It's a rare statement from the college game to the pro game, but it's deserved. When Commissioner David Stern closed the NBA to athletes straight out of high school, he effectively did the NCAA a huge favor.
OK, so he didn't do it in time to give us a year of Kevin Garnett at South Carolina or LeBron James at Ohio State. But we did get a very special gift this year with college seasons from Kevin Durant at Texas and Greg Oden at Ohio State and a handful of others.
Who knows who else would have entered the NBA Draft? The fact is no one could go to the pros, and we were treated to an undeniably precocious group of first-year players who bounced in like princes and could leave like kings, literally, with an NCAA crown to their names.
Rivals.com said in the preseason that this could be the best freshman class of all time. We've seen nothing to change our minds.
We're pretty sure NBA general managers haven't either.
Here are the 2006-07 Rivals.com Freshman All-America teams. The players who composed these teams all were members of the Rivals150, and 14 of the 15 were true freshmen.
Freshman All-America First Team
Freshman All-America Second Team
G Mike Conley Jr. Ohio State, 6-1, 180
The former five-star prospect proved to be a floor general beyond his years. He manages a game as well as anybody in college basketball. Conley averaged a Big Ten-leading 6.4 assists, consistently getting the ball to his teammates at the right times. He also wasn't afraid to call his own number: His runner with 4 seconds to play beat Wisconsin 49-48 on Feb. 25. He averaged 10.1 points, 2.3 steals and shot a stellar 53.3 percent from the field.
G Javaris Crittenton Georgia Tech, 6-5, 198
The former five-star prospect is an athletic, do-it-all point guard. He teamed with fellow frosh Thaddeus Young to push the Yellow Jackets to the verge of an NCAA bid with a strong finish. Crittenton was second in the ACC in assists (5.7), and he finished 16th in scoring (14.5). He also was third in steals (2.1). He averaged 18 points and 6.2 assists over the final nine regular-season games, of which the Jackets won seven.
G D.J. Augustin Texas, 5-11, 175
The former four-star prospect helped propel the Longhorns to 22 regular-season victories. Augustin led the Big 12 in assists and averaged 15 points, good for 13th in the league. The best thing about him is that he played his best in big games. In seven games against ranked teams, he averaged 18.1 points and 7.1 assists. He played 48 minutes in a double-overtime victory against then-No. 7 Texas A&M and had 25 points and seven assists.
G Scottie Reynolds Villanova, 6-2, 195
The former four-star prospect did most of his damage this season in two streaks. He had a seven-game stretch early in the Big East schedule in which he averaged 21 points, and he finished the season on a five-game tear in which he averaged 26 points. He dropped 40 points on UConn on Feb. 28; it was the most points ever scored against the Huskies at Gampel Pavilion. Reynolds finished the season averaging 14.1 points and 4.1 assists.
C Greg Oden Ohio State, Fr., 7-0, 280
The former five-star prospect got a late start because of surgery on his right (shooting) wrist, missing the Buckeyes' first seven games. But it didn't lessen his impact. The big man led the Big Ten in rebounding (9.3), blocked shots (3.5) and field-goal percentage (61.4 percent) while averaging 15.3 points. He posted nine double-doubles, including a 24-point, 15-rebound performance against Tennessee.
C Spencer Hawes Washington, 7-0, 250
The former five-star prospect can be found throughout the top 10 in the Pac-10 statistics. The mobile center was ninth in scoring (15.2 per game), 10th in rebounding (6.3), fourth in field-goal percentage (54.7 percent) and third in blocked shots (1.8). He had perhaps his best game of the season in the finale. He had 13 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and three assists in a 61-51 upset of UCLA.
F Brandan Wright North Carolina, 6-9, 205
The former five-star prospect with the 7-4 wingspan spread his wings and took off for the Tar Heels. Wright finished 13th in scoring (14.9 points) and 13th in rebounding (6.3) in the ACC. He led the conference in field-goal percentage (66 percent), and he was sixth in blocked shots (1.7). He also finished strong. Over the Tar Heels' last five regular-season games, he averaged 16.2 points and shot 72.3 percent.
F Chase Budinger Arizona, 6-7, 205
The former five-star prospect started quickly. He scored 17 points in the season opener and 32 in his second game. He finished seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring (15.8) and 12th in rebounding (5.9). His best game came in an upset of Oregon on the road. Budinger scored 30 points on 12 of 21 shooting and added 10 rebounds.
F Kevin Durant Texas, 6-9, 225
The former five-star prospect was nothing short of sensational, wrapping up Rivals.com National Freshman of the Year honors probably around mid-January. Durant scored in double figures in all 30 regular-season games. He had only three games in which he scored fewer than 17 points. He had 18 double-doubles, including six in a row. He led the Big 12 in scoring (25.1) and rebounding (11.4) and was fifth in steals (1.8).
F Brook Lopez Stanford, 7-0, 240
The former five-star prospect averaged 12.7 points (19th in the Pac-10), 5.8 rebounds (14th) and 1.8 blocks (second) while shooting 50 percent from the floor. He elevated his play down the stretch, scoring 20 or more points in five of the Cardinal's final six games. He and twin brother Robin helped Stanford win 18 regular-season games and reach the verge of an NCAA bid.
Rivals.com 2006-07 All-Freshman Third Team
G Patrick Beverley, Arkansas, 6-1, 172: 14.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game
G Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall, 6-0, 165: 16.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg