The high school accolades and the hype surrounding prep players and their rankings. Foreign tours have started in the BIG-10, and the college basketball season is right around the corner. Many college teams have been together for a month now; we have new intel to draw on.
The BIG-10 had eight players drafted in the 2022 NBA Draft, four in the first round. No one who made first-team All-BIG-10 last season returns. While the BIG-10 will never be in full rebuild mode, the talent in the conference is not as deep as it was last year. There are 15 players entering the league from the 2022 On3 Consensus top-100.
This list is based on impact, which (admittedly) is a very generic term. Of course, this list is subject to change, probably even before the first game tips off. However, with new information coming in daily about how players are looking, how they have developed over the Summer, and what the rosters look like, we wanted to rank the ACC freshmen as of August 14.
1. Four-star PG Jalen Hood-Schifino (Indiana)
High School: Montverde (FL) Academy
On3 Consensus: No. 25
I don’t want to say that Indiana’s hopes lay with Jalen Hood-Schifino; however, if the 6-foot-6 point guard can bring a steadying presence to the lineup, Indiana will be a very good team. Hood-Schifinio is a big guard, a pass-first point guard. He has a nice mid-range jumper and takes care of the ball.
Where he also excelled for Montverde last season was on the defensive end. He was one of the top perimeter defenders in the class. How quickly Hood-Schifino builds his confidence with the speed of BIG-10 play will be something to watch, but if Hood-Schifino is good, Indiana has a chance to make a deep run.
2. Four-star PG Skyy Clark (Illinois)
High School: Montverde (FL) Academy
On3 Consensus: No. 37
Skyy Clark was a five-star recruit before a knee injury last May. The strong-framed and explosive lead guard is penciled in as the starter for the Illini. Illinois lost Kofi Cockburn, but they have a talented roster.
Clark getting back to speed after his knee injury will be paramount. But some positive vibes are coming out of Champaign.
3. Four-star SF Jett Howard (Michigan)
High School: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy
On3 Consensus: No. 39
The path is clear for Jett Howard to jump right into the starting lineup and play a role. The 6-7 wing is an excellent perimeter defender, and he can handle, shoot, and pass well in the half-court. With Hunter Dickinson back, the Wolverines will play inside-out, so Howard, who is physically ready, should have time to get acclimated.
The pre-season expectations are not as high for this Michigan team as last year, but there is talent here, and Jett Howard should be able to carve out a role.
4. Three-star C Kebba Njie (Penn State)
High School: La Porte (IN) LaLumiere
On3 Consensus: No. 143
Micah Shrewsberry has a perimeter-heavy lineup that looks like there will be some shooting and lots of ball movement. What this roster lacks is size. Kebba Njie is one of just three players who are 6-8 or more; all three are newcomers.
Njie’s presence should be felt on the boards and the defensive end.
5. Three-star PF Pharrel Payne (Minnesota)
High School: Cotton Grove (MN) Park High
On3 Consensus: No. 193
Minnesota is going to need someone to step up alongside Dawson Garcia. Pharrel Payne is a lengthy and explosive forward who moves well and can be an interesting piece on the defensive end. As he grows, he will need to develop how he scores, but they won’t need much of that from him this season.
Finish around the rim, make his presence felt on the boards, and protect the rim; that will be what Payne brings to the Gophers this season.
Other freshmen to watch
Three-star PG Braeden Carrington (Minnesota)
Three-star PF Luke Hunger (Northwestern)
Four-star PF Jaxon Kohler (Michigan State)
Four-star PF Ty Rodgers (Illinois)
Four-star PG Bruce Thornton (Ohio State)
Three-star PG Derek Simpson (Rutgers)
Four-star CG Jayden Epps (Illinois)
Four-star PF Malik Reneau (Indiana)
Four-star SG Fletcher Loyer (Purdue)
Three-star SG Connor Essegian (Wisconsin)