Women's college basketball: The 10 best freshmen in the country

Aneesah Morrow leads the nation in double-doubles, ranks second in total rebounds and has been named the Big East Freshman of the Week every week it has been awarded this season. Steve Woltmann/DePaul Athletics

So much of the talk around this women's college basketball season has revolved around upsets and parity. No one is undefeated. Unpredictability has reigned.

The same is true of the 2021-22 midseason list of the top freshmen in the country, which includes a handful of players who likely would not have made the rankings in the preseason.

UConn brought in the nation's top recruit in Azzi Fudd. South Carolina had the No. 1-rated freshman class. None of those players made this list. Fudd, a 5-foot-11 guard, has been sidelined by a foot injury for all but four games. Raven Johnson, a 5-foot-8 guard and the Gamecocks' top rookie, went down with a knee injury in her second game, and the rest of the Gamecocks' class hasn't been able to consistently crack the talented South Carolina rotation.

But new faces have emerged as future stars. They might not have been ranked among the top-100 recruits coming out of high school or expected to play significant roles this season. Here is ESPN's top 10 freshmen, with stats through games played Jan. 18. Notre Dame put two on our list, but the top spot comes from the Big East.

1. Aneesah Morrow, DePaul Blue Demons

Forward | 6-foot-1
2021-22 stats:
18.9 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 52.3% FG

When DePaul left in late November for the Paradise Jam, Morrow was a solid contributor still adjusting to the college game. By the time the Blue Demon returned to Chicago, she was a star. She tallied 52 points and 25 rebounds in DePaul's final two games in St. Thomas against Arizona and Vanderbilt, and the production has been staggering ever since. Not only is Morrow the Big East's best rookie, she is having the best season of any player in the conference. Morrow leads the league in rebounding and steals (2.7 per game) and ranks second in scoring. Her 13 double-doubles are tops in the nation. With cornerstone guards Lexi Held, Sonya Morris and Deja Church completing their careers at DePaul this season, coach Doug Bruno has found his new program centerpiece in Morrow.

2. Olivia Miles, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Guard | 5-foot-10
2021-22 stats:
12.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 7.8 APG

By taking advantage of last year's amended rules around COVID-19, Miles enrolled at Notre Dame early and played in six games in 2020-21 without losing any eligibility. That experience has paid dividends. Just 22 games into her career, she might be the best distributor of the basketball in the college game and leads the country in assists. Always looking to push the pace, Miles plays with a flare and confidence beyond her 18 years, and she already has the kind of Magic Johnson-like court vision that could make her the sport's most feared transition player over the next three years. If the outside shooting can improve (22.2% on 3-pointers), Miles is destined to be a star.

3. Serena Sundell, Kansas State Wildcats

Guard | 6-foot-1
2021-22 stats:
10.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.8 APG

Senior center Aoyka Lee has emerged as one of the best players in the country, but Sundell has been the biggest difference for a Wildcats' team that was 9-18 a season ago and is now 13-4. Sundell (2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio) and fellow freshman Brylee Glenn (1.4 APG) have brought a steadiness to the Kansas State backcourt. Sundell ranks second in the Big 12 in assists per game and leads the Wildcats in made 3-pointers and percentage (38.3%), free throw shooting (80.3%) and minutes played (30.6), the last stat perhaps most telling about how important coach Jeff Mittie views Sundell.

4. Shayeann Day-Wilson, Duke Blue Devils

Guard | 5-foot-6
2021-22 stats:
11.9 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.5 APG

In a rotation full of veteran transfers, this freshman has often been asked to carry the Blue Devils. Just 14 games into her college career, Day-Wilson is becoming the face of the Duke program under coach Kara Lawson. Immediately ready for the best of Duke's competition, she scored 17 points against South Carolina and 19 against Iowa in a pair of December games. Despite only starting two games, Day-Wilson has emerged as the Blue Devils' leader in points, assists per game and 3-pointers made.

5. Jayda Curry, California Golden Bears

Guard | 5-foot-6
2021-22 stats:
19.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.8 APG

Curry is probably the most under-the-radar player on this list, perhaps because she plays for a program that has been down the past few years or because she didn't rank among the HoopGurlz top-100 recruits coming out of high school. But Curry is also the highest scoring freshman in the country. A four-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week this season, Curry has scored in double figures in every game and lifted a Bears team that went 1-16 in 2020-21 to nine wins already this season.

6. Sonia Citron, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Guard | 6-foot-1
2021-22 stats:
11.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 90.7% FT

With two players on this list, Notre Dame's future seems to be in good hands. Citron doesn't get as much attention as the flashier Miles, but she has been a steadying force off the Irish bench and is one of four Irish players scoring in double figures (and Dara Mabrey is at 9.9 PPG). Citron's 29 points in 27 minutes against Michigan State indicate just how explosive a scorer she can be. That should come with more opportunity. Citron has a rebounding instinct and a knack for seemingly always being around the ball that didn't show up on most of her recruiting evaluations.

7. Rori Harmon, Texas Longhorns

Guard | 5-foot-6
2021-22 stats:
10.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.3 SPG

Just two games into her college career, Harmon produced a 21-point, zero-turnover performance in an upset of Stanford. That set a bar that Harmon hasn't been able to reach since, but it did illustrate just how high the ceiling is for the Houston native. She came to Texas billed as an explosive scorer but has settled in as a pass-first point guard, running a top-20 team. More scoring is sure to come as her career progresses, but at fourth in the Big 12 in assists and second in steals,] Harmon has been plenty productive.

8. Talia von Oelhoffen, Oregon State Beavers

Guard | 5-foot-11
2021-22 stats:
13.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.3 APG

A year ago, von Oelhoffen saved the Beavers' season by enrolling early and giving them a necessary boost. Now she has settled in as Oregon State's point guard and leading scorer. Her play will once again be incredibly important to an Oregon State team that didn't play for more than three weeks because of a substantial COVID pause. Every Pac-12 win will be vital to a team that appears destined to stay on the bubble all season. On Monday, von Oelhoffen's 17 points and four 3-pointers were integral in one of those massively important games, an overtime win over Colorado.

9. Caroline Ducharme, UConn Huskies

Guard | 6-foot-2
2021-22 stats:
11.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 43.9% FG

Ducharme began the season barely getting off the Huskies' bench. In Monday's loss at Oregon, she played 40 minutes. The injuries that have rocked UConn's season have given her an opportunity that Ducharme has grabbed. Her efficiency is still a work in progress -- she needed 21 shots to score a team-leading 22 points against the Ducks -- and Ducharme has work to do on the defensive end, but she has at times been the Huskies' best player. In the seven games Paige Bueckers has missed with a knee injury, Ducharme has led UConn in scoring four times and is now third on the team in points per game.

10. Shyanne Sellers, Maryland Terrapins

Guard | 6-foot-2
2021-22 stats:
7.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG

With a nonconference schedule that included NC State, Stanford and South Carolina, and injuries decimating the roster, Maryland coach Brenda Frese had to thrust Sellers into a much bigger role than anticipated. The freshman passed the test. It hasn't always been easy, but Frese had enough faith to play Sellers the full 40 minutes in high-profile games against the Cardinal and Baylor. With Diamond Miller healthy and back in the starting lineup, Sellers has settled into a reserve role, but with her athleticism and length she is a perfect fit for the Terrapins' system.