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College, Featured Gallery / Mar 15, 2012 / 12:00 pm

The 2012 NCAA Tournament’s Top 5 Freshmen

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis (photo. Britney McIntosh/UK Athletics)

If you have no collegiate allegiance and prefer the pro game, there are still plenty of reasons to watch the NCAA Tournament this season.

The game those fans play could be named “Spot the Future NBA All-Star” with the lineup of top freshmen in their first (and likely only) NCAA Tournament appearance before bolting to the pros.

We’ve highlighted the best five here while we wait to see their tournament debuts — and possibly at the same time, tournament finales.

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ANTHONY DAVIScenter, Kentucky
Lexington is going to be more of a temporary Kentucky home for Davis, a 6-10 force who leads a number of first-round caliber Wildcat freshman in what is likely their only NCAA Tournament together. Davis is arguably the top prospect in all of college basketball and there’s not much you don’t know about him if you’ve watched hoops at all this year (and that includes the NBA, where analysts there are raving about him, as well).

His defensive play is superior to his offense right now — though he’s shooting 65 percent — and leads Kentucky in the 10th-best scoring defense in the country. Averaging 9.8 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game (that’s more than half of the Wildcats’ national-best 9.0), there’s little airspace he can’t cover inside the arc. That, of course, applies to both offense and defense, and this block-and-oop against St. John’s encapsulates the allure of the 19-year-old Davis.

Who he reminds me of: Marcus Camby.

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