Saturday, March 28, 2015

Diamond Stone's Surprise: Heading To Maryland

Maryland exceeded expectations this past season going 28-7 in their first year in the Big 10 and now they've exceeded expectations on the recruiting front with the unexpected commitment of five-star center Diamond Stone. The 6’10” big man from Milwaukee committed to Maryland on Friday night and in turn significantly raised expectations for the Terps in 2015-16.

Diamond Stone - Maryland
Diamond Stone’s name first popped on the radar early on in 2012 as he established himself as one of the top players in his class back as an overpowering freshman. He won a Wisconsin Division 4 championship during his first year of high school and just capped off his fourth title in a row at Dominican high school with a 23 point, 15 rebound performance over a week ago. Through it all, Stone maintained his status as one of the top players in his class while holding down the No. 1 ranking at times and is now considered a consensus top five player.


Over the past two summers, Stone was a regular with the USA basketball program and won gold medals in 2013 at the U16 FIBA Americas and in 2014 at the U17 FIBA World Championship. He started all 12 games for the U.S. and averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2013 and 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds this past summer.  

Recruitment:
Stone’s recruitment is similar to that of a long, windy road with many twists and turns. Wisconsin and Marquette established themselves early on in Stone’s recruitment. Buzz Williams and Bo Ryan were both seen all over Wisconsin watching Stone’s high school and AAU teams play. Marquette was rumored to be the early leader with Stone taking numerous unofficial visits to the campus right next door. Soon schools from all over the country joined in the race as Stone racked up offers from Georgetown, Indiana, and UCLA. It wasn’t long before the two Tobacco Road powers entered the scene with both Duke and North Carolina extending offers. Both Coach K and Roy Williams took multiple trips up to Wisconsin during Stone’s junior year, but neither one made the final four cut. As soon as Buzz left for Virginia Tech, Marquette dropped out (as they also received a commitment from Henry Ellenson). The four schools that remained were Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma State, and Maryland. To most pundits, Maryland was the surprise pick and seemed like a long shot. Just this past summer it seemed as though UConn was the leader and the much discussed package deal with Malik Newman was in play. In October, Stone took official visits to all four schools, but it was Mark Turgeon and the Terps that won out in the end.

While Stone’s recruitment has been extremely tight lipped over the years, there appear to be two logical reasons for Stone’s commitment. For one, the Terps are now a Big 10 school and travel throughout the Midwest but more importantly they are an Under Armour program. Stone has played on the Under Armour AAU circuit the past few years with the apparel company sponsoring the Young Legends from Milwaukee, which is a team that was started by Stone’s father. This year the Young Legends will have their 16U team competing in the Under Armour Association. Maryland made a strong push two years ago for the Harrison twins using their Under Armour connection, but now they have landed their highest rated recruit in recent memory.

Maryland:
After going 9-9 in the ACC and missing the NCAA tournament in 2014, the Terps suffered a tumultuous off-season losing five players to transfer including starting guard Seth Allen and big man Charles Mitchell. The Terps brought in a strong freshmen class to offset the transfers and Melo Trimble, the Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year exceeded all expectations as he led the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. The Terps shocked Iowa State early on in the season and then went into East Lansing in their first Big 10 game and emerged victorious. While they went down in the Round of 32 to West Virginia, the Terps really only lose their second leading scorer in Dez Wells and guard Richard Pauk who averaged under six points a game. With Trimble returning, the Terps will have some fire power to go along with a smooth shooting sophomore Jared Nickens and a potential first round draft pick in Jake Layman. In addition to Stone, the Terps return sophomore Damonte Dodd, freshman Michal Cekovsky, and gain the services of former Georgia Tech big man Robert Carter. The future is bright in College Park as the Terps look to take over the top spot in the Big 10.

Stone Analysis:

At 6’10”, 246 pounds, Stone is the most complete low post player in the 2015 class. While people should not expect him to put up Jahlil Okafor numbers, Stone is similar to the current top freshman in the country in that they both know their strengths lie down low. Stone has a good set of hands when passes are sent his way and impressive footwork as well. His ability to score with both his right and left hands allows him to convert on jump hooks and up and unders around the basket. While Stone prefers to score close to the basket he is comfortable banking in shots from outside the key and stepping out to 12-15 feet. He has displayed the ability to knock in three’s, but he likely won’t be taking many in college. Stone’s energy level and explosiveness are question marks, but he has shown improvements in both areas recently. A reasonable expectation for Stone’s freshman season would be that of Myles Turner and not Okafor. Turner averaged 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds a game at Texas this past season which Stone could possibly push to 12 points and seven boards a game. If Stone does that combined with Trimble’s exploits, then Maryland will definitely be playing until at least the second week of the tournament next season.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Conference Awards Listing

America East

Player of the Year:
Jameel Warney, Jr., Stony Brook

First-Team All-Conference 
Sam Rowley, Sr., Albany
Evan Singletary, Jr., Albany
Jameel Warney, Jr., Stony Brook
Carson Puriefoy, Jr., Stony Brook 
Ethan O’Day, Jr., Vermont

Defensive Player of the Year:
Jameel Warney, Jr., Stony Brook

Coach of the Year:
Will Brown, Albany

Freshman of the Year:
Tanner Leissner, Fr., Forward, New Hampshire

AAC

Player of the Year:

First-Team All-Conference:
Ryan Boatright, G, UConn
Nic Moore, G, SMU
Austin Nichols, F, Memphis
Will Cummings, G, Temple
James Woodard, G, Tulsa

Defensive Player of the Year:
Amida Brimah, C, UConn

Coach of the Year:
Fran Dumphy, Temple

Freshman of the Year:
Daniel Hamilton, F, UConn

Atlantic 10

Player of the Year:
Tyler Kalinoski, Davidson

First-Team All-Conference:
Tyler Kalinoski, Davidson
Jordan Sibert, Dayton
Kendall Anthony, Richmond
DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph
Treveon Graham

Defensive Player of the Year:
Briante Weber, VCU

Coach of the Year:
Bob McKillop, Davidson

Freshman of the Year:
Eric Paschall, Fordham

ACC

Player of the Year:
Jahlil Okafor, Fr., Duke

First-Team All-Conference:
Jahlil Okafor, Fr., Duke
Jerian Grant, Sr., Notre Dame
Rakeem Christmas, Gr. Syracuse
Malcolm Brogdon, Jr., Virginia
Olivier Hanlan, Jr., Boston College

Defensive Player of the Year:
Darion Atkins, Virginia

Coach of the Year:
Tony Bennett, Virginia

Freshman of the Year:
Jahlil Okafor, Duke

Atlantic Sun

Player of the Year:
Ty Greene, USC Upstate

First-Team All-Conference:
Ty Greene, USC Upstate
Beau Beech, North Florida
Brett Comer, FGCU
Josh Williams, Lipscomb
Dallas More, North Florida

Coach of the Year:
Matthew Driscoll, North Florida

Freshman of the Year:
Tayler Person, Northern Kentucky

Big East

Player of the Year:
Kris Dunn, G, Providence
Ryan Arcidiacono, G, Villanova

First-Team All-Conference:
Kris Dunn, G, Providence
Ryan Arcidiacono, G, Villanova
Kellen Dunham, G, Butler
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, G, Georgetown
LaDontae Henton, F, Providence
D’Angelo Harrison, G, St. John’s
Darrun Hilliard, G, Villanova

Defensive Player of the Year:
Kris Dunn, G, Providence

Coach of the Year:
Jay Wright, Villanova

Freshman of the Year:
Angel Delgado, C, Seton Hall

Big Sky

Player of the Year:
Mikh McKinney, Sacramento State

First-Team All-Conference:
Mikh McKinney, Sacramento State
Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington
Martin Breunig, Montana
Kris Yanku, Northern Arizona
Jordan Gregory, Montana
Venky Jois, Eastern Washington

Defensive Player of the Year:
Jordyn Martin, Northern Arizona

Coach of the Year:
Jim Hayford, Eastern Washington
Brian Katz, Sacramento State

Freshman of the Year:
Bogdan Bliznyuk, Eastern Washington

Big South

Player of the Year:
Saah Nimley, G, Sr., Charleston Southern

First-Team All-Conference
Saah Nimley, G, Sr., Charleston Southern
John Brown, F, R-Jr., High Point
Jerome Hill, F, Jr., Gardner-Webb
Javonte Green, F, Sr., Radford
Keon Moore, G, R-Sr., Winthrop
Defensive Player of the Year:
Javonte Green, F, Sr., Radford

Coach of the Year:
Barclay Radebaugh, Charleston Southern

Freshman of the Year:
DeSean Murray, F, Presbyterian College

Big Ten

Player of the Year:
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

First-Team All-Conference:
Frank Kaminsky, F, Wisconsin
D’Angelo Russell, G, Ohio State
Yogi Ferrell, G, Indiana
Aaron White, F, Iowa
Melo Trimble, G, Maryland

Defensive Player of the Year:
Rapheal Davis, Purdue

Coach of the Year:
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Mark Turgeon, Maryland

Freshman of the Year:
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State

Big XII

Player of the Year:
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

First-Team All-Conference:
Rico Gathers, F, Baylor
Georges Niang, F, Iowa State
Perry Ellis, F, Kansas
Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma
Juwan Staten, G, West Virginia

Defensive Player of the Year:
Jameel McKay, Iowa State

Coach of the Year:
Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Freshman of the Year:
Myles Turner, Texas

Big West

Player of the Year:
Corey Hawkins, UC Davis

First-Team All-Conference:
Corey Hawkins, G, UC Davis
Alan Williams, C, UCSB
Michael Bryson, G, UCSB
Will Davis II, F, UC Irvine
Taylor Johns, F, UC Riverside

Defensive Player of the Year:
Roderick Bobbitt, Hawaii

Coach of the Year:
Jim Les, UC Davis

Freshman of the Year:
Gabe Vincent, UC Santa Barbara

CAA

Player of the Year:
Marcus Thornton, William & Mary

First-Team All-Conference:
Marcus Thornton, G, William and Mary
Scott Eatherton, F, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Damion Lee, G, Drexel
Addison Spruill, G, UNCW

Defensive Player of the Year:
Terry Tarpey, William & Mary

Coach of the Year:
Kevin Keatts, UNC-Wilmington

Freshman of the Year:
Elijah Bryant, Elon

Conference USA

Player of the Year:
Speedy Smith, Louisiana Tech

First-Team All-Conference:
Speedy Smith, Louisiana Tech
Vince Hunter, UTEP
Jeromie Hill, UTSA
T.J. Price, Western Kentucky
Trey Freeman, Old Dominion
Defensive Player of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:
Julian Washburn, UTEP

Coach of the Year:
Michael White, Louisiana Tech

Freshman of the Year:
Torin Dorn, Charlotte

Horizon League

Player of the Year:
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay (Sr., G)

First-Team All-Conference:
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay (Sr., G)
Kahlil Felder, Oakland (So., G)
Alec Peters, Valparaiso (So., F)
Anton Grady, Cleveland State (Jr., F)
Trey Lewis, Cleveland State (Jr., G)
Defensive Player of the Year:
Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso

Coach of the Year:
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso

Freshman of the Year:
Paris Bass, Detroit

IVY

Player of the Year:
Justin Sears, F, Yale

First-Team All-Conference:
Justin Sears, F, Yale
Maodo Lo, G, Columbia
Wesley Saunders, G, Harvard
Javier Duren, G, Yale
Shonn Miller, F, Cornell

Defensive Player of the Year:
Steve Moundou-Missi, F, Harvard

Coach of the Year:
James Jones, Yale

Freshman of the Year:
Miles Wright, G, Dartmouth


MAAC:

Player of the Year:
David Laury, F, Iona

First-Team All-Conference:
David Laury, F, Iona
A.J. English, G, Iona
Emmy Andujar, F, Manhattan
Justin Robinson, G, Monmouth
Zaid Hearst, G, Quinnipiac
Matt Lopez, C, Rider

Defensive Player of the Year:
Ousmane Drame, F, Quinnipiac

Coach of the Year:
Kevin Baggett, Rider

Freshman of the Year:
Schadrac Casimir, G, Iona

MAC:

Player of the Year:
Justin Moss, F, Buffalo

First-Team All-Conference:
Richaun Holmes, F, Bowling Green
Justin Moss, F, Buffalo
Chris Fowler, G, Central Michigan
Jimmy Hall, F, Kent State
Julius Brown, G, Toledo

Defensive Player of the Year:
Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green

Coach of the Year:
Keno Davis, Central Michigan

Freshman of the Year:
Sean Sellers, Ball State

MEAC:

Player of the Year:
Kendall Gray, Delaware State

First-Team All-Conference:
Jeff Short, G, Norfolk State
Nimrod Hilliard, G, North Carolina Central
Amere May, G/F, Delaware State
James Carlton, F, Howard
Kendall Gray, C, Delaware State

Defensive Player of the Year:
Kendall Gray, Delaware State

Coach of the Year:
Bobby Collins, Maryland Eastern Shore

Freshman of the Year:
Ryan Andino, Maryland Eastern Shore

MVC

Player of the Year:
Seth Tuttle, UNI Sr.

First-Team All-Conference:
Ron Baker, Wichita State Jr. 
D.J. Balentine, Evansville Jr. 
Egidijus Mockevicius, UE Jr. 
Seth Tuttle, UNI Sr.
Fred VanVleet, Wichita St. Jr. 

Defensive Player of the Year:
Tekele Cotton, Wichita State

Coach of the Year:
Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

Freshman of the Year:
Brenton Scott, Indiana State

Mountain West

Player of the Year:
Derrick Marks, Sr., Boise State

First-Team All-Conference:
Derrick Marks, Sr., Boise State
Larry Nance Jr., Sr., Wyoming
J.J. Avila, Sr., Colorado State
Christian Wood, So., UNLV
Marvelle Harris, Jr., Fresno State

Defensive Player of the Year:
Skylar Spencer, Jr., San Diego State

Coach of the Year:
Leon Rice, Boise State

Freshman of the Year:
David Collette, Utah State

NEC

Player of the Year:
Karvel Anderson Robert Morris G 6-2 190 Sr

First-Team All-Conference:
Karvel Anderson Robert Morris G 6-2 190 Sr
Jason Brickman LIU Brooklyn G 6-0 165 Sr
Jalen Cannon St. Francis Brooklyn F 6-6 230 Jr
Alex Francis Bryant F 6-6 205 Sr
Sidney Sanders, Jr. Fairleigh Dickinson G 5-11 175 Sr

Defensive Player of the Year:
Kenneth Ortiz Wagner G 6-0 200 Sr

Coach of the Year:
Andrew Toole Robert Morris

Freshman of the Year:
Malik Harmon Saint Francis U G 5-11 194 Fr

OVC

Player of the Year:
Cameron Payne, Murray State

First-Team All-Conference:
Cameron Payne, Murray State
Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky
Craig Bradshaw, Belmont
Jarvis Williams, Murray State
Eric Stutz, Eastern Kentucky

Defensive Player of the Year:
Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky

Coach of the Year:
Cornell Johnston, Eastern Illinois
Steve Prohm, Murray State

Freshman of the Year:

PAC-12

Player of the Year:
Joseph Young, G, Oregon

First-Team All-Conference:
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F, Arizona
Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona,
DaVonte Lacy, G, Washington State
T.J. McConnell, G, Arizona
Gary Payton II, G, Arizona
Norman Powell, G, UCLA
Chasson Randle, G, Stanford
Tyrone Wallace, G, California
Delon Wright, G, Utah
Joseph Young, G, Oregon

Defensive Player of the Year:
Gary Payton II, G, Oregon State

Coach of the Year:
Dana Altman, Oregon

Freshman of the Year:
Stanley Johnson, F, Arizona

Patriot

Player of the Year:
Tim Kempton, Lehigh (So., F/C)

First-Team All-Conference:
Chris Hass, Bucknell (Jr., G)
Tim Kempton, Lehigh (So., F/C)*
Damon Sherman-Newsome, Colgate (Sr., G)
Worth Smith, Navy (Sr., F)
Dan Trist, Lafayette (Sr., F)*

Defensive Player of the Year:
Luke Roh, Colgate (Sr., G)

Coach of the Year:
Dave Paulsen, Bucknell

Freshman of the Year:
Kahron Ross, Lehigh (Fr., G)

SEC

Player of the Year:
Bobby Portis, Arkansas

First-Team All-Conference:
Bobby Portis, Arkansas
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky  
Jarell Martin, LSU
Jordan Mickey, LSU
Stefan Moody, Ole Miss
Josh Richardson, Tennessee
Danuel House, Texas A&M
Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Defensive Player of the Year:
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky

Coach of the Year:
John Calipari, Kentucky

Freshman of the Year:
Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky  

Southern

Player of the Year:
Karl Cochran, Sr., G, Wofford

First-Team All-Conference:
Ashton Moore, The Citadel
Jalen Riley, ETSU
Stephen Croone, Furman
Darious Moten, Mercer
Ike Nwamu, Mercer
Casey Jones, Chattanooga
Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga
James Sinclair, Western Carolina
Karl Cochran, Wofford
Lee Skinner, Wofford

Defensive Player of the Year:
Justin Tuoyo, So., F, Chattanooga

Coach of the Year:
Mike Young, Wofford

Freshman of the Year:
Devin Sibley, G, Furman

Southland

Player of the Year:
Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin

First-Team All-Conference:
Thomas Walkup, Stephen F. Austin
Jalan West, Northwestern St.
Denzel Livingston, UIW
Desharick Guidry, McNeese St.
John Jordan, A&M Corpus Christi

Defensive Player of the Year:
Michael Holyfield, Sam Houston St

Coach of the Year:
Brian Underwood, Stephen F. Austin

Freshman of the Year:
Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas

SWAC

Player of the Year:
Mandarious Gibbs, G, Texas Southern

First-Team All-Conference:
Mandarious Gibbs, G, Texas Southern
Jamel Waters, G, Alabama State
LeAntwan Luckett, F, Alcorn State
Marquis Vance, F, Alcorn State
Nick West, C, Alabama A&M

Defensive Player of the Year:
Reggis Onwukamuche, Prairie View

Coach of the Year:
Mike Davis, Texas Southern

Freshman of the Year:
Steve Rogers, Alabama State

Summit

Player of the Year:
Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State

First-Team All-Conference:
Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State    G    Sr.
Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts    G    Jr.
Steve Forbes, Fort Wayne    F    Sr.
Cody Larson, South Dakota State    F    Sr.
Tyler Larson, South Dakota    G    Sr.
Deondre Parks, South Dakota State    G    Jr.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Cody Larson, South Dakota State

Coach of the Year:
David Richman, North Dakota State

Sun Belt

Player of the Year:
R.J. Hunter, G, Georgia State

First-Team All-Conference:
R.J. Hunter, G, Georgia State
Jelani Hewitt, G, Georgia Southern
Ryan Harrow, G, Georgia State
Shawn Long, F, UL Lafayette
Tylor Ongwae, F, UL Monroe

Defensive Player of the Year:
Jelani Hewitt, G, Georgia Southern

Coach of the Year:
Keith Richard, UL Monroe

Freshman of the Year:
Wesley Person, G, Troy

WCC

Player of the Year:
Kevin Pangos, G, Gonzaga

First-Team All-Conference:
Kevin Pangos, G, Gonzaga
Jared Brownridge, G, Santa Clara
Kerry Carter, G, St. Mary’s
Kyle Collinsworth, G, BYU
Stacy Davis, F, Pepperdine
Johnny Dee, G, San Diego
Tyler Haws, G, BYU
Przemek Karnowski, C, Gonzaga
Brad Waldow, C, St. Mary’s
Kyle Wiltjer, F, Gonzaga

Defensive Player of the Year:
Gary Bell, Jr., G, Gonzaga

Coach of the Year:
Mark Few, Gonzaga

Freshman of the Year:
Damontas Sabonis (Only Freshmen named to 1st of 2nd team. WCC provides an All-Frosh team)

WAC

Player of the Year:
Martez Harrison, Missouri-Kansas City

First-Team All-Conference:
Aly Ahmed, C, Bakersfield
Martez Harrison, G, Missouri-Kansas City
Daniel Mullings, G, New Mexico State
Pascal Siakam, F, New Mexico State
Isiah Umipig, G, Seattle U

Coach of the Year:
Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State

Freshman of the Year:
Pascal Siakam, New Mexico State


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Class of 2014 Look Back: Part 1

The 2014 recruiting class did not come in as hyped as the 2013 class with Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and others but it certainly produced. While the freshmen class took an early hit with Emmanuel Mudiay’s departure to China, the number one ranked player in Jahlil Okafor put together an All-American season. Certain players exceeded their ranking like D’Angelo Russell who was the main surprise out of the Top 25 players and then there were others such as Cliff Alexander that did not live up to the hype in their inaugural college season. In each recap, the year-end high school rankings are provided along with Sports Illustrated’s projected stats from the pre-season.

Note: Rankings are from the Recruiting ServicesConsensus Index which takes the rankings from Scout, Rivals, ESPN, etc to form a "consensus."

1.       Jahlil Okafor, 6’11”, C, Duke

Actual:              MPG: 30.7 PPG: 17.6 RPG: 9.2 APG: 1.5 ORTG: 117.2 (27.5)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 16.1 RPG: 9.1 APG: 1.1 ORTG: 121 (24)

The top ranked high school recruit certainly lived up to his top billing in his one year at Duke. The big man from Chicago dominated from the get-go and scored in double-figures in 30 out of 31 games while shooting 67% from the field. Okafor scored a career high 30 points in a win against Virginia Tech and frequently used his size and strength to bully opposing big men down low. Despite struggling from the line, Okafor recently was named the ACC player of the year and is also a front runner for national player of the year. The projected top pick in the draft is now looking to lead the Blue Devils to the final four for just the second time in 12 years.

Rank: Scout - #1, ESPN - #1, Rivals - #1, 247 - #6

2.       Emmanuel Mudiay, 6’5”, PG, China

Mudiay’s journey is well documented so I will just link to the ESPN articles written about him in the last week. The athletic guard could have benefited from a year under Larry Brown, but he is still a projected Top 5 draft pick in this summer’s NBA draft.

Rank: Scout - #2, ESPN - #5, Rivals - #2, 247 - #1

3.       Stanley Johnson, 6’7”, SF, Arizona

Actual:              MPG: 28.2 PPG: 13.9 RPG: 6.6 APG: 1.8 ORTG: 107.6 (27)     

SI Projections:                           PPG: 13.4 RPG: 5.6 APG: 1.6 ORTG:  1115 (23)

PAC 12 Freshmen of the Year? Eh, not bad.
Stanley Johnson made a steady climb to the top of the rankings during his junior and senior year, and his game is still on the upswing. In his first year in Tucson, the four-time California state champion replaced his former AAU teammate in Aaron Gordon and won the PAC-12 freshmen of the year award while also being named to the first team all-conference. Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring and even when he struggled scoring the ball he always managed to grab double-digit rebounds. Johnson’s main weakness coming into college centered on his three point shooting but he finished the regular season shooting 35%.


Rank: Scout - #3, ESPN - #7, Rivals - #3, 247 - #5

4.       Cliff Alexander, 6’8”, PF, Kansas

Actual:              MPG: 17.6 PPG: 7.1   RPG: 5.3 APG: 0.4 ORTG: 114.1 (20.5)    

SI Projections:                           PPG: 11.7 RPG: 6.8 APG: 1.1 ORTG:  117 (23)

It certainly wasn’t the season that anyone expected from “Big Cliff.” After a summer spent dominating the EYBL and high school scene, it was a rough adjustment to the college game for Alexander. Lacking refined offensive moves, Alexander struggled to earn Bill Self’s trust early on. He put together a strong game in Austin with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Jayhawks to an early road win, but it was mostly downhill after that. Alexander played just six minutes in a loss to West Virginia and scored just a combined 21 points in his next two games. His freshmen season then came to a quick end when the NCAA began to investigate a loan for his mother last week. Back in his high school days, Alexander constantly played Okafor to stand-offs, but while one Chicago native soared the other faltered.  

Rank: Scout - #6, ESPN - #3, Rivals - #4, 247 - #4

5.       Karl Anthony-Towns, 7’0”, C, Kentucky

Actual:              MPG: 20.7 PPG: 9.7 RPG: 6.6 APG: 1.2 ORTG: 121.6 (23.6)    

SI Projections:                           PPG: 10.3 RPG: 6.1 APG: 0.7 ORTG:  115 (23)

Towns showed his vast potential last year at both the McDonald’s All-American practices and the Hoop Summit game and despite playing under 21 minutes a game, he is now making a run at the top pick in the NBA draft. Towns sits at No. 2 in Ken Pomeroy’s player of the year rankings and is shooting 56% from the floor and almost 80% from the line. Scouts love his versatility and defensive prowess to go along with his potential pick and pop ability.

Rank: Scout - #4, ESPN - #9, Rivals - #5, 247 - #2

6.       Myles Turner, 7’0”, C, Texas

Actual:              MPG: 22.9 PPG: 10.8 RPG: 6.6 BPG: 2.8 ORTG: 111.2 (24)      

SI Projections:                           PPG: 12.3 RPG: 8.2                   ORTG:  121 (21)

It’s been a tumultuous season in Austin. One that started with high hopes has the Longhorns clawing for a NCAA tourney bid. While Texas struggled in the Big XII, Myles Turner was named the conference freshmen of the year and averaged almost three blocks per game. The seven footer had four double-doubles on the year including a 25 point, 12 rebound performance against TCU. He also hit 16 three’s on the year, although at just a 25% clip. Texas will need a strong showing in the Big XII conference tournament in order for Turner to get a few more games on the national stage.

Rank: Scout - #5, ESPN - #2, Rivals - #9, 247 - #7

7.       Tyus Jones, 6’1”, PG, Duke

Actual:              MPG: 33.1 PPG: 11.8 RPG: 3.7 APG: 5.7 ORTG: 124.7 (19.9)  
SI Projections:                           PPG: 12.3 RPG: 3.6 APG: 4.9 ORTG:  117 (22)

As a high school sophomore, Jones was labeled the best point guard in high school. Now in his first year in college, Jones was handed the keys to the offense on day one in Durham. Jones received high praise from his coach for his high level of play and was rewarded by being named to the ACC All-Freshmen team. When the stage gets brighter for Duke, Jones always manages to kick his game into another gear. On the road In Madison he went for 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists and most recently in Chapel Hill Jones scored 24 points to go with six rebounds, and seven assists. As a junior, Jones was the No. 1 player in his class and while he took a slight tumble at the end of his senior year (due to his NBA potential), Jones has proved to be one of the best point guards in the game.

Rank: Scout - #9, ESPN - #4, Rivals - #7, 247 - #8

8.       Kelly Oubre, 6’7”, SF, Kansas

Actual:              MPG: 20.4 PPG: 9.0 RPG: 5.1 APG: 0.8 ORTG: 111.1 (21.6)    

SI Projections:                           PPG: 10.6 RPG: 4.4 APG: 1.2 ORTG:  117 (23)

Oubre’s early season struggles were well documented, but the sinewy wing bounced back to put together a decent showing in conference play. The 6’7” Oubre knocked in his three’s at a 37% clip and scored in double figures in his last four conference games including a 12 point, 10 rebound against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks suffered an early loss last year in the tournament and Bill Self will need Oubre to be on top of his game from here on out.

Rank: Scout - #7, ESPN - #11, Rivals - #6, 247 - #3

9.       Justin Jackson, 6’8”, SF, North Carolina

Actual:              MPG: 26.3 PPG: 10.1 RPG: 3.8 APG: 2.5 ORTG: 112.9 (19.3)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 13.1 RPG: 5.7 APG: 1.5 ORTG:  117 (22)

The ultra-thin Jackson started every game for the Tar Heels and was named to the ACC all-freshmen team. He averaged 10.1 points during the year and had some very efficient games but also some games where he disappeared and seemed to struggle with the physicality of the college game. In his first ACC game Jackson scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting but then later on he only played 17 minutes in a road loss to Duke going just 1-8. He loves his floater and while it found the bottom of the net a fair amount of the time, Jackson also seemed to rush it as well. The Texas native scored in double figures in his last five games, but struggled from the three point line on the season shooting under 25%. It was a solid regular season from Jackson, but it was evident that he will need to add some weight for his sophomore season.

Rank: Scout - #10, ESPN - #8, Rivals - #11, 247 - #9

10.   Rashad Vaughn, 6’5”, SG, UNLV

Actual:              MPG: 32.2 PPG: 17.8 RPG: 4.8 APG: 1.6 ORTG: 101.3 (28.9)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 16.0 RPG: 6.7 APG: 2.3 ORTG:  118 (23)

The high scoring Vaughn had his season end early with a torn meniscus. While healthy, Vaughn averaged almost 18 points per game, but shot just 44% from the field. It’s no surprise that Vaughn was a high usage and low efficiency type player. He was given the freedom to shoot almost any time he wanted at UNLV and while talented, he forced the issue at times with no repercussions. Sometimes this was a good thing like when he scored 21 points in an upset of Arizona and sometimes a bad thing when he went 4-19 against Stanford and Temple. It looked like Vaughn was turning the corner before his injury as he scored 30 points on 12-21 shooting against Colorado State and then 18 points on 5-11 shooting in his last game. Vaughn definitely wanted to be a one and done player, but will his injury keep him in school another year?

Rank: Scout - #8, ESPN - #19, Rivals - #8, 247 - #13

11.   Kevon Looney, 6’8”, F, UCLA

Actual:              MPG: 31.5 PPG: 12.3 RPG: 9.5 APG: 1.5 ORTG: 113.2 (20.8)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 10.1 RPG: 5.9 APG: 0.8 ORTG:  112 (21)

Looney wasn’t the top rookie in the PAC-12, but he was certainly one of the top freshmen in the country. He started the year with a bang and was often a lone bright spot on a UCLA team that struggled in non-conference play. The Milwaukee native can be considered a stretch four and he showed his ability to score inside and out (20-45 from 3PT). The second team all PAC-12 player had his best game in a loss to Stanford with 27 points and 19 rebounds and was a double-double machine in conference play. With his versatility, Looney is looking like a likely lottery pick after one year in Westwood.

Rank: Scout - #15, ESPN - #12, Rivals - #10, 247 - #11

12.   Trey Lyles, 6’10”, PF, Kentucky

Actual:              MPG: 21.9 PPG: 8.3 RPG: 5.0 APG: 1.2 ORTG: 114.4 (20.2)    

Trey Lyles left high school as one of the most polished offensive players. He could score with a variety of moves in the post and had a nice touch on his outside jump shot. While playing on the undefeated Wildcats, Lyles has continued to show his offensive skills while playing both forward positions. He’s often played small forward and while he lacks some lateral quickness he has been stellar curling around picks on the offensive end for mid-range jump shots. Lyles has hit over 50% of his shots, but struggles when he gets past 19 feet shooting just 14%.

Rank: Scout - #11, ESPN - #16, Rivals - #13, 247 - #17

13.   Justise Winslow, 6’7”, SF, Duke

Actual:              MPG: 28.8 PPG: 12.4 RPG: 5.8 APG: 2.0 ORTG: 110.5 (22.2)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 10.1 RPG: 4.3 APG: 1.3 ORTG:  112 (20)

Just like Okafor and Jones, Justise Winslow started for Duke from the first game. He began his career with five straight double figure scoring games and was a match-up problem due to his strength and quickness. His main weakness coming out of high school revolved around his outside shooting, but he hit a three in each of his first 15 games. Winslow struggled in January when Duke lost to N.C. State and Miami and scored just 12 points in four games. He came alive in a comeback win at Virginia and exceled while playing the “four” for Duke. He started Duke’s comeback against North Carolina in Durham and shot over 50 % in his final six ACC games.

Rank: Scout - #12, ESPN - #15, Rivals - #12, 247 - #15

14.   Isaiah Whitehead, 6’4”, G, Seton Hall

Actual:              MPG: 27.8 PPG: 12.0 RPG: 3.9 APG: 3.5 ORTG: 90.8 (29.6)    

SI Projections:                           PPG: 12.6 RPG: 3.9 APG: 1.9 ORTG:  109 (24)

Isaiah Whitehead was named to the all Big East freshmen team; however he did not have the freshman of the year type season that was expected out of the Brooklyn product. The 6’4” guard has a picture perfect form on his jump shot, but just like Rashad Vaughn, Whitehead took a lot of tough, contested shots and finished the regular season shooting just 36% with an overall paltry 90.8 ORTG. Whitehead had two stellar back to back games in December when he scored 48 points against Rutgers and Wichita State on 17-30 shooting but he then missed nine games from late December through January with an injury and never really regained his mojo in conference play. He shot less than 50% in all of these February and March contests and finished with just two points in his last match-up against Georgetown.

Rank: Scout - #14, ESPN - #14, Rivals - #16, 247 - #10

15.   Theo Pinson, 6’6”, SF, North Carolina

Actual:              MPG: 13.7 PPG: 3.2 RPG: 3.4 APG: 1.7 ORTG: 104.5 (16.0)    

SI Projections:                           PPG: 8.5 RPG: 3.8 APG: 1.1 ORTG:  112 (19)

It was tough sledding for the athletic small forward in Chapel Hill this year. Coming off the bench, Pinson struggled to make much of an impact on the offensive end. With an unorthodox shooting motion, defenses sagged off and begged him to shoot outside jump shots (7-25 overall from 3PT). The high energy wing did not make it into double digits on the season, but he did have his best game in a home loss to UNC. In the loss, Pinson scored seven points (in a matter of minutes) to go with eight rebounds. His confidence was at an all-time high giving Tar Heel fans a glimpse of the Pinson’s potential. In late January Pinson suffered a broken foot and missed 10 games before coming back to play against Georgia Tech and Duke. The athleticism is there for Pinson he just needs to work hard on fixing his shot mechanics.

Rank: Scout - #19, ESPN - #10, Rivals - #17, 247 - #14

16.   D’Angelo Russell, 6’5”, G, Ohio State

Actual:              MPG: 33.4 PPG: 19.2 RPG: 5.6 APG: 5.2 ORTG: 116.2 (30.1)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 13.3 RPG: 4.5 APG: 2.1 ORTG:  109 (24)

While Okafor was the best player out of this group, Russell had the most impressive rookie campaign. He was often over-shadowed in AAU and high school play (Kasey Hill, Ben Simmons, and Joel Berry), but the combo guard entered into the perfect scenario at Ohio State with ample playing time awaiting him in Columbus. He didn’t disappoint going for 16 points, four rebounds, and six assists in his first game and then adding 32 points and nine rebounds in his third game. At 6’5”, Russell used his combo guard skills to sky rocket up the draft charts and into consideration for the Big 10 player of the year talks. He led the conference in scoring and was second in assists and tied for 11th in rebounding. Russell slapped together a triple double against Northwestern and shot an outstanding 42% from three on the year with his extremely quick release. Thad Matta probably thought he was getting more than one year out of Russell, but it is safe to say that he outplayed his high school ranking.

Rank: Scout - #13, ESPN - #13, Rivals - #18, 247 - #30

17.   Daniel Hamilton, 6’8” SF, UConn

Actual:              MPG: 30.8 PPG: 10.8 RPG: 7.6 APG: 3.6 ORTG: 94.7 (25.5)    

SI Projections:                           PPG: 10.3 RPG: 4.4 APG: 1.8 ORTG:  108 (22)

Hamilton did not turn out to be the most efficient of players, but he often put together impressive stat lines. The Cali native was named a unanimous selection to the American Athletic Conference all-freshmen team and also picked up honorable mention honors as well. The 6’8” wing had several double-doubles on the year including a 25 point, 13 rebound, seven assist game against Memphis. He also shot a respectable 33% from behind the arc.

Rank: Scout - #21, ESPN - #30, Rivals - #14, 247 - #18

18.   Tyler Ulis, 5’8”, PG, Kentucky

Actual:              MPG: 22.9 PPG: 5.4 RPG: 1.7 APG: 3.6 ORTG: 120.4 (14.8)    

Ulis was another steady riser in the high school rankings and parlayed a strong senior season into becoming a Top 20 player. His numbers don’t jump out at you, but the diminutive guard was just what Calipari needed coming off the bench for his undefeated Wildcats. As one of the quickest guards in college, Ulis is a defensive pest that is allowed to gamble and disrupts the other team’s offense when he picks up his man full-court. He can get into the lane and has the ability to deliver pin point passes to his teammates on the wing or big men down low. He would start for most other teams in the country, but even though he averages just under 23 minutes a game he has certainly produced while on the court.

Rank: Scout - #20, ESPN - #25, Rivals - #21, 247 - #20

19.   Chris McCullough, 6’10”, PF, Syracuse

Actual:              MPG: 28.1 PPG: 9.3 RPG: 6.9 BPG: 2.1 ORTG: 92.5 (21.3)       

SI Projections:                           PPG: 9.3 RPG: 5.3                    ORTG:  108 (23)

In a forgettable season for the Orange, McCullough showed flashes off potential including a 20 point, nine rebound, three block game in November against Iowa but then suffered a torn ACL as ACC play began in January. The lanky big man scored in double figures in his first eight games, but then finished his next eight games scoring in single digits. The 6’10” New Yorker averaged 2.1 blocks a game and will be a key cog next season for Jim Boeheim.

Rank: Scout - #18, ESPN - #24, Rivals - #19, 247 - #32

20.   Devin Robinson, 6’8” SF, Florida

Actual:              MPG: 19.1 PPG: 6.4 RPG: 2.9 APG: 0.7 ORTG: 94.8 (21)          

SI Projections:                           PPG: 8.6 RPG: 4.2 APG: 1.2 ORTG:  112 (20)

The lanky wing was named to the all-SEC Freshmen team after recording double figures in five of his last eight conference games. While Robinson has good size for a wing, he will need some more time in the weight room to realize his full potential. Robinson struggled from the floor (as did Florida as a whole) and shot just 40% from the field and 25% from three. Robinson was a late bloomer in high school and will most likely see a big jump as a sophomore in Gainesville.

Rank: Scout - #16, ESPN - #23, Rivals - #20, 247 - #24

21.   James Blackmon, 6’4”, SG, Indiana

Actual:              MPG: 30.1 PPG: 15.8 RPG: 5.3 APG: 1.4 ORTG: 114.2 (24.9)  

SI Projections:                           PPG: 11.8 RPG: 3.9 APG: 1.9 ORTG:  108 (23)


James Blackmon was the best shooter in high school and he certainly didn’t disappoint hitting 69 three’s throughout his first year in Bloomington. The Hoosiers were looking for a scorer and Blackmon fit that role. He scored 20 plus points in four of his first six games. He finished 13th in the Big 10 in scoring and had one of his best games against Minnesota when he poured in 24 points on 6-10 from three.

Rank: Scout - #33, ESPN - #20, Rivals - #22, 247 - #12

22.   Dwayne Morgan, 6’8”, F, UNLV

Actual:              MPG: 17.2 PPG: 5.6 RPG: 3.0 APG: 0.4 ORTG: 86.0 (21.7)      

SI Projections:                           PPG: 9.4 RPG: 5.2 APG: 1.3 ORTG:  108 (20)

Morgan has the honor of producing the lowest ORTG of any top 25 player. The Baltimore native struggled early on in conference play but looks to have found his groove as of late. In mid-January to mid-February Morgan went just 5-30 over a seven game stretch before going 6-6 against Utah State. Morgan finished the year with two double figure scoring games.

Rank: Scout - #26, ESPN - #39, Rivals - #15, 247 - #25

23.   Devin Booker, 6’5”, SG, Kentucky

Actual:              MPG: 21.8 PPG: 10.9 RPG: 1.8 APG: 1.3 ORTG: 124.1 (21.3)  

Devin Booker is another guard that has vaulted up the NBA draft charts with a stellar first year. He finished the regular season with a 124.1 ORTG and was also named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year. The second leading scorer on the Wildcats finished the season shooting 43.6% from behind the arc and was routinely in double-figures for Kentucky. More than just a shooter, Booker can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket at times. In high school, Booker’s stroke was pure but he routinely struggled to put together an efficient game like he is doing now pretty much all the time. As a high usage AAU player, Booker shot just 43% from the field and 33% from three but now at Kentucky he has come into his own and is a key cog for the top team in basketball.

Rank: Scout - #29, ESPN - #18, Rivals - #29, 247 - #22

24.   Grayson Allen, 6’5”, SG, Duke

Actual:              MPG: 8.1 PPG: 4.0 RPG: 0.9 APG: 0.4 ORTG: 124.5 (21.4)      

Out of the top 25 players, Allen is the only one to average under 10 minutes a game. The high flying guard started his season off by scoring 18 points in his first game, but then became relatively non-existent for a long stretch after that. He recorded numerous scoreless games and DNP’s in December and had scored a total of just 10 points in conference play while Rasheed Sulaimon was on the time. After Sulaimon’s dismissal Allen’s playing time has increased and he scored a career high 27 points against Wake Forest and followed that up with seven points against UNC. Allen was stuck to the bench for most of the season, but is starting to perform as of late.

Rank: Scout - #22, ESPN - #21, Rivals - #28, 247 - #39

25.   Joel Berry, 6’0”, PG, North Carolina

Actual:              MPG: 12.3 PPG: 3.5 RPG: 0.7 APG: 1.9 ORTG: 110.6 (15.6)    

Similar to teammate Theo Pinson, Joel Berry’s freshman season has not exactly gone to plan. Early on Berry struggled to get minutes playing behind Marcus Paige and Nate Britt, but he did have his moments which included a five point, four assist effort against Ohio State in December. In ACC play, Berry has missed a total of eight games due to injury and sickness and just recently recorded his first double-digit scoring game of the year (15 points against Georgia Tech). His playing time also started to increase as he became the first point guard off the bench for the Tar Heels but only received seven minutes in a home finale against Duke. For the three time Florida player of the year it was certainly and up and down first season although glimpses of his ability to lead a team were certainly shown at times.

Rank: Scout - #34, ESPN - #17, Rivals - #27, 247 - #50