Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony is the most prominent recent example of a true
freshman putting a team on his back and carrying it through the rigors of the
NCAA Tournament toward a national title.
2002-2003 season while at Syracuse, Anthony averaged
over 22 points per game and lifted the Orange to
their only national title with a win over Kansas in the championship.
Anthony’s run, Greg Oden and Mike Conley (Ohio
State, 2007), Derrick Rose (Memphis, 2008) and Kevin
Love (UCLA, 2008) have been lead players on Final Four teams.
Can a class
of 2009 high school senior achieve the same type of immediate success? Here are
the most likely candidates;
Demarcus Cousins - LeFlore, AL 2008 Basketball
Highlights of Cousins
Cousins / Xavier
star freshman is good (Derrick Rose in 2008, Tyreke Evans in 2009), Memphis head coach John Calipari is hoping two can help
bring a national title to Tiger
Land. In Cousins and
Henry, Calipari will have two of the top five freshmen in the country in his
arsenal next season. Both have been big winners at the high school level and – like
Rose and Evans – are considered one-and-done-caliber prospects.
South Atlanta HS, GA - Derrick Favors Highlights
Highlights of Favors
Favors / Mfon
Udofia, Georgia Tech
blame fans for questioning how Georgia Tech can be in the NCAA Tournament
conversation after going 12-19 this season, including an ugly 2-14 mark in
Atlantic Coast Conference play. Thankfully for Paul Hewitt, help is on the way
in the form of a star-studded recruiting class highlighted by Favors – MaxPreps’
No. 1 player in the class of 2009 – and Udofia. Both led their high schools to
state championships this season and should help comprise a solid nucleus for
Tech alongside returnees Gani Lawal (15.1 points per game), Iman Shumpert (10.6)
and Zachery Peacock (9.2).
Renardo Sidney - Fairfax (Los Angeles, CA)
Highlights of Sidney
Gibson and DeMar DeRozan resist the temptation to test the NBA and Sidney actually makes it
on campus, Tim Floyd will have Final Four-caliber talent. Making it there with
his mercurial bunch is another matter, but best case scenario Sidney becomes the final piece of the puzzle
for the Trojans – ala Kevin Love at rival UCLA a year ago.
Nick Calathes-Erving Walker-Kenny Boynton backcourt work? It could be a
hit-or-miss combination, but looks beautiful on paper. Calathes and Walker
should create plenty of open looks for one of high school basketball’s premier
scorers over the past three seasons. Boynton poured in 31.4 points per game as
a senior at American Heritage (Plantation,
leading scorer A.J. Abrams departing after this season, Texas head coach Rick Barnes will be looking
for one of his incoming players to help fill the void. Expect Bradley to make
the most of that opportunity. The Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
senior has emerged as the star of stars on a team loaded with Division I
signees and prospects, averaging 18.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He
averaged over 25 points per game as a junior at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash.