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Andy Katz | | October 19, 2022

11 impact freshmen in men's college basketball, ranked by Andy Katz

The 11 most important men's college basketball freshmen

These are my rankings for the freshmen who can have the biggest impact in DI men's college basketball for the 2022-23 season. This is not necessarily a best-of list, instead these are the most vital first-year players.

  1. Dereck Lively II, Duke: Lively will have an immediate impact for the Blue Devils. He may lack experience but he’s a power player who doesn’t mind/wants to do all the little things around the basket. 
  2. Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas: He’s the next superstar in Fayetteville. Eric Musselman will make sure Smith has the appropriate number of touches for the Hogs/Smith to be successful. 
  3. Gradey Dick, Kansas: The Jayhawks needed shooting. Dick will deliver in this category from game one. He has a role and he will fill it well. 
  4. GG Jackson, South Carolina: Lamont Paris got a one-and-done recruit that will help the Gamecocks stay relevant in his first season in Columbia. 
  5. Keyonte George, Baylor: The Bears needed another influx of talent and they’ve got one in George. 
  6. Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana: The loaded Hoosiers needed a true playmaker and Hood-Schifino will step into the role next to Xavier Johnson. He doesn’t have to be the go-to guy so the pressure is all about being a distributor. 

    RELATED: The top 15 transfers in men's college basketball, ranked by Katz ​​​​​​
  7. Jarace Walker, Houston: The Cougars are ready made for a Final Four run. Walker gives them that extra boost to possibly make it happen. 
  8. Cason Wallace, Kentucky: Wallace is the latest in line of impact Kentucky freshmen. John Calipari has done a masterful job of ensuring high-profile freshmen get their moments early and often.
  9. JJ Starling, Notre Dame: Mike Brey could have his second-straight one-and-done on the roster. He will need that kind of production from Starling, who should help the Irish get back to the NCAA Tournament. 
  10. Skyy Clark, Illinois: The Illini had a glaring hole at point guard with the departures of Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo. Here comes Clark to deliver for a team that could challenge for the Big Ten title. 
  11. Cam Whitmore, Villanova: Whitmore comes with the hype. But a thumb injury has slowed his possible impact in the preseason. There is no timetable for his return but once he does then Kyle Neptune will use him often.

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