Not surprisingly most of the top prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft are freshman. Personally, I think Nerlens Noel appears to be the top prospect in the entire draft, and Shabazz Muhammad seems overrated, but at this point I am more interested in looking at the freshman class as a whole, and not individual players.
As we know, freshman prospects are the hardest collegians to gauge for a wide variety of reasons; what I said in regards to the class of 2012 is relevant with this new group of freshman as well. These inexperienced and very young players are tough to peg, and their performances, both good and bad, are often blown out of proportion given the circumstances.
Freshmen phenoms are adjusting to much more than just basketball. They are teenagers living in a completely new setting, and it makes me more wary of judging them by their single season of college basketball. But that one season is pretty much all we have of substance, so we need to do the best we can with the limited info we receive.
Last year's class is a good example of how hard it can be to correctly identify a freshman's potential. While Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were correctly considered two of the best freshman prospects in the country, NBA teams badly miscalculated on freshman players like Andre Drummond (drafted way too late) and Austin Rivers (picked way too early.) There is always a lot of smoke swirling around "one and done" players, and it's harder to separate the truth from the fiction concerning their pro potential.
The peaks and valleys in a top freshman prospect's perceived value seem more stark than with upperclassmen prospects. We just do not have enough time to accurately get a bead on a lot of these kids, and we judge them too quickly. They often rise and fall based on a single game, which is a stupid way to try to analyze a 19 year old prospect who is not anything close to being mature as a basketball player.
So it is hard to figure out which heralded freshman in 2013 are truly superior prospects (the jury is still out even on Noel.) There is no one player clearly as dominating as Anthony Davis, but there are apparently quite a few freshman who have All-Star potential. We just can't agree on who those few are. In two extreme examples, both Kentucky and UCLA rely almost entirely on star freshman to lead them. It can be hard to glean much as an NBA scout given a situation as muddled as that.
It will be interesting to see if any star freshman really elevate their game over the next few months, but it may not happen. The rest of the college season will inevitably supply us with more information in regards to the best freshman, but ultimately we will have to decide if that information is truly useful, or only misleading. With very young prospects it can be hard to know.