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College Basketball Freshman Power Rankings: Week 4 Edition

Thad NovakCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2013

College Basketball Freshman Power Rankings: Week 4 Edition

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    With every week that goes by, college basketball’s hype-heavy freshman class is showing that all the accolades, while well-deserved, haven’t necessarily gone to the right places. Some of the most celebrated youngsters haven’t lived up to expectations (sorry, Andrew Harrison), while others are proving they deserved more attention in the offseason.

    One player very much in the latter category these days is BYU’s Eric Mika. The Cougars’ top low-post threat barely made a ripple in a recruiting class with plenty of long, lean scorers, but he’s been putting up numbers to match almost any of them over the first month of the season.

    Read on for more on Mika’s latest outstanding performances, along with the rest of the top 20 freshmen in the country so far.

20. Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Facing his toughest opponent of the season, Mamadou Ndiaye did record five rebounds and two blocks against Cal. He also fouled out in 10 minutes to guarantee a 17-point Anteaters loss.

    Key Stats: 8.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game, .698 field-goal percentage

    Why He’s Here: 7’6”, 290-pound monolith is learning how to turn all that size into Division I productivity.

    Biggest Concern: Not only can he not shoot free throws (.400), but he’s attempting fewer than five of them a game despite his huge size advantage.

19. Monte Morris, Iowa State

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    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    If DeAndre Kane weren’t in command of the starting job for Iowa State, Monte Morris would probably be having the best season of any freshman point guard.

    Key Stats: 8.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game

    Why He’s Here: Even backing up Kane, the 6’2” youngster has managed an impressive mix of passing and scoring in ISU's wide-open offense.

    Biggest Concern: Although he’s a solid three-point shooter (.375), his .400 shooting from the field makes him a fairly inefficient scorer.

18. Bobby Portis, Arkansas

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Bobby Portis has bounced back from a slow start to flash the speed and scoring instincts that made him a top-20 recruit, torching the imposing Gonzaga front line for 18 points and seven rebounds.

    Key Stats: 11.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game

    Why He’s Here: Precocious scoring PF is a transition terror who also has some touch on his shot (.762 from the charity stripe).

    Biggest Concern: He's not looking like the shot-blocking threat his 6’10” build and great agility should make him.

17. Devin Williams, West Virginia

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    Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Even in a rough outing against the suffocating Wisconsin D, Devin Williams kept pounding the glass for his seventh straight game with seven rebounds or better.

    Key Stats: Ten points and eight rebounds per game.

    Why He’s Here: He's 6’9”, 255-pound bruiser who would have been at home in the old Big East, He should clean up in the Mountaineers’ current home in the Big 12.

    Biggest Concern: Aside from putbacks, he has very little going for him as an offensive player.

16. Anthony 'Cat' Barber, N.C. State

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    Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Barber’s feline nickname might be more at home with Clemson or Auburn, but the Wolfpack are glad to have his aggressive scorer’s mentality.

    Key Stats: Thirteen points and 3.7 assists per game

    Why He’s Here: The improving passer has been a valuable backcourt partner for Tyler Lewis.

    Biggest Concern: He exacerbates his team’s lack of impact defenders on the outside.

15. Austin Nichols, Memphis

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Oklahoma State has his number, but Austin Nichols has found his niche in the Memphis offense during the three games between the Tigers’ road-and-neutral-site split with the Cowboys.

    Key Stats: 12.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

    Why He’s Here: The versatile interior scorer has also provided valuable rebounding for undersized Memphis.

    Biggest Concern: Lack of elite size (6’8”, 212 lbs) could become an issue against AAC front lines.

14. Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Washington did escape with a double-overtime home win over Long Beach State, but Nigel Williams-Goss’ scoring continued to slip thanks to his worst shooting night of the year (3-of-15).

    Key Stats: 12.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

    Why He’s Here: The top-notch distributor has been the second-best player and best defender on the undermanned Huskies.

    Biggest Concern: His erratic jump shot (.417 from the floor this year) appears to be catching up to him.

13. James Young, Kentucky

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 14

    James Young roasted Providence for 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting, a prime demonstration of how dangerous he is when his jump shot is falling.

    Key Stats: Thirteen points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

    Why He’s Here: Kentucky’s most aggressive outside shooter is also a superb athlete as a 6’6” swingman.

    Biggest Concern: Like most of the Wildcats' perimeter players, he hasn’t done a whole lot on defense.

12. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Aaron Harrison loses ground by standing still, putting up a very good performance against Providence (15 points, three rebounds, four assists) that’s merely average by his standards.

    Key Stats: 13.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.

    Why He’s Here: The high-powered and versatile perimeter scorer has size to contribute on the glass even in extra-large Wildcats lineups.

    Biggest Concern: His erratic .297 shooting from beyond the arc could come back to bite Kentucky.

11. Eric Mika, BYU

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Facing a pair of unimpressive front lines on his home floor, Eric Mika dominated, combining for 32 points and 20 boards in his best showings of the year.

    Key Stats: 13.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

    Why He’s Here: He's an outstanding post scorer making an impact even on a loaded BYU offense.

    Biggest Concern: Despite his impressive size—6’10”, 230 pounds—he has frequently been out-rebounded by Cougars guards.

10. Zach LaVine, UCLA

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Zach LaVine continues making his case for Sixth Man of the Year, lighting up Northwestern and UCSB for a combined 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting.

    Key Stats: 14.4 points and 2.1 assists per game, .559 three-point shooting.

    Why He’s Here: He's an electrifying bench scorer who also is a solid ball-handling option.

    Biggest Concern: Lack of physicality reflects weight (180 lbs) more than height (6’5”).

     

9. Jordan Mickey, LSU

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 5

    A pair of tough frontcourts from Memphis and Butler cut into Jordan Mickey’s strong individual start, but he did keep up his impressive shot-blocking performance in helping his Tigers earn a split.

    Key Stats: 13.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game.

    Why He’s Here: The high-flying PF has made an impact at the rim on both ends.

    Biggest Concern: He's less polished than many in this stacked freshman class.

8. Joel Embiid, Kansas

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Although Joel Embiid struggled in a loss to Villanova in the Bahamas—where he fouled out in 12 minutes—he bounced back strong with seven blocks in a win over UTEP.

    Key Stats: 9.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, .676 field-goal percentage.

    Why He’s Here: The mobile 7-footer has been one of the nation’s top bench players behind Tarik Black.

    Biggest Concern: He's an iffy scorer who may struggle to get playing time when Kansas’ offense isn’t clicking.

7. Jabari Bird, California

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Jabari Bird didn’t especially impress against UC Irvine, but he was solid in a 17-point runaway win for Cal.

    Key Stats: 13.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, .455 three-point shooting

    Why He’s Here: The best of the freshman 2-guards has been an ultra-efficient offensive weapon for dangerous Golden Bears.

    Biggest Concern: He will struggle to defend Pac-12’s top perimeter scorers.

6. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 3

    No Jayhawk had a worse weekend in the Bahamas than Andrew Wiggins, who combined for a weak 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting against Villanova and UTEP.

    Key Stats: 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

    Why He’s Here: The big-time scoring threat has shown promise at contributing in other areas.

    Biggest Concern: Unexpectedly mediocre shooter early on: .333 from long range, .632 from the foul line.

5. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

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    Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Tyler Ennis has managed to improve his game as the competition has gotten tougher, dominating Yogi Ferrell and Indiana so thoroughly that he made a run at a triple-double with 17 points, seven boards and eight assists.

    Key Stats: 12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.0 steals per game, .421 three-point shooting

    Why He’s Here: He has been thriving under the pressure of leading the unbeaten and fourth-ranked Orange.

    Biggest Concern: His shooting runs very hot-and-cold, though even when he slumps, he usually makes up for it on defense.

4. Noah Vonleh, Indiana

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Previous Ranking: 7

    One of the few Hoosiers who played anything resembling a good game against Syracuse, Noah Vonleh lived at the free-throw line (13-of-16) and blocked three shots in the blowout loss to the Orange.

    Key Stats: 13.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game

    Why He’s Here: The rebounding ace has also been a major scoring weapon alongside Yogi Ferrell.

    Biggest Concern: He's still a work in progress defensively, despite that great effort in the Syracuse game.

3. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Aaron Gordon did everything Arizona needed from him against Duke, including dishing out four assists for the first time this year. Then he lit up Texas Tech for a career-high 19 points.

    Key Stats: Thirteen points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game

    Why He’s Here: The extraordinary physical presence (at 6’9”, 225 lbs) has added explosiveness to the burly Wildcats front line.

    Biggest Concern: Teams are going to start fouling him if he keeps shooting .488 from the stripe.

2. Julius Randle, Kentucky

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 2

    For most players, Julius Randle’s 12-point, eight-rebound, four-assist night against Providence would’ve been a strong effort. For him, it was the worst individual performance of his young career.

    Key Stats: 18.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

    Why He’s Here: The double-double machine has been an instant leader among Kentucky’s spectacular freshmen.

    Biggest Concern: He ranks in the bottom 50 nationally in ball security with 3.6 turnovers committed per game.

1. Jabari Parker, Duke

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Jabari Parker came back to Earth a bit with just three rebounds against Arizona and only 15 points against Michigan, but he’s still putting up staggering numbers for a top-10 team.

    Key Stats: 22.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game, .467 three-point shooting.

    Why He’s Here: The devastating scorer is also among the ACC’s toughest defenders, and he’s not even playing his natural small forward position.

    Biggest Concern: Neither he nor his team held up well against the physical Arizona front line, which forced him into 7-of-21 shooting and five turnovers.

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