Top 100 College Basketball Players for the 2017-2018 Season

Prior to this, my top 100 college basketball players was counted down in increments of 10. But I thought it might be best to reveal the entire list in one post. These rankings are based on talent and anticipated production. As of now, these are the top 100 college basketball players for the 2017-2018 year.

100. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, Sophomore Forward)

Tille was the most unheralded part of arguably the best frontcourt in the country last year. With Zach Collins leaving, the Frenchman has next in the long line of talented Gonzaga posts. His per game numbers (4.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) didn’t tell the whole story. If you extrapolate his numbers out per 40 minutes, Tillie would have had 13.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.4 steals a game. Going into his sophomore year following an NCAA runner-up campaign, the active floor-spacing big will have a chance to make a huge impact in the WCC and on the national scene.

99. Brian Bowen (Louisville, Freshman Forward)

After a long, anticipated wait, Bowen finally committed to Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals. He’ll be a fan favorite and a road villain with his loud haircut and fearless confidence. But he will produce, even as a freshman, with his scoring prowess. Bowen is one of the more gifted offensive players in his class, able to create his shot and expose mismatches. A crowded Louisville frontcourt could limit his touches early, but he should be one of the top three scoring options on a top 10 team.

98. Egor Koulechov (Florida, Senior Forward)

Florida keeps finding a way to reel in upper echelon transfers like Koulechov. At only about 6’5, Koulechov isn’t the lengthiest of forwards. But he plays with a toughness that is necessary to succeed in the SEC. If averaging 18.1 points at Rice isn’t enough to excite Gator fans, Koulechov also pulled in 8.9 rebounds while shooting a blistering 47% from three. That’s a lot to look forward to in Gainesville.

97. Nana Foulland (Bucknell, Senior Center)

Foulland accomplished a rare feat when he won Patriot League Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He was a real anchor on the defensive end, reacting quickly on the help side and swatting away 2.1 shots a game. It’s always been about defense for Foulland, which is why his offensive development (15.0 ppg) elevated him into one of the best two-way centers in America.

96. John Konchar (Fort Wayne, Junior Guard)

If there is a mid-major player that is consistently overlooked, it’s Fort Wayne’s versatile guard. Konchar wastes no movement on either end, leading to 14.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.7 spg, and an impressive 8.7 rpg at only 6’5. There are players that do it all and there are players that do it all well; Konchar is the latter. With even more scoring responsibility this year, it’d be tough to see him improve on his field goal shooting of 63%, but then again consistency has become his standard.

95. DeSean Murray (Auburn, Junior Forward)

A junkyard dog is the best way to describe Murray, who will play in his first season at Auburn after averaging 20.2 points two years ago at Presbyterian. He will be a force attacking the basket, dragging bodies with him, and finishing at the rim. Bruce Pearl is going to benefit from adding an experienced offensive weapon to his talented young group.

94. Kris Wilkes (UCLA, Freshman Forward)

Wilkes has the look of an NBA wing player. Long, lean, and supremely athletic, capable of disrupting the game on both ends. A strong summer in the weight room will put him in position to thrive in his slashing role. Playing alongside score-first guards, Wilkes may have less scoring opportunities to show his full repertoire. Even so, he is too talented to not make a big impact as a freshman.

93. Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s, Sophomore Guard)

When your team only wins 14 games, sometimes it’s hard to grab national attention. Ponds has me watching, after a freshman year where his explosive scoring was on display. The sophomore out of Brooklyn scored over 17 points a game while shooting nearly 38 percent on a high volume of threes. With backcourt mate Marcus LoVett back, Ponds could have a shot at being heard outside of New York.

92. Zach Smith (Texas Tech, Senior Forward)

Smith is just a bundle of potential. A lot of his thunderous dunks end up on SportsCenter, though it’s his defensive versatility that is most admirable. Smith affects whatever frontcourt player he’s asked to guard with his length and quickness uncommon for a power forward. Over the years, his jump shot has improved to the point where he shot a tick under 40 percent from three last year. I’m expecting another big growth from his 12.1 point, 7.2 rebound average from a year ago.

91. Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova, Sophomore Guard)

The player that will benefit most from Josh Hart’s departure is DiVincenzo. With decent time, he averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. But that was as a third or fourth option. Now DiVincenzo, who is an elite shooter and athlete, will be unleashed to score as frequently as his playing style suggests he should. It’s hard to imagine how much better he will get over three years with his toughness and physical gifts.

90. Devin Sibley (Furman, Senior Guard)

There is a reason why Sibley was an honorable mention AP All-American. The reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year is a dangerous scoring weapon and leader for Furman. Sibley was the focus of opponents’ scouting reports and still managed to score 17.7 points a game on 45% shooting from deep. Look for Sibley to try to carry his team to an NCAA Tournament berth.

89. Kameron McGusty (Oklahoma, Sophomore Guard)

McGusty was somewhat of a surprise in his first year with the Sooners. After a solid year scoring 10.9 points a game, he earned an honorable mention for the Big-12 team. But it was his quick growth that indicated how good he can become. While most freshmen struggle with their first taste of conference play, McGusty embraced the challenge and shot 38% from three while scoring 14.4 points a game in those games. He will jump into the upper echelon of the Big-12 next year.

88. Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall, Senior Guard)

Carrington was a sporadic volume scorer during his first few years. It started to click in his junior year, as he led the Pirates in scoring (17.1 ppg) and three-point shooting (38%). All of the key pieces return making it likely that Carrington will have the ability to be the go-to scorer for a tournament team. If the efficiency can improve, Carrington is going to give Seton Hall a serious shot to reach the Sweet 16.

87. Jordan McLaughlin (USC, Senior Guard)

The one mainstay in the USC program over the last four years has been McLaughlin. He is a dependable, consistent playmaker that has fostered the development of a young, talented frontcourt. McLaughlin competes every night on both ends. A season ago, he averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals and only 2.2 turnovers a game. Add in his 40% three-point shooting and it’s easy to understand why the Trojans are in good hands next year.

86. Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga, Senior Forward)

Williams is the lone starter from the national title runner-up. After considering leaving for the NBA, he is going to be the featured offensive player in the Zags offense. It won’t be too much to ask for a player that averaged 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and made almost 63% of his shots inside the arc. The athletic lefty is going to be the most important player for Mark Few this year.

85. Payton Pritchard (Oregon, Sophomore Guard)

You don’t really see many freshmen point guards in the Final Four. It’s even rarer that such a player would be back for their sophomore year. Pritchard (7.4 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.4 rpg) is much more than a floor general, as his scoring instincts demanded the attention of every team. Playing with Team USA this summer is only going to accelerate the growth of a kid that will have to be the leader in his second year in school. I expect him to take big steps in every statistical and intangible category.

84. Matthew Fisher-Davis (Vanderbilt, Senior Guard)

Over the last few weeks of the regular season, Vandy’s best scorer was noticeably absent. But during the NCAA Tournament, Fisher-Davis took center stage and almost carried his team to the second round. He is an excellent shooter, connecting on 84 threes last year. When defenders close out too hard, he is skilled enough to get into the lane and score effectively. A good summer of strength training is going to let Fisher-Davis up his production before going into a deep SEC.

83. Tyler Davis (Texas A&M, Junior Center)

Even as a junior, Davis still looks like a big baby. The Aggies struggled as a team, though Davis (14.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) was his normal dominating self in the post. His post passing made great strides over the course of the year, which will be an important trend going into next year. Davis is even stronger and lighter on his feet now, so he should remain as an intimidating post presence.

82. Jerome Robinson (Boston College, Junior Guard)

Boston College has won a total of two ACC games during Robinson’s time on the team, but that wasn’t due to a lack of effort on his part. After a respectable freshman year, Robinson emerged as one of the best scorers in the conference. The 6’5 combo guard averaged 18.6 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.7 steals a game while showing off an improved jump shot. Improving on his 3.2 turnovers a game will be a big aspect of Robinson taking a step in the right direction next year.

81. Esa Ahmad (West Virginia, Junior Forward)

It’s always about defense in Morgantown, which is why Ahmad’s presence as a scorer and playmaker adds a different dimension to the Mountaineers. Ahmad is their best frontcourt scorer (11.3 ppg) and their most versatile defender now. He is athletic, active, and a powerful penetrator that gets to the line frequently. Per 40 minutes, Ahmad averaged 18.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists a game. Without Nathan Adrian, Ahmad will need to play at least 30 minutes a game, which will give people more appreciation for the skill set that he brings.

80. Brandon McCoy (UNLV, Freshman Center)

McCoy, a consensus top-20 recruit, brings a dominating post player to a revitalizing program. His best skill is protecting the basket, thanks to long arms and explosive reaction timing. Not only is he one of the top shot-blockers in the nation, he is also a strong rebounder and developing finisher around the rim. McCoy is still learning

79. Bennie Boatwright (USC, Junior Forward)

An early injury kept Boatwright off the floor for the first part of the season. Once he came back, he showed why he is one of the best shooters over 6’10 in the country. On 6.8 attempts a game, the junior shot 36% from three and also shot 91% from the line. His touch is exceptional for a player his size, allowing him to operate from many different spots on the floor. Even on a better team, Boatwright should still be able to produce his 15.1 point average from a year ago.

78. KeVaughn Allen (Florida, Senior Guard)

Allen came on strong in the Gators’ late postseason run, and finished averaging 14.0 points while hitting 88% of his free throws. The attacking guard is going to benefit from having more scoring responsibility. His play style should thrive next to Chris Chiozza, excelling in transition even more this season. Allen should be one of the top scorers in the SEC this season.

77. VJ King (Louisville, Sophomore Forward)

After coming in as a highly touted recruit, King was stuck behind a deep perimeter group. King is primed to step in and provide an offensive boost following the loss of Donovan Mitchell. With his lengthy 6’7 frame and offensive versatility, it will be hard for Rick Pitino to leave him off the court. There will be a solid jump in his 5.5 point scoring average. Don’t be surprised if King emerges as one of the top scoring weapons for the Cardinals.

76. Gary Trent (Duke, Freshman Guard)

On most teams in the country, Trent would average 15 plus points a game. Duke is heavy at the guard spot, but Trent will find a role as a physical, gifted scorer that can space the floor. Defense may determine how much he stays on the floor, as he can be a plus defender at this level. In most games, Trent will be a third or fourth option. That speaks to the depth of Duke, seeing that Trent is a seriously talented wing player.

75. Brandon Goodwin (Florida Gulf Coast, Senior Guard)

Goodwin was the driver in FGCU’s trip to the NCAA Tournament because he can his own bucket or create for his teammates at a high rate. A year ago, he averaged 18.5 points and 4.1 assists per game on 51% shooting. He has a good combination of speed and tenacity, with the strength to handle the pressures of carrying his team for long stretches. Nothing new for the orchestrator of Dunk City 2.0.

74. Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech, Sophomore Guard)

He was a little bit of an unknown name a year ago going to a team that lost most of their main pieces. Okogie (16.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) quickly established himself as a force in the ACC, with a build like a linebacker that can absorb body contact with ease. Josh Pastner gave the sophomore freedom to play downhill at all times, leading to 6.5 free-throw attempts a game. A summer with Team USA should continue the growing skillset of Okogie.

73. Tyus Battle (Syracuse, Sophomore Forward)

Someone is going to have to score the ball for the Cuse and Battle seems like the right guy. Known more as a strong athlete in high school, Battle was more than comfortable behind the arc, connecting on about 37% of his three-point attempts. I’m expecting tremendous growth in his confidence and consistency. The 3-and-D potential is there for Syracuse’s best player.

72. Sviatoslav Mykhaliuk (Kansas, Senior Guard)

Svi is one of those players that is a better pro prospect than college basketball player, at nearly 6’8 with a great outside shot. He is the one of the youngest seniors in the country, but has three years of regular minutes under his belt. An underrated athlete, Mykhaliuk should be one of the top scorers on a young Kansas team.

71. Kevin Hervey (UT Arlington, Senior Forward)

An AP All-American honorable mention and Sun Belt Player of the Year, Hervey (17.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg) can throw the whole kitchen sink at you. He likes to attack from three, where he shot 34%, but he is just as dangerous putting his shoulder down and getting to the basket. Keep this name on file for March because Hervey has all the makings of a giant killer.

70. MJ Walker (Florida State, Freshman Guard)

A lot was lost in Tallahassee, making the signing of Walker that much more important. Walker really opened some eyes with his play in the high school all-star games, showing off a lot of athleticism and energy. Scoring comes easy for Walker, who has all that is takes to lead the Seminoles in scoring this year.

69. Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern, Senior Guard)

McIntosh (14.8 ppg, 5.2 apg) didn’t have a great junior season, shooting only 31% on threes and turning the ball over 2.7 times a game. Still, his leadership as a floor general was the biggest part of Northwestern reaching their first NCAA Tournament in program history. McIntosh consistently makes winning plays and makes big shots for the Wildcats. Expect the senior to push to break more records in Evanston.

68. Chris Clarke (Virginia Tech, Junior Forward)

Injuries have somewhat diminished the impact of VT’s do-it-all forward. When healthy, Clarke (11.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.3 apg) is a strong competitor with an endless motor. He is to the Hokies what Draymond Green is to the Warriors, relentlessly defending multiple positions. Clarke doesn’t really shoot very often, but he makes nearly 60% of his attempts.

67. DJ Hogg (Texas A&M, Junior Forward)

Hogg had a disappointing year on paper, though the time spent learning how to be a go-to perimeter scorer will greatly benefit him. Capitalizing on his pure jump shot (37% 3PT) is going to be an important aspect for opening up the rest of his offensive game. With 3.4 assists a game, Hogg showed a willingness to be a playmaker. That will need to be refined even more to cut down on the turnovers and complement his shooting. Hogg has a chance to show he can be an efficient, complete player.

66. Jalen Adams (Connecticut, Junior Guard)

Connecticut has fallen off a cliff over the last few years, even with the presence of a dynamic point guard like Adams. With a lot of defensive pressure on him, Adams still averaged 14.4 points and 6.1 assists per game. Everything flows through him, which is a lot to ask given the lack of consistency surrounding him. With a few years of experience, Adams should be even better in what could be his last year at UCONN.

65. Marcus Foster (Creighton, Senior Guard)

Even when Foster was an underclassman at Kansas State, he was a scoring machine. Last year he went for 18.2 points a game, with a lot of responsibilities coming after the injury to Mo Watson. Foster is one of those players that you can almost count on being a 20-point scorer, especially with the lack of scorers on the roster. Discussions as a potential All-American are not out of the question.

64. Matt Farrell (Notre Dame, Senior Guard)

I’d be hard pressed to find a more improved guard in the country than Farrell. He’s always been a tough, hard-nosed player, but he turned himself into one of the nation’s most reliable playmakers. Farrell was a revelation as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, averaging 14.1 points and 5.4 assists while shooting a 42% on a high volume of threes. Going into the year, Farrell is next up in the line of great Irish point guards.

63. Isaac Haas (Purdue, Senior Center)

Haas is a massive individual. Standing at 7’2, nearly 300 pounds, Purdue’s big man makes the most out of the time he is on the court. In under 20 minutes a game, Haas averaged 12.6 points and 5.0 rebounds a game. To put that in perspective, that’s 25.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per 40 minutes. He should be in for at least 25 minutes a game, which spells trouble for the rest of the Big Ten.

62. Omer Yurtseven (NC State, Sophomore Forward)

Some are calling Yurtseven a bust before he even enters the NBA. He was just not physically ready to be the star that many expected. The averages of 5.9 points and 4.4 rebounds are not too impressive, but the player that I saw at the NBA combine was the one that could average a double-double at NC State. With a new coach and a lot of available shots, Yurtseven is in a position to show why his touch and agility is worthwhile for a 7-footer.

61. Mitchell Robinson (Western Kentucky, Freshman Center)

Robinson is the best player Western Kentucky has ever received a commitment from. It comes at a great time, as the Hilltoppers are on a fast rise. At nearly 7-feet tall, Robinson is active, long, and athletically gifted. He will finish a lot of lobs, block a lot of shots, and make some plays that will make your jaw drop. Though it may only be for a year, Robinson is going to push Western Kentucky to another level.

60. Jordan Caroline (Nevada, Junior Forward)

Last year the hype out of Nevada was about Cameron Oliver. This year it’s Caroline, the talented wing player that can bang with posts. He should be the favorite to win MWC Player of the Year after averaging 15.0 points and 9.2 rebounds last year. There will be a new face leading the Wolfpack into the NCAA Tournament this year.

59. Makai Mason (Yale, Junior Guard)

Two years ago, Mason burst onto the scene as an Ivy League player that almost took down Duke. An injury ended his season last year, though he is back to dominate at Yale before transferring to Baylor next year. Look for even better numbers than the 16.0 points and 3.8 assists that he brought as a sophomore. With more wisdom, the fearless captain should be preseason Ivy League Player of the Year.

58. Vladimir Brodziansky (TCU, Senior Forward)

Brodziansky (14.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg) doesn’t make a bunch of highlight plays, but he is effective every night he is on the court. That is why he earned Big-12 All-Second Team last year and could find himself on the first team this year. There is going to be a lot of eyes on the TCU backcourt, so Brodziansky might fly under the radar again, which is probably fine for him.

57. Jacob Evans (Cincinnati, Junior Guard)

The difference for the Bearcats will be if Evans can take that step to becoming a star for them. I’m fairly confident he will, with the athleticism, control, and skills that he possesses on both ends. He had solid numbers of 13.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, but what was most impressive was the 42% three-point shooting that he brought. Whether it’s attacking the basket, defending the best players on the wing, or lighting it up from three, Evans always finds a way to impact the game.

56. Jaylen Adams (Saint Bonaventure, Senior Guard)

Saint Bonaventure’s star is going to be his normal, explosive self going into his final season. Adams (20.6 ppg, 6.5 apg, 2.1 spg) has been a hard cover in the A10 for years because defenses have to either give him space to shoot or risk being blown by into the teeth of the defense. He is lethal at the free throw line, where he goes over eight times a game. Adams will hope his playmaking is enough to challenge in the A10 and nationally.

55. Jaylen Hands (UCLA, Freshman Guard)

Let’s just start off by saying that Hands is no Lonzo Ball. He is still a terrific playmaker in his own right, though he has a more score-first mentality. He is a long 6’3 and really knows how to change pace to get to the rim. He may be asked to play off the ball more than he’s used to, but his ability to shoot the ball should make that transition smooth. The up-tempo style will allow Hands to step in as one of the top guards in the Pac-12.

54. Amir Coffey (Minnesota, Sophomore Forward)

Coffey was quietly one of the most impressive freshman in America. He was second on the Gophers in scoring (12.2) and assists (3.1), while routinely drawing contact and getting to the line. Though a bit on the thin side, he plays with a toughness that will bode well while his body develops. This is going to be a huge year for Coffey.

53. Jalan West (Northwestern State, Senior Guard)

Some players feel like they’ve been in college forever, and others like West actually have been. After suffering another serious leg injury, West was granted his seventh year of eligibility. The last full year he played, West scored 20.0 points, 7.7 assists, 2.1 steals, and shot a 42% on 6.4 threes a game. I’m a big fan of West’s resilience and talent when he’s on the floor. Hopefully he can stay there this year.

52. Andrew Jones (Texas, Sophomore Guard)

There was some legitimate fear that Jones was going to leave for the draft. By returning, Texas retains a blossoming playmaker that can play either backcourt spot. Jones (11.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 spg) is a reliable jump shot away from being the complete package on offense. He is excellent in transition and solid pestering ball-handlers. With more talent in Texas, Jones should be able to grow in a winning environment.

51. Drew Eubanks (Oregon State, Junior Center)

Eubanks (14.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.2 bpg) has the potential to be a college basketball star. At 6’10, he is a powerful athlete that can run and jump with ease. Eubanks is still fairly raw, showing tremendous growth over a year. With more experience, Eubanks will cut down on his turnovers and be a solid All-Pac 12 performer. And if he can show his expanded shooting range in games, watch out.

50. Kevin Huerter (Maryland, Sophomore Guard)

After a good freshman year, Huerter will make that big jump as a sophomore. He didn’t get a lot of attention as the third scoring option on his team, but he will be a super soph after averaging 9.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Known as a shooter, he displayed a smooth all-around game that will benefit from the muscle he has put on since year’s end. He has looked strong working with Team USA, so all signs point to a big year with the Terrapins.

49. Thomas Welsh (UCLA, Senior Center)

Welsh (10.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg) was the consummate glue guy for the nation’s best offense last year. He is cash on mid-range jumpers and does all of the dirty work for the Bruins. This year, the 7-footer will have a chance to be the top frontcourt scorer, where he should be terrific. He is the leader that will keep a young UCLA team in the right mindset.

48. P.J. Washington (Kentucky, Freshman Forward)

What’s not to love about a rim-rocking forward capable of playing on the perimeter? Washington is the next physically dominating post player at Kentucky that comes with a sound skillset. He is going to be an impact player from the second he steps on campus. In arguably the nation’s deepest frontcourt, Washington is the one to watch.

47. Austin Wiley (Auburn, Sophomore Center)

It’s not often that a high schooler graduates early and joins a college team at the semester. Wiley did just that, and was a scary sight for SEC teams. In limited time, he averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Imagine his performance after a summer working on his body at Auburn and with Team USA. A leaner, more agile Wiley should be expected in the fall.

46. Troy Brown Jr. (Oregon, Freshman Forward)

Brown is a point forward type that doesn’t really excel at one area, yet he can hurt you in every way. He is physically ready for college play, with a strong upper body and good length. His passing is what stands out to me, using his 6’7 size to see over defenses and deliver passes on time. With all of the departures at Oregon, Brown will be asked to do a lot. Thankfully he can do whatever is needed to win.

45. Aaron Holiday (UCLA, Junior Guard)

Holiday (12.3 ppg, 4.4 apg) is the best returner for the Bruins. He was the best sixth man in America last year, providing consistent offensive punch. Playing with other ball-dominant guards will allow Holiday to mesh well with freshman Jaylen Hands. Standing at only 6’1, the junior guard has no issue challenging larger players on his drives. Holiday has the experience and talent to run the show for Coach Alford.

44. Shake Milton (SMU, Junior Guard)

It is safe to say that Milton would have been drafted had he left early. Returning will give him a chance to show that he can dominate as the star. With great size at 6’5, Milton averaged 13.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. Every year he has proved that his shooting (42% from three) is elite. No Semi Ojeleye means that Milton will need to score more and create more for the Mustangs.

43. J.P. Macura (Xavier, Senior Guard)

As the year went on, Macura’s best asset was his rugged style of play. He gets after it on defense, dives after loose balls, and goes after every rebound. What shows up on the stat sheet isn’t too bad either, after averaging 14.4 points and 2.9 assists in his first season as a starter. The jumper will need to be more consistent, but Macura is a natural scorer that will be one of the top secondary weapons around.

42. Justin Jackson (Maryland, Sophomore Forward)

If you look at Jackson, he resembles a modern stretch four, which is what he played last year. This year he’ll have an opportunity to play his natural position at small forward, where his strong 6-foot-8 body poses even more mismatches. Aside from working on his playmaking, Jackson has the size, shooting (44% 3PT), and skills to be a nightmare on the wing.

41. Rawle Alkins (Arizona, Sophomore Guard)

When you can find a 6’5 player that’s stronger than posts and faster than most guards, you should take notice. Alkins (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.1 apg) is a tank when attacking the basket. What was most impressive was his consistency hitting spot-up threes and pull-ups. Assuming that progress continues, the sophomore is going to be one of many scoring studs on the Wildcats.

40. Manu Lecomte (Baylor, Senior Guard)

Lecomte was a reliable scorer at Miami, but he was never the high powered playmaker that he was last year at Baylor. The All-Big 12 third teamer averaged 12.2 points and 3.8 assists, which is solid but not overwhelming. The value was in his ability to dictate pace, penetrate the lane, and set up the big bodies on the Bears. With Johnathan Motley leaving early, the scoring will have to be led by the 5-foot-11 dynamo.

39. Jeffrey Carroll (Oklahoma State, Senior Guard)

Carroll was the breakout player in the Big 12, averaging 17.5 points and 6.6 rebounds while splashing 44% of his threes. Obviously part of that was due to focus on Jawun Evans, who is gone, but I have to give Carroll a lot of credit for his improvement. As a Second-Team All-Big 12 Player, the expectations and attention will be there. Carroll is going to put the nation on notice that last year was just the beginning.

38. Lonnie Walker (Miami, Freshman Guard)

There is going to be a lot of firepower in Miami, with Walker being the new kid on the block. He penetrates with ease and elevates at the rim or in his pull-ups. Scoring is a second language for Walker, who is bound to become a better playmaker with the other weapons on the team. Expectations are high in Miami and Walker is the piece that could push them to another level.

37. Nate Mason (Minnesota, Senior Guard)

An All-Big Ten player a year ago, Mason (15.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.0 apg) is the heart of the Gophers. He went through a rough cold streak in the latter part of the season, but he still forces teams to try to get the ball out of his hands. Mason is a quick, strong lead guard that has grown into a good outside shooter. If the Gophers are going to be a Sweet 16 team, Mason is going to be the catalyst.

36. Reid Travis (Stanford, Senior Forward)

If it weren’t for injuries, Travis would have made a huge impact much earlier in his career. He is built like a fridge who overpowers defenders every night. Every team in the Pac-12 had to gameplan for ways to slow down Travis, who averaged 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds a game last year. His strength and finishing ability is why he was a McDonald’s All-American and also why he will be All-Pac 12 again.

35. Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech, Senior Center)

Lammers earned the ACC Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year after a breakout season. You don’t usually see a role player come back and average 14.2 points, 9.2 points, 2.1 assists, and a ridiculous 3.4 blocks per game. Lammers showed skills that most people didn’t know he had, including a soft touch in and around the lane. He has transformed into a two-way force that will be one of the top centers in college basketball.

34. Malik Newman (Kansas, Sophomore Guard)

Coming out of college, Newman was looked at as a no-doubt one-and-done. He only averaged 11.3 points at Mississippi State and transferred to Kansas where he developed during practices. Now is his time in Lawrence, with the bucket-getting mentality that could make him the leading scorer at Kansas. Newman at his best could be a first-round pick, so don’t underestimate the skillset of the combo guard.

33. Mikal Bridges (Villanova, Junior Forward)

The potential was there from the moment he stepped on campus. As a wiry, athletic wing, Bridges (9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 apg) showed great improvement as a sophomore. His jump shot became his go-to weapon, shooting 38% from three, while still impacting the game as a lockdown defender and slasher. Even if his defense is what makes him elite, a bigger offensive presence will be needed. Bridges is going to take off this year and will challenge to be the best two-way wing in America.

32. Mike Daum (South Dakota State, Junior Forward)

Any team that has faced Daum knows that he is a lethal offensive player. In his first year as a starter, the 6’10 big averaged 25.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, shot 42% from three, and made 87% of his many free throws. No matter the competition, Daum is going to put on a show. Going into 2017-2018, Daum is one of the elite mid-major players that you need to watch.

31. Vince Edwards (Purdue, Senior Forward)

Edwards added consistent three-point shooting (42%) to his repertoire. His versatility is what jumps out, showing it off to the tune of 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Edwards needs to stay aggressive to allow Purdue to maximize their talent without Caleb Swanigan.

30. Chimezie Metu (USC, Junior Forward)

The strength of USC is in their frontcourt, with Metu (14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 bpg) being the top option. Whether it is in a transition game or in the half-court, Metu can control the game with his length and springs. You can catch him swatting shots, attacking the glass, or finishing above the rim. What if that mid-range jump shot expands past the arc? The Pac-12 needs to be ready for a war.

29. Jaren Jackson (Michigan State, Freshman Forward)

The more I watch Jackson play, the more excited I am for his future. At 6’11, his body is going to put on a lot of muscle to complement his natural talent. With the bevy of returning contributors, Jackson will make a name for himself as a high-level rebounder and finisher that protects the rim. But his ability will not go unnoticed.

28. Bruce Brown (Miami, Sophomore Guard)

Brown’s play style reminds me of a young Dwayne Wade. I’m not saying he’s that good, but his all-around two-way game and strong body resembles the Marquette star. If he can refine his shooting, the rest of his skills will be appreciated more. He averaged 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists as well as 1.5 steals a game. Being the best player on a potential top-25 team will put the lights on Bowen.

27. Yante Maten (Georgia, Senior Forward)

Every team in the SEC knows how tough Maten is to slow down. The big, inside-out post averaged 18.2 points and 6.8 rebounds against consistent double teams. He is just that good. Any coach would take Maten on their team, so expect Georgia to savor the last year they have the All-American hopeful.

26. Wendell Carter (Duke, Freshman Forward)

Due to the strength of the Duke guards, it’s possible that Carter doesn’t put up the gaudy numbers that you would expect from a player of his skill. But I would imagine numbers don’t matter to Carter, as his value will be shown on the scoreboard. He can score with his back or face at the basket, with either hand, over or through contact, and in traffic. The greatest part of Carter’s game is his IQ and feel for the game, something that will serve him well playing for Coach K.

25. Angel Delgado (Seton Hall, Senior Forward)

Delgado (15.2 ppg, 13.0 rpg) is the reigning rebounding king, back to eat up some more backboards. His strength on the glass is aided by a finishing ability that has improved every year. To quantify Delgado’s impact is tough, but if he went pro like many anticipated, it’s hard to view the Pirates as a tournament team. With him back, they are a valid candidate to be a top 10 seed.

24. Nick Ward (Michigan State, Sophomore Center)

When someone says the old school big man is dead, tell them to watch Ward. With sound footwork, a hefty frame, and good back to the basket moves, Ward averaged 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. In only about 20 minutes a game. Per 40 minutes, that’s 28.0 points and 13.0 rebounds. Because he is such a sure thing down low, defenders have to foul him, leading to 5.7 free throw attempts a game. The Big Ten is going to have a hard time finding an answer to Ward without leaving the other weapons open.

23. Landry Shamet (Wichita State, Sophomore Guard)

Shamet had 20 points for a Wichita State team that almost stunned Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament. That’s a great point for motivation and optimism for the 6’4 point guard who averaged 11.4 points and 3.3 assists on 44% shooting from deep. He has a composure about him that isn’t normal for a player with only a few years of experience. With the ability to make plays off the bounce, Shamet will look to run through the AAC and hopefully the first weekend in March. Some added strength this summer should help.

22. Moe Wagner (Michigan, Junior Forward)

Wagner had arguably the biggest decision when it came to skipping the NBA Draft after a late surge in March. By returning, Wagner (12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 40% 3PT) gives himself a chance to put on much needed weight and show that he is more than just a floor spacer. He has the competitiveness, but it needs to show on the glass. That should come with added bulk to pair with a bag full of offensive tricks.

21. Colin Sexton (Alabama, Freshman Guard)

I dare you to find me a more competitive, confident player in college basketball that backs it all up. He is a relentless finisher that has a world of ways to score. His playmaking is going to surprise a lot of people, though it’s sometimes overly flashy. Whether you follow Alabama or not, everyone is going to know Sexton’s name very soon.

20. Trevon Duval (Duke, Freshman Guard)

Duval was the prized point guard in the class of 2017. Hailing from IMG Academy, the exciting ball-handler is the best point guard at Duke since Tyus Jones led them to an NCAA Championship. Duval has more natural ability, with his vision and penetrating skills, though the leadership traits favor Jones. I know he’ll be a high draft pick, but it will be interesting to see how he runs a young team with high expectations.

19. Kelan Martin (Butler, Senior Forward)

Somewhere along the line, Martin forgot what made him so valuable: his strength. He has grown into a good shooter (1.9 makes per game), but when he has his eyes set on the paint, there aren’t many forwards in the country as powerful. Martin returned to form later in the year, and finished averaging 16.0 points and 5.8 boards playing more as a four man. I would imagine he will add more to his game and show that his perimeter game is better than it showed last year.

18. Mo Bamba (Texas, Freshman Forward)

Bamba isn’t just long. He’s the longest player in the world, with over a 7’9 wingspan. Playing on a nationally ranked high school team, Bamba never needed to be a go-to scorer. But that ability to dominate games with next-level rim protection and athletic energy is going to serve him well at Texas. Shaka Smart’s rapid pace is going to let Bamba get run opposing posts to the bench while giving that press a lot of back end support.

17. Deng Adel (Louisville, Junior Forward)

Many expect Adel to take the same leap that Donovan Mitchell made a year ago. He averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds as a sophomore, more than respectable on a top 25 team. But he must be more efficient with his touches to elevate the Cardinals to the level they want to be at. He is already capable of defending three positions, so using his body and touch to produce on the other end is going to be a joy to watch.

16. Kevin Knox (Kentucky, Freshman Forward)

Kentucky brought in another loaded class that turned into a super-class with the commitment of Knox. Pushing 6’9 with shoes, Florida’s top prep player is smooth and dangerous with the ball in his hands. He can shoot right over most wings and blows by posts before taking off for the rim. His athleticism isn’t elite, but he’s agile with the ball which allows him to utilize his superior length. If Knox is allowed to operate more on the perimeter, it will be raining all year in Lexington.

15. Robert Williams (Texas A&M, Sophomore Forward)

Williams (11.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.5 bpg) made the rare choice to avoid testing the draft waters when he was a lock to be a first rounder. There were times I would watch him last year and wonder why he wasn’t a top 10 recruit. His motor attacking the glass is unmatched, almost Tristan Thompson like. Williams is also a shot-blocking fiend that was starting to stretch his range towards the end of the year. Texas A&M will have one of the biggest turnarounds in the SEC and Williams is a main reason.

14. Devonte’ Graham (Kansas, Senior Guard)

It’s finally his time. After playing Robin to Frank Mason, Graham (13.4 ppg, 4.1 apg) will be able to be the man for Kansas. Shooting 39% from three was a down year for the 6’2 guard, who has proven to be one of the big shot makers in college basketball. He is a pitbull on defense and tough as nails. Really sounds a lot like Mason, who was the National Player of the Year. All Graham has to do is be himself and he will be knocking on that same door.

13. Alonzo Trier (Arizona, Junior Guard)

Trier came back after missing half the year in terrific form. He showed a leadership and cool confidence to his game that made everything else come easy. Especially his scoring, which came at a 46% clip and 39% from three. His 17.2 point average and 2.7 assists pointed to an NBA entry. Now the Wildcats have their offensive sensation returning. Trier is a 20-point scorer that may have to distribute more to feed all of the aggressive young players.

12. Jock Landale (Saint Mary’s, Senior Center)

It’s safe to say that Landale is the best mid-major player in the nation after averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds on 61% shooting. You can give him the ball on the block and guarantee a good look every time. He really came out of nowhere following a modest sophomore season. It’s not like teams didn’t realize how good he was, they just couldn’t do anything about it. For the first time in a while, Saint Mary’s has the best player in the WCC.

11. Trevon Bluiett (Xavier, Senior Forward)

Xavier has watched Bluiett blossom into more than just a streaky scorer. He is a bonafide bucket getter now, scorching teams on a consistent basis throughout the season. While averaging 18.4 points and 5.7 rebounds, Bluiett nearly pushed Xavier over the edge in March. If you want to let him shoot it, you’re going to be punished 37% of the time from deep. Press up and he will get to the line or use his craftiness to create space in the mid-range. I’d be very surprised to see Bluiett left off the All-American team this year.

10. Jevvon Carter (West Virginia, Senior Guard)

Bog Huggins should petition to build a statue of Carter in front of the Coliseum. No one epitomizes the gritty, relentless, will-taking mentality better than their All-Big 12 guard. He’s the best defender in college basketball because he is quick and smart about playing without fouling. Carter averaged 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.5 steals a game. The revelation was his 39% shooting from three which made it those quick transition shots acceptable. Carter is probably a preseason All-American, Defensive Player of the Year, and Big 12 Player of the Year.

9. Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky, Freshman Guard)

Diallo would have been a first round pick without playing a single game in college. He is that impressive that NBA teams were willing to take him after sitting on the bench for a semester. Kentucky knows good athletes, but Diallo is built in a different mold. He could average 10 points a game just by outrunning defenses and skying for finishes in transition. If the jumper and handle become a little more sound, there is no way Diallo isn’t leading the Wildcats in scoring.

8. DeAndre Ayton (Arizona, Freshman Center)

Ayton is a combination of a modern and 1990s center. At 7’0, nearly 250 pounds, he is a physical specimen that runs the floor and has the skills to shoot the ball and score in isolations. There are still some edges to smooth out, but overall Ayton should take over every game he plays in. Sean Miller should be able to bring out that consistency that makes Ayton the premier center in the country.

7. Jalen Brunson (Villanova, Junior Guard)

He is the quintessential fundamental college basketball player that wreaks havoc forever. Brunson (14.7 ppg, 4.1 apg, 38% 3PT) is a smooth operator with the ball, slithering through defense until he’s ready to make a play. Now that Josh Hart has graduated, Brunson is going to be called on to lead the Wildcats. He’s not the typical Villanova recruit, coming in with a lot of hype as a McDonald’s All-American. That toughness and IQ still accompanies Brunson and will be what makes him a college All-American.

6. Grayson Allen (Duke, Senior Guard)

A year ago I thought it was ridiculous that Allen would pass up the draft to return to a team that would make him seem less important. It turned out that he was the cause of his own problems. I don’t see how he couldn’t bounce back with the need for perimeter scoring on this team. If he stays healthy and keeps his feet to himself, Allen should return to being a strong shooter that can draw contact and cash in free throws. A huge reason for optimism is that he won’t have to play an imitation point guard this year.

5. Joel Berry (North Carolina, Senior Guard)

Why shouldn’t people believe in Berry? He averaged 14.7 points and 3.6 assists on a National Championship team and has shown that he can light it up when his teammates need help. A lack of frontcourt help will make it tougher for him in pick-and-rolls, but he has never shied away from a challenge. Berry is a supreme playmaker with a lot more to show than the roster allowed last year.

4. Ethan Happ (Wisconsin, Junior Forward)

Happ went from a redshirt to an All-American in two years. Despite lacking overwhelming strength, Happ averaged 14.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks a game. Wisconsin can play through him every play because of his vision and footwork in the post. If there is one area to take him to the next level, it’s shooting. It’s in the works, but even without it Happ is skilled enough to be Big 10 Player of the Year while carrying a new look team.

3. Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame, Senior Forward)

Colson is the biggest anomaly in the country. He’s barely 6’5 with thin legs but has a 7 foot wingspan and scores and rebounds better than most bigs around. How about averaging 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and shooting 43% from three for an impact? He is a star any way you want to define it. His touch is impeccable, routinely making shots that other players would brick off the backboard. He is one of two returning All-Americans and will be in the POY discussion for sure.

2. Miles Bridges (Michigan State, Sophomore Forward)

The biggest offseason coup was Bridges coming back to East Lansing. He has some unfinished business after putting up 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds on a grossly disappointing team. Bridges was a star though, so no one would have blamed him for becoming a millionaire. Athleticism, shooting, defending; it is all at the 6’7 forward’s disposal. Bridges will be catching a few bodies deep into March this year.

1. Michael Porter (Missouri, Freshman Forward)

Porter almost single handedly recruited a top 10 class. It makes sense that people would want to play with a 6’10 scoring machine that is absolutely unguardable. His mid-range game is already at an NBA level. A lot of times freshmen don’t live up to the hype. Porter not only has the talent, but he has the magnetic quality of a star that will bring the best out of his teammates. Everything is brand new for the Tigers. It’s worth the growing pains to have the most potent offensive player college basketball has seen in years.

 

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