow
Season averages: 9.3 points, 3.3 assists, 1.9 rebounds, 23.0 minutes
Buzz: Harrow had a nearly 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season, though he didn't provide consistent scoring. Harrow scored at least 10 points six times in a seven-game stretch that ran from Dec. 28 through Jan. 19, but he reached double figures just twice more the rest of the season. He has since transferred to Kentucky.
Season averages: 2.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 9.0 minutes
Buzz: Payne scored in only one of Michigan State's last five games, and he reached double figures just twice all season. Payne should receive more playing time next year as the Spartans attempt to replace C Garrick Sherman, who announced after the season that he planned to transfer.
21. Kentucky G Doron Lamb
Season averages: 12.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 28.4 minutes
Buzz: Lamb made 48.6 percent of his 3-point attempts (68-of-140) to lead the SEC. Lamb shot 8-of-13 from 3-point range in the NCAA tournament, though he exceeded eight points in just one of Kentucky's five NCAA tournament contests.
22. Ohio State F Deshaun Thomas
Season averages: 7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 14.0 minutes
Buzz: Thomas didn't get consistent playing time in the postseason, but he capitalized on his opportunities. Thomas had 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists in a rout of UT San Antonio and scored seven points against George Mason. He played only three minutes in an East Regional semifinal loss to Kentucky.
Season averages: 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 21.7 minutes
Buzz: Smith made two-thirds of his shots and averaged 15 points per game in the NCAA tournament. He scored in double figures in six of his last seven games and was productive down the stretch when he managed to avoid foul trouble.
Season averages: 5.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 19.0 minutes
Buzz: Blue contributed quite a bit early in the season, but his production and playing time dropped later in the season. He totaled just two points and two assists over the Eagles' final five games.
Season averages: 8.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 24.4 minutes
Buzz: Powell ranked fourth on his team in scoring and second in rebounding. He had 11 points and 11 rebounds for his second career double-double in a late-season win over Oregon. Powell closed the season by delivering 11 points and eight rebounds (six offensive) in a Pac-10 tournament loss to Oregon State.
26. Arizona State G Keala King
Season averages: 3.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 12.7 minutes
Buzz: King struggled to make an impact, though he did show signs of improvement late in the season. He scored 10 points in a 71-69 win over Washington State on Feb. 19 and had 14 points in a 62-46 loss to USC a week later.
Season averages: 3.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 17.8 minutes
Buzz: Young provided plenty of defense, toughness and energy off the bench all season while backing up senior starters Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. Young should have a much larger role this season as the Gators attempt to replace Tyus and Macklin in the frontcourt.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.


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