2018 NBA mock draft April 6

The college basketball season is now over and prospects are looking forward to the draft. Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft April 6.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by uproxx.com)

1. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Ayton has said it would be cool to play with Devin Booker and how good of a one-two punch it would be. The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

2. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 39.7%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

3. Atlanta Hawks- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Dennis Schroeder is the best thing the Hawks have going for them and they need to find players on the interior to help him out. Bamba will be able to defend the paint, as he averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has been compared to Rudy Gobert, with his good defense, and he’ll have to develop his offensive game.

4. Orlando Magic- Luka Doncic, G, Spain

Doncic has the size of a wing player in the NBA but actually plays on-ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three-point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. The Magic need good guard play and have a void after trading Elfrid Payton.

5. Dallas Mavericks- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri

The Mavs have guards and wings and now need some bigger players for the future. Dirk Nowitzki is the only really productive big on the roster and will be gone in a few years. Porter can play the three or the four for the Mavs. He came back from his back injury and was rusty, but showed flashes of why he was rated so highly coming out of high school.

6. Sacramento Kings- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

Zach Randolph is the leading scorer on the Kings and is playing out his last few NBA years. By selecting Jackson, the Kings could replace Randolph and add another young player with potential to the starting lineup. Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also is a good rim protector.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Well, LeBron James has already talked about how good Trae Young is. The Cavs just got George Hill, but he is aging and could help develop Young. They can also play Young off-ball. Young brought life to college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggled on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

8. Chicago Bulls- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

Bridges will walk in the door as a legitimate “3 and D” prospect but has a chance to develop into much more. He’s got good length but does need to add some more strength. The Bulls have some good guard play and Lauri Markkanen but could use a solid wing defender.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

Collin Sexton (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

9. New York Knicks- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

The Knicks selected Frank Nitilikina last year and traded for Emmanuel Mudiay, but neither have been great. They’ll need a legitimate point guard if they are ever going to compete. Sexton is one of the best players available, who is able to drive and distribute the ball well.

10. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Knox, SF/PF, Kentucky

Knox is still deciding whether he will enter his name into the draft, but if he does, he is a lottery pick. The 76ers don’t have too many needs and can elect to take a player like Knox, who can be a key role player before potentially breaking into stardom.

11. Charlotte Hornets- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could complement the two key pieces the Hornets do have in Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard.

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Will DeAndre Jordan be with the Clippers much longer? He says he wants to be there, but they are rebuilding. Carter would present good value here and could play next to Jordan if the Clippers decide to keep him.

13. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke

Denver has some good young players at almost every position and can take the best player available. Trent can provide even more shooting to a team that ranks fifth in the NBA in three-point percentage.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly but need a point guard of the future.

15. Phoenix Suns- Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, USA

Simons has created some buzz after deciding to declare for the NBA Draft out of prep school. He can shoot and get to the basket well. The Suns will need a better point guard than Payton for the future.

16. Phoenix Suns- Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

He hasn’t produced a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential, making him worthy of consideration here. The Suns can fill a few different needs with their first-round picks.

17. Washington Wizards- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Williams displayed what he is capable of in the NCAA Tournament. He has great athleticism for a big but doesn’t have the best motor. The Wizards need an inside player for John Wall and Bradley Beal to play off of.

2018 NBA mock draft April 6

Zhaire Smith (Photo by aol.com)

18. Atlanta Hawks- Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

In the NCAA Tournament, Smith electrified the crowd with his dunks, but he can also hit the three-point shot at a high percentage of 45%.

19. Utah Jazz- Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Jazz have some young pieces but could use another wing player. They can also afford to have a draft and stash if Musa fits that bill.

20.  Chicago Bulls- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter doesn’t get as much publicity as his brother but had a solid season at Missouri. They got a wing with their first pick and can now get some depth for the frontcourt.

21. San Antonio Spurs- Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

The Spurs will need better guard play with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili winding down their careers. Brown is a tall, athletic guard, but doesn’t shoot well from three-point range.

22. Indiana Pacers- Khyri Thomas, PG/SG, Creighton 

Indiana needs a point guard to add to Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner.

23. Philadelphia 76ers- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson sat out this year to prepare for the draft after initially signing with Western Kentucky. The 76ers had depth at center for years when they were “trusting the process”, but now need to find someone behind Joel Embiid.

24. Minnesota Timberwolves- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Minnesota is 19th in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage and Allen can help them off the bench in that category.

2018 NBA Mock draft april 6

Caleb Martin (Photo by Nevadaapeal.com)

25. Los Angeles Lakers- Caleb Martin, SG/SF, Nevada

Martin played well at Nevada this season and the Lakers could use more wing players.

26. Portland Trail Blazers- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

The Trail Blazers don’t have a lot of size and can get McCoy and help him develop.

27. Boston Celtics- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Boston should be better next year with all their players healthy, but don’t have many young bigs.

28. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

Carr broke through this season and now has a chance to be drafted in the first round. He is a big guard, who can shoot and take over for Shaun Livingston.

29. Brooklyn Nets- Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

The Nets need to acquire more talent but are stuck with the second to last pick in the first round. Wagner presents good value and could help fill their need of an interior player.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Brunson won multiple Player of the Year awards. He is fundamentally sound and uses that to his advantage.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft March 7

March Madness is quickly approaching, which has given NBA personnel almost a whole season to look at prospects. While the prospects have been playing, they also have been jockeying for position on NBA Draft boards. Here is the latest 2018 NBA mock draft.

1. Memphis Grizzlies- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Not too many mock drafts have Bagley going this high, but he should be considered for number one overall. The biggest mistake teams make when picking this high is to reach and fill a need. The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 34%. While there have been some strains in the relationship between Marc Gasol and the organization, he should be on the team next season making Bagley fit in nicely next to him on the floor.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

DeAndre Ayton (Photo by sportingnews.com)

2. Phoenix Suns- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

The Suns have a nice crop of young wing players in Devin Booker and Josh Jackson, but they lack an inside presence. Ayton would give them that presence and then some. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

3. Dallas Mavericks- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State

Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. He also is a good rim protector. Dallas just drafted Dennis Smith Jr. to fill their need at point guard and need to pair him with a young big for the future.

4. Sacremento Kings- Michael Porter Jr., SF/PF, Missouri

Porter has been injured since Missouri’s first game and had to have surgery on his spine. That is a serious injury, but Porter was a highly-coveted recruit and has the ability to play point forward. The Kings could bolster their lineup to include: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Porter, Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein.

5. Atlanta Hawks- Luka Doncic, SG/SF, Spain

The Hawks just need to acquire talent on their roster in any way possible. Doncic projects as a wing player in the NBA, but actually plays on ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Well LeBron James has already talked about how good Trae Young is. The Cavs just got George Hill, but he is aging and could help develop Young. They can also play Young off-ball. Young has been the best player in college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggles on defense, but the offense should make up for it.

7. Orlando Magic- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

The Magic trade Elfrid Payton to the Suns and need a new point guard of the future. Sexton is one of the best players available, who is able to drive and distribute the ball well.

8. Chicago Bulls- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

The Bulls have struck gold with Lauri Markkanen and now need to give him more support. While Markkanen is an offensive big, Bamba will be able to defend the paint. Bamba averages 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He has had a lingering toe injury, but should be perfectly fine by the time the daft rolls around.

9. New York Knicks- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

Knox is a big small forward that can shoot, but is inconsistent. The Knicks have decent guards, big men and a star in Porzingis, but need a small forward who can score.

10. Charlotte Hornets- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Wendell has been a very solid player, who sometimes gets overshadowed by Bagley. He has limited athletic ability, but he is very effective. Carter even shoots the three at a solid clip of 46%. Charlotte has drafted a lot of wing players, but could focus on the interior here.

11. Philadelphia 76ers- Miles Bridges, SG/SF, Michigan State

Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body. He can shoot and drive and could feed off of Ben Simmons’ passing.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (photo by aseaofblue.com)

12. Los Angeles Clippers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

He is a lanky point guard, who has a long wingspan, which helps him play good defense. SGA will need to work on his shooting and add some weight, but the length will get him selected early. The Clippers have Partick Beverly, but need a point guard of the future.

13. Utah Jazz- Mikal Bridges, SG/SF, Villanova

The Jazz’s roster changed with the NBA Trade Deadline and could use a young wing. Bridges can shoot and play defense, which at least makes him a good three and D prospect.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

The Clippers just traded away Blake Griffin and may want to replace him at power forward. Williams hasn’t had a very productive year at Texas A&M, but he is talented. His motor has been questioned, but if the Clippers get the most out of him he can be a good player.

15. Phoenix Suns- Tony Carr, PG/SG, Penn State

Not too many people are as high on Tony Carr, but the sophomore can play. He scores and distributes the ball well, but also can stretch the defense with his 46% on three point shots. Carr also has great size at 6’5″ and can fill a need for the Suns.

16. Milwaukee Bucks- Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State

Thon Maker isn’t developing as planned, so the Bucks may elect to go with another big. Yurtseven is 7’0″ and has taken a huge step forward this season for the Wolfpack.

17. Philadelphia 76ers- Lonnie Walker, PG/SG, Miami

With Markelle Fultz’s status being up in the air, the 76ers might want to get a player who can play both guard spots. He hasn’t produced a lot in his freshman year at Miami, but shows flashes of potential.

18. Denver Nuggets- Gary Trent Jr., SG/SF, Duke

The Nuggets have a few good young pieces and just need to keep adding quality players and maybe snag a key free agent. Trent is a good shooter, but needs to work on his defense.

19. Washington Wizards- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson is a former five star prospect who chose to attend Western Kentucky, but it didn’t work out. He has since been preparing for the NBA Draft. If the Wizards can acquire a good interior player, they can compete even more in the Eastern Conference

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Landry Shamet (Photo by draftexpress.com)

20. Minnesota Timberwolves- Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

The Timberwolves have Jeff Teague, but might want another option in a few years. Landry Shamet  is another lanky point guard which should help him on defense at the NBA level.

21. Indiana Pacers- Khyri Thomas, PG, Creigthon

Thomas has gotten better every year at Creighton and shoots the three a nice clip of 43%, but needs to work on his passing. The Pacers don’t have a great point guard on the roster and can develop Thomas.

22. San Antonio Spurs- Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Musa is 18 and only averages 10.5 points per game in Europe, but could be a good draft and stash if he develops. Given the Spurs nature to use the draft and stash effectively, this could be their pick.

23. Atlanta Hawks- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

Diallo is athletic enough to play in the NBA, but struggles shooting the ball and on defense.

24. Los Angeles Lakers- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

The Lakers are going to try to make a splash in free agency. Taking Allen would give them a role player who can shoot the ball and bring energy off the bench.

25. Chicago Bulls- Troy Brown, SG, Oregon

The Bulls can use this pick to develop a wing player. Brown is an athletic wing, who needs to develop his outside shot more.

26. Portland Trail Blazers- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Metu has developed an outside shot this year and can benefit from playing with Portland’s talented guards.

27. Boston Celtics- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

Boston can use a developmental big to pair with a bunch of their young players.

2018 NBA mock draft March 7

Daniel Gafford (Photo by arkansasonline.com)

28. Brooklyn Nets- Daniel Gafford, C, Arkansas

With 12 points and six rebounds per game, Gafford has had a good freshman season for the Razorbacks. The Nets are thin on the inside.

29. Golden State Warrios- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Shaun Livingston can’t play forever and more depth is needed at point guard for the Warriors.

30. Atlanta Hawks- Jontay Porter, PF/C, Missouri

Porter has had a good freshman season at Missouri with the absence of his brother. The Hawks already have drafted two back court players in this mock, so will need to get more depth on the interior.

 

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2018 NBA mock draft February 3

+-The NBA season is over the halfway point, which means the “tanking” will intensify. There are some good prospects that many teams will covet in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the 2018 NBA mock draft February 3:

1. Atlanta Hawks- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Not too many mock drafts have Bagley going this high, but he is the best player in the class. The biggest mistake teams make when picking this high is to reach and fill a need. Atlanta needs talented players more than anything and Bagley would provide that. The 6’11” big man is athletic and can do everything on a basketball court, which includes shooting from deep at 34%.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Luka Doncic (Photo by youtube.com)

2. Orlando Magic- Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia

Doncic projects as a wing player in the NBA, but actually plays on ball a lot for Real Madrid. He stands 6’6″ and is an excellent passer and playmaker. His three point shooting has gone down over the last few years, so Doncic will have to work on that. Orlando lucks out in that they are getting a really good player and they have a need for perimeter players.

3. Dallas Mavericks- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

With their selection of Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks have a pretty well fit out backcourt. They need some good players on the interior. Ayton is a well-built and athletic big. He is a great rebounder, who often comes up with the ball with plenty of players around him.

4. Sacremento Kings- Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

Porter has been injured since Missouri’s first game and had to have surgery on his spine. That is a serious injury, but Porter was a highly-coveted recruit and has the ability to play point forward. The Kings could bolster their lineup to include: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Porter, Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein.

5. Phoenix Suns- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Young has been the best player in college basketball with his electrifying play. He drives, passes and shoots like Steph Curry, but does turn the ball over too much. He also has struggles on defense, but the offense should make up for it. The Suns need a point guard to replace Eric Bledsoe and to feed the ball to Devin Booker.

6. Chicago Bulls- Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

The Bulls have struck gold with Lauri Markkanen and now need to give him more support. With the selection of Knox, Chicago can go small with Knox at the four and Markkanen at the five or play a big man and play them at the three and four. Knox has heated up as of late with some clutch shooting and will soon see his name rise on draft boards

7. Memphis Grizzlies- Jaren Jackson, PF, Michigan State

Jackson has been a monster on the inside for Michigan State this season. Per 40 minutes, he is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies can pair him and Marc Gasol together on the inside, if Gasol stays in Memphis.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers- Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Cleveland needs more players who are willing to accept their roles and be worth the paycheck. Bamba will be great for defense and rebounding, much like Tristen Thompson should be. He will provide very little on the offensive side of the ball other than dunks.

9. Philadelphia 76ers- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Is it too early to give up on Markelle Fultz? Who knows, but his jump shot isn’t looking too much better. Either way, Sexton is a great player that can get to the basket and distribute the ball.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Mikal Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

10. Charlotte Hornets-Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova

Bridges is one of the most improved players in college basketball this season. He is shooting 43% from deep on the season and provides some good athleticism. The Hornets really need to find out what they are doing with Kemba Walker before taking this pick, as he is seemingly on the trade block every year.

11. Utah Jazz- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

The Jazz hit on Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft, which means they are set on wing players. They also have Rudy Gobert in the middle. Taking Gilgeous-Alexander to groom behind Rubio wouldn’t be a bad idea. He is a lanky point guard, who plays great defense.

12. New York Knicks- Wendell Carter, PF/C, Duke

Wendell has been a very solid player, who sometimes gets overshadowed by Bagley. He has limited athletic ability, but he is very effective. Carter even shoots the three at a solid clip of 46%. While the Knicks do have Porzingis, he and Carter are versatile enough to play on the court at the same time.

13. Los Angeles Clippers- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

The Clippers just traded away Blake Griffin and may want to replace him at power forward. Williams hasn’t had a very productive year at Texas A&M, but he is talented.

14. Los Angeles Clippers- Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

With the Clippers having an extra pick due to the Griffin trade they can also improve their perimeter players. Bridges is an athletic wing who already has an NBA body.

15. Philadelphia 76ers- Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State

With the earlier pick going to the backcourt, this pick needs to be used on frontcourt depth. Yurtseven is 7’0″ and has taken a huge step forward this season for the Wolfpack.

16. Denver Nuggets- Jared Vanderbilt, SF, Kentucky

Vanderbilt has been out most of the year with an injury, but has come on strong for Kentucky. He is long, which helps him rebound well, but needs to shoot better. The Nuggets can slowly bring him on to fill out the starting lineup.

17. Chicago Bulls- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

The Bulls got Knox with their first pick, who can play the three or four, so they now select the super athletic shooting guard. Diallo may be the most athletic in the class and can get to the basket with his strong drives.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Mitchell Robinson (Photo by sportingnews.com)

18. Milwaukee Bucks- Mitchell Robinson, C, USA

Robinson had intended to go to Western Kentucky, but then dropped out of school to prepare for the NBA draft. The Bucks need more inside depth.

19. Indiana Pacers- Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Indiana could use some backcourt depth and Walker is really starting to come on for the Hurricanes. Both he and Victor Oladipo are versatile, meaning they can play on the court at the same time if need be.

20. Washington Wizards- Brandon McCoy, C, UNLV

McCoy can provide the Wizards with some much needed front court depth and also be a good developmental player.

21. Phoenix Suns- Bruno Fernando, PF/C, Maryland

The Suns picked Josh Jackson last year and Trae Young with the first pick in this mock. They can get a big here to help fill out the roster.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Chimezie Metu, PF/C, USC

Metu has progressed every year in college and has even developed an outside shot this season.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Landry Shamet, PG, Wichita State

Minnesota gets a good defender and a point guard that can learn for a few seasons before challenging for starting minutes.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Dznan Musa, SF, Bosnia and Herzogovina 

The Hawks get their star rookie with the first pick in Bagley and can afford to select a possible draft and stash this one.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers- Trevon Duval, PG, Duke

Duval has played well at Duke and can develop into a good pro. Cleveland’s point guard situation can get a little bit murky after the season.

26. San Antonio Spurs- Troy Brown, G, Oregon

Brown is an athletic wing who needs to develop his outside shot more. Fortunately for him the Spurs are successful at teaching players how to shoot better.

2018 NBA Mock Draft February 3

Alize Johnson (Photo by si.com)

27. Brooklyn Nets- Alize Johnson, PF, Missouri State

The Nets acquired Jahlil Okafor, but still need some more production from the inside.

28. Boston Celtics- Grayson Allen, SG, Duke

Allen can shoot, which will be good for the Celtics’ bench next season.

29. Atlanta Hawks- Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona

In this mock draft the Hawks have drafted Bagley, a possible draft and stash wing and now get a perimeter scorer.

30. Golden State Warriors- Tony Carr, PG, Penn State

The Warriors will likely need to replenish their guard depth this offseason and Carr has been a star for Penn State.

 

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College basketball preseason top 25: 10-6

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? This is the fourth installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 15-11, click here.

10. USC Trojans

College basketball preseason top 25

Bennie Boatwright (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Andy Enfield has built a team that constantly improves year to year at USC. Last season they made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before getting knocked out. With NBA-level talent returning to L.A., the Trojans should be able to take another step forward this season.

Bennie Boatwright is one such player that could have gone pro after last season. Boatwright can do a little big of everything at 6’10” tall, from stretching the floor to getting to the basket. The other NBA-level talent who decided to stay a Trojan for another year is Chimezie Metu. Metu plays above the rim with his dunks and blocks. He also specializes in rebounds. With these two in the game together, there may not be too many better frontcourts in the country. Nick Rakocevic got some playing time last year and will come off the bench once again. For more depth USC will need some other players to fill in.

Jordan McLaughin is back to run the offense at the point. He sets up his teammates well and can also score on his own. He is the Trojans’ best three point shooter out of players who normally shoot them. Elijah Stewart is back for his senior season as well and provides a good athlete and a decent, yet inconsistent shooter. There will be plenty of players vying for whatever minutes are left over. Shaqquan Aaron, Jonah Matthews and De’Anthony Melton all return after playing over 20 minutes per game last season. Joining the backcourt is Charles O’Bannon Jr. and Jordan Usher as freshman. Former Duke point guard Derryck Thornton also joins the team and will be a good player off of the bench.

The Trojans have grown each year and didn’t lose any key pieces from last year’s team. Sweet 16 should be the expectation, but the Trojans can do even better than that if they live up to their potential.

9. North Carolina Tar heels

College basketball preseason top 25

Joel Berry (Photo by ncaa.com)

The reigning national champions should be competitive yet again. Roy Williams put together a good recruiting class and has enough returning talent to make another run in March.

The frontcourt will need the most work to make this team successful. Luke Maye returns after being a hero in the NCAA Tournament against Kentucky. He can rebound and shoot well, but needs to defend better. Garrison Brooks, a freshman, is regarded as a solid inside player that will likely start for UNC. Outside of these two the Tar Heels have other freshman who need time to get better. Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley both have potential and will need to fill key minutes for UNC.

Joel Berry II is back for his senior season, which is the main reason why UNC is ranked this highly. He can shoot, drive and dish to teammates extremely well. He will need to be a leader on this young Tar Heel team. Unfortunately he is out for about a month after losing in a video game to Theo Pinson. Pinson is back to provide great defense and athleticism, but should rely on getting to the basket on offense. Kenny Williams and Seventh Woods return and will need to play well in Berry’s absence. Cameron Johnson transfers in from Pitt and will shoot lights out. Jalek Felton, Raymond Felton’s nephew, will also join the fold this season.

The Tar Heels have a lot to prove without Berry in the first month of the season, but it could help the development of the other players who need to step up. With Berry UNC can play with anybody.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

College basketball preseason top 25

Bonzie Colson (Photo by indystar.com)

Notre Dame did lose Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachum, but have had to deal with losing key players before and they still produce. Mike Brey has a lot of talent coming back, including one of college basketball’s best players. If his players can improve year to year like they usually do, Notre Dame will be one of the best teams in basketball.

Bonzie Colson is a double-double machine, who is one of the best in basketball despite his size of 6’5″. He attacks the glass with ferocity to get rebounds and has clever moves to get his shot up over taller defenders. Colson can even step out and knock down shots from the perimeter, making him a tough matchup. The Fighting Irish run a four out, one in system, so Colson will eat up a lot of minutes on the inside. To give him breathers, Elijah Burns, Martinas Geben, John Mooney and Austin Torres will have to fight among themselves for the minutes.

Matt Farrell was one of the most improved players in the country last season and runs the Fighting Irish offense perfectly. He is a threat to score, but feeds the post and shooters well. With him and Colson as a one-two punch the Fighting Irish are sitting pretty. In addition to those two, Rex Pflueger can knock down perimeter shots and defend well. T.J. Gibbs, whose brothers starred in college basketball, will also be asked to step up. Gibbs is the best athlete on the perimeter for Notre Dame. Nickola Djogo and D.J. Harvey, who are both freshman, are going to need to take up some minutes and be productive.

If Farrell and Colson can get some support, this team is capable of going deep into March Madness.

7. Wichita State Shockers

College basketball preseason top 25

Markis McDuffie (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Wichita State is joining the American Athletic Conference this year to see an increase in competition. The Shockers are the best team in the conference and have all of the key parts from a young team that made the second round of the NCAA Tournament back for another year.

Shaq Morris is productive down low and effective when he is on the court. He is the Shockers’ best post player. Markis McDuffie thought about going to the NBA, but returned for his junior season. McDufie does a lot for the Shockers, from being the leading scorer to defending well to being the leading rebounder on the team. He is a star and will improve again this season. Darral Willis Jr., Rauno Nurger and Zach Brown all return after logging at least 10 minutes per game last season. They are good role players that will complement the stars on the team.

Landry Shamet proved to be a good point guard in his freshman season and will be even better once he returns from foot surgery. He has great length for defending and can knock down three point shots. Another three point shooter returns in Connor Frankamp. Frankamp is a three point specialist who knocked down 44% of his three point shots last season. Austin Reeves is the only backup who logged more than 10 minutes per game from the guard position last season. He, C.J. Keyser and JUCO transfer Samajae Haynes-Jones are going to need to step up to provide good depth.

The Shockers are in store for a big season. Not only should they win their new conference, but they should also be competitors on the national level.

6. West Virginia Mountaineers

College basketball preseason top 25

Jevon Carter (Photo by zimbio.com)

West Virginia made the Sweet 16 last season and have a few key players that should be able to lead them beyond this mark this season. Bob Huggins is a Hall of Fame coach who can lean on his returning players to make it far in the NCAA Tournament this year, and maybe beat out Kansas in the Big 12.

Esa Ahmad is a good wing player that can shoot and has great length, which is perfect for West Virginia’s press. He averaged 11.3 points per game last season and should see an expanded scoring role. Sagaba Konate is in store for an increased role, but he will be more of an inside presence focused on rebounding and blocking shots. The offense will come, but with a main focus on those two traits, it will fit West Virginia nicely. Lamont West got significant playing time as a freshman and can shoot from the perimeter, but needs to help in the rebounding department more. Maciej Bender saw less minutes than West, but is a similar player. Wes Harris is a JUCO transfer that will make his way into the rotation early with his athleticism.

The two stars of the team are Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles. The seniors lead one of, if not the best backcourts in the country. Carter runs the point, scores and plays stifling defense. He is the leading returning scorer with 13.5 points per game. Daxter Miles has averaged just 8.5 points throughout his career at West Virginia, but has a bigger impact than that. He is very athletic and is also a great defender in West Virginia’s press. Depth is a question, but James Bolden, D’Angelo Hunter or Brandon Knapper should be able to step in for the few minutes that Miles and Carter leave behind.

West Virginia lost five players who averaged at least four points a game, but return some stars who will be aided by newcomers. Their press will once again be strong and the Mountaineers are looking at a great chance to make an elite eight.

 

For teams 5-1, click here.

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