College Basketball’s Must-Watch Freshmen in 2022-23

While these aren’t necessarily the 20 highest-ranked freshmen in the country (although many of those guys are on this list), some of the players listed here might make a more immediate impact on their team than the more-heralded frosh. I’m also sharing a comparison that will help you understand a little bit of what their games are like.

Nick Smith Jr., 6-5, 185, SG, Arkansas – With all the newcomers that Eric Musselman has brought in this season, it’ll be Smith who becomes the alpha dog. He’s a big, strong, dynamic, athletic and skilled scoring wing that can get to the basket and finish through contact — and can also make shots from the perimeter. I’ll be surprised if Smith isn’t a top-five pick in June’s NBA Draft.
247 Composite Ranking: 3
Comp: Jordan Poole or Donovan Mitchell

Keyonte George, 6-4, 185, SG, Baylor – George is another scoring wing with size. The Texas native will come in and immediately be Scott Drew’s most talented player. He’s smooth, can pull up and make shots from long distance and also is able to get to the basket. I’d expect George to lead Baylor in scoring as a frosh.
247 Composite Ranking: 7
Comp: Bradley Beal or Donovan Mitchell

Brandon Miller, 6-9, 200, PF, Alabama – I loved Miller when I saw him a couple of summers ago. He’s extremely versatile as a forward who can score in a variety of ways. He can rebound and also has the ability to make his teammates better through his passing. I’d be shocked if Miller isn’t one of the best frosh in the country due to his mature game.
247 Composite Ranking: 15
Comp: Paul George

Dereck Lively II, 7-1, 230, C, Duke – He can be a game-changer on the defensive end with his length and ability to alter and block shots, and he’s also a capable scorer. He’s tricky from the perimeter, but his biggest asset besides his defense is his ability to run the floor and finish in transition.
247 Composite Ranking: 1
Comp: (A young) Tyson Chandler

Cam Whitmore, 6-7, 230, F, Villanova – Explosive, athletic wing who plays with a high motor and can really explode to the basket. Average shooter, but plays above the rim. Whitmore can be a lock-down defender who is dominant in transition, but don’t expect him to put up huge scoring numbers this year for Kyle Neptune. He’ll be more of a stat-sheet stuffer who does everything.
247 Composite Ranking: 14
Comp: Miles Bridges

Jalen Hood-Schifino, 6-6, 215, G, Indiana – The Pittsburgh native could be the missing piece for Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers. He’s a big, versatile guard who has an advanced game. He can take pressure off Xavier Johnson and run the team when necessary. Hood-Schifino is strong, can defend and plays with a pace and poise rare for a frosh. His one weakness is his perimeter shooting.
247 Composite Ranking: 23
Comp: Malcolm Brogdon

Cason Wallace, 6-4, 195, G, Kentucky – The toughest player I saw on the circuit in the entire class. He’s a guard who will get after it on the defensive end, but can also run a team and balance scoring when necessary — and also set up his teammates. He’ll need to become a more consistent perimeter shooter, but he’s got just about everything else.
247 Composite Ranking: 8
Comp: Davion Mitchell

Judah Mintz, 6-3, 175, PG, Syracuse – This selection might be more due to need than talent. Jim Boeheim lost a ton from a year ago, so he’ll hand the keys to this scoring point guard.
247 Composite Ranking: 51
Comp: Jonny Flynn

Desmond Claude, 6-5, 195, PG, Xavier – The New Haven native is big, strong, has a 6-8 wing span and can run the team. Claude is fundamentally sound and is a good passer. Look for him to make an immediate impact for Sean Miller on a team that could challenge for the Big East title.
247 Composite Ranking: 83
Comp: Andrew Nembhard

Braden Smith, 6-0, 180, PG, Purdue – He was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball and had a terrific high school career in which he scored, distributed and made shots from deep. Now he’ll have a ton of pressure right out of the gates as the only true point guard on the roster. Smith will also have to stay healthy, as he dealt with a couple of foot injuries toward the end of his high school career. Smith should have enough around him that he just needs to run the team, make quality decisions and hit open shots.
247 Composite Ranking: 195
Comp: Scott Skiles

Tyrese Proctor, 6-5, 175, G, Duke – Proctor could be a key for the Blue Devils. The Aussie reclassified, but he’s different than most guys who sped up their graduation date in that he’s played in international competition. He’s got size and can be a difference-maker with his ability to make shots.
247 Composite Ranking: 27
Comparison: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Aidan Mahaney, 6-3, 180, G, Saint Mary’s – The Gaels have a history of producing high-level guards, and Mahaney might be the next in line. He’s a local kid who can really shoot it, and should be a huge part of the team this season. He wasn’t ranked in the Top 100 coming out of Campolindo High.
247 Composite Ranking: 130
Comparison: Luke Ridnour

Brice Sensabaugh, 6-6, 235, SF, Ohio State – He was ranked 65th in the composite recruiting rankings, but he’ll immediately be an impact player for Chris Holtmann. He’s a big, strong wing who can really score it.
247 Composite Ranking: 65
Comparison: David Roddy

JJ Starling, 6-4, 200, G, Notre Dame – The Irish return basically everyone except for Blake Wesley, and while Starling is different from Wesley, he can make a similar impact. Starling is a versatile guard that could be the difference between Notre Dame being an NIT or NCAA tourney team.
247 Composite Ranking: 21
Comparison: Andrew Toney

Jett Howard, 6-8, 215, SG, Michigan – Juwan’s younger son was ranked No. 42, but he’ll come in and fill an immediate need with his shooting. The Wolverines need it to take some of the pressure off Hunter Dickinson and Jett should be able to provide much-needed scoring.
247 Composite Ranking: 42
Comparison: Nick Young

Jarace Walker, 6-8, 240, F, Houston – The top recruit won’t put up huge numbers because Kelvin Sampson won’t need him to be a star. But Walker is a versatile forward who can drive it to the basket and finish. He’ll also be a quality rebounder immediately because of his NBA-ready body.
247 Composite Ranking: 11
Comparison: Julius Randle

Gradey Dick, 6-8, 205, SG, Kansas – He’s got size and is an elite shooter with a high release. The in-state product will also be needed to score since Bill Self lost so much from last year’s national title team.
247 Composite Ranking: 20
Comparison: Kyle Korver

Adem Bona, 6-10, 235, C, UCLA – He’s a big, strong and physical post player who has a high motor and can dominate on the glass and in the paint. Mick Cronin will have to play Bona a ton because he doesn’t have much else down low.
247 Composite Ranking: 16
Comparison: Amar’e Stoudemire

Isaac McKneely, 6-4, 180, G, Virginia – The West Virginia guard comes in with a rep as a big-time shooter, but he can do more than just shoot. McKneely has a great feel and a high IQ, and will definitely help Tony Bennett’s team.
247 Composite Ranking: 61
Comparison: Kyle Guy

Mark Armstrong, 6-2, 180, PG, Villanova – New coach Kyle Neptune will need Armstrong to become the guy at the point. He’s quick, can change speeds, and he makes good decisions and defends. If he develops along quickly, the Wildcats could still have a chance to challenge for the league title.
247 Composite Ranking: 55
Comparison: Donte DiVincenzo

MORE: Jeff Goodman’s Final Preseason Top 25 for 2022-23