A Recap Of Highlighted Players And Teams From College Basketball

As the season progresses, some first-year players will feel more at ease at the college level, play more and improve as they impact the College Basketball picks today. Now that it is a new year and conference play is approaching, it is time to evaluate the rookies and their teams thus far.

Kentucky

Kentucky has maintained a solid program for many years.

The Wildcats’ poor performance over the past two seasons has angered supporters and created animosity inside the program. The Wildcats have an 8-3 record this year. They’ve been defeated by Michigan State, Gonzaga, and UCLA.

Despite recent difficulties, Kentucky ranks third all-time in Final Four appearances and is the third-most frequent Final Four participant. They are tied with UCLA for most NCAA championship games played, and only UCLA has won more national championships with eight.

Despite a disappointing run, Kentucky has the most significant potential. When Oscar Tshiebwe is in the center, a lottery pick is in the backcourt, and there are athletes everywhere, the team will likely finish in the top 25, even in a terrible season. 

Despite this, nobody in the Kentucky men’s basketball program is a standard-setter, and there are genuine concerns about how good this squad could be.

However, they are pleased to have Cason Wallace. Wallace has not amassed the impressive statistics that some of the other first-year players on this list have, but he has been one of the finest two-way freshmen in the country and is likely to continue to perform well in the future.

People have advised John Calipari to allow Wallace more freedom, and Wallace had the finest game of his career on Wednesday, scoring 27 points and helping the Wildcats defeat Florida A&M. Before that game, he was averaging 10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 steals, and a three-point percentage of 44.7%.

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Kentucky finished the 2020-21 season with a 9-16 record and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament. Saint Peter’s defeated the No. 2 seed Kentucky in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in March.

Wednesday, following Kentucky’s 88-68 victory over FAMU, basketball coach John Calipari discussed the fans’ wrath on his regular “Wildcat Wrap-Up” show. He requested the fans’ patience with the team and the entire organization.

Calipari has consistently received the most significant criticism for his players’ errors. Calipari wants fans to remain positive while remaining critical of the squad, despite the enormous expectations for Kentucky’s storied basketball program.

South Carolina Gamecocks

In Lamont Paris’s first season as head coach, expectations for the Gamecocks were not very high, but losing to East Carolina so soon after losing by 24 points to George Washington is nonetheless disheartening. They are only 5-6 and have two home games before SEC play begins. The outlook is not favorable for G.G. Jackson’s final college season.

Gregory “G.G.” Jackson II originally signed with North Carolina last spring. Still, he changed his mind a few months later and ultimately signed with South Carolina and reclassified to play immediately for the Gamecocks. 

The Gamecocks will have a disappointing season, but Jackson will not be to blame. George Washington and East Carolina had previously defeated them. He outscores every other freshman, scoring at least 20 points four times and averages at least 11 points a game. He averages 17.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Villanova

The first three weeks of the season were a disaster for the Wildcats. Injuries played a role. Cam Whitmore was out until early December due to a hand injury he sustained during the offseason. The most outstanding player, Justin Moore, is still out due to an Achilles injury he sustained last season.

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After suffering a broken thumb in the fall, Whitmore missed the season’s opening seven games. He was one of his class’s top NBA draft prospects. However, since his return to the floor, the 6’7″ forward has had an immediate impact. After beginning the season 2-5, he averaged 13.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first four games, and Villanova won all of them.

After starting 2-5, Villanova has won five consecutive games. The schedule is partially responsible for the team’s turnaround, but victories over Oklahoma and St. John’s could assist Kyle Neptune’s squad in the long run.

However, the transition from Jay Wright to Neptune appeared to be greater than anticipated. Offensively, Villanova struggled with their point guard and had peculiar shooting issues on the perimeter.

Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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