It's only fitting that our final rankings also features Smart at No. 1. It wasn't a wire-to-wire run like Anthony Davis was last year (aside from one week, when teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist took the top spot), as Bennett and Ben McLemore were Nos. 1-2 for much of conference play. In fact, Smart dropped out of the rankings at one point after a couple of weeks when he struggled offensively. A late run over the final month, though, propelled Smart into the upper echelon of the rankings -- and he took back No. 1 in late February and hasn't relinquished the spot.
Smart was always arguably the most important freshman in the country. Oklahoma State needed him badly at both ends of the floor. He came into college as a winner, and that's exactly what he has done in Stillwater. Smart immediately became a leader for the Cowboys, which is what they needed. As a result, Oklahoma State received a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament -- something that was unattainabale without Smart.
Congrats to Marcus Smart, the No. 1 freshman in the country.
|1. Marcus Smart -- Oklahoma State|
|2. Ben McLemore -- Kansas|
|3. Anthony Bennett -- UNLV|
|4. Jahii Carson -- Arizona State|
|5. Shabazz Muhammad -- UCLA|
Others to Note:
- Kentucky's Nerlens Noel would have undoubtedly made the list had he not torn his ACL in February.
- Michigan State's Gary Harris flirted with the rankings for several weeks, but never got over the hump. JaKarr Sampson of St. John's and UCLA's Adams were also stellar, while Baylor's Isaiah Austin, Indiana's Yogi Ferrell, Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, NC State's T.J. Warren and Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon all deserved some recognition.
- The best mid-major freshman was arguably High Point's John Brown, who was injured before the Big South tournament but is expected to return next season.