The advent of the new G League Pathway Program designed to give top basketball prospects a professional option directly out of high school had an impact on this year's freshman class. Top-10 prospects Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga chose to sign with the new program over playing college basketball. So did former UCLA signee Daishen Nix and longtime Michigan commit Isaiah Todd.
But even with a handful of big names from the 2020 recruiting class going an alternative route, there will still be plenty of elite freshmen talent in college basketball this season. But who are the 10 most important? Several five-star prospects from the 2019 chose non-traditional powers with coaches in need of a jolt. Others are poised to play showcase roles for teams replacing numerous key players.
Players like Scottie Barnes at Florida State and Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs are easy picks to be solid players this season. But both are at playing for coaches with secure legacies in programs that rely more on depth and continuity than the boom or bust economy of going all in on freshmen. So their omission from this list is not an indictment on their abilities or NBA potential. Rather, the players included here are those who could have an outsized impact on their programs -- and the sport as a whole -- in the season ahead.
Similarly, none of the heralded freshmen from Duke or North Carolina made the list, because both programs have enough proven players returning -- along with impressive freshmen classes as a whole -- that should keep either team from relying too heavily on any one freshmen. The same can't be said for Kentucky, which did land a player on this list as it replaces its top six scorers from last season.
1. Evan Mobley, USC
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 3
USC is replacing its top five scorers from last season's 22-9 team, so if the Trojans are going to make the NCAA Tournament, it will probably be because of Evan Mobley. The 6-foot-11 center has the tools to replace the production of one-and-done predecessor Onyeka Okongwu. He'll need help from a group of transfers and younger brother Isaiah Mobley. But if Evan and Isaiah can force opponents to pack the paint defensively and a couple of outside shooters emerge to balance the offense, he could give Andy Enfield's coaching tenure some needed momentum.
2. Greg Brown, Texas
247Sports Composite Ranking: No. 9
There may be no freshman more important to a coach's tenure than Greg Brown is for Shaka Smart. Signing Brown helped change the narrative around Smart as he enters his sixth season at Texas still seeking his first NCAA Tournament victory. But whether that momentum continues will be dependent largely on if Smart can plug the athletic 6-9 forward in to a nice returning core and unlock the dormant potential of the Longhorns' program.