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6 overlooked freshmen who are already making an impact in college basketball

It's not just about the one-and-dones. The current freshman class is going to improve college basketball for years to come.

NCAA Basketball: Bethune-Cookman at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The national recruiting class of 2016 was hailed by scouts as one of the best in recent memory not off the strength of star power, but rather depth. While prospects like Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Markelle Fultz vied for the No. 1 spot in recruiting rankings, there was a strong group of talent developing below them.

It’s an idea that is already being proven correct only a week into the new college basketball season. Freshmen are making an impact all over the country, and not just the five-star recruits who are likely one-and-dones. The class of 2016 is going to improve the overall quality of college basketball for a long time.

Here are six freshmen who weren’t McDonald’s All-Americans or five-star recruits and are already providing value for their programs just a few games into their college careers. The class of 2017 has a lot to live up to:

PG Charlie Moore - Cal

Moore was Mr. Basketball in Illinois as a senior after an excellent high school career at Chicago powerhouse Morgan Park, but he was only No. 61 in ESPN’s recruiting rankings because of concerns about his size at 5’11, 160 pounds. Moore committed to Memphis, then bolted to Cal when Josh Pastner left. Cuonzo Martin found out how big of a pickup that was on Wednesday against UC Irvine.

Cal was without arguably its three best players — Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird, and Grant Mullins — but it didn’t matter because Moore took over. He scored 38 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field to carry Cal to an overtime win, scoring on a variety of pull-up jumpers, driving layups, and foul shots, where he sank 15-of-17 attempts from the line.

SG Myles Powell - Seton Hall

The concern with Myles Powell was never about his game, it was about his frame. Powell was considered out of shape for much of his prep career in New Jersey, and at 6’2 he lacked ideal height for a shooting guard. The No. 81 recruit in ESPN’s rankings started to transform his body as soon as he got to Seton Hall, and it even earned him a shoutout from fellow Jersey native J.R. Smith this summer:

Proud of my lil bro @2mbp_ keep working kid it will pay off! #playazfam4life

A photo posted by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

The hard work has paid off. Powell went for 26 points in a win over Iowa on Thursday, making 9-of-14 shots from the field and 5-of-7 attempts from deep. Powell was always one of the best shooters in the class of 2016. He’s proving it now that he has worked tirelessly to get in shape.

G Shamorie Ponds - St. John’s

St. John’s seems like it’s spent the last decade searching for a savior from New York City. It might have actually found one this year. The Johnnies are 2-0 behind the dynamic freshmen backcourt pairing of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, who have combined to averaged 35.5 points per game so far.

LoVett is a redshirt freshman after sitting last year as a partial qualifier, so we’ll focus on Ponds here. The Brooklyn native was the No. 36 recruit in ESPN’s rankings as a lefty combo guard who could get buckets off the dribble. He proved that in his second game against Binghamton, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Ponds shot 7-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-6 from three in the win. St. John’s has been looking for that kind of offensive boost for years.

PF Tyler Cook - Iowa

Tyler Cook was overshadowed by his high school teammate Jayson Tatum at Chaminade in St. Louis, but still came in at No. 38 in ESPN’s recruiting recruiting as a 6’9, 240-pound power forward. Cook is a throwback in a sense as a traditional four, but he’s already proving he has the physicality to make an early impact.

Cook was sensational in Iowa’s loss to Seton Hall on Thursday, dropping 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He even made a three-pointer. This is going to be one of the better big men in the Big Ten for years to come.

G Dejon Jarreau - UMass

The 6’5 combo guard out of Louisiana entered UMass as the No. 63 prospect in ESPN’s recruiting rankings. He’s already making the case he should have been higher. Jarreau popped off for 25 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in his second game against Ole Miss, then dropped 16 points, seven assists, and four rebounds in his next game vs. Temple. He combined to hit six three-pointers across the two games and looks like a major get for UMass.

G Frankie Hughes - Mizzou

A one-time Louisville commit, Hughes was only considered a three-star recruit out of Ohio. Two games into his career, it’s obvious there was a reason so many schools were after him despite his lack of exposure. Hughes is currently leading the Tigers at 23.5 points per game after going off for 24 points against No. 11 Xavier in a heartbreaking loss for the Tigers on Thursday.