The Champions Classic is a two game event in its sixth year. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State are paired up and play each other on a rotating basis every year. The event is littered with NBA Draft prospects due to the caliber of teams competing. This year is no different and some of these players will hear their names called early in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Game One: Kentucky vs. Michigan State, 7 P.M.
1. Miles Bridges, G/F, Michigan State
Bridges got of to a stellar start in his college career in a big game against Arizona. He totaled 21 points, seven rebounds and and two assists. The scoring ability is apparent, but Bridges needs to work on a few facets of his game. He only hit one three on six attempts and had four turnovers to add insult to injury. Kentucky could throw a number of defenders at Bridges. If the Wildcats use Derek Willis to defend Bridges, he should be able to blow right by him and get to the rim. Kentucky goes small with three guards, so they may use Isaiah Briscoe to guard Bridges. He is a great on-ball defender. The advantage Bridges has here is his size. At 6’7″ he should be able to shoot over Briscoe or back him down in the post. Either way his match-up will be favorable.
2. Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky
It doesn’t take an NBA scout to see that Adebayo has one of the most NBA-ready bodies in the freshmen class. He has better size than Dwight Howard did when he entered his name into the NBA draft (Bam is 6’10” 260 pounds, Dwight was 6’10” 240 pounds). Adebayo could not really be list height or weight, but even if he isn’t, he is all muscle. He hasn’t had the best games so far, averaging 9.5 points and six rebounds per game. With Michigan State’s interior troubles (Gavin Schilling is injured and out), Adebayo should be able to show some good post moves and rebounding in this game.
3. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The choice between Fox and Monk for the last prospect in this game was tough, but Fox has had the more impressive start so far. If he keeps up his current stat line of 16.5 points per game and 7.5 assists per game he will be an All-American. He has also helped out in the rebounding department with four rebounds per game. His main asset is his speed, but he will have a tough match-up against a few different defenders on Michigan State.
Game 2: Duke vs. Kansas 9:30 P.M.
4. Josh Jackson, G/F, Kansas
Jackson is the best wing player in the freshmen class. He has the chance to be an elite defender. Getting to the rim is one of his strengths, but much like Bridges he needs to show he has a consistent outside shot to keep defenders honest. He only had nine points in Kansas’ first game Duke will likely put Matt Jones, their best on-ball wing defender, on Jackson. It won’t be an easy task, but if Jackson can succeed it would be impressive.
5. Grayson Allen, G, Duke
Duke will likely be without Marques Bolden, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, but they still have a lot of talented players to choose from. Allen is now a junior and has turned into a good college player, but still could improve his draft stock. He can play both point and shooting guard, which is increasingly important as the NBA moves to players who are more versatile. His shooting stroke is pure and he can drive really well (averaging over 20 points for the second consecutive year), but he has a few areas of his game he needs to improve. Those include cutting down on turnovers, making players around him better (roughly has a three to two assist to turnover ratio) and defense. There have been players drafted high in the NBA Draft with more problems than Allen.
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