Two of the top-five recruits in the 2020 class a year ago turned pro in favor of playing college basketball. The year before, No. 1 overall recruit James Wiseman played a total of three games for Memphiswhile No. 5 overall recruit RJ Hampton went overseas to prep for the NBA. But the 2021-22 college basketball season should bring with it a fresh and fruitful wave of young talent in a freshmen class stocked with star power and spread out from the west coast to east coast and a little of everywhere in between. 

So we're looking at those rookie talents in our annual preseason freshmen primer piece. In it, I'll rank the top newcomers to the sport from 1-10 using only one metric: impact. Projected production and pro prospects don't factor into the equation. It's merely an evaluation of what effect a player will have on their new team.

Without further ado, let's kick things off with Paolo Banchero, the Duke freshman who ranked No. 2 in the recruiting rankings but ranks No. 1 on our list.


1. Paolo Banchero | Duke | PF

In basketball, fit and situation are the two most important factors to success. For Banchero, the fit is great at Duke but the situation is even better. The program lost its top three scorers from a season ago and needed frontcourt talent to replenish its roster. He steps in as the clear alpha on this team and should dominate inside and out because of his versatile offensive game that allows him to create and score from anywhere on the court. 


2. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | C

Gonzaga returns a preseason player of the year candidate in Drew Timme so Holmgren, the No. 1 incoming recruit, won't immediately be the star of the preseason No. 1 Bulldogs. That doesn't mean he won't be a star at all, though. Alongside Timme in the frontcourt, Holmgren's wiry arms, shot-blocking superpowers and guard-like skills at 7-feet tall should make him among the most watchable players in the game.