Best. Freshman. Ever.

Posted by rtmsf on April 15th, 2008

In the most surprising and disorienting news of the month, Kansas State’s freshman all-american and shoulda-been Player of the Year Michael Beasley has decided to further his game at the appropriate professional level, considering he singlehandedly kicked the living crap out of everyone in college-world for a few months. 

How good was this guy?  In 33 games, he had 28 double-doubles.  He had thirteen 30+ point games, seven 15+ rebound games, and four 30/15 games including a monster 40/17 outing against Missouri.  He led the nation in average efficiency at 29.7,  a key statistic where only 34 players were 20+ this season.  Put simply, he was unstoppable this year, and he’d be wasting his time competing against college players any longer.

Looking at BEASTley’s numbers (26/12), it got us to thinking – where does his year rank among the all-time greatest freshmen in college basketball?  Freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity until the mid-70s, so we started with Magic Johnson and ended up with thirteen (+ Beasley) names of superb freshmen from the last thirty years so we could do a quick comparison.  We’re quite sure we forgot a couple, so don’t get your thong in a wad – just leave it in the comments section. 

Wow, is there any question that the new NBA age-limit rule has had a major effect on college basketball?  Four of the best individual freshman seasons of the last three decades were in the last two years (and we didn’t even include Derrick Rose or OJ Mayo!). 

The next thought we have is that, yeah, Beasley’s individual numbers outrank everyone else on the list with the closest competitors being his Big 12 predecessors, Kevin Durant and Wayman Tisdale (last spotted on Jazz Cafe).  LSU’s Chris Jackson (aka the American patriot Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) has him on scoring, but Beasley tears him up on everything else, and neither made it very far in the NCAA Tournament.

Quick aside:  the only team on this list with two of these guys was that 1989-90 LSU team (oh, and Stanley Roberts was also on that team), and they couldn’t even get to the Sweet 16?  Seriously, how is that possible??  Dale Brown only explains the incompetent game management and lack of motivation part, but it doesn’t diminish the talent there.  Sheesh.

Getting back to Beasley, where does the Big 12 find these long, rangy guys who walk right into college and put up double-double averages?  For what it’s worth, they don’t go very far in the Tourney, although we’re sure that the long-term residual effects of having a Tisdale, Durant or Beasley in your program can mitigate that one year (after all, Texas went to the Elite Eight this year, two rounds further than they did with Durant last year).


Best of luck as the #1 or #2 pick in draft, Michael.  We’re sure that South Beach or OKC will suit you even better than Manhattan (KS) did.   

rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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23 responses to “Best. Freshman. Ever.”

  1. jhoksr1 says:

    MB (and this hurts to say since I’m a die-hard KU fan) is the BEST college player I have ever seen play and I’ve seen him play a lot..I’m 59 yrs old so I have seen all of the people in your “box” play, as well as Bird and Magic..this kid is the best “all around”/ “all tools” player I have EVER seen..he makes LeBron James look physically disadvantaged..the votes for TH AKA “Mr. Stupid Face/ “the Flopper” ” for all the various POY competitions are a travesty

  2. Alan says:

    You simply can’t use stats to compare these eras. When a player like Magic or Patrick Ewing was a freshman, most of the elite players in their era were staying four years. Players like Magic or Bird, who jumped early, were rarities, and even most of the early entries were juniors.

    Beasley didn’t have to compete againt Kevin Durant and Greg Oden, or the top freshmen from the previous class or the previous class. There’s a huge difference.

  3. Andre says:

    Beasley is a great talent and if you watched him play you would have seen a player that didn’t force shots. He shot 53% from the field and and somewhere in the neighborhood of 43% from 3’s. He can raise up and knock down the three, he can dribble by most guys assigned the monumental task of guarding him. He can play with his back to the hoop and he can face up and knock down the 12 to 15 footer. The one thing he lacks is that killer instinct. The “My better is better than your better” mindset. Once he has that, lookout. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that the ball flies to his hands like a magnet when it comes to boards both offensive and defensive. I can’t wait to see him play in the NBA next year. As a KSU grad I hate to see him go but I’m just glad he is a KSU alum.

  4. rtmsf says:

    Alan – there’s no doubt that the upper classes of those eras were stock full of great players. Up until around 1990, most players stayed 3-4 years, and it wasn’t until around 1995 that the 1-and-done phenomenon began.

    Still, there’s absolutely no denying the talent that Beasley brings to the table. Would his numbers have been less than Wayman Tisdale’s as a freshman? We don’t think so. Would he be any less of a prospect? Nope.

    One key difference between the eras is that players are simply better at an earlier age than they were in the 70s and 80s. This is due in large part to the year-round competition as well as the weight and strength training that begins at an early age. So while there’s no doubt that the competition was better at the higher classes back then, we feel like players are better at an earlier age now, and therefore Beasley could have competed and put up sick numbers in any era.

  5. deevon says:

    You could’ve also included strength of schedule in that chart. I don’t know how long they’ve been keeping stats on that but it would be useful in a comparison over different years.

  6. rtmsf says:

    Deevon – yeah, SOS only goes so far back, but we pretty much limited it to major conference freshmen + Louisville (sorry Steph Curry fans). We figure if you’re in a major conference you’re getting a pretty good level of competition most years. And every team except for Sampson’s NIT champion 80 team at least made the NCAAs and won a game.

  7. Ronald says:

    Although he did not play varsity basketball as a freshman (due to NCAA rules), you should still include Pistol Pete Maravich (LSU) on this list. Arguably, he is the best on this list

  8. rtmsf says:

    Lew Alcindor might have something to say about that as well.

    But they (Alcindor and Pistol Pete) weren’t eligible, so they weren’t considered.

  9. Tom says:

    My all-time, all-college first team:

    Guards: Pete Maravich and Ervin Johnson (barely beating out Isiah Thomas)

    Center: Lew Alcindor

    Forwards: Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley

  10. Mark says:

    Ummm, Alan, Did KD or GO avg over 30 pts vs the National Champs last year? We saw what happend to the NPoY when he played that defense, he couldn’t even get 20 and his team was demolished — and he wasn’t a Frosh. I think it’s fair to say this years KU team was better than the one KD faced and MB was better & didn’t even play much of the 1st half of one game (the one he scored 39 in).

  11. ewc says:

    Shaquille O’Neal was not at LSU in 1988-89. He was in college for 3 years and was drafted in 1992, therefore his freshman year was 1989-90. Jackson was a freshman in 88-89.

  12. rtmsf says:

    EWC: yep, got those reversed in the chart. Nice catch. Still, how did that 89-90 LSU team not do any better than the second round?!?!

  13. packylyons says:

    if beasley is so phenomenal, why did he go to K-State, huh?

  14. Carrie says:

    Beasley is by far the best scorer the game has seen in college. His physical ability to hang and turn his body in the air is equivalent to a punter’s hang time in football. He couldn’t be stopped by one player or gosh triple teams. Ask KU, the only way they stopped him was have the officials get him in foul trouble. Oh and who was harder for them to guard Hansbrough or Beasly. He could shoot from all over unlike the scores of the past who could drive or either shoot. My gosh you had to be blind to see how good he was.

  15. Ham says:

    Dude you suck at making charts, Kenny Anderson was a freshman, 89-90. So out of the 13 at least 3 are wrong. Stopped checking after that.

  16. Kevin says:

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim… 21.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and Pac-10 POY as a Freshman at Cal. Certainly better than a lot of guys on the list.

  17. rtmsf says:

    Yeah Anderson was a frosh in 89-90. So we messed up a couple of the years, but the stats are correct.

    Nice call on Reef – he definitely should be considered too.

  18. JT says:

    I think a little more criteria should be involved, like their age. I’m sorry but a 22 year old freshman is not a freshman, he’s actually a senior. Beasley is a year behind in school

  19. rtmsf says:

    JT – who on the list is 22? Or even 21 for that matter? We didn’t include OJ Mayo, who really was a 21-yr old freshman. Pretty sure most everyone on the above list was 18 or 19 during their freshman year. Shaq might have even been 17, actually.

  20. Marc says:

    Pistol Pete Maravich I think should be considered as well. he did not play during his freshman year because back then they had a rule where freshman were ineligible to play. If you looked at a player’s first year of playing college ball, regardless of grade, Pistol Pete takes the cake

  21. Carrie says:

    Pisot Pete was a Ball hog!!!!!!!!!!! That is why his teams didn’t win Championships.

  22. rtmsf says:

    Corrected the years above.

  23. don says:

    atleast someone has it right.
    Pistol Pete Maravich is the best college player of all time.
    A man who scored 40+ a game shooting predominantly three pointers – with no 3 point line.

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