Each year, looking at past rankings and cross-analyzing them with college production allows for a meaningful reflection process. While every individual has their own system of ranking high school players, there isn’t necessarily a “correct” way to deduce or determine who will emerge in college. In terms of this re-rank, it’s based heavily on role and raw production, but the level of competition also matters. This ranking is purely objective and merely intended as a fun exercise. Let’s look (Their final ranking on Phenom Hoops is in parenthesis)…
1. (28) 7’0 Micah Handlogten (Marshall/Florida)
Stats: 7.6 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 2.3 BPG with 66.2% FG
Given his status as one of the best rim-protectors throughout college basketball, it’s easy to see why Handlogten earns the top spot. Sure, he ranked fifth on the team in average points, but ranked second in PER and first in two-point percentage, block percentage, rebound percentage, and basically every defensive measure while having the lowest usage on the roster. He parlayed his incredible freshman campaign into a new home with Florida University—where his game should inevitably take the next step.
2. (9) 6’7 Cade Tyson (Belmont)
Stats: 13.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.0 SPG with 49/42/86 shooting splits
The second spot was much more difficult to decide, as there are compelling arguments for each of the remaining four. That being said, Tyson’s massive role for Belmont gives him the nod here. His involvement, specifically as an offensive focal point, is quite apparent through the numbers. Tyson was the Bruins’ second-leading scorer (and the only double-digit scorer on this list) with amazing efficiency on 21-11 squad. Like the entry above, he was also named Freshman of the Year for his conference (MVC).
3. (7) 6’8 Ezra Ausar (East Carolina)
Stats: 9.8 PPG and 5.3 RPG with 56.2% FG
If we removed the first month of the college season, Ausar would likely be a spot higher on this list. However, his phenomenal play in limited minutes eventually led to an expanded role—where he was almost impossible to take off the court. Ausar isn’t necessarily known as a scorer, he eclipsed double-digits in 18 of their last 26 contests (including three impressive double-doubles (19/13; 14/14, 18/19)). He also ranked eighth in two-point percentage across the conference and was named to the AAC All-Freshman Team.
4. (3) 6’2 Jayden Epps (Illinois/Georgetown)
Stats: 9.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.5 APG with 41/30/78 shooting splits
For anyone that watched him over the years, it should be no surprise to see someone like Epps immediately making his imprint upon arriving in Illinois. Always been a tough, heady guard with a knack for scoring the ball, his mentality hasn’t wavered in the college ranks. This season, Epps amassed double-digit scoring in 20 of 25 games where he received at least six shot attempts. He played a critical role for the 20-13 Fighting Illini, and should be a highly involved piece with his new group at Georgetown.
5. (11) 6’3 Elijah Jamison (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Stats: 7.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.6 APG with 46/43/67 shooting splits
Between his constant improvement and steady production during his high school days, it was somewhat expected that Jamison would quickly emerge as a leader for Wisconsin-Milwaukee. For a player whose foundation was predicated on getting downhill and touching the paint at a high volume, Jamison has consistently become more and more efficient from beyond the arc. He started every game for this group en route to a 22-12 record, which would mark their best season since 2005-06. Jamison was also named to the Horizon All-Freshman Team.