If you’re one of those folks that doesn’t get excited about college basketball until March, you’re missing out on one of the most fascinating starts to a regular season in recent memory.
The game has seen its fair share of remarkable freshmen as of late. 2006-07 was especially lit with Texas’ Kevin Durant being the only player in the country to finish in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding en route averaging 26 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals per game.
That season was punctuated by a little-known, skinny, baby-faced first-year assassin at Davidson named Stephen Curry who scorched Maryland in the NCAA Tournament to the tune of 30 points.
Four years earlier, Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony had arguably the greatest freshman season of any player in the history of the game, so much so that the 2002-2003 NCAA Tourney has since been re-named Melo Madness.
In the East Regional Final against Oklahoma, he had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the 63-47 victory.
Against T.J. Ford and the University of Texas in the 03 Final Four (which was the first time casual fans ever heard the name of Marquettes super duper star, Dwyane Wade), Melo set a record for the most points ever scored by a freshman in a national Semi-Final.
He exploded on the grand stage with 33 points, making 12 of 19 shots, and collected 14 rebounds in the 95-84 victory.
In the 2003 National Championship, the Melo, the fellow, the one who likes to say hello was strictly business, delivering coach Jim Boeheims first NCAA title with an astounding 20-point, 10-rebound, six-assist performance in Syracuses 81-78 victory over Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collisons talented Kansas Jayhawks crew.
The Sporting News gushed that Anthony played the college game better than any freshman in NCAA basketball. Ever.
Durant would come along to challenge that assertion, as did Anthony Davis at Kentucky in 2011-12. And this year, the floodgates have opened with perhaps the greatest conglomeration of players that is so gangsta, they’re playing like they’re Straight Outta Compton as opposed to simply being straight out of high school.
With that being said, you don’t want to miss the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats (10-1) tonight when they face off against the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals (10-1). Kentucky’s pace is insane, with head coach John Calipari doing yet another masterful job of crafting his team’s unique basketball personality based off of the talent at his disposal, as opposed to the plethora of stubborn coaches who try to make players fit into their system.
Coach Cal crafts a new system each year, depending on his roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as does Louisville’s Rick Pitino. Kentucky wants to run up in you at rapid-fire pace like Keith Murray, while The ‘Ville’s calling card this year is a treacherous defense.
We’ll see if Pitino’s “D” can slow down UK’s freshman sensation Malik Monk, whose jingling right now like the future of the Funk.
Here’s a small sample of what the best players in the country have been doing over the season’s first few weeks. Don’t get to the college hoops party late this year folks, because the freshmen fun has already begun.
Kentucky’s Malik Monk Drops 47 on North Carolina
Kansas’ Josh “Don’t Call Me Tito” Jackson Says Let Me Show You The Way To Go
UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, aka “Last night changed it all!” Gives Long Beach State some Magic with the Johnson
North Carolina State’s phenom Dennis Smith, that’s Mr. Smith to you, is too hot to handle.
Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox Gave North Carolina That Work Too!
Duke’s Jayson Tatum Gives Florida Buckets, Gets Approval from Uncle Drew.
UCLA’s TJ Leaf Bodies Kentucky!