The Arizona freshman has had high expectations, earning a spot on the cover of The New York Times Magazine as a sixth grader. Twelve games into his college career, it appears he’ll keep the Wildcats in the hunt for a Pac-12 title, averaging 13.2 points per game, tied with Gabe York for second on the team.
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Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
The 6-foot-9 Fort Wayne native has made his presence felt on Purdue’s massive frontline. Swanigan is close averaging a double-double at 11.2 ponts and 9.3 rebounds per game. Despite the loss, he is coming off his best performance of the season, scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds vs. Butler. The scariest stat: he was 3-of-4 from three.
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Henry Ellenson, Marquette
The prize piece of Steve Wojciechowski’s recruiting class has been as advertised. The 6-foot-10 versatile forward has recorded six double-doubles this. During the team’s eight-game winning streak, he’s averaging 17.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. This run started with Ellenson scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a win over Ben Simmons and LSU
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Dedric Lawson, Memphis
He may not be getting the pub as the other freshmen in the nation, but Memphis forward Dedric Lawson has put together an impressive season so far. He leads the Tigers in scoring and rebounding at 16.4 points and 9.6 boards per game. His best game of the season came against Oklahoma, recording 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
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Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Recently named USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year, the Villanova freshman has formed a two point guard lineup with senior Ryan Arcidiacono, the reigning Big East co-Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3 Brunson is fourth on the team in scoring at 10.8 points and second in assists with 3.1 per game.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
Edmond Sumner, Xavier
The starting point guard role was Xavier’s biggest question heading into the season, as the Musketeers needed to replace the steady production of Dee Davis. Edmond Sumner, a redshirt freshman, has been the answer. At 6-foot-5, Sumner adds length to one of the nation’s most efficient defenses and adds a scoring pop as one of five Musketeers averaging at least 10 points.
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Brandon Ingram, Duke
The heralded in-state recruit got off to a bit of a slow start for the Blue Devils. But he has turned it on in the month of December. The 6-foot-9 wing is averaging 22.0 points, 8.3 and rebounds over his last four games, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.
Getty ImagesPeyton Williams
Ben Simmons, LSU
The 6-foot-10 Australian does it all for the Tigers. Until the return of Keith Hornsby, Simmons was leading LSU in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and minutes played. Despite averaging 18.7 points and 13.9 boards per game, the Tigers have struggled this season, and there’s a good chance the top pick in 2015 NBA Draft does not appear in the NCAA Tournament.
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Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky
Kentucky’s top three scorers all reside in the backcourt, two of them being freshmen. Jamal Murray, the Canadian product who showed his ability to take over this summer in the Pan-Am Games and the Nike Hoop Summit, is averaging a team-best 17.1 points per game. Isaiah Briscoe, the 6-foot-3 lead guard, is third in scoring, but has added value on the defensive end, most notably holding Duke’s Grayson Allen to six points. The Wildcats are still looking for consistent production out of their other freshman, Skal Labissiere
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Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, Florida State
Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon committed to Florida State on the same exact night back in September 2014. From synchronized commitments to nearly identical scoring averages, the two freshmen are leading the Seminoles in scoring with Beasley’s team-high 17.3 points per game followed by Bacon at 17.2.