By Josh Morgan, formerly of Hoopstuff. For site updates, follow @walterfootball.
Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke, Freshman
While Ingram may not have been the transcendent talent that Kevin Durant was at Texas, he showed flashes of why many compared him to the Oklahoma City Thunder star before the season began. Ingram's body is somewhat similar, though he is a few inches shorter than Durant, but he is in the same ball park length-wise, and this helps set him apart offensively.
Ingram can get his shot up over just about anyone on the perimeter, and he did so at a nice clip from beyond the three-point line, knocking down 41 percent of his attempts. He has a nice handle as well, getting to his spot to either pull up for a midrange jumper or get to the rim, where his length can make up for his slender frame, to finish. My biggest question about Ingram as a scorer is his free-throw shooting; 68 percent for someone with his ability is confusing. This is often a confidence issue though, so over time I can easily see this not being a factor, but it is something to look at.
Defensively, Ingram may not be a stopper, but that length and lateral quickness can help him keep his man in front. Ingram finished ninth in his conference in total blocks, seventh in defensive rebounds and averaged over a steal per game, so the production is there on this end of the floor as well.
Ingram is still far from a polished player at this stage in his development, making him all the more intriguing to me when he puts up the kind of production he did in the toughest conference in all of college basketball. Once he gets into a NBA weight-training program and fills out his frame, he has the kind of potential to meet those Durant comparisons and make a lot of money playing professional basketball.
Ben Simmons, SF, LSU, Freshman
Based purely on talent, Ben Simmons is the best player in this draft class. While he doesn't have a polished jump shot, which in all honesty may be kind as he only attempted three three-point shots all year and made just one, he can do everything else offensively. His play-making ability is his biggest asset, and it's been years since anyone has had a similar ability at his size to read a defense and make the best decision in finding the open man. I would not hesitate to run my offense through Simmons even if he is playing the three or four.
Simmons is dynamic with the ball in his hands, whether getting to the rim himself, where he can finish in a variety of ways; moving through traffic and over defenders at the rim, thanks to his size and length; or finding a teammate running with him. In the half court, he has a nice feel from the post, though he doesn't have a full repertoire of moves. He has a knack for deciphering how his man is playing him and countering off of that to score.
Simmons is also a very good offensive rebounder, finishing second in the SEC this season in this category. Overall, this may be the most underappreciated aspect of his game, as he led the conference in defensive and total rebounds and was seventh in the country per game.
Simmons isn't bad on the defensive end either - when he is fully engaged. He averaged nearly a block per game to go along with two steals - second in the conference - and those rebounding numbers. The advanced stats are there as well, finishing third in defensive win shares and seventh in defensive box plus/minus.
So why am I not ranking him first with all of this talent? It's simple to me; his attitude on and off the court keep him out. There were numerous times watching LSU play that Simmons seemed disinterested to say the least. I did not see the attacking, killer instinct one would expect from a player with his potentially game-changing ability. Then there's the whole issue of his school not making him eligible for the Wooden Award. Some may have seen this as a weak move on the school's part, but he made the choice to go to school when he could've gone overseas and played for money for one season as Emmanuel Mudiay and Brandon Jennings did successfully. Simmons needed to live up to his commitment both on the floor and in the classroom, and I simply don't believe he did that for Johnny Jones. Even with all of that said, Simmons won't have to worry about going to class on the NBA level, and with a team full of professionals, he can put all of his tremendous talents to use in helping whichever team lands him rebuild its program and get back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.
Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky, Freshman
Murray is the best all-around scorer in this draft class in my opinion. As a shooter, he is deadly from beyond the three-point line, knocking down 113 (40.8 percent) three-pointers, the eighth-most in the country. What makes him the best though is his ability to play off of his shooting ability by putting the ball on the floor and attacking. He is nearly unstoppable when he has a head of steam, putting his defender on skates and making a variety of shots. Murray can pull up from the midrange when defenders fall too far back or beat his man and gett to the rim to finishing with his quickness.
It's fair to question whether or not he can be a lead guard if you only watched him this year at Kentucky since Tyler Ulis had to be on the floor, but anyone who watched Murray at the Pan-Am games last summer saw the ability he has to run a team, especially against Team USA. He finished with six assists and just two turnovers while leading Team Canada to 111 points and a victory over a team full of former and future NBA talent.
Defensively, Murray still has a ways to go, especially one on one, but he is an above-average rebounder for a guard - pulling down 5.2 a game last season - while adding a steal a game and nearly half a block as well. Let's be honest though, what sets Murray apart is his scoring ability, and it's astonishing how well-rounded he is in that facet of the game. There is one team that is in desperate need of guard play at the top of the lottery - the 76ers - and if they were to take a chance on Murray, it may raise some eyebrows, but in my view it would be the right pick for their future.
Henry Ellenson, PF/C, Marquette, Freshman
Ellenson may not have been on many college basketball fans' radars coming into the season because of a broken hand that forced him to miss many of the all-star games after his senior year of high school, but the Marquette Golden Eagles' power forward quickly became a household name for fans of other Big East conference schools. He is a versatile scorer at the four, with the ability to stretch out to the three-point line despite his percentage being pedestrian, at best, this year at 28.8 percent. His ability to put the ball on the floor may be the most intriguing part of his game though, as few would expect someone with his frame to have the handle he has, and his combination of shooting and driving ability make for a dangerous weapon on the offensive end at any level of the game.
Though Ellenson doesn't have a full repertoire of moves from the post, and really few players coming through the college ranks nowadays do, he has a nice feel from either block to score. He needs to get better at reading double teams and cutting his turnovers - 2.4 a game last season - but there is plenty to work with for the team that drafts him as an inside scorer.
Defensively, Ellenson doesn't have the bulk to bang inside too much, but he did average a block and a half per game this season and nearly pulled down 10 boards a game at 9.7. He could stand to be more efficient as a scorer but the best comparison I could come up with for him at the NBA level is Kevin Love with a handle, and that kind of talent is hard to pass up on for any team picking in the Nos. 3-5 range.
Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma, Senior
Murray's closest competition for the best scorer in this draft class, Hield took the country by storm this season. With almost Stephen Curry-type range on his jumper, Hield is nearly impossible to guard, especially in transition as he is deadly at running the wings and spotting up for threes. In fact, he shot an incredible 45 percent, good for seventh in the nation, from beyond the arc - in total of 322 attempts.
In the half court, Hield does a phenomenal job of getting open off of screens and can also create his own shot off the dribble, something that has drastically improved during his four seasons at Oklahoma. This rather new dimension to his game led to countless big-time performances, including his remarkable 40-point outburst against Kansas for one of the best games of the year in a season chock full of great ones. Now with that ability to go off the dribble, Hield is also able to get to the free-throw line more often. He had 70 more attempts in 2016 than the year before and nearly 70 more makes as well, shooting a conference-best 88 percent.
With the NBA going further and further down the three-point-shooting rabbit-hole, Hield is ready made for the new style of play we are seeing. There's no question he needs to clean up his turnovers - 3.1 a game - and his height - 6-foot-4 - may hurt him in some scouts' eyes at the two guard, though he does have good length with a 6-foot-8 wingspan. Still, Hield can come in on Day 1 of his career and improve any NBA team's offense with his shooting and should be a top 5-7 pick come the 2016 NBA Draft.
Kris Dunn, PG, Providence, Junior
The best point guard prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft, Dunn has finally answered any questions about his durability that teams may have had by tucking back-to-back Big East Player of the Year awards under his belt. At a well-built 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Dunn has great size for the position to go along with his measured 6-foot-9 wingspan. He pairs those physical gifts with a great first-step with the ball in his hands to get to the rim and finish. Thanks to that driving ability, Dunn spend a lot of time at the free throw line, shooting 5.5 a game over the past two seasons. He needs to improve his percentage there - 69 percent from a guard is underwhelming - but with time spent in the gym this could easily improve. There were questions about his jumper coming into this season, but he really improved his percentage from beyond the three-point line - 37 percent - while attempting 40 more shots from range than his redshirt sophomore year.
Dunn's ability to distribute the ball to an open teammate is unquestioned though with 6.8 assists a game over the past two seasons. He can be wild with the ball - 3.8 turnovers a game - but Providence didn't have anyone to take the pressure off of him as the primary play-maker. In the NBA, Dunn will hopefully have that second ball handler and more talent around him to take that pressure off of him.
Defensively, Dunn has the potential to be an elite player. He has huge hands and great anticipation to get in the passing lanes for steals, making nearly 2.5 a game over the last two seasons, and is an excellent rebounder for his position - 5.4 a game.
I still think there is some room for improvement from Dunn as a scorer, such as in the pick-and-roll game where he doesn't have much experience, or on the range on his jumper, as the college three-point line is about where the consistency on it ends. Still, he knows how to get his teammates involved and will defend the most important position on the floor in today's game. Dunn is a lock to go in the early lottery in my mind.
Dragan Bender, F, Croatia
This year's best international prospect, Bender brings the best of both worlds when it comes to playing both with finesse and physicality. Offensively, he is another versatile big man, possessing the ability to post up and knock down a variety of shots, including a fade away, or step out to the perimeter and hit a jumper. The jumper specifically has improved year by year and should continue to grow as he gets older.
Bender's versatility comes on both ends of the floor though, as he is able to battle down on the block when he is posted up by utilizing his surprising toughness for his frame, or he can switch out and guard perimeter players thanks to his lateral quickness and great size. Even with Bender's ability to guard them as his primary matchup for stretches, as seen against NBA draftee Alessandro Gentile most notably in games last fall in the United States.
Bender's minutes for Maccabi Tel Aviv have been chaotic at best this season though, and it may just be the European way of coaching the game, for lack of a better term since Tel Aviv is in Israel, but this is somewhat concerning at least to me. I still expect him to be a lottery talent, and I may have him ranked too low based on where he could potentially be drafted.
Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah, Sophomore
If this was the 1996 NBA Draft or even the 2006 NBA Draft, Poeltl could easily find himself in the top-five instead of the top-10 where I have him. He is the prototypical big man in the post, possessing phenomenal footwork to get to his spot and find a way to finish around the rim. He still needs to grow his all-around post game, but there is plenty of promise with his physical skills. Combining this footwork with excellent hands to catch and finish led Poeltl to end his Utes career shooting 65.9 percent.
In his sophomore season with Delon Wright in the NBA, Poeltl saw his point production nearly double, from 9.1 a game to 17.2, and he also doubled his free throw attempts and drastically improved his percentage from just 44 as a freshman to nearly 70 this season.
Offensively, there isn't much to complain about from Poeltl and whatever team decides to pull the trigger will be getting a player who can get easy buckets when needed. Defensively, he has the ability to help in multiple areas, such as using that footwork to hedge on guards in pick-and-roll situations, and is an above-average rebounder who also shows promise as a rim protector, having averaged 1.7 a game over his two seasons as a Ute. The biggest knock on Poeltl is his lack of upside or potential to grow into a star, but he will be a rock-solid selection for whatever franchise drafts him and could man the five spot on that team's roster for a decade.
Denzel Valentine, G/F, Michigan State, Senior
There may not be a more decorated or versatile player in the country than Valentine. This year's Big Ten, AP and NABC Player of the Year was a dominant force for the Spartans while averaging a near-triple-double and leading the conference in both points per game at 19.2 and assists at 7.8. The lattermost was good for fourth in the nation as well.
Valentine's game as a scorer is fairly versatile, but he excels as a shooter, particularly from beyond the three-point line. He hit over 40 percent of his three-point attempts over the past two seasons and this year knocked them down at a 44-percent clip - third in the conference. Valentine is also adept with the ball in his hands, either getting to a spot for a mid-range jumper or getting to the rim and finishing - shooting 46 percent from inside the arc. As that assists number attests to, he is also an excellent play-maker, and he is another non-traditional player who teams could run their offense through like former Spartan and current Golden State Warrior Draymond Green.
Whether it's in transition or, for Valentine especially, in the half court, he knows where to find the open man in a set play, or he can improvise and create an opportunity to score. The turnover numbers may be relatively high - seventh-most in the conference this year - but when you have the ball in your hands as often as Valentine does, turnovers will happen.
Defensively, there may be some question as to what position Valentine will guard at the next level; he doesn't have the elite quickness needed to cover the premier two guards and he doesn't have the size at 6-foot-6 - tops - or the length to cover small forwards. What Valentine will do though is out-work just about anyone he is tasked with covering and make their night as hard as it possibly could be. Valentine is the type of player every coach wants on their team and whatever franchise selects him will be ecstatic over adding him to its roster.
Jaylen Brown, F, California, Freshman
I get the love for Brown's game; he is a bull of a player with the ability to get wherever he want to with the ball in his hands thanks to his solid frame, good size for his position and rare quickness for said physical traits. Brown's athleticism is also high level as he finishes at the rim with power and has no trouble doing so through contact.
The biggest knock on him is his shooting, and though his percentage from beyond the arc did improve during conference play to 34 percent, he still only made one a game and just 30 for the entire season. With the pro game going the way it is, he will have to improve in this area to be able to reach his full potential at the NBA level, and this is the main reason I did not rank him higher.
Defensively, Brown has the tools to be a versatile player. He has the ability to guard at least three positions, and depending on who the opposing power forward is, he can even cover him as well thanks to all of his physical gifts. The ceiling is very high for Brown if he is able to find that jump shot and stay locked in at all times on the floor, as sometimes he seems to get lost or be too passive. That can let the game can go on without Brown having a big impact. A two-way player with his physical gifts is like gold in today's NBA of specialized talent.
Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, Gonzaga, Sophomore
Sabonis took advantage of an unfortunate injury to Przemek Karnowski this season and put together his most productive year in college, leading the Bulldogs to a Sweet Sixteen bid. Sabonis' points per game nearly doubled from 9.7 to 17.6, and his rebounding numbers jumped as well, from 7.1 to 11.8, which is where he separates himself in this draft class. Sabonis is one of the, if not the, best rebounder in the draft this year as he demonstrates relentless pursuit of the ball off the glass and natural instincts for the game.
Offensively, Sabonis has a variety of moves in the post, with great footwork to find a way to score, primarily over his right shoulder as he is a left-hander. Though he hasn't shown it much at Gonzaga, Sabonis also has a good jumper and can stretch out to the college three-point line at times, even making a few this season in Spokane. If anyone is looking for a comparison, the best I can come up with is a more aggressive Luis Scola, and with the production Scola has in the NBA, getting someone like him at just 20 years of age would be a great addition for the next decade on any roster.
Deyonta Davis, F, Michigan State, Freshman
Davis wasn't expected to leave college after just one season, but his versatility as a defender has caught the eye of draft scouts and pushed him up draft boards all year long. At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Davis has perfect size for the power forward position, and thanks to his ability to protect the rim - 1.8 blocks per game this season and 3.9 per 40 minutes - he can slide over to play the five when teams look to play small ball.
When put into pick-and-roll situations, Davis is able to stay in front of the opposing guard and keep him from attacking the paint while still recovering back to his man, which is an important part of the game for any big man coming into the NBA. He needs to be able to play more one-on-one on the perimeter, as stretch fours dominated him at times this season, but with more experience, he could get adjusted to doing more of this instead of just being in the paint.
Offensively, Davis is able to catch and finish with either hand, and though he doesn't have much of a post game at the moment, he is able to make a quick move and finish from 5-8 feet away from the basket. Davis can hit jumpers out to 18-20 feet as well, but that isn't his strong suit at the moment. Anyone team that selects him in the lottery will be looking to take advantage of his defensive ability and develop his offense over time.
Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame, Junior
With Jerian Grant gone to the NBA, this was Jackson's team to run in 2016, and he did so very well, leading Notre Dame to within a game of the Final Four. Year by year, his numbers got better and better - well aside from his shooting slipping somewhat this season with the increase in attempts - averaging 16.8 points, 4.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game on 52.5 shooting from inside the arc and 33 percent from beyond.
Jackson's athleticism is unmatched at the guard spots in this year's class, and at times, he looked similar to Russell Westbrook with his ability to attack the rim and finish with ferocity. I'm not going to claim Jackson is anywhere near the athlete Westbrook is, but there are flashes of similarity to me. There is some room to improve for Jackson on the defensive end, but with his quickness, athleticism and solid frame, there is plenty to work with on this end as well. If a team needing a point guard is not high enough to draft Kris Dunn, Jackson would not be a bad consolation prize by any stretch of the imagination.
Furkan Korkmaz, G, Turkey
The best scorer in this year's crop of international prospects, Korkmaz has a well-rounded offensive game. He has top-notch shooting ability with deep range beyond the NBA line and can get his shot up over just about any defender with his high release and great size for a two guard at 6-foot-7. When a defender closes out, Korkmaz does a fantastic job attacking them to get to the rim or pulling up for a mid-range jumper.
Korkmaz also excels in transition, where he is a creative finisher and can do so in traffic, even if he his build is somewhat wiry. I was most impressed watching him create for teammates in a variety of situations, whether that is in transition, the pick-and-roll game in the half court, where he has a natural feel of where to get the ball to his big or just simply off the dribble when the defense collapses on him. Korkmaz has a knack for finding the open man in the perfect position to score.
There is still a lot of room for Korkmaz to improve defensively one on one and overall in the scheme, but he uses his length to get into passing lanes for steals and deflections, leading to easy fast-break opportunities. Like Bender, Korkmaz has struggled to find minutes for his club team, Efes, but at such a young age, he has plenty of experience in international competition to alleviate any concern this may cause. Korkmaz could easily find his way into the lottery and could come over next season and carve out a bench role for whatever team decides to take him.
DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph's, Junior
One of my favorite players in this year's draft, Bembry may be the most polished player outside of Denzel Valentine. Bembry, the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, may need to do some work on his jumper as his three-point shooting has slipped each year from 35 percent as a freshman to just 26.6 this year, but he does basically everything else well. As a scorer, Bembry can post up smaller defenders or take bigger players off the bounce, and though he needs to improve his percentage, he gets to the line at a fair clip as well. Bembry was fifth overall this season in the Atlantic-10 in total points and second in field goals, while averaging 17.4 points a night.
Bembry's most promising skill on the offensive end though is his ability as a play-maker, averaging 4.5 assists a game with just two turnovers, while finishing second overall in the conference with 161 assists. That kind of ability from the two or three will help alleviate any problems teams may have with his shooting ability as he can help take some of the pressure off of a non-traditional point guard and create for his teammates.
Defensively, Bembry is an excellent rebounder, leading the A-10 in defensive rebounds - averaged 7.8 a game. Atop of those rebounding numbers are nearly a block and 2 steals a game, meaning Bembry has been a productive player on the defensive end as well. I am aware I have him ranked higher than many other draft observers, but his polish and NBA-ready style is appealing to me, and I would be happy as a fan if my favorite team with a need on the wing chose him in the No. 16-20 range; later than that, I think he is a steal.
Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky, Sophomore
Every time I speak with one of my basketball writer friends concerning Ulis, he always brings up Ulis' size and how he doesn't see Ulis becoming a star at the NBA level. After dominating the SEC this season on his way to the Player of the Year in the conference, I cannot say I share that pessimism.
Ulis had no problem shooting and scoring over all the bigger defenders guarding him, hitting nearly 50 percent of his attempts from inside the three-point line, and was a capable three-point shooter as well at 34.4 percent. Granted that percentage was admittedly down from his excellent rate as a freshman of nearly 43.
As a distributor and play-maker, Ulis is at very least the equal of the top-ranked point guard, Kris Dunn, dishing out seven assists a game while committing just two turnovers. That's a vast difference from Dunn's relatively wild style of play. Ulis finished the season with the fourth-most points produced per game and was third overall in the conference, showing just how special he can be on the offensive end.
Defensively, Ulis is a pitbull, getting into his man and forcing him into the toughest play possible. Ulis is also a surprisingly good rebounder for his size and position, averaging three a game, and takes the ball away as well, averaging 1.5 steals a game.
I don't think there's much doubt if Ulis was 6-foot instead of 5-foot-9, he would be challenging Dunn for the top point guard spot in the 2016 NBA Draft. But even for as small as Ulis is, I would take him in the late lottery-to-No. 25 range and would feel assured that my point guard position was better than before drafting him.
Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt, Sophomore
Baldwin wasn't the Vanderbilt player getting the buzz at the start of this season, but as the year went on, he surpassed his teammate Damian Jones on draft boards and has seemingly solidified himself as a first-round pick. Offensively, Baldwin is an elite catch-and-shoot guy, especially from beyond the three-point line as he made over 40 percent of his opportunities this season. His range extends far past the NBA three-point line, and though his release is a bit low and in front of his body, he is quick on the trigger and gets nice arc as well.
With the ball in his hands, Baldwin is much better in transition, as he is great with a head of steam going toward the basket using his great size and incredible length to finish. That's not to say he isn't a good passer or distributor in the half court, but he tends to overlook the simple play and too often forces passes that may not be there, leading to a high turnover rate.
Where the upside comes for Baldwin is on the defensive end. He really gets down in a stance and stays in front of his man with his quickness and ridiculous 6-foot-10 wingspan. With that combination of size and length, as well as a solid upper body, Baldwin has great defensive versatility on the perimeter. I think it would be best if Baldwin landed somewhere that had a point guard on its staff to help bring him along in this facet of the game, but Baldwin's defensive ability will translate anywhere. He should find himself selected in the top-20 come draft night.
Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina, Senior
After a phenomenal season, Johnson put himself in position to be a first-round pick. His athleticism really sets him apart in this class as he can get up in just about in situation; off of either foot or both feet, or even off a second or third jump, he is one of the best leapers regardless of position. Although Johnson may rely on this too much, it shows in just about every aspect of the game. In transition, he is a relentless rim runner and will catch and finish with ferocity. In the post, he is able to feel his defender and make a quick move to the basket. His overall post game is very rudimentary at this point - quick turnarounds and jump hooks - but when he spins and gets to the basket, he is nearly impossible to stop. Where it shows up most prominently though is as a rebounder. He goes after the ball with aggression and more often than not will rip is away from anyone who goes up with him, whether that's on the offensive end or defensive.
Johnson lacks focus as a defender and gets lost far too often, but when he's locked in, he can move his feet and force tough shots. He will block shots, but again that is purely due to his supreme athleticism as he just doesn't have a great feel on this end and will miss out on blocks because of his lack of focus. If Johnson can get his motor to match his athleticism, he will be a phenomenal rebounder at the NBA level and stick around for quite a few years because of it.
Timothe Luwawu, SF, France
One of the best three-and-d prospects available in this year's class, Luwawu has greatly benefited from his team's up-tempo pace and improved his three-point shooting this season from nearly 29 percent to 42 this year. His size and length - 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan - help him get his shot up over his defender, and he has started to shoot off the hop in his catch-and-shoot opportunities to find a better rhythm, and this has obviously paid off.
Though Luwawu needs to tighten up his handle, he does attack the basket well and can really finish thanks to that length. I was surprised by his ability to play on the ball and create for his teammates as he is a willing passer and he can thread the needle to get them buckets.
Luwawu is also improving in the pick-and-roll game as a ball handler, something basically all NBA teams look for in their perimeter players. Where I see the most upside from him though is on the defensive end. He really pressures ball handlers full court and gets them to make bad decisions where he can get his teammate out in transition for easy buckets. Luwawu is also able to kill the opponent's transition opportunities because of how relentless he can be on this end.
My only question is how Luwawu would fit into a more controlled style of play. But if he is able to land with a fast-paced, up-tempo team, Luwawu has great upside.
Marquese Chriss, Forward, Washington, Freshman
Not exactly a highly touted player coming into this collegiate season, Chriss played his way into being a first-round pick, and he has the skills to fit perfectly into today's NBA. Though it may be a small sample size of just 60 attempts, Chriss has the shooting range to spread the floor at the power forward position. His post game still has plenty of room for improvement, but his natural shooting ability lends itself to the turnarounds and face-up jumpers that he showed at times as a Husky. With the ability to put the ball on the floor somewhat as well, Chriss can attack closeouts to get to a mid-range jumper or to the basket where he can finish with his strong right hand.
Defensively, Chriss has a lot to work on, as he was often the target of opposing team's isolations where he would either foul - a big problem for him as he led the entire NCAA in fouls - or give up a basket a large portion of the time. He is also not a good rebounder - just over five a game - but he does have potential as a shot blocker, averaging 1.6 a game, and his lateral quickness gives some hope that he will be able to turn into a half-way decent defender. What makes him an NBA prospect though is his offensive potential, and he is a promising developmental talent for the team that drafts him.
Diamond Stone, C, Maryland, Freshman
Once thought of as a potential early lottery pick, Stone may not be considered there anymore, but he still has plenty of potential at the NBA level. Offensively, Stone has great footwork in the post, and though he may not have a full array of moves, he does have a nice drop step that could become a go-to move as his game grows. He also has a nice touch on his jumper, shooting 76 from the free throw line, and though he did not attempt a three-pointer this season, he has the potential to develop his range with time.
I would've expected Stone's rebounding numbers to be much better than they are, just 5.4 a game, because of his combination of size, strength and a long wingspan - 7-foot-3. When he's locked in though, there is potential on this end as well because of his relative versatility; he won't be switching out on guards in pick-and-roll situations, but he can move his feet and prevent guards from driving and quickly get back to his man as well. The major issue here though is when Stone's locked in, he gets very hot and cold, and if he isn't involved in the offense, he has a tendency to completely check out of games. If Stone can mature and keep his mind straight, he has a chance to be a nice pick for any team selecting in the mid- to late first round.
Ben Bentil, PF, Providence, Sophomore
Kris Dunn got most of the attention this year for the Friars, and rightfully so, but far too many people overlook just how good Bentil was. He really took advantage of his increased minutes and led the Big East in points per game with 21.1, total points, free throw attempts and makes, two-point field goal attempts and makes, and points produced, while finishing second in offensive win shares.
Bentil's frame is freakish at 6-foot-9 and nearly 240 pounds, yet it doesn't look like he has an ounce of body fat on him, and he was just able to overpower nearly everyone who tried to defend him. Bentil needs to improve the consistency of the range on his jumper, but he has the ability to stretch out to the NBA three-point line as well. His rock-solid frame led to the fourth-most rebounds per game in the conference as well - 7.7 - while adding a block and a steal to his stat line.
I'm honestly not sure why so many draft sites have Bentil ranked in the 50+ range as I would take him anywhere past No. 20 if I needed a power forward who could score the basketball. He is a potential steal in this year's draft, and if he slips into the second round, could be the next in the long line of NBA All-Stars with a chip on his shoulder after being drafted following one full time around the league.
Skal Labissiere, C, Kentucky, Freshman
Labissiere was once considered a potential top 3-pick in this draft, but his play this season at Kentucky quelled any of those hopes. He actually started out playing fairly well, and while that may have been against weak opponents, it was cause for some optimism for his NBA prospects. It quickly became apparent that Labissiere wasn't ready for major college basketball, and his playing time paid the price.
Don't get me wrong though, Labissiere does have skills that NBA scouts are looking for. On the offensive end, the 7-footer has a nice jumper, stretching out to the top of the key and potentially beyond as he continues to work on his game. Because of his thin frame, he will, at best, struggle to post against most NBA bigs, but he has a nice set of moves, mostly relying upon his jump-shooting ability with turnarounds and fade aways. Labissiere is supremely mobile for his size, running well in transition, and has good hands to catch and finish in pick-and-roll situations. There is plenty of shot blocking potential, as his size, length and above-average timing led to 4.2 blocks per 40 minutes.
Labissiere is a major project in need of playing time and experience and a lot of work on his body, but his potential may be too much to pass up on. I likely have him ranked far too low for where he will be selected.
Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor, Senior
Another three-and-D prospect, Prince is eerily reminiscent of former Missouri player and current Toronto Raptor DeMarre Carroll. At 6-foot-7 with long arms - 6-foot-11 wingspan - Prince has the prototypical size to play the small forward position, but thanks to his lateral quickness, he has the ability to guard at least the two and three spots, and in a pinch, he could cover some point guards as well. Even in the zone scheme that Baylor plays, Prince was able to average a block and a 1.5 steals per game, which playing from the wing spots in a zone can be hard to do.
All of Prince's physical tools, including above-average athleticism, paired with a high basketball IQ, specifically on the defensive end of the floor, gives him a defined role in the NBA. He is also a very effective three-point shooter, around 40 percent his four years at Baylor - 37.6 to be exact - and though he isn't a good ball handler, he still makes good decisions when he does have the ball in a play-making situation. The upside may not be huge for Prince, but as NBA fans saw with Carroll a three-and-D player can make a lot of money in the league and Prince is essentially a clone.
Dejounte Murray, G, Washington, Freshman
When I saw Murray had decided to hire an agent and stay in the 2016 NBA Draft, I was a bit surprised. Sure, his stats this season were fairly impressive, 16.1 points, 6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals a game for Lorenzo Romar in Seattle, but the efficiency and shooting numbers leave plenty to be desired, 3.2 turnovers and just 28 percent three-point shooting on 3.5 attempts a game. There is plenty to like on both ends of the floor as Murray is rather long with good size for his position at 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan and his explosive athleticism makes him a tough cover for any opposing guards. He is Jamal Crawford-esque in the way he handles the ball, with crossovers and a tight handle to get wherever he wants when you factor in his great quickness.
Murray's scoring comes in a variety of ways, as he can isolate and break down his defender with that handle, or he can play in a set offense, including the pick-and-roll game, where he has shown good ability, especially for his age. That size also lends itself to his ability to finish around the rim off the dribble as well.
Defensively, Murray has the potential to be special thanks to all of his physical tools and obviously good anticipation as those 1.8 steals a game attest to. With all of this said, I think he would've benefited greatly from another year in college to refine his skills, especially his shooting, and to gain more experience. The range Murray could be selected in varies widely depending on which mock you look at, but it is likely he will go in the first round and be a pet project for the team that drafts him to tease out the Crawford similarities.
Thon Maker, C, Australia,
In a somewhat surprising move, Maker applied for the 2016 NBA Draft and was granted eligibility due to his playing a year of prep school in Canada instead of going to play college ball. Now, I have my questions as to whether or not he ever would've been cleared to play college ball, but at this point, these questions are moot as Maker will be in NBA next season.
As a player, there is still a long, long way to go for the 19-year-old 7-footer. He is rail thin in the legs, which is a big concern for any potential big man coming into professional basketball. This may have led to Maker's style of play, as he rarely played out of the post, which is what one would expect someone with his size and athleticism to do, but instead camped out on the perimeter way too often and shot threes. He does have a nice stroke, and with time it could become a big weapon for him, but he should've taken advantage of his mismatches at the level he was playing and worked on his post game. One thing I will say is impressive about Maker is his ability to handle the ball at his size. This could be another huge weapon for him once he develops as a player.
Defensively, even with his body needing work, he has the potential to be a big-time force, as he has a natural shot-blocking ability. Anyone who drafts him though will be facing at least 2-3 years of play in the D-League from him, and that may be kind. Any playoff team with an already solid roster though would be smart to stash him there and see how he develops, because his tools are potentially, and I mean potentially, game changing.
Malcolm Brogdon, SG, Virginia, Senior
This season's ACC Player of the Year, Brogdon took over for Justin Anderson as the Cavaliers' go-to offensive player, and he met the call, averaging 18.2 points per game with excellent shooting numbers - 49.8 percent from inside the arc, 39.1 from beyond and 89.7 from the free throw line. What stands out the most to me is Brogdon's three-point shooting as he made two a game on just over five attempts.
Brogdon can work in a variety of ways as a scorer, whether it be off of screens, spotting up or even creating his own shot, as he did numerous times in 2016 when Virginia's offense would get late into the clock. He may be reliant upon his teammates to get him open at the NBA level, but against the poor defenders in the league, Brogdon has the ability to make them pay. He isn't shifty with the ball in his hands by any means, but he uses his basketball IQ and physicality to get to his spot and score.
Defensively, I think Brogdon has great upside to guard the 1-3 spots, depending on the matchup, because of numerous things I mentioned previously, his strength and basketball IQ, plus his 6-foot-11 wingspan. His effort, toughness and intelligence were just about unmatched at the collegiate level on this end of the floor, and I don't see why that would change at the professional level.
Brogdon doesn't have the enormous ceiling some fans or scouts may want in a first-round pick, but he will be a solid NBA role player, I think can stick around the league for quite a while.
Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland, Sophomore
Trimble has yet to hire an agent for the 2016 NFL Draft, and though I think he would be smart to return to College Park for another year, he has the tools to be an effective NBA point guard. At 6-foot-3 and a solid 190-195 pounds, he has good size for the point guard position, but I still think he could use to add some strength, especially in his lower body to be able to battle every night against the kind of players he will face. Though his attempts dropped a bit this season, he is very good at attacking his defenders and the rim to get to the free throw line, averaging six a game over his two seasons at Maryland - while shooting 86.3 percent.
Though he was excellent as freshman from beyond the arc, Trimble struggled this year with the consistency of his shot and the percentage shows it, going from 41 to 31 percent this season. To be an effective NBA point guard, he will have to reestablish his stroke and force his defender to play him honestly. Trimble has shown a good understanding of the pick-and-roll game - a plus in today's NBA - and with his driving ability, this facet of his game should only improve once he gets with a professional coaching staff. He is a good rebounder for his position from the defensive end and also gets his hands on loose balls, averaging 1.3 steals a game. The lack of consistency in Trimble's game really hurt his stock in my opinion, but with the point guard position being the most important in today's NBA, he is an intriguing prospect and would be in the first-round conversation if he decides to stay in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Anthony Barber, PG, N.C. State, Junior
Though his N.C. State team may have been a disappointment, Barber himself certainly was not. His scoring and shooting numbers were fantastic, averaging 23.5 points per game to lead the ACC and finish sixth in the country. He put those numbers together by hitting 45 percent from inside the arc, 36 percent from beyond and a career-best 86 percent from the free throw line. With the ball in his hands, there was not a quicker player in the country this year, earning him the nickname Cat, and his ability to probe the defense either for his shot or for a teammate's is second to none as well. Combine that speed with Barber's handle, and he is nearly impossible to keep in front, even for the best defenders. He is also very adept at drawing fouls, getting to the line eight times a game this season - a career high - and had the most makes and attempts in the conference this year. Barber will need to add strength and become a better defender to make an impact at the NBA level, though he does have quick hands to disrupt the passing lanes. Still, his quickness and handle set him apart, and they give him a real shot at being drafted and carving out a niche on a NBA roster next season.
Joel Bolomboy, PF, Weber State, Senior
It's fairly likely if you read first-round mocks for this upcoming draft you won't see Bolomboy's name mentioned. Though he went to the same school as first-round pick and current NBA star Damian Lillard, few in the country know of him. I couldn't get past Bolomboy's production though, even if it as at the Big Sky level, and I can see him becoming a productive NBA player as well. Averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds a game, Bolomboy led the Wildcats back to the NCAA tournament this season, losing to Xavier in their first-round matchup.
Though Bolomboy mostly played inside throughout his college career, accumulating over 830 two-point field goal attempts in the process, he started to stretch out to the college three-point line during the past two seasons and showed plenty of promise as a shooter, knocking down 36 percent of his attempts. His efficiency as a scorer is excellent, having shot 61 percent from inside the arc.
Defensively, Bolomboy is an excellent rebounder, leading the conference per game for each of the past three seasons in this category, and also averaged over a block per game as well. He may not be on many draftniks' radars right now, but come the combine workouts and scrimmages, I think he will make a name for himself and quickly rise up boards. I would not count Bolomboy out of the first-round conversation; How many of you had Larry Nance being a first-rounder last season?