As I sat in my TV room with a blanket and a nice cup of hot chocolate, I said to myself during the UNC-Kentucky game, “Freshman are ruling this world”. And the moment came in the dying seconds as one of the best players (a freshman) for Kentucky hit a dagger 3, crushing the hopes of North Carolina. I was never a fan of the kids going right into the draft out of high school, and I think we all win now because of this. This week, I’m going to take a look at a couple of these guys who are just 18 years old, and who are proving to be the top guy for some of the country’s top programs.
Let’s start with the kid who stomped on the Tarheel’s hearts on Saturday afternoon. That kid is none other than Malik Monk. Monk dropped 47 points in Vegas, and looked unstoppable. Truth be told, if he goes to the NBA after this season, I think he goes number 1 overall. The kid can step back from behind the arc, and take it to the hoop. He is the total package and could possibly have a chance to steal the Wooden Award. Also, it helps that you have Coach Cal as the one driving the bus. He usually does pretty well with the young players. Watch out for Monk in March, he is a human highlight reel.
Speaking of highlight reel’s, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is also a name to know when it comes to talented freshman. Once known as the best passer in high school basketball, Ball brought that right to UCLA. Looking like Jason Kidd, Ball is averaging nine helpers a night, and along with that, he’s putting up 16 points a night as well. Ball was a key piece to the win against Kentucky earlier this season. As long as he is playing, the Bruins could be the team to beat out west. UCLA has a ton of talent and could go places, Lonzo Ball is the one who can lead the way.
One other name I am going to throw out there is Jayson Tatum for Duke. Tatum is one of the most skilled players on the wing in all of college basketball. I think if Coach K is smart (he is, no shot taken there), he tries to talk Tatum into staying for another year or two. But that probably won’t happen. The kid is a versatile forward and will most likely go inside the top 10 of the draft. He will keep Duke atop the ACC this season and will make them a force come tourney time. I like the way Tatum plays, and at 6 foot 8, he’s going to win some big battles down in the trenches.
Until we meet again, try to stay handsome.