This year’s NBA Draft class is supposed to be absolutely loaded and it will once again have a ton of freshmen picked near the top. This past year’s NBA Draft saw three freshmen go in the top three picks when LSU’s Ben Simmons went first overall followed by Duke’s Brandon Ingram and California’s Jaylen Brown.
Two more freshmen ended up getting drafted in the first ten picks and have been playing fairly well for their respective teams early in the season. With the college basketball season set to begin on Friday, here are the five players to look out for as potential top five picks.
Markelle Fultz (Washington, Fr.) – Fultz has been billed as the best player in college basketball this season despite having not played a game yet. He’s a 6’5″, 195-pound point guard who showed out in the FIBA Championships and led the U-18 team to a gold medal in the tournament. He’s a good spot up shooter and can run an offense unselfishly while still finding a good balance to get his own shots.
Josh Jackson (Kansas, Fr.) – Jackson might not put up numbers like a top pick, but that’s because Bill Self’s system doesn’t exactly lend itself to putting up big individual performances. We saw that with Joel Embiid — he never scored more than 20 points his year there — and Andrew Wiggins, but people still liked them enough to take both in the top five. Jackson is a small forward like Wiggins and could play power forward in small-ball sets. The 6’8″, 203-pound forward is already 19 and will be 20 by the time March Madness rolls around so he has a maturity advantage over a lot of prospects as well.
Dennis Smith (N.C. State, Fr.) – Smith is a 6’3″, 195-pound point guard who is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in his senior season of high school that kept him from playing last season. He enrolled in January so he could get on campus and start taking classes while working with the team. However, from practice reports and several excited national writers it would seem that Smith is back to his explosive ways and is still as quick as he was before the injury. He will have to work on making his jump shot more consistent, but will be given the keys to the N.C. State offense this season.
Jayson Tatum (Duke, Fr.) – Tatum was just cleared to play this week against Marist and Grand Canyon this weekend. He’s a smooth shooter in the mid-range and doesn’t yet shoot threes, which might scare a couple teams in this day and age of stretch fours. The 6’8″, 205-pound forward can finish in traffic though and will not have to dribble nearly as much with other great players around him at Duke, which is where he got in trouble in the high school game.
Jonathan Isaac (FSU, Fr.) – This 6’11”, 205-pound big man makes the list because Duke’s Harry Giles just underwent his third knee surgery and will be out of commission for an extended period of time. FSU’s big man will have to put on some serious weight, but could be pretty great in the ACC. He can switch out onto wings on defense and is a strong defender as well as a fluid offensive player. He’s super athletic and can hit shots from the college 3-point arc so that’s a huge bonus for a guy his size.
Marques Bolden (Duke, Fr.)
Bam Adebayo (Kentucky, Fr.)
Malik Monk (Kentucky, Fr.)
De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky, Fr.)
Lonzo Ball (UCLA, Fr.)