There are two schools that will be must-stops for NBA scouts this upcoming college season, and Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina are not among them. Basketball fans are going to want to watch the Memphis Tigers in the American Athletic Conference and the Pac-12’s Washington Huskies.
Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway landed the top recruiting class in the country with the No. 1-ranked player in James Wiseman and five-star talent Precious Achiuwa. Not to be topped, Washington coach Mike Hopkins landed two top-10 players in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.
There also projects to be plenty of talented point guards next year, headlined by Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, and R.J. Hampton, who elected to play professionally in Australia’s National Basketball League.
Although it’s way, way too early, here’s a look at the projected 2020 NBA draft:
No. 1: C James Wiseman
Freshman, Memphis, 7-0, 240
The No. 1 player coming out of high school, Wiseman already has a body made for the NBA, and scouts and GMs watched him closely during the McDonald’s All-American Game and Nike Hoop Summit. Expect the offense to run through Wiseman next year as he leads the talented young Tigers.
No. 2: PG Anthony Edwards
Freshman, Georgia, 6-4, 200
Edwards reclassified to the 2019 class in order to fast track his career, and it looks like he won’t be missing a step. The talented point guard has speed in the lane and a quick release on his jump shot. The matchups against Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey and LSU’s Javonte Smart will be good tests for Edwards.
No. 3: C Isaiah Stewart
Freshman, Washington, 6-9, 230
There is probably no one in the Pac-12 who will be able to stop Stewart in the post. Expect the strong, solid center to dominate down low the entire season. He’ll need to expand his midrange jumper and get a little bit better with his face-up game, but Stewart is one of the hardest-working players in this class and should improve.
No. 4: PG Cole Anthony
Freshman, North Carolina, 6-3, 185
The son of former NBA player Greg Anthony, Cole has been on the NBA track for quite some time now. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and the co-MVP at the Nike Hoop Summit alongside Nico Mannion. He’s an excellent playmaker, ultra-competitive and has shown improvements in his 3-point shot.
No. 5: PG R.J. Hampton
New Zealand Breakers (NBL), 6-5, 185
In a decision that surprised almost everyone, Hampton elected to play in the Australian National Basketball League out of high school instead of attending Kansas or Memphis. Because he’s already established himself as one of the best point guards in high school, the move probably won’t hurt his draft stock one bit.
No. 6: SG Theo Maledon
ASVEL Basket (France), 6-5 180
A speedy combo guard in the open court, Maledon has a great first step and can find different angles to finish around the rim. Early comparisons have been to Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
No. 7: PG Nico Mannion
Freshman, Arizona, 6-3, 180
Originally from Italy, Mannion doesn’t necessarily pass the eye test for a top player but once he hits the floor it doesn’t take long to see his talent. Mannion once scored six points in six seconds: He crossed over a defender for a three near the end of a half, then stole the inbounds pass and hit a turnaround three from the corner at the buzzer. The Pac-12 will be significantly better next season with all the talent coming in, and Arizona should be in the thick of things come tournament time.
No. 8: SF Deni Avdija
Maccabi Tel Aviv, 6-9, 210
The wing from Israel was the MVP at the Basketball Without Borders camp during NBA All-Star week. Avdija wasn’t eligible for this year’s draft, so the extra year of development should help his draft stock. There have been early comparisons to Luka Doncic, and while he’s not quite there, they have similar styles in the way they play and see the court.
No. 9: SG Scottie Lewis
Freshman, Florida, 6-5, 185
Lewis is the best defender in this class. He can also slash in the lane, knock down the three and is deadly in transition. The high-flying guard put on a show at the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest and he should be a strong leader for Mike White’s team.
No. 10: PF Precious Achiuwa
Freshman, Memphis, 6-8, 210
The second five-star in Hardaway’s historic class, Achiuwa is a pure scorer and a strong finisher in the lane. He’ll need to work on his 3-point shot, but there is huge upside with the forward from Nigeria. He’s the younger brother of former St. John’s basketball player God'sgift Achiuwa.
No. 11: SF Jaden McDaniels
Freshman, Washington, 6-10, 185
You’re going to have to stay up late if you want to catch McDaniels playing at Washington. He has great size for a wing and a smooth jumper to go along with his lengthy frame. McDaniels is best when he comes off screens but has gotten much better and stronger off the dribble.
No. 12: PG Tyrese Maxey
Freshman, Kentucky, 6-2, 190
The best 3-point shooting point guard in this class, look for Maxey to let it fly at Kentucky in the same way Malik Monk did in his one year under coach John Calipari.
No. 13: C Charles Bassey
Sophomore, Western Kentucky, 6-11, 245
Bassey elected to return to school after testing the NBA draft waters. He is an elite rim protector with a strong motor. If he stays healthy, he could rise.
No. 14: PF Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
Freshman, Villanova, 6-9, 235
Robinson-Earl should dominate the Big East. He is so smooth in transition, and his high-low game is nearly perfect whether he’s catching the ball at the elbow or sealing down on the block. The forward from Kansas can catch and shoot from the short corner and make the midrange jumper.
No. 15: C Vernon Carey Jr.
Freshman, Duke, 6-10, 275
Carey was plagued by injuries in high school, but when healthy he’s virtually unguardable in the lane. With both Marques Bolden and Zion Williamson gone, look for Carey to get plenty of touches in the Blue Devils’ offense.
No. 16: SG Killian Hayes
Cholet Basket (France), 6-5, 176
Hayes, 17, will be one of the youngest players in this class, but the makeup to be a solid pro is there. He’s very quick in the open court and can get to the rim with ease.
No. 17: PG LaMelo Ball
Illawarra Hawks (NBL), 6-7, 180
The youngest Ball brother, LaMelo quit high school, played professionally in Lithuania, came back to the states and played at Spire Academy for a year, and now is headed to play professionally in Australia. Everyone’s path to the NBA is different, but LaMelo’s talent hasn’t wavered. He’s now a tall point guard with a great handle and will let it fly from anywhere on the court.
No. 18: PG Ayo Dosunmu
Sophomore, Illinois, 6-5, 170
Dosunmu should see his draft stock rise next season. He is an outstanding shot creator and finishes strong with his right hand.
No. 19: SF Patrick Williams
Freshman, Florida State, 6-8, 215
Williams thrives in transition and does his best work off the dribble. Look for Williams to lead the Seminoles in scoring.
No. 20: PG Tre Jones
Sophomore, Duke, 6-2, 183
The brother of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones, Tre elected to return to school after not shooting well from the field last season. With Zion Williamson gone, look for Jones to settle into his role as the floor general and improve his 3-point shot.
No. 21: SG Josh Green
Freshman, Arizona, 6-6, 185
A native of Australia, Green and Mannion are teaming up to be perhaps one of the most exciting backcourts in college basketball. The two five-stars played on the same AAU team the past three years so there’s chemistry. Green is a streaky shooter at times, but his basketball IQ is high and he has the potential to climb in the draft.
No. 22: SG Bryan Antoine
Freshman, Villanova, 6-4, 170
Another potential one-and-done and first-round pick for coach Jay Wright. Antoine excels at on-ball defense and is great in the pick-and-roll.
No. 23: PF Trendon Watford
Freshman, LSU, 6-8, 224
Watford excels in the post and has an excellent mid-range game. Look for him to get plenty of minutes because of the departure of Naz Reid.
No. 24: SG Aaron Wiggins
Sophomore, Maryland, 6-6, 200
A super-quick guard with a killer crossover. Wiggins could have left after his freshman year and been a late second-round draft pick at best. Coming back for another year at Maryland should help him improve his strength and 3-point shot. He made 62 3-pointers last season, the second most in Maryland freshman history.
No. 25: PG Devon Dotson
Sophomore, Kansas, 6-2, 185
Dotson tested the NBA waters but returned for his sophomore season. Dotson plays with great intensity on the offensive end and should be more of an impact player at Kansas this year.
No. 26: SF Kahlil Whitney
Freshman, Kentucky, 6-8, 200
A high-flying wing who can dunk with authority, Whitney needs to improve his jump shot and step-back three.
No. 27: SG A.J. Lawson
Sophomore, South Carolina, 6-6, 172
A natural scorer who should get plenty of touches this season. Lawson can defend positions one through three with ease.
No. 28: SF Matthew Hurt
Freshman, Duke, 6-8, 214
Hurt has good size and a smooth jumper with range. He will need to work on his strength.
No. 29: PF Jalen ‘Stix’ Smith
Sophomore, Maryland, 6-10, 215
A quick and athletic power forward who is versatile around the floor and has a nice touch around the rim.
No. 30: SG Wendell Moore
Freshman, Duke, 6-6, 210
Moore is a fundamentally sound guard who does all the little things really well. He has the size and skills to be a solid guard at the next level.
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