If I told you before the season that the Arizona Wildcats would have two of the top 10 freshmen in college basketball, you probably would have believed me.
You just might not have correctly guessed which two were being discussed.
CBS Sports ranked the most impressive freshmen in the sport so far, and Nico Mannion and Zeke Nnaji, not Josh Green, fall inside the top 10. Mannion is ranked No. 3. Nnaji is No. 7.
That is not a knock on Green, but high praise for Nnaji, who has exceeded expectations to this point. The Minnesotan forward was a four-star recruit and No. 40 player in his class, but has gotten off to a hot start by averaging 17.1 points and 6.8 rebounds on 73.4 percent shooting, the third-best mark in the country.
Green, the No. 13 recruit, has been solid in his own right, averaging 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting 44 percent from the field, 38 percent from the 3, and 81 percent from the charity stripe. He is also Arizona’s top perimeter defender.
While the three freshmen are undoubtedly Arizona’s top players, we saw, especially in the Wooden Legacy, that they have other players capable of putting up big numbers.
Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, who played in McKale Center in November, is No. 8 on CBS’ list. He is averaging 16.3 points and 11 rebounds per game, but had a season-low nine points in the loss to Arizona.
Washington center Isaiah Stewart is ranked No. 9 by CBS, averaging 17.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks on 57 percent shooting.