We know all about the McDonald’s All-Americans to keep an eye on entering next season, but what about some hidden gems that could make a major impact right away? Check out our list below for 20 under-the-radar freshmen entering 2016-17. In no particular order…
Jaylen Fisher, TCU: The 6-foot-2 point guard is the highest ranked recruit in the history of the Horned Frogs’ program. A proven floor general with a gravitas that extends beyond his years, Fisher will be an immediate starter as Jamie Dixon attempts to rebuild his alma mater.
Sam Cunliffe, Arizona State: Cunliffe was the first marquee recruit that Bobby Hurley landed as the head coach of the Sun Devils and he’s now the epicenter of Arizona State’s young nucleus. A 6-foot-6 wing who can score the ball in a number of different ways, look for Cunliffe to be an immediate starter as Hurley attempts to lead this program out of the bottom half of the Pac-12.
Marcus LoVett, St. John’s: This Chicago native is the best newcomer in the Big East that nobody is talking about. A crafty lefty that scores 10-12 points just by falling out of bed, LoVett should be able to impact the Red Storm at the point guard position the same way that Maurice Watson impacted Creighton last season.
Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati: A power guard with the physical attributes of a 22-year old man, Cumberland will be an immediate offensive contributor for Mick Cronin as a freshman. Armed with good size at 6-foot-4, Cumberland gives Cincinnati another quality young wing to go with sophomore Jacob Evans.
De’Riante Jenkins, VCU: Will Wade beat out several power-five schools for this 6-foot-6 wing, and when you watch Jenkins play, you’ll see why he was so highly sought-after. Armed with length, athleticism and the versatility to play different positions, this South Carolina native has all the requisites to fill multiple areas of a box score.
Tony Carr, Penn State: Pat Chambers has said since he arrived in State College that he was going to make recruiting Philadelphia a priority. Carr’s commitment was a tangible result of that effort. The four-star point guard from Roman Catholic is the primary reason why there’s currently a buzz surrounding Penn State basketball, and his presence should allow another Philadelphia native — Shep Garner — to slide off the ball in spurts next season.
Kevin Marfo, George Washington: If you walked into a gym and saw Marfo play without any preconceived notions, you’d think he was heading to the Big Ten or the ACC — seriously. At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, this freshman is set to become an instant starter for the Colonials next to Tyler Cavanaugh up front.
Amir Coffey, Minnesota: The 6-foot-7 wing is the highest rated recruit that Richard Pitino has signed since he’s been the head coach of Minnesota and he’ll be a major contributor out of the gate. Pitino has always yearned to play at a faster pace, and that should suit the talents of Coffey, a terrific open court player with a strong basketball IQ.
Kevin Huerter, Maryland: Mark Turgeon loves guys that “know how to play,” and that’s Huerter in a nutshell. An excellent shooter and passer, this 6-foot-5 freshman is good at what he knows and knows what he’s good at. Expect Huerter to play a key role for the Terps as a freshman thanks to his overall feel for the game.
Temple Gibbs, Notre Dame: Demetrius Jackson’s departure should open the door for Gibbs to have a major role for the Irish as a freshman. The 6-foot-3 guard has great basketball roots and always has one attribute that translates regardless of what situation he’s in — toughness.
Tyson Carter, Mississippi State: This Starkville native wasn’t expected to be the most impactful player in the Bulldogs’ fabled recruiting class, but he quickly changed that notion during the team’s foreign tour to Italy in August. Over four games, the 6-foot-4 Carter averaged 20.5 points and made 16-35 shots from three-point range. This kid is a player.
Kyle Guy, Virginia: Austin Nichols is the newcomer on the Cavaliers’ roster that most people are going to put in bold print entering next season, but it would be foolish to sleep on Guy. The 6-foot-2 guard has a confidence that extends beyond his years and will be a fan favorite in Charlottesville sooner rather than later.
Danjel Purifoy, Auburn: Bruce Pearl said throughout last season that Purifoy was the Tigers’ best player, and now he’s finally eligible after sitting out. The 6-foot-7 forward has bounce, quickness and versatility. Expect Purifoy to be a menace on the backboards as Auburn’s starting power forward.
Ray Smith, Arizona: The 6-foot-9 forward was viewed as the Wildcats’ best NBA prospect last summer before he suffered the second ACL tear of his career. If healthy, Smith gives Arizona a completely different dimension and could play some power forward is Sean Miller opts to go with a quicker lineup.
Alani Moore, Temple: With Josh Brown’s status for the upcoming season in question due to an Achilles injury, Moore immediately becbomes the Owls’ best option at the most important position on the floor. A 5-foot-10 point guard with elite quickness, Moore has to be consistent if Temple is going to have a chance to surprise people in the American Athletic Conference.
Tyrique Jones, Xavier: If you’re a fan of elite rebounders, you’ll love Jones. The bouncy power forward has one constant in his diet: he eats glass with every meal. They’re going to love this guy at the Cintas Center.
Tyler Cook, Iowa: Fran McCaffery needed an impact player to help offset the losses of both Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury up front and he’s got that in Cook. A four-star and top-50 recruit, Cook is all of 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds. He should step right into a starting spot for the Hawkeyes as a freshman.
Devearl Ramsey, Nevada: Eric Musselman has turned heads in college basketball with the talent he’s been able to accumulate with transfers, but Ramsey is a high school prospect that should also bear fruit. The 5-foot-10 floor general has a chance to be a menace defensively and should allow Nevada to pressure opposing point guards from end to end during the upcoming season.
Charlie Moore, Cal: This Chicago native was originally committed to Memphis before Josh Pastner took the head coaching vacancy at Georgia Tech, and the Tigers’ loss will be Cal’s gain. Despite standing at 5-foot-9, Moore is a diminutive scorer that can get his shot off in a number of different ways. This will be a valuable offensive piece for Cuonzo Martin and the Bears moving forward.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue: Edwards was extremely consistent during the Boilermakers’ foreign tour to Spain in August as he regularly scoring in double figures. Most people — including myself — thought Purdue’s backcourt would be led next season by either P.J. Thompson or Spike Albrecht, but Edwards’ performance overseas changed that thought process. Don’t forget about this kid.
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.