I’VE been there. The year was 2010 and some ‘guy’ had just packed his bags and left town. The product that remained left my eyeballs bleeding as I watched Anthony Parker, J.J Hickson and Ramon Sessions try to drive the Cavaliers to success. If you find yourself in a similar spot, looking for things to smile about in this dark, dark world that is your NBA season (looking at you Bulls/Mavs/Grizzlies/Hawks fans), then turn your eyes to the college world and dare to dream. There is a real chance that one of these collegiate stars will be donning your team’s jersey next season. Change channels and watch the future of your franchise torture college opponents.
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FULL DISCLOSURE: I know that Luka Doncic is a fantastic NBA prospect, yet he doesn’t feature on this list. These rankings are purely college basketball orientated. No hard feelings Doncic.
Honourable mentions: Mikal Bridges (Villanova), Wendell Carter (Duke), Brandon McCoy (UNLV), Robert Williams (Texas A&M), Trevon Duval (Duke)
10. Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma
CALL me crazy but Young has a little bit of Steph Curry about him. His ability to shoot the long ball off the dribble with such quickness and ease is eerily similar to the 2x MVP and Young’s ability to score the ball has scouts comparing him to another Oklahoma alum. Others may have a few players ahead of him, but until I see someone stop his scoring binge (a clash with #3 Wichita State on the weekend is a must watch) then I’m all in on Trae Young.
9. Myles Bridges, SF, Michigan State
THERE was a case for Bridges to declare for the draft last year and go pro. Early on, it seems like going back to school was the right choice. The Spartans are shaping up as one of the best teams in the nation led by the sophomore wingman. I still think that the future lottery pick has another gear to go to, with his per-game averages dipping slightly from a year ago. Watch out world.
8. Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami
ONE of the still undefeated teams in the NCAA is Miami, led by star backcourt pairing Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown Jr. His averages may suggest otherwise, but you only need to look at his recent game against Boston University to understand why he is ranked as a top-10 prospect. With Brown sidelined, Walker showed no ill effects of the knee injury that has slowed his start to the season, pouring in 26 points on just 15 shots. Don’t be surprised if he continues to have more games like this as his confidence builds.
Image from stateoftheu.com
7. Jaren Jackson Jr, PF, Michigan State
THERE is something special about Jaren Jackson Jr. While he still appears raw in areas of his game and is somewhat foul prone, his ceiling can’t really be established which is a scary prospect. His combination of size and mobility could see Jackson evolve into another ‘unicorn’ as the modern big man continues to transform. He can block shots, rebound, shoot 3’s and as he matures the skies the limit for this freshman.
6. Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky
SOMEWHAT carved in the Harrison Barnes mould, Kevin Knox can score consistently in a variety of ways. The 18-year-old is averaging a team-high 15.2 points a night for the now 8-1 Wildcats. Standing at 6-9, Knox shapes as a forward with huge upside in the modern NBA with the ability to be a solid rebounder as well as No. 1 scoring threat. I will be interested to see how he performs against some tougher opponents in the near future and I’m hoping that Knox continues to light it up and push to be a top-five pick come draft night.
5. Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas
THINK Deandre Jordan. Lot’s of blocks, lots of dunks and lots of missed free throws. That is Mo Bamba. His nimble frame scares a few away and is probably holding him back from being in the upper, upper echelon of college prospects. Don’t sleep on him though with his double-double averages and four blocks a game just a small glimpse of what could be in store for Bamba’s future. High energy, high upside, highly entertaining.
Image from bleacherreport.com
4. Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama
COLLIN Sexton is my favourite player in college basketball. Period. I know I’m not the only one who shares that sentiment towards Bama’s freshman sensation. Living in Australia there is only so much access to college basketball footage, but when Twitter erupted to let me know that Alabama was down to three players and Sexton was going off, I tuned in as fast as I could. He has established a habit of going missing in certain games, but when he’s hot, stop what you’re doing and tune in.
3. Michael Porter, SF/PF, Missouri
EVEN though Porter’s spine/back/leg injury will keep him from reeling off any viral highlights, he still has to be mentioned as one of the best prospects. Of course, this is hoping that he makes a full recovery and faces no issues in his rehab back. It’s unlikely that he will play another minute for Missouri and instead bolt for the league next year. I can see him in a Bulls uniform already…
2. Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona
IT’S getting to the point where there needs to be a 1A/1B agreement at the top of the rankings. I swear to god I change my mind as often as I change my underwear (yes, daily) about who is the best prospect in college. Today though, my feelings were trending towards Ayton as No. 2. If he puts together more games like he did in Alabama, then this whole 1A/1B thing won’t be necessary.
1. Marvin Bagley III, C, Duke
SINCE 1992-93 only two other players have averaged 21+ PPG and 11+ RPG for their teams. Both of them went on to be No. 2 picks come draft time, Kevin Durant in ’06-’07 and Michael Beasley a year later in ’07-’08. Say what you will about Beasley’s NBA career, but both of those other guys are considered to be college royalty. Duke’s superstar big man could be the third guy included in that group. As the Blue Devils emerge as perhaps the best team in the nation, Bagley is leading the charge. It comes as no surprise to learn he is favourite for the No. 1 pick right now.
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