Top 10 impact freshmen: Ranking college basketball’s best newcomers entering the 2022-23 season

In the one-and-done era in college basketball, freshmen have increasingly played larger roles not just as spark plugs, but often as stars or co-stars for contenders. Zion Williamson. John Wall. Chet Holmgren. Eighteen and 19-year-old newbies can now routinely step in and instantly impact winning at the highest level of the sport. 

That trend should continue into the 2022-23 season with a loaded incoming freshmen class heavy on guards and wings with pro potential. But who will this year’s class be comprised of? Where do the top young talents in the game play this season? And in what type of roles should we expect them to walk into?

We set out to answer those questions and more in our annual ranking of the top 10 freshmen in college hoops. Let’s hop to it for this year’s list.

The best freshman in college basketball resides in Waco, America. George is my pick for Big 12 Player of the Year, and my crystal ball says the likelihood of him also being the most productive freshman in the entire sport is about 52.375%. He’s a gunner with a zest of swag to his game that’s intoxicatingly aesthetic. George is a microwave-type scorer who will be asked to do a lot in Baylor’s guard-friendly offense. Under coach Scott Drew, he’s going to hold the keys to the car from Day One, and we’ve already seen him do big numbers against high-level competition.

2. Nick Smith | Arkansas | SG

Arkansas lost 87% of its scoring, 78% of its assists and 84% of its rebounding production from last season’s team that went 28-9 and advanced to the Elite Eight. The kingdom will likely be handed straight away to superstar freshman recruit Nick Smith, an Arkansas product who finished as the No. 1 recruit in his class. He’s a smooth do-it-all guard who will walk into 15 points and a couple assists per game on an Arkansas team that opens the season ranked inside the top 10.

3. Cason Wallace | Kentucky | PG

Kentucky is my preseason No. 1…

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