UCLA, Kentucky Freshman Duos Shoot for Title

Dillon Brooks, Bryce Alfor
The Associated Press
Auburn, AL

Two of the last three teams to have freshman duos among the Top 100 Value Add Basketball players have won the national title – and this season both UCLA and Kentucky have a chance to keep history going.

Value Add calculates that only about seven freshman per season finish in the Top 100, and only nine teams in the last 11 years had two freshman accomplish the feat. Value Add Basketball (see explanation here and national coverage here) measures how many points per game each player is worth above a replacement player.

This season Kentucky freshmen Malik Monk ranks 27th and De’Aaron Fox 37th , while UCLA freshman TJ Leaf ranks 40th and Lonzo Ball ranks 53rd. Here is the list of all teams to have a freshman duo ranked this high. UCLA defeated Kentucky this season despite the Kentucky duo out scoring the UCLA duo 44-31.

Year Team 2 Freshman in Top 100 www.valueaddbasketball.com
2017 Kentucky 27, Malik Monk; 37, De’Aaron Fox
2017 UCLA 40, TJ Leaf; 53, Lonzo Ball
2015 Duke 61, Tyus Jones; 76, Jahlil Okafor (Champs)
2014 Kansas 63, Joel Embiid; 65, Andrew Wiggins (2nd Round)
2012 Kentucky 1, Anthony Davis, 38, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Champs)
2011 Ohio St. 4, Jared Sullinger; 72, Aaron Craft (Sweet 16)
2010 Kentucky 19, DeMarcus Cousins; 47, John Wall (Elite 8)
2007 UNC 52, Ty Lawson; 63, Brandan Wright (Elite 8)
2007 Ohio St. 4, Mike Conley; 24, Greg Oden (Runner-up)
2007 Texas 1, Kevin Durant; 66, DJ Augustin (2nd round)
2006 Duke 1, Shelden Williams; 98, Josh McRoberts (Sweet 16)

Relying on superstar freshmen is not always good for March Madness runs. Only one of the first six duos made the Final Four – as Mike Conley and Greg Oden made it to the championship against Florida in 2007.

However in 2012 Anthony Davis, the greatest player in the history of Value Add Basketball, teamed up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to take the title, and Duke repeated the feat three years later.

The Value Add team totals does not include players that are “gone” from the team, out for the “season,” or out “indefinitely.” Based on those totals, UCLA has the top offense (38.50 indicates they score 38 or 39 points more per 100 trips than a borderline offense) but the second worse defense of any top 25 team (-4.64 indicates they only hold team 4.64 points lower than a borderline defense), dropping them all the way to 12th.

1. Kentucky

2. Villanova

3. Wisconsin

4. Baylor

5. Duke

6. North Carolina

7. Virginia

8. Kansas

9. Wichita St.

10. West Virginia

11. Gonzaga

12. UCLA

13. Louisville

14. Butler

15. Purdue

16. Florida

17. St. Mary’s

18. Texas Tech

19. Cincinnati

20. Arizona

21. Xavier

22. Florida St.

23. Oregon

24. Clemson

25. Creighton