The NCAA Tournament tipped off just this past weekend, and many fans are starting to gear towards Draft Season. With Zion Williamson’s flashy dunks and last year’s draft class outperforming expectations, it’s an exciting time of year for those of us who’s teams are always in need of some fresh talent.
Without further ado here’s my first big board for the 2019 class.
1a. Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke
While most have Zion Williamson as the clear-cut number one overall pick, I believe the threshold between him and the second-best player in this class, RJ Barrett, is much closer than people anticipate. I have concerns about Williamson’s ability to finish at the rim against NBA bigs as well as him sustaining his monstrous 285-pound frame. All considered, he still should be an absolutely dominant player at the next level.
1b. R.J. Barrett, Wing, Duke
Part of being on such a great college team with numerous other great recruits is having to share the spotlight. R.J. Barrett is having one of the greatest scoring seasons for a college freshman ever. He leads all Power-Five Conference freshman in points scored as well as points per game. He is a crafty play-maker. Though he has tunnel vision at times, he has a silky stroke from three and a hard work ethic which should transition well when he makes his move to the NBA.
3. Kevin Porter Jr., Wing, USC
Kevin Porter Jr. has many questions about his game and character. After missing about one month of games, however, Sam Vecenie of the Athletic reported that Porter has been a ‘model citizen’ according to those close to the situation. Porter is a fiery wing that has the athleticism and traits to be a superstar. He is arguably the biggest boom-or-bust player in this draft class.
4. Jarrett Culver, Wing, Texas Tech
NBA Draftniks have fallen in love with Culver’s game over the course of the past two months. Though he doesn’t have one individual spectacular trait, Culver’s all-around game is promising. He’s a plus defender at the college level and already has the frame of an NBA player. He’s a natural scorer who possesses the ability to finish at the rim at an efficient rate.
5. Ja Morant, Guard, Murray State
Ja Morant was the biggest riser in College Basketball this year. He’s a visionary guard that has the athleticism that compares to Russell Westbrook and pre-injury Derrick Rose. Morant is never going to be a plus defender and his jump-shot has some questions, but he should, at the very least, be a starting caliber point guard.
6. Cam Reddish, Wing, Duke
Cam Reddish has fallen victim to a star-studded Duke roster. He has been largely inconsistent on both sides of the floor, but the talent is clearly there. Reddish will never be the first option on a championship roster, but he could be a positive complimentary piece that doesn’t always need the ball in his hands. He has the potential to make an impact on both sides of the floor.
7. DeAndre Hunter, Forward, Virginia
DeAndre Hunter is perhaps the most sure-thing in this draft. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Hunter has the tools to be an elite defender at the NBA level and, should he be become a more efficient slasher, quite possibly a star. With his draft stock fluctuating anywhere between four and eleven, it will be interesting to see when and where he is picked.
8. Jaxson Hayes, Big, Texas
As the most unfinished player in the lottery, Hayes is one of the most defensively sound bigs in this draft. He has the length and size of an NBA big and flew up draft boards this year when he averaged 10 and 5 with a free throw percentage of 74% (which is usually indicative of the future ability to knock down NBA 3-pointers).
9. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Guard, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker refined his scoring ability this season and heavily upgraded his passing ability. He improved his FG% and FT% while maintaining a consistent stroke from three. He has the tools to be an average defender in the NBA and should be a lottery pick come June.
10. KZ Okpala, Forward, Stanford
KZ Okpala is one of my favorite players this draft cycle. Though we won’t know for a while whether he decides to stay in the draft (or even initially declare), Okpala has an impressive ball-handling ability and often stretches the court from deep. He isn’t a natural shooter by any means, which is more than likely why he isn’t higher on most big boards.
11. Brandon Clarke, Forward, Gonzaga
Brandon Clarke will be a 23-year old rookie. If you can look past that, he’s an incredible basketball player. Clarke has blocked more shots this year for Gonzaga than he has missed shots. Clarke is excellent at the rim and stands out on defense in particular. If he were three inches taller and three years younger, we’d be talking about Clarke as a top-3 pick.
12. Bruno Fernando, Big, Maryland
I am most impressed by Fernando’s willingness to pass out of the post and create for others. He has a big physical frame and the FT% that suggests he will be able to stretch his game out at the NBA level. Fernando is energetic and would fit on most NBA teams seamlessly.
13. Coby White, Guard, UNC
Coby White is a score-first point guard that has impressed for a UNC team that usually doesn’t have many standout freshman. White has a fluid jumper and the quickness to beat almost anyone in the lane. He’s probably best suited as a two-guard at the NBA level, given his lack of assist numbers and pure basketball vision.
14. Darius Garland, Guard, Vanderbilt
Darius Garland is a natural guard that would have dramatically helped an atrocious Vanderbilt team had he played more than five games. In those five games, however, Garland averaged 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists. I see Garland as another boom-or-bust player given the lack of sample size at the college level and disappointing vision.
15. Romeo Langford, Guard, Indiana
16. Nassir Little, Forward, UNC
17. Keldon Johnson, Wing, Kentucky
18. Sekou Doumbouya, Forward, France
19. Grant Williams, Forward, Tennessee
20. Tre Jones, Guard, Duke
21. Tyler Herro, Wing, Kentucky
22. Rui Hachimura, Forward, Gongaza
23. Carsen Edwards, Guard, Purdue
24. Bol Bol, Big, Oregon
25. Ashton Hagans, Guard, Kentucky
26. Daniel Gafford, Big, Arkansas
27. Chuma Okeke, Forward, Auburn
28. Cameron Johnson, Forward, UNC
29. Talen Horton-Tucker, Wing, Iowa State
30. Matisse Thybulle, Guard, Washington
31. Luguentz Dort, Wing, Arizona State
32. Jontay Porter, Big, Missouri
33. Charles Bassey, Big, Western Kentucky
34. PJ Washington, Forward, Kentucky
35. Goga Bitadze, Big, Georgia
36. Ty Jerome, Guard, Virginia
37. Admiral Schofield, Wing, Tennessee
38. Nazreon Reid, Big, LSU
39. Eric Paschall, Forward, Villanova
40. Dylan Windler, Forward, Belmont
41. Jalen McDaniels, Forward, San Diego State
42. Markus Howard, Guard, Marquette
43. Darius Bazley, Forward, USA
44. Luka Samanic, Forward, Croatia
45. Shamorie Ponds, Guard, St. Johns
46. Killian Tillie, Big, Gonzaga
47. Kris Wilkes, Wing, UCLA
48. Miye Oni, Wing, Yale
49. Dedrick Lawson, Forward, Kansas
50. Zach Norvell, Wing, Gonzaga
51. Louis King, Wing, Oregon
52. Justin Wright-Foreman, Guard, Hofstra
53. Vasa Pusica, Wing, Northeastern
54. Oshae Brissett, Forward, Syracuse
55. Tyus Battle, Wing, Syracuse
56. Cody Martin, Forward, Nevada
57. Brian Bowen, Forward, Australia
58. Makai Mason, Guard, Baylor
59. Tyrese Haliburton, Wing, Iowa State
60. Kyle Guy, Wing, Virginia