By Jacob Murphy
With the NBA draft now less than two months away, KCOU Sports’ Jacob Murphy reveals top ten picks in the final part of his three-column series. Once again these are not based on team needs as the order is still unknown, the order is based off of who has the best chance of becoming a star in the NBA.
10- Jaxson Hayes, Texas Fr.
Texas has become a household for NBA centers. Names like Myles Turner, Mo Bamba, and Jarrett Allen all suited up for the Longhorns in the past five years. Hayes has the potential to be the best center to ever come out of Texas. He is a special talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. And to add to his resume, the 6-foot-11 senior turns 19 exactly one month before the draft. Hayes is one of the most athletic big men in the draft, as he is great off of the pick and roll and has the ability to create his own shot. Although he lacks certain defensive skills, his length allows him to be a premier shot blocker. Hayes averaged 2.2 blocks per game his freshman year which led to his Big-12 all defensive team selection. Hayes does not miss much around the rim, as she shot just under 73 percent from the field over 32 games in his freshman season. Hayes has lots of potential but could end up being the best center to ever come out Austin.
9- Nassir Little, North Carolina Fr.
Little is the definition of raw potential. The 6-foot-6 small forward was expected to play big minutes at North Carolina his freshman season, but ended up coming off the bench and only averaging 18 minutes per game. He started off slow but eventually found his stride as he ended the season averaging just under 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. Little has great footwork and has a great first step and can get to the rim in a hurry. When Little learns how to keep the ball in control, he will become an elite offensive threat. Little is great at drawing contact when he gets into the lane and getting to the free throw line, where he shot 77 percent over the course of his freshman season. He is also a force on the defensive side, and is an active perimeter defender who does a great job at moving his feet and getting his hands into passing lanes. If Little can become consistent on the offensive side of the ball, he has the potential to be a two-way all star in the NBA.
8- Darius Garland, Vanderbilt Fr.
Although Garland only played five games at Vanderbilt, the 6-foot-2 guard has plenty of skill and potential to be a top ten pick in this year’s draft. Before his early season injury, Garland was seen as the top point guard in the draft, as his style matches up perfectly with the modern day NBA. Garland has the special ability to shoot the three ball at a high percentage and drive the ball and find his teammates off of the dribble. Garland also has a tight handle on the ball which allows him to create space for himself leading to opportunities for him and the players surrounding him. He is able to create scoring opportunities for himself on a consistent basis, as he has the ability to score on all three levels. Garland can shoot the three, is deadly from mid range, and has the ability to slither through defenders and finish at the rim. His ability to change speeds is what makes him stand out, as he is able to get to whatever part of the floor he wants to get to at any time. Even with a small sample size, Garland still could turn out to be the best point guard in the 2019 draft.
7- Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga Jr.
Clarke disappeared into the college basketball world in the 2017-2018 season when he made the decision to transfer to Gonzaga from San Jose State. After sitting out that year, he came back with vengeance. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Clarke is a one of a kind athlete, and his explosiveness allows him to be deadly in all aspects of the game. He is great in half court offense when he gets involved in pick and rolls, and he is great in the full court when he gets moving in transition. When he gets open down low his great hands allow his teammates to throw it wherever with the insurance that Clarke will come down with it. He is also a great isolation player, which we are seeing more and more of in today’s NBA. He can take anyone off of the dribble and use his body to get a high percentage shot up. In his junior season, Clarke shot just over 68 percent from the field, while he put up 10 shots per game. He is already an elite offensive player, and he gets the job done on the defensive side. Clarke can disrupt shots in the paint and even play tight on the perimeter. He could be a serious contender for Rookie of the Year, and is already a well developed player.
6- Cam Reddish, Duke Fr.
Reddish is the clear favorite for becoming the best three point shooter in the draft. The 6-foot-8 small forward shot just 33 percent from outside in his freshman season, but was forced to take bad shots in a congested Duke offense. Reddish has an unbelievable amount of potential from the three point line and can even hurt you off the dribble. When NBA scouts think of “Three-and-D” players, they think of Reddish. Reddish is an active defender that can cause havoc from the three point line on the offensive side. Reddish is fluid and smooth everywhere on the court which is rare for college freshmen. He always seems to be poised in big moments and has the ability to make big shots. He is also underrated off the dribble, as he can get low and has the moves that help him get to the basket on a consistent basis. With his quick release, Reddish can become a special talent on offense in the NBA. Once he gets away from R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, he will take off and become a great two way player for an up and coming NBA team.
5- Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech So.
Culver made a name for himself in the NCAA tournament as he was a leading force for the Red Raiders as they made their way to the National Championship. It wasn’t out of nowhere- he showed signs of talent in his freshman season. The 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year averaged 18 points per game and shot 38 percent from deep his sophomore season. Culver can shoot the three ball at a high rate, and has plenty room to grow. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has the body type to play the two and the three at the professional level, which can be a large asset for teams in today’s NBA. Culver has great footwork and a great hesitation move which will translate straight into the NBA. Culver shows great intensity and effort on the defensive side and uses his hands well to irritate the offense. He shines the most when he can get to the basket, as he has an arsenal of moves that allow him to avoid tall defenders. Culver can throw it down one time down the court and then hit a reverse layup the next time down the court. His defensive and offensive abilities give him the chance to be a premier player at the next level.
4- De’Andre Hunter, Virginia So.
Similar to Culver, Hunter really made his name known in the tournament as he was a key contributor to Virginia’s championship win. Hunter has proved he can perform at the highest level, as the 6-foot-7 small forward led his team with 27 points in the National Championship this past season. Hunter can do everything well on the offensive side of the ball. He shot just under 44 percent from the perimeter and averaged 15 points per game in his sophomore season on a loaded Virginia team. Hunter is also a force in transition as he has the ability to find his teammates and get a high percentage shot on his own. Similar to Culver, Hunter is at his best when he gets moving downhill to the rim where his strength allows him to finish through contact. Hunter and Culver are a tossup for picks 4 and 5, but Hunters strength and three point shooting could make him more successful at the next level.
3- RJ Barrett, Duke Fr.
RJ Barrett is a number one pick type of talent and could be a steal for the team that ends up with the third pick. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged just under 23 points per game at Duke in his freshman year despite being out-shined by teammate Zion Williamson. The lefty plays with unlimited energy and can hurt you from anywhere on the court. Barrett is the best offensive player in the draft, and he showed us that throughout his freshman season. When he gets going to the rim his footwork allows him to weave through defenders and get open looks. Barrett has already developed a deadly euro step, which we rarely see at the college level, nevertheless at the age of 18. One thing that flies under the radar is Barrett’s speed. It allows him to score in transition by himself and fly by the defender off of the dribble. Barrett can play positive minutes at all positions. He can be the primary ball handler, play off ball, and even play within the post and the paint. Barrett can get it done on defense and always gives his effort to stop his opponent. If Barrett can elevate his three point shot to the next level, he could be a force for many years in the NBA.
2- Ja Morant, Murray State So.
Morant is the best all-around point guard to come out of college since Damian Lillard. Morant raised throughout draft boards all season, eventually leading his team to a first round win in the NCAA tournament. Morant is special in that he can shoot the ball, pass the ball, and dunk the ball all at a high level. Morant has excellent court vision, as the 6-foot-3 point guard led the nation with 10 assists per game in his freshman season. Morant also averaged 25 points per game, as he can score in endless ways on the offensive side of the court. He is a athletic freak and plays with a high level of intensity every time he steps on the court. He is known for his big dunks and flashy passes but he is also consistent and always seems to have a positive impact on the game. Morant still has time to grow as he is young for a sophomore. He is at his best in transition but has showed that he can be just as good in a half court offense. Morant uses his explosiveness and crazy athletic abilities to always have a positive impact on the game and could become a superstar at the highest level.
1- Zion Williamson, Duke Fr.
Williamson has been the buzz of the draft all season. We have not seen a prospect this big since LeBron James, and we all know how he turned out. Williamson is a one of a kind prospect due to his height and weight and the way he plays. The 6-foot-6 forward hovers around 280 pounds, but can move like he weighs 180. Williamson has the ability to get to the rim whenever he wants, and his strength outweighs any advantages the defender has on him. When he gets to the rim, there is no stopping Williamson, his through the roof leaping ability and strength allow him to hang in the air and finish through any force of contact. Williamson also uses his strength and athleticism to be a force on the boards on both sides of the ball. He can keep the ball on the string and does a great job staying in control while he is going downhill. When double teams and pressure are thrown at Williamson, he never panics; 95 percent of the time he makes the right decision that leads to a bucket for his team. The leaping ability is what really makes Williamson special. He is an elite shot blocker and can even play the center position with his shot blocking abilities. Williamson always seemed to get what he wanted at the college level, and will continue to do so in the NBA. There is no reason to look at the stats, because Williamson has the physical skills and features to become one of the best to ever play the game.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org