Every year, the conference features a number of rising stars who come in as freshmen and make a huge impact. Players like Derrick Williams, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love, James Harden, among others, come in, lead their team to success and then head off to the NBA early. This year is no exception, with some outstanding freshmen who appear to have bright futures ahead of them, perhaps in the conference or perhaps straight to the NBA. I think most people fully expect Tony Wroten to win Freshman of the Year. In fact, Wroten does have a chance to become just the 3rd player to win both Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year. The other two were Sharif Abdur-Rahim and Kevin Love. Anyways, let’s take a look at the candidates.
Tony Wroten (PG/SG)Washington- 16.7 ppg, 4.9 rbs, 3.5 assists, and 2 steals per game in 29.8 minutes. He is among the league leaders in several categories and one of the best rebounding guards in the conference. Will he stay another year? Wroten seems like a sure fire NBA 1st round pick if he chooses to leave. But, there are definitely some parts to his game he could work on if he stayed, such as improving his long-distance shooting, free throw shooting, and decision-making on the break. But, he is so far and away the best freshman in the conference that if he doesn’t win the award, it would be criminal.
Nick Johnson (SG), Arizona- 9.4 ppg, 3.3 rbs, 2.4 assists, and 0.7 steals per game in 27.5 minutes. After a slow and inconsistent start, Johnson has found his groove. He is beginning to show the promise as the 5-star recruit he was billed as coming to Tucson. Nick Johnson is not ready for the NBA quite yet, but everyone in the conference needs to be aware and ready for him to have a big-time breakout season next year. How much better might he play with another set of 5-star recruits coming in who he can play off of?
Chasson Randle (PG/SG), Stanford- 13.0 ppg, 3.2 rbs, 1.9 assists, and 1.0 steals per game in 30.0 minutes. Randle has become the heart-and-soul of the Cardinal this season. He leads the team in minutes played and scoring. He and Aaron Bright have become a nice combo in the backcourt. But, the thing that will likely hurt his chances are Stanford’s inconsistent performances this season, including this last weekend when they blew out Colorado in Boulder and then lost to Utah!?! Regardless, watch out for Randle to continue to get better next year and he might be one of those continuous flows of early entrants to the NBA after his sophomore or junior season.
Spencer Dinwiddle (SG), Colorado- 10.6 ppg, 3.8 rbs, 1.8 assists, and 0.6 steals per game in 26.4 minutes. Dinwiddle has been off-and-on this season with some big games and a few where he has been lost in the crowd. But, he is an outstanding talent who I think will make some noise in the conference for the next couple of years in Boulder.
David Kravish (F), California- 6.8 ppg, 5.7 rbs, 0.5 assists, and 0.3 steals per game in 24.6 minutes. Kravish has been a nice suprise in Berkeley that has allowed this team with a relatively thin bench to have more depth up front. Many people were concerned that a player like Richard Thurmon or Bak Bak were going to need to be the main help up front with oft-injured Harper Kamp. But, Kravish has taken up the slack very nicely. Look for Kravish to become a go-to player in Berkeley next year with the loss of Kamp and Gutierrez after this season.