In the coming months, we’ll begin to see a constant string of mock drafts projecting the top prospects from the U.S. and overseas. It’s always a fun time of year for those who take an interest in the NBA draft. But if you want to have the best possible feel for the prospects, it’s always best to watch them toward the end of the college season! So here’s an early look at 10 of the best college prospects for the coming NBA draft.
Simmons is pretty clearly the top prospect in this draft and could be the next true superstar in the NBA. He’s been mired in a bit of bad publicity of late due to the fact that his LSU Tigers look to be on the wrong side of the March Madness bubble. Some have even suggested Simmons is soft. But don’t be fooled. This is a kid with elite talent, and if you doubt his work ethic or potential listen to what his countryman Andrew Bogut had to say about him on the Bill Simmons podcast.
Duke’s lanky forward has progressed remarkably over the course of the season. Earlier in the year, he looked like the number-two prospect purely due to his appealing length and potential. But now he genuinely looks like the second-best freshman in the country. He’s a tricky defender, a terrific shooter, and a player who could still improve quite a bit.
The NBA draft section at Today’s Fast Break recently ran a story in which they declared that Buddy Hield’s draft hype is overrated. This is a talking point that’s gained some steam with basketball fans, but it’s important to recognize that it stems from a tweet suggesting Hield is a more valuable prospect than Simmons. That’s probably not the case, but Hield is a mature, explosive guard who some have compared to Dwyane Wade. He belongs in the lottery discussion.
Henry Ellenson is the most exciting freshman prospect nobody’s talking about. He’s a big part of why Marquette has had a better than expected season, and his skill set will be very appealing to a lot of NBA teams. He’s a strong, 6’10” forward who has a knack for scoring, and though his three-point shooting hasn’t been very good, his form is practiced and he’s not afraid to shoot. Ellenson may get some early lottery looks as a potential Dirk Nowitzki type.
It’s very rare these days that an upperclassman as strong as Kris Dunn is in the draft. At roughly 6’4” and 220 lbs, Dunn is a terrific size for a modern point guard, and doesn’t lose anything in the quickness department. Though occasionally erratic, Dunn is a dynamic scorer, pesky defender, strong passer, and terrific athlete.
Don’t be surprised if Cal’s Jaylen Brown winds up being the steal of the NBA draft. At 6’7” with incredible athleticism, he projects as a dynamic slasher from day one. He’s been compared to the likes of rookie Stanley Johnson, but a more interesting observation is that there’s some young Vince Carter in this kid’s game.
It says quite a bit that despite star guard Marcus Paige having a poor season, North Carolina remains among the favorites for the national championship. In fact, Betfair’s sports section has a running section of regularly updated odds on the contenders for the NCAA title, and North Carolina still has the best shot at 7/1. That’s largely thanks to the play of versatile forward Brice Johnson, who’s emerged as an incredible force in the ACC. At 6’9” with elite rebounding skill and the ability to guard smaller players, Johnson is an ideal stretch forward for today’s NBA game.
Kentucky’s pitbull of a combo guard has impressed in spurts this season. Some NBA types may be concerned by his tendency to disappear from games at times, but when he’s on? He’s as tough to stop as any guard in college.
There’s an argument to be made that the true center is disappearing from the NBA game. But every team likes to have big players with skill at least as options, and Poetl is the best player in the draft that fits that description.
If you think about Michigan State products with the type of game to put up triple doubles on a regular basis, one superstar comes to mind: Draymond Green. But while they’re different types of players, current MSU star Denzel Valentine is cut from the same cloth. In fact, it’s said that texts from Green inspired Valentine’s rise to a new level this season, and there’s a chance he’s now become the most complete player in the NCAA.
These players may not all end up in the lottery come draft night, but they’re certainly 10 to keep an eye on as we approach March Madness.