Who's this year's Durant?
By Andrew Skwara, Rivals.com College Basketball Staff Writer
Do you think a freshman, such as O.J. Mayo or Eric Gordon, could win national player of the year, as Kevin Durant did last season? And how big of an impact do you think this freshman class will have?.
I expect at least one freshman to be in the hunt for the player of the year award. Gordon, Mayo and Kansas State's Michael Beasley (Rivals.com's No. 1 prospect) are joining teams that need them to put up big numbers immediately. They are also on top 20-caliber teams.
What Durant pulled off last season also should make it easier for writers to vote for another freshman.
I don't know if you ever will see a freshman class have as big an impact as last season's. The class of 2006 – headlined by the top two picks in the NBA Draft, Greg Oden and Durant – was the best in recent years. The group happened to arrive at a time when many teams were trying to fill massive holes. Texas and Ohio State lost four starters apiece; Villanova had lost two draft picks, which paved the way for a big season from Scottie Reynolds.
Freshmen will play a big role in 2007-08, too. Gordon, Mayo and Beasley will be in the national spotlight all season. Plus, two other top-10 prospects will be playing key roles in the title hunt: UCLA's Kevin Love and Memphis' Derrick Rose.
Love gives the Bruins exactly what they have been missing in the Ben Howland era, a true inside presence. Rose, a multi-dimensional playmaker, might be Memphis' best player from Day One. That's impressive considering the Tigers return all the starters from a 34-win team.