Young had one of them most prolific seasons of any college player in recent memory. He’s the first player ever to lead the nation in both points and assists, since the assist statistic has been kept. Considering he did that in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation from top to bottom and in his freshman season, you have to marvel at his accomplishment. Sure the Sooners had a very rough end to the season. But making the tournament and having a strong showing individually helped Young gain some of the momentum back that he had lost due to his shooting woes in February. Young isn’t Steph Curry, but he could end up a very impactful NBA player due to his ability to shoot, score and create baskets for teammates.
While not the most composed point guard, Sexton loves the big stage and is a fearless competitor. He’s proven on numerous occasions, both in USA basketball and at Alabama, that when challenged, he finds a way to answer the bell and lead his team to victory. His performance against Minnesota, orchestrated a comeback while down two players was the stuff of legend. His runner to beat Texas A&M in the SEC tournament put the Crimson Tide in the postseason and showed his innate ability in do-or-die moments. He still has a ways to go as his three-point shooting (33.6 percent) needs to improve as does his decision making and ability to lead the team in the half court. His 3.6 to 2.8 aassist/turnover ratio isn’t ideal. But his dynamic ability to excel in iso situations, in transition and finish at the rim gives him a lot of intrigue.
Coach Calipari raves about Shai, describing him as his hardest worker and most focused player on the team this season. Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t come in with the hype of a number of the other freshmen, but could end up being taken before all of them, Knox included. He’s an exceptionally quick player with the ball in his hands, which is unusual considering his size. He’s also become a very reliable outside shooter, as his shooting numbers can attest. That combination of speed and shooting ability make him difficult to contain. He’s still a ways off from mastering the PG position, meaning he may need time to get up to speed. But that’s unlikely to deter teams from considering him in the Top 10, and selecting him somewhere close to that range.
Thomas is a late bloomer who has steadily climbed up draft boards this season and now has a shot to jump into the lottery. He’s older than many of his draftmates as he will be 22 in May, however his polished and balanced game is intriguing to teams. He may not be the most explosive athlete, but he’s a good athlete with a big wingspan and excels on the defensive end. He’s got a textbook jump shot and should be able to develop into a three-point shooter at the NBA level. With Jrue Holiday-like attributes and skillset, he’s not overly flashy but extremely effective. Khyri is a hot name among scouts and should see his name called in the same range that Jrue (17th) did.
Simons pulled out of both the 2018 Jordan Classic and Nike Hoop Summit following the announcement that he had signed with an agent. The decision to pull out of those events gives the impression that he has a promise in the first round and would rather preserve his health and not squander his draft stock. Some question why he wouldn’t want to try to improve upon his draft stock, but if a promise is in place, perhaps it’s a wise decision. He’s a slick scorer, capable of creating his own shot and has quickness, good form and shooting ability. He possesses combo abilities with ball handling and some ability to drive and kick. Scouts that saw him play for IMG this season came away impressed, but he remains a bit of an unknown due to not having played in many events in front of scouts. At the (September 2017) Steph Curry Under Armour All-Star game he looked like a smaller version of Markelle Fultz, but at the time didn’t stand out as a kid that could skip college and go in the first round… yet here he is.
Despite a monster recruiting class, Duke fell short of the Final Four, but don’t blame Duval as he shot 8-18 from three in the tourney and led the team in scoring with 20 points in their loss to Kansas. An explosive athlete, Duval has ideal size and speed for the position showing the ability to push the ball up the floor. He excels in the open floor and displays solid vision and passing skills. He has proven to be a solid distributor, though his decision making, particularly in the half court, is still a work in progress. He has NBA starter potential, however he’s still got a lot of developing left to do to get there. He has a major weakness to his game and that’s his shooting consistency, though he did show improvement as the season went along. With a 6-foot-9.5 wingspan and excellent lateral speed, Duval can develop into a lockdown defender, adding to his intrigue.
Holiday became one of the most prolific scorers in the nations in the second half of the year. He’s a highly effective 3 point shooter who has really improved as an all around scoring point guard in his three years at UCLA. While he’s undersized at 6’1, he does have a 6’7 wingspan. The fact that he has two brothers playing in the NBA also helps his cause as he has been around pros and has been exposed to what it takes from a preparation and intensity standpoint. While not the most explosive athlete, Holiday is quick and skilled and should have a chance to carve out a role in the NBA as an instant offense type.
Brunson may win National Player of the Year for his tremendous season in which he displayed consistency leading Villanova to a one seed. He projects as a phenomenal backup point guard at the next level and possibly even a starter for a few years. What he lacks for in glamor, he makes up for in toughness and determination. He has command of the team and shows natural leadership ability. He’s also one of the most productive and efficient players in college, and has added a great ability to isolate and score on the block in clutch situations.