In the era of the one and done, college basketball has become a game that is dominated by freshman each season who later become the top picks in the ensuing NBA draft. It seems that every year the freshman just keep getting better causing the one-and-done rule to seem extra. While these top players will make their name in the NBA, very few, have dominated the college game like the likes of an Anthony Davis or a Karl-Anthony Towns, where their teams were also the top in the country. Here’s a look at 10 guys that have a shot to make the same kind of noise the Wildcats’ alum had.
10. Nazreon Reid, PF/C, LSU, 6’10, 240lbs
Naz Reid is a Julius Randle clone, except further along than Randle was at this point. At 6’10, 240, Reid plays with a lot of power yet he thrives as a playmaker and someone who can grab a rebound and run the break. His passing instincts and vision are incredible and will make him a top-rated prospect during the 2019 NBA draft. With an improving jump-shot, Reid has a chance to make a run at the Wooden-award as a freshman. He is joining an imposing LSU team that was able to bring in three five-star recruits giving him the same chance to make a title run like the Jahlil Okafor-led Duke Blue Devils or the Anthony Davis-led Kentucky Wildcats. The only knock on him is that his motor isn’t always there and maturity issues cause him to get lost in some games (this was not the case with Randle). Assuming he can mature and learn how to not disappear, the skies the limit. He is that good, and putting him tenth here may end up being nine spots too high.
9. Moses Brown, C, UCLA, 7’1, 241lbs
If the 2018 NBA draft told us anything, it is certain that the center is not dead and very much alive. Five of the first seven picks were either power forwards or centers in a loaded draft class. This proves the theory that the Big Man is dead as a fallacy. At 7’1, Brown is a true center who thrives in the paint on both ends of the floor. He also has extremely quick feet for a man his size making his spin moves and drop steps on the block extremely difficult to guard. If he gets a clean catch on the post, which he usually does thanks to his ultra-soft hands, he is going to warrant a double team quite often. Fortunately for Moses, this is nothing new to him and he’s a great passer out of the post and also has a good enough handle to bail him out of bad situations. Defensively, he has great shot-blocking instincts uses that 7’4 wingspan to be able to help on all drivers. He also uses that wingspan to gobble rebounds on both ends of the floor which is another one of his elite strengths. His weakness is very clear, shooting. His mechanics seem broke and they may not be fixed, but if he can find a way to improve even more from six feet and in, he can have a Greg Oden type effect.
8. Louis King, SF/PF, Oregon, 6’7, 204lbs
Louis King is the type of prospect that has NBA scouts drooling. At 6’7 with a 7’0 wingspan, King will be able to thrive as a big strong wing, or an athletic stretch four. These traits will translate to the NBA very smoothly and he is a perfect fit for today’s smaller game. With a deadly stroke from behind the arc along with a silky-smooth midrange pull-up jumper, King comes in the mold of a Harrison Barnes. He is certainly athletic, however, like Barnes, he’d rather be smooth than explosive. This is not a downside in any way. Have you seen Jayson Tatum? His only glaring weakness right now is he is not someone who’s going to break you down on offense and he’s going to need to get stronger to play combo forward role. With that said, he is oozing with NBA potential, and he and fellow Oregon recruit Bol Bol to have a serious chance to lead Oregon back to the final four. If that happens, don’t be surprised when they are both top five picks.
7. Jaylen Smith, PF, Maryland, 6’9, 195lbs
At 6’9, with a 7’1 wingspan, Smith was born into a perfect NBA body. Smith’s rare combination of athleticism, size, and natural feel will also have NBA scouts drooling. Although 195 seems small, Smith has extremely broad shoulders and the rest of his body will fill out after going through the college weight training program. Offensively he’s a versatile big man who rolls and can catch a lob or pop out and drain a three; the perfect player for the modern NBA. Smith has learned to not shy away from contact on the offensive end which has expanded his game to new heights. Defensively, he is going to need to prove that he can guard smaller more athletic fours and also bruising centers. If he can add these traits along with some strength, he will certainly be a lottery pick and bright future in the NBA.
6. Romeo Langford, SG/SF, Indiana, 6’6, 195lbs
Langford is one of the most gifted scorers of the 2018 class and is going to make a name for himself with the Hoosiers. With good size including a 6’10 wingspan, Langford thrives in all phases of scoring. He will break you down and attack the basket. He will break you down and pull-up in your phase and he is also a really intelligent cutter who finds a million different ways to get buckets in the paint. He also thrives off of contact and is always looking for ways to get himself to the line using an array of jab-steps similar to the once great Carmelo Anthony. His shooting stroke is far from broke, but his three-point shot has remained highly inconsistent. If he can figure out this aspect of his game, he will be a lock for the top five in the NBA draft, and he will also have a chance to lead the NCAA in scoring as a freshman. Defensively, he has the size to guard bigger wings and agility to move laterally with quicker wings but he is going need to fully commit on that end if he wants to be that top five pick.
5. Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina, 6’7, 215
Another combo forward, Nassir Little is probably the most athletic player in the 2018 class. He’s got a great size and that 7’1 wingspan that gives him versatility on both ends of the floor. His shooting has made great strides and he’s lethal when in rythm off the dribble as well as off the catch in both the mid-range and behind the arc. His shooting is his secondary trait, however, as he loves and thrives off of toughness and physicality. Defensively, he’s got the ability to guard wings and smaller fours which will be an important trait when he enters the NBA. In college expect him to play more on the wing as coach Roy Williams loves to play big and attack the glass. His handle still needs some work, and he could add more consistency to his jumper. If he does both of those things, skies the limit as he is as gifted as an athlete as they come.
4. Bol Bol, C, Oregon, 7’2, 220lbs
The other half of the elite Oregon recruiting class, Bol Bol has all the tools and even the charisma to be the next Joel Embiid. His 7’8 wingspan is going to be a force in college and the NBA, not to mention he can run like a wing. Offensively, his greatest strength is his three ball, other than catching Capela like lobs. During his time in EYBL, he shot a whopping 43 percent from three and 82 percent from the free throw line, where he gets often. He is a force of nature and will look unguardable at the collegiate level. He’s a solid passer but he is going to need to improve a lot in this area because he might see the most double teams in all of college basketball. Defensively, he guards the rim with ease and will only need to work on his IQ on this side. Three blocks a game should come rather easily to him. The only weakness he possesses and his biggest difference from Embiid is that he is looking to avoid contact rather than enforcing it. If he can learn to embrace contact and find a consistent motor, he can be the number pick of the 2019 NBA draft and a perennial all-star at the NBA level for years to come.
3. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke, 6’7, 203lbs
The big-three idea has become very popular in the NBA. This year, it will be making an appearance in college basketball as the top three recruits listed on ESPN’s Top 100 recruits will all be attending Duke. At 6’7, weighing over 200lbs plus a 7’1 wingspan, Reddish is gifted with an incredible basketball body. Reddish doesn’t just have the body, there is almost nothing he can’t do on a basketball court. He has elite guard skills with an elite handle, and ability to make plays in the open floor along with using on-ball screens. He’s a talented cutter who can also get open with ease reading off-ball screens. Defensively, his body-type allows him to cover one through four with great versatility. This guy was also built for the NBA, but he’s going to be so good that he will dominate at the college level as well. While his handle is unbelievable for his size, he has to learn to not over dribble which should be easy at Duke considering they are loaded with stars everywhere you look. His versatility is undeniable and with the ability to create his own shot on one end and lock down on four different positions on the other side will make him a top pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
2. RJ Barrett, SF, Duke, 6’7, 200lbs
The second of the three-headed monster that Duke is bringing in this year, RJ Barrett has all the makings of a star. With great size and elite athleticism, Barrett gets buckets driving the lane with ease. He will go over you or around you and finish in a way that looks almost impossible, and he does it with such ease. He also has incredible body control allowing him to use an array of impressive floaters if the lane is clogged. In transition, he plays the way an NBA all-star wing plays and simply can’t be stopped when he is coming at you full speed thanks to his impressive handle and instincts. Like Reddish, Barret has an advanced IQ and knows how to move off the ball extremely effectively. This results in either open space for him, and wide open shot for someone else as the defensive attention will always be dialed in on him. Defensively, he uses his athleticism to shut down anyone on the ball. He also has great instincts on this side of the ball as well and does a terrific job of reading passing lanes and turning steals into a one-man fast-break. His motor is certainly there and there just aren’t a lot of things he can not do on the hardwood. His shooting is fine, but if he can develop fine into great, you’re looking a top 10 NBA player for years to come and the likely number one overall pick next year.
1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke, 6’6, 272lbs
Williamson is his a one-of-a-kind type of talent that plays the game with such force and explosive athleticism that the college game has never seen. While at a unique size of 6’6 but weighing 272, Williamson attacks the basket like a truck. Except he also has the most explosive vertical of the 2018 class, making him an and-one machine. He is also a great rebounder with an impressive handle for someone that size and is a one-man fast break every single time he gets a rebound. Something we have not seen since Lebron James‘ St. Vincent-St. Mary’s days. He has mastered his layup attempts along with understanding angles and how to attack weaker defenders. His unorthodox size and game make him an intriguing NBA prospect, but considering he is best suited as a playmaking four or even five, it will be interesting to see if he can hang with the like of a 7’3 Kristaps Porzingis. This won’t matter at the collegiate level and there will not be one player that will be able to guard Williamson or contain him from getting into the lane. Defensively, his Jordan-like leaping ability will allow him to be on of the nations top shot-blockers even though he stands just 6’6. Incredible to think about but this kid is his own player-type. His jumper is going to have to improve for NBA scouts to believe the hype. It would be fair to say that it would be disappointing if the Blue Devils are not cutting down the nets in April. This is arguably the best recruiting class any coach has ever taken on. This is going to be fun. De