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Too Much Freshman Hype in College Basketball?

Jabari Parker, left, and Andrew Wiggins promote their 2013 McDonald's All-American game

Coach K has never been one to shy away from voicing his opinion about hot button topics involving college basketball. Early last week he criticized the media, specifically ESPN, for the amount of attention they were giving to the “Big 4” freshmen standouts. The “Big 4” freshmen that Coach K is referring to includes Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), and his own player, Jabari Parker (Duke

“Nationally I'm a little bit worried that that is always becoming the thing,” Coach K said. “I think part of it is that the people who show our games, show NBA, too, so they're constant thought is cross-promoting.”

I agree with Coach K that it serves as a cross-promotion for a company like ESPN, who shows the most college basketball games of any network and plenty of NBA games as well. By hyping them up now it makes for a seamless transition to promote these players when they are in the NBA. Where I disagree with Coach K is that I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have these players getting a lot of media attention. As the old adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. These players bring a lot of attention to the game, and will certainly increase ratings for the NCAA tournament if their teams can go deep into it. Furthermore, I think there are plenty of other players who are not freshmen that are getting recognition. Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) receives equal if not more attention than these freshman do, and Doug Mcdermott will most likely find himself on the All-American team by season’s end.

It’s also important to note that this is what the media does. They give the most media attention to the most talented players or players they feel have the most star power. With the way the NCAA rules are currently--forcing kids out of high school to go to college for a year—there are always going to be freshman players who are probably talented enough to be in the NBA already. Since 2007, six out of the seven first overall picks were freshmen.

Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the hype this current crop of freshmen are receiving. It makes for more storylines and a highly anticipated tournament. Next year, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor are going to be in the spotlight. Cliff Alexander is going to get a lot of media coverage for the Jayhawks. Simply put, the freshmen class of any college basketball season is more than likely going to be the most talented class. Most of the talented players leave after their freshman year. That being the case, the best freshmen players are inevitably going to see a lot of media exposure, and unlike Coach K, I think it is good for the game of college basketball.