1. Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV Rebels What are the chances that the one recruit John Calipari doesn’t get turns out to be the best freshman in the country? That’s pretty much what has taken place. Bennett had Kentucky in his final three (along with Oregon), but in the end he chose to play for Dave Rice at UNLV.
This list is fairly brimming with elite talents who are off to amazing starts, but Bennett is the only player here who has put up numbers so good, they wouldn’t be out of place coming from a national player of the year. At 6-foot-8, he’s shown he can score whether he’s in the post or facing the basket, and before it’s over, he may prove he can make 3s as well. (He’s 6-of-17 so far.) Whether it’s because he has ceded the defensive rebounding entirely to Mike Moser, or he simply lacks that particular focus, but at the other end of the floor, Bennett is already a monster on the offensive glass. He also blocks shots and has done so with zero foul trouble (he’s yet to pick up a fourth foul in a game).
If we’re not careful, Bennett has the potential to sow rampant categorical confusion. You’ll hear accurate praise pinned to his athleticism, but while he may be a freak, he’s at least a fundamentally sound one. Bennett draws an incredible eight fouls per 40 minutes and is shooting 76 percent at the free throw line.
Even among the most elite recruits, it’s surprisingly rare to see a freshman be physically dominant from the very start of the season the way, say, Michael Beasley was. Bennett may add another case history to this file before he’s finished. It’s early, but right now he’s overpowering people.