As we inch closer to Big Blue Madness and the "official" launch of the 2017-18 basketball season, look for newcomers Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington to make the biggest splash early on according to college basketball insider Jon Rothstein.
Kentucky led a recent list of Top 25 impact freshman with five players mentioned, while Duke came in a close second with four players represented in Trevon Duval, Wendell Carter, Gary Trent Jr. and Marvin Bagley III, who many predict as the No. 1 pick in next year's NBA draft.
Just goes to show that college basketball's elite programs are engaged in the present, not the future, as "one-and-done" isn't just about the Green Room at the NBA Draft, but also about dancing to the sweet sounds of One Shining Moment in San Antonio.
Eight of the top 25 players listed are from the SEC with Michael Porter, Jr. (Missouri), J.J. Caldwell (Texas A & M) and Collin Sexton (Alabama) making the cut. Louisville was also represented with 6-7 forward Brian Bowen, a prolific scorer that will have to play better defense to see minutes during crunch time for Coach Rick Pitino.
As for this young group of Cats, look for Green, Gilgeous-Alexander and Diallo to push the ball at warp speed and break down defenders off the bounce in Cal's dribble drive offense. Knox and Washington should give the Cats a solid front court with at last two face up scorers that will create serious match up problems. With Nick Richards and Jarred Vanderbilt, look for UK's bigs to run the floor and play above the rim for some exciting highlights.
Surprisingly, Vanderbilt didn't make the list which may provide even more fuel to the fire as the 6-8 forward is projected to fly under the radar to start the year. A tough and gritty competitor, Vanderbilt has bounced back from an early summer ankle injury to get his body in shape for the grind of a physical SEC schedule.
Although not projected as a starter, Vanderbilt has the ability to be a big-time playmaker and just might be a difference maker for the Cats during the 2017-18 season.