College basketball preseason top 25: 25-21

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? Here are the first five teams in the top 25 rundown:

25. Texas A&M Aggies

College basketball preseason top 25

Robert Williams (photo by draftexpress.com)

The Aggies were unable to make the postseason last year, but have some solid players that will change that this season. They return four scorers who averaged over 10 points a game and have some players that could make it in the NBA. Texas A&M will be aided by the 27th best recruiting class in the country according to 247sports.com.

Billy Kennedy has one of the best frontcourts in the country. Forward Robert Williams flirted with leaving for the 2017 NBA Draft, but elected to come back to school. He will be able to improve on his 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this year. Tyler Davis is the leading returning scorer at his center position, averaging 14.7 points per game last season. Add in D.J. Hogg, a versatile forward who averaged 12 points per game last season and the Aggies are a force to be reckoned with in their frontcourt.

The backcourt is what will be the issue for this team. Admon Gilder will help provide a coring punch at the two guard, but the Aggies need a point guard. They had to redshirt J.J. Caldwell last season, but he is back now from injury. He has promise, but hasn’t played any games due to last season being his first on campus. If he doesn’t pan out, Texas A&M can turn to Duane Wilson, a graduate transfer from Marquette. He averaged over 11 points per game in his first two seasons as a Golden Eagle, but saw that limited to under five last season. At the very least he will provide some veteran leadership to a team that has just one other senior on the roster.

This team is talented and could even make a run in the NCAA Tournament if they get favorable matchups. They will need to continue to pound the ball inside and physically dominate opponents to win, but they are well equipped to do so.

24. Gonzaga Bulldogs

College basketball top 25

Johnathan Williams (photo by draftexpress.com)

Gonzaga is coming off of their first appearance in the Final Four last season and still have some solid players from that roster returning. They will need to rely on these players as they don’t have a good recruiting class coming in. The Bulldogs ranked 121 in the recruiting rankings by 247sports. Luckily they still have Mark Few at the helm.

Few has two very good forwards to go to this season. Johnathan Williams is one of the most versatile and athletic players in the country and is poised for a big senior season. He is the only returning player that averaged double digits in scoring last season. Kilian Tillie saw limited playing time last season, but was on the bench a lot because of the good players in front of him. He needs to step up for the Bulldogs this season. With Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski having moved on, the Bulldogs are extremely thin on the interior.

The guard spots will be solidified by two players who averaged over 20 minutes a game last season. Silas Melson will step into the shooting guard role and will succeed. He shot 39.9% from three point range last season. Josh Perkins will take over point guard duties after playing the two guard mostly the last two years. With Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Matthews not on the team any longer, Gonzaga will also be thinner at guard than they are most years.

This team is reliant on a lot of their young players to step up and help out the stars of Willams, Melson and Perkins, but Mark Few will get the job done, just as he always does.

23. Rhode Island Rams

College basketball preseason top 25

E.C. Matthews (photo by: draftexpress.com)

The Rams lost in the round of 32 last year and also lost Kuran Iverson and Hassan Martin after the season concluded. Those two players were key factors in their successful season last year, but the Rams will be just fine this season. They have 12 returning players, including four players who averaged more than 20 minutes a game.

Iverson and Martin were both frontcourt players so Rhode Island will need to find replacements for them. They have a junior college transfer in Ryan Preston will have to be a workhorse on the boards, as he only averaged 5.2 points per game at the JUCO level. The Rams’ biggest hope for good inside play rests in the hands of Cyril Langevine, who earned 13.2 minutes per game as a freshman. He is a good rebounder, but needs to stay out of foul trouble.

Rhode Island will be a guard-led team this season even more so than most years. The team is led by E.C. Matthews, who is one of the best seniors in the country. He averaged 14.2 points per game last year and will be asked to do much of the same this year. Jared Terrell. Stanford Robinson, Jarvis Garrett and Jeff Dowtin all got significant minutes last season and will help propel this team to the NCAA Tournament once again.

Dan Hurley’s squad doesn’t shoot the three very well, so they will need to get to the basket to be successful. With Hurley at the helm and Matthews back, the Rams should be able to win the Atlantic 10 and win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament.

22. Baylor Bears

College basketball preseason top 25

Manu Lecomte (photo by draftexpress.com)

Baylor lost their best player, Jonathan Motley to the NBA Draft. They would’ve been a highly ranked team with him, but still have some good players returning. Scott Drew will have this team contending in the Big 12, but they will likely fall short to a familiar foe once again.

In the frontcourt the Bears have Jo Lual-Acuil Jr who is seven feet tall and averaged 2.3 blocks per game last season. He had 35 starts and will start every game once again, but needs to score more points and grab more boards. Terry Maston and Nuni Omot are seniors who will have to take on bigger roles this season as well. Maston is an inside threat that can score in bunches, but is inconsistent, while Omot can stretch the floor a bit better and shoot from deep.

The Bears have a star in Manu Lecomte. The point guard from Belgium averaged 12.2 points and 3.8 assists per game. He will score more this season without Motley. He is also a big time playmaker. Jake Lindsey joins him in the backcourt and adds another good ball handler and three point shooter to the mix. King McClure, a good shooter, and Wendell Mitchell will backup Lecomte and Lindsay and fill in nicely.

This may not be a dream season for Baylor, but they will be solid and make their fifth straight NCAA Tournament.

21. Seton Hall Pirates

College basketball preseason top 25

Angel Delgado (Photo by zagsblog.com)

The Pirates have made the last two NCAA tournaments, but have yet to do much damage in them. This could be the year they break through. They are led by three really good seniors who will create a lot of matchup problems. They will have a top 50 recruiting class joining them this season.

Angel Delgado is one of the best players in the Big East and averaged a staggering 15.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. Not too many college athletes can handle him down low. Wing Desi Rodriguez can do a lot of things and averaged 15.7 points per game last season. Ismael Sanogo and Michael Nezi are great role players that mean more to the team than their numbers might indicate.

At guard Khadeen Carrington is a star senior. Las season he was the Pirates’ leading scorer averaging 17.1 points per game. He will be asked to play point guard, which is not his natural position. Myles Powell had a great freshman season averaging 10.7 points per game. The thought is that incoming freshman Jordan Walker will get limited minutes early, but could be the starting point guard by year’s end. At the very least he will provide some much needed depth for the backcourt.

Seton Hall has a veteran roster with multiple stars on it. They will advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament if they stay healthy and their incoming recruits provide good depth.

 

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2017 NBA Mock Draft

2017 NBA Mock Draft 1.0 (Pre-Lottery)

This mock draft will factor in team needs heavily rather than who is the best player. The draft order won’t be set in stone until the lottery takes place, but the talk is already starting on who will go number one overall.

Many scouts and experts are picking Markelle Fultz to go first, but it depends on who wins the lottery. Right now these predictions will be based solely off current standings and will continue to be until the draft lottery takes place. Here is Hagan’s Haus 2017 NBA mock draft.

1: Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Josh Jackson sG Kansas

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The Boston Celtics do not need a point guard. Fultz may be the best player in the draft, but Isaiah Thomas isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thomas is also a proven player while any player coming out of college is unproven.

Fultz may be the best player in the draft but doesn’t fit what the Celtics need. The Celtics play great team defense and need a scorer to take the load off of Thomas.

Josh Jackson could prove to be a valuable scoring option for Boston as he averages 16.7 points per game. Jackson in a two-way player capable of becoming a superstar. Boston would be smart to add him to their core.

2: Los Angeles Lakers: Markelle Fultz pG Washington

Picking what the Lakers will do is extremely difficult. They just spent the 2015 second overall pick on a point guard. The Lakers issue is veteran leadership. They have a core of young players who just need time to develop. L.A. could trade this pick for a star player, but if they do keep it expect them to take the best available player.

That would be Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Fultz is averaging 23.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and six assists per game. Fultz also has a player efficiency rating (PER) of 28.6 and is clearly the best player in the draft. The Lakers can not pass on that just to fill a position of need.

3: Phoenix suns: Jayson Tatum Sf duke

Jayson Tatum has a well-polished iso game that is NBA ready. The Suns have a star in the making with Devin Booker and need to find a player to grow alongside him.

Tatum could grow to be a solid second option in the NBA. He can score anywhere on the floor due to his ability to create off the dribble.

One of his biggest weaknesses is his shot selection. Due to his height and ability to shoot over defenders, Tatum tends to settle for difficult shots. Shot selection will improve over time and the Suns may be able to find a Robin for their Batman.

4: Orlando Magic: Lonzo Ball Pg UCLA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit:https://www.bostonglobe.com)

Everyone is talking about LaVar Ball’s opinions rather than the play of Lonzo Ball. Ball can ball. It is as simple as that.

His father may be onto something when talking about how good his son can be. However, talking so openly may hurt his son’s draft stock.

Sticking strictly to Lonzo and his basketball ability, it is clear that he is a top prospect. Ball is a great passer with a high basketball I.Q. In the NBA Ball will be a floor general capable of running the team from the court.

Many scouts compare him to Jason Kidd, which is a pretty accurate comparison. Having a Kidd-like career would be an amazing accomplishment for anybody. Orlando needs a franchise player and that is exactly what Lonzo Ball will be.

5: Philadelphia 76ers: Malik Monk Sg Kentucky

Trusting the process hit yet another bump in the road this season. Joel Embiid suffered another injury after appearing in just 31 games. If that wasn’t enough, last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, will not make his debut this year either. The 76ers still believe those pieces will result in playoff appearances and maybe even titles.

Interestingly enough, reports came out that Philadelphia brass believes Simmons will be the point guard. That is why they will use this top-five pick on Malik Monk.

Monk has proven to be a flat-out scoring machine and that will translate to the NBA. Drafting Monk will allow the Sixers to develop Simmons as their point guard while putting a scorer in the backcourt beside him.

Creating a powerful backcourt could be the key to a deep postseason run. They already have a great frontcourt player in Embiid.

6: New York Knicks: Dennis Smith Pg N.C. State

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: William Howard/Icon Sportswire)

The Knicks need a young explosive point guard who will grow alongside Kristaps Porzingis. Carmelo Anthony is on the back half of his career and will most likely be out of the picture soon. Derrick Rose has been very respectable in New York, but he is not the same player that won the league MVP.

Dennis Smith is a top-five talent who will fall a bit due to some of the other needs teams have. Not all are looking for a point guard.

The Knicks would get a Russell Westbrook type of player by drafting Smith. He can score, pass and rebound with the best of them in college. He also has insane athleticism that allows him to posterize defenders.

Smith would be a great pick here if the Knicks want to take steps towards becoming a playoff team.

7: Sacramento Kings: Jonathan Issac PF Florida State

The Kings need to start from scratch. Buddy Hield seems to be the guy that Sacramento will build this team around. It looks like Willie Cauley-Stein will be the man up front with DeMarcus Cousins now out of the picture.

Jonathan Issac would be a great fit with this team. Issac is a great rebounder and can run the floor well for a big man. He also shoots well from all areas of the floor. He could play at small forward or power forward in today’s NBA style. The Kings would find a great player with lots of potential.

8: Sacramento Kings (Via Pelicans): De’Aaron Fox PG Kentucky

The Kings can afford to be risky with one of their two top-10 picks. Buddy Hield will need a backcourt partner in crime, and Fox could fit that mold.

Fox is unique because he is left handed. It is sometimes hard to defend left-handed players because defenders are used to right handed defenders. He is also extremely quick and defenders may have trouble keeping up with him.

Fox will need to work on shooting with more consistency. With Hield alongside him, all Fox needs to do is run the offense.

9: Dallas Mavericks: Lauri Markkanen PF Arizona

2017 NBA Draft

(Photo Credit: http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu)

Dallas got their center when they traded for Nerlens Noel. The guard positions seem to be held down as well with the emergence of Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry. That makes Lauri Markkanen a perfect option for the Mavericks.

Dirk Nowitzki will be going into his final season and the Mavericks need to find his future replacement. Markkanen is a 7-foot stretch big who will be able to shoot the three in the NBA. He has all the intangibles to replace the greatest European player in NBA history.

Drafting Markkanen will allow him to develop in his first season before Dirk rides off into the sunset.

10: Minnesota Timberwolves: Harry Giles PF Duke

The Minnesota Timberwolves are right on the cusp of becoming a great NBA team. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins are continuing to grow and will be one of the most dangerous duos in the NBA in the coming years. They have already begun to show signs of it. Point guard is not an issue as they have Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn. Picking Giles would be a shock here at number 10, but could be a huge steal.

Giles was considered the best player coming out of high school and was projected to be the number one overall pick before he began having injury problems. We have not seen what Giles is fully capable of, but his potential is through the roof. He is an athletic finisher who can be molded into a great defender under Tom Thibodeau.

This pick could be a bust, but it will more likely create a young core in Minnesota capable of winning championships.

11: Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges SF Michigan St.

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)

The Hornets need a solid wing player and Miles Bridges would be a good fit.

Bridges is a dunking machine and plays with an extremely high motor. One of Bridges’ weaknesses is that he has no true position. Shooting guard, small forward and power forward are all in play for Bridges. Charlotte would likely play him at small forward.

Bridges has also shown consistent improvement in his shooting since high school.

12: Portland Trailblazers: Robert Williams PF Texas A&M

Robert Williams can jump out of this world. He can put anyone on a poster and loves to do so. There are countless highlights of him dunking on opponents.

Williams has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and he knows how to use it. That wingspan allows him to excel as a rebounder and shot blocker.

One thing going against Williams is that he is raw as a big man. He lacks consistency like many raw prospects. The better competition gave him trouble, but with development from NBA coaches, he can turn into a solid NBA starter.

13: Miami Heat: Isaiah Hartenstein PF Germany

The Heat have been amazing in the second half of this season. Hassan Whiteside is a franchise centerpiece at center. Their guard play has been tremendous, and Justise Winslow is really coming into his own. That leaves the power forward position as their biggest need. The Heat need a power forward that can stretch the floor since Whiteside is the inside presence.

Isaiah Hartenstein would be a great fit in Miami. He is a versatile left-handed player who can not only score inside, but outside as well. Hartenstein is a great passing big man with a high basketball I.Q.

The downside with Hartenstein is his immaturity and lack of experience against tough competition. However, his potential makes him a lottery pick.

14: Chicago Bulls: Frank Ntilikina Pg France

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: https://hardwoodhoudini.com

One thing is clear in the NBA: teams need a franchise point guard. The Bulls do not have a franchise point guard on their roster and will be looking for one in this year’s draft. Drafting at the end of the lottery does not leave them with many options, but it will allow them to take Frank Ntilikina out of France.

Ntilikina has excellent size for a point guard. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds. Ntilikina is a pass-first point guard with a high I.Q. He has developed a mid-range game and excellent floater, but is a really inconsistent shooter. Ntilikina also has great lateral quickness that makes him an elite defender.

All the skills are there for Ntilikina to become the franchise point guard the Bulls desperately need.

15: Denver Nuggets: John Collins Pf Wake Forest

Denver has a lot of young talent, and Collins is a bit of a project. If the Nuggets take a year or two to develop Collins, then he can become a valuable asset.

16: Milwaukee Bucks: Justin Patton C Creighton

There have been a lot of problems with Greg Monroe in Milwaukee. The Bucks have found a star in Giannis Antetokounmpo and need a big man inside to feed off of him. Justin Patton from Creighton can be that guy.

17: Detroit Pistons: Ivan Rabb C Cal

There have been swirling rumors that Andre Drummond was going to be traded just before the deadline. That still may happen in the offseason, and the Pistons need to prepare for that. Ivan Rabb would be a great fit with Stan Van Gundy.

18: Indiana Pacers: Luke Kennard SG Duke

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Kennard has been unbelievable in the second half of the season for Duke. Paul George is rumored to be on his way out of Indiana via trade or free agency in two years. Kennard may not become a franchise player, but will come into the NBA as a scoring machine.

19: Atlanta hawks: TJ Leaf PF UCLA

Drafting a power forward may not make sense with Paul Millsap around, but TJ Leaf is a bit of a project. Millsap will want to be on a contending team as his career unwinds. Everyone knows the Hawks are not winning a championship. Drafting Leaf now gives him time to develop until Millsap leaves.

20: Portland Trailblazers (Via Memphis): Justin Jackson SF North Carolina

Justin Jackson would be a great fit in Portland alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The two guards can focus on the scoring and Jackson can be the team’s wing defender. Jackson is capable of guarding multiple positions and would be a solid pick by the Trailblazers.

21: Oklahoma City: DILLON BROOKS SF OREGON

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports)

It is clear that Russell Westbrook needs help. He is an animal but can’t do it on his own. Dillon Brooks is one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball. Brooks is capable of being the second option to Westbrook and a true sidekick that Westbrook desperately needs.

22: TORONTO RAPTORS: DWAYNE BACON SF FLORIDA STATE

Toronto has one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Bacon can come in and be a solid rotation player allowing the Raptors to deepen their bench as they continue to chase a championship.

23: ORLANDO MAGIC (VIA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS): TYLER LYDON PF SYRACUSE

Orlando is a tough team to gauge and need a lot. Lydon would be a head-scratching pick, but something they would do. Lydon won’t become an All-Star but will be a solid rotation player in the NBA.

24: Brooklyn Nets (via Washington): JOSH HART SG VILLANOVA

2017 NBA Mock Draft

(Photo Credit: AP)

Brooklyn needs anything and everything and is nowhere close to being a good NBA team. Josh Hart could bring a culture change to the franchise. He is a leader and a winner and the Nets could use some of that in their locker room.

25: BROOKLYN NETS (VIA BOSTON): BAM ADEBAYO PF KENTUCKY

Adding Bam Adebayo to pair up with Hart could be the start of turning things around. They won’t win many games, but the rebuild has to start somewhere. Adebayo is a solid prospect with lots of potential.

26: UTAH JAZZ: CALEB SWANIGAN PF PURDUE

The Jazz are in as good of a position as the Celtics. They will finish as the fourth or fifth seed in the tough Western Conference and have two first-round draft picks. Swanigan can come right into the NBA and contribute off the bench.

27: PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (VIA CLEVELAND): RODIONS KURUCS SF LATVIA

Kurucs is a project and Portland can afford to draft a developmental player this late in the first round. Kurucs is versatile and can be a valuable scoring option in the NBA.

28: LOS ANGELES LAKERS (VIA HOUSTON): DONOVAN MITCHELL SG LOUISVILLE

2017 NBA Draft

(Photo Credit: By Pat McDonogh, The CJ)

The Lakers have youth on their side and drafting Mitchell will allow them to continue to build assets as trading blocks so that they can get superstars back in Hollywood. Mitchell is a solid shooting guard who can be a solid sixth man in the NBA.

29: UTAH JAZZ (VIA GOLDEN STATE): JOHNATHAN MOTLEY PF BAYLOR

Utah needs some frontcourt athleticism. Derrick Favors has only had one really productive season and looks to be on the decline. Motley’s offensive I.Q. makes him a perfect fit in Utah to be a solid role player on a solid playoff team.

30: SAN ANTONIO SPURS: THOMAS BRYANT C INDIANA

The Spurs are like the Patriots. They know what they are doing and you don’t question them. LaMarcus Aldridge’s future is in jeopardy due to health concerns. With Kawhi Leonard being a two-way star, the Spurs need a big man who can protect the paint.

 

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