It’s never to early to start talking about the NBA draft. It may be useless to predict who will have the picks, but we still know who the top prospects are. This will simply be a monthly ranking of the top-10 NBA prospects in college basketball.
The season is finally upon us! With all the NBA action underway, it’s always easy to forget that also means college hoops is right around the corner. Before the season tips off, here are my top-10 pro prospects in NCAA basketball.
1. Ben Simmons — SF/PF, Freshman, LSU
Simmons is the next sure-fire NBA star to come through college basketball. It’s completely unfair to compare him to LeBron James, but his skill-set at 6’9”/225 lbs is similar. Other players will earn mention as the top pick, but at the end of the day it’d be a surprise for anyone to overtake Simmons. Props to LSU for landing a soon-to-be household name.
2. Skal Labissiere — C, Freshman, Kentucky
Skal will be Coach Cal’s latest one and done weapon. Labissiere has always been skilled for a near 7-footer, but he’s recently really added some weight and gotten his body into shape. Skill was a top prospect when he had a pencil-like figure a year ago, and is going to be more dominant than originally anticipated.
3. Jaylen Brown — SF, Freshman, Cal
Like the other top prospects, Brown is blessed with an NBA body as a freshman. He’s a very physically gifted player with the athletic ability to finish around the rim with contact. He has all the tools to be a great wing defender which is always intriguing to NBA scouts. He can help himself most this year by improving his jump shot, but that would be a bonus at this point.
4. Damian Jones — C, Junior, Vanderbilt
Jones is a late bloomer, but a good one. The 7-footer boasts a 7’2” wingspan, and drew some DeAndre Jordan comparisons last season. If he can continue to grow this season as he’s expected to, NBA teams won’t be scared that he’s a couple of years older. There’s too much else to like to let that be a concern.
5. Brandon Ingram — SF, Freshman, Duke
Ingram has unique talent. The first thing you see when you look at him is that he needs to add weight, and he does. Ingram has the look of a guy that would only play around the basket, but watching him play, the 6’9” forward is truly an inside/out player. His game obviously needs to develop at Duke, but just as important will be his work in the weight room.
6. Cheik Diallo — PF, Freshman, Kansas
Diallo strikes me as the perfect hybrid big man for the direction the NBA is trending. He’s 6’9”, but has a 7’3” wingspan, meaning teams will likely use him as a small-ball center. He’s perfect for that role. Diallo is light on his feet, can run the floor and extremely athletic. If he can develop a game away from the basket, NBA scouts will be drooling.
7. Ivan Rabb — PF, Freshman, Cal
Welp, Cal is obviously going to have a great year brining in a pair of potential top-10 picks. Rabb is a local product from Oakland, and plays like it. Like Ingram, he needs to bulk up, but this kid plays hard. He’s ferocious around the rim, but does need to improve his low post moves. On the defensive side, he’s already a very good rim protector.
8. Kris Dunn — PG, Junior, Providence
This is a lot higher than most have Dunn ranked. Call me crazy, but I can’t stop seeing a raw John Wall here. Dunn sometimes moves a little too fast for his own good, which leads to turnovers, and needs to improve his jump shot. He still has a chance to be the best guard in college basketball this season, though. His lightning speed and natural talent make him hard not to enjoy watching.
9. Domantas Sabonis — PF, Sophomore, Gonzaga
Yes, Domantas is the son of Arvydas. He has the talent of his father as well — and showed it last year averaging 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds as a freshman. He’s a great scorer from all areas of the floor, and is also a surprisingly good rebounder. Assuming he improves upon those numbers this season, he’s going to be a very attractive player in the draft.
10. Malik Newman — PG/SG, Freshman, Miss. St.
Newman has good size at 6’4” to go along with great athleticism and a ton of talent. There’s a lot to like. The only knock on him is that a team will want to make him a PG, which he’s capable of doing, but has trouble deferring to others. This kids a shooter/scorer from all over the floor, which is extremely valuable, though.
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