Due to the coronavirus pandemic, almost every major sporting event has been postponed or canceled. Unfortunately for basketball fans everywhere, that includes the NCAA conference tournaments and March Madness for both men and women.
The official cancellation of these tournaments officially ended the 2019-2020 college basketball season, and thus, we are left with what we’ve seen up to this point in terms of preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft (whenever it is to happen). Not only have these tournaments been canceled, but so have the McDonald’s All American Game, the Nike Hoop Summit, as well as the Jordan Brand Classic, with all these events providing a stage for top high school prospects to showcase their skills.
With no basketball in the near future, let’s look at some of the players that helped or hurt their cases as future NBA players this past season.
Onyeka Okongwu: C – USC
A forgotten member of the legendary 2015-2016 Chino Hills basketball team, Onyeka Okongwu out of USC emerged as one of the best prospects in this draft class, and one of the most impactful college freshmen of the past decade, per Bart Torviks BPM 2.0.
Okongwu put up a monster stat line this season, averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds, and nearly 3 blocks (9.8 blk%) per game on nearly 65 TS%. Okongwu’s touch at the basket is one of his many strengths, and combining that with his solid FT percentage (72%) gives some indication that one day he might be able to expand his range. Okongwu is a near-consensus top-five pick in this year’s draft.
Obi Toppin: F – Dayton
Dayton was one of the most surprising teams in college basketball this year, and they most likely had the NPOY on their team in Obi Toppin. At 6’9 220 pounds, Toppin had a monster offensive season this year in college basketball, averaging 20 points per game on 68 TS%. Not only has Toppin showcased an array of dunks and improved passing vision this year, but he also tripled his 3PAr and shot 39 percent from distance on the year. Toppin still has a long way to go defensively, but he should have an impact on the offensive end the first day he steps on an NBA floor. Toppin is seen by most as a borderline top 10 pick in this year’s draft.
Kira Lewis Jr: PG – Alabama
My first ever draft profile I did here at Daily Thunder, Kira Lewis, came on strong during the final two months of the college season, averaging 23 points, 6 assists, and 1.6 steals a game on 60 TS%. I’ve seen a lot of polarizing opinions on Lewis, ranging from having him in the back end of the first round to some people who believe that he is firmly in the discussion for a top 10 player in this draft. Personally, I wouldn’t have an issue taking him near the top 10 in this draft, especially with how many question marks most players at the top of this draft have. For more on Lewis, read my original report on him back in December.
Patrick Williams: F – Florida State
Like his teammate Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams was also a steady riser throughout the season. At only 18 years of age, Williams possesses great size (6’8 with 6’11 wingspan) and an excellent motor that should translate well defensively at the next level. His 2.5 stl% and 5.6 blk% are another indicator of his skills translating to the NBA. On the offensive end, Williams is much more raw. He’s not much of a playmaker, and although he shot 32% from three on the year, him going 62-74 (84%) from the FT line this season hints at him possibly growing into more of a perimeter shooter in the future. Williams is most often listed among 13-20 on big boards and mock drafts.
Xavier Tillman: C – Michigan State
Grant Riller: PG – Charleston
Desmond Bane: SG – TCU
Killian Hayes: PG – Ratiopharm Ulm
Tyrell Terry: PG – Stanford
Devin Vassell F – Florida State
Devon Dotson: PG – Kansas
Malachi Flynn: PG – San Diego State
Nico Mannion: PG – Arizona
Probably the biggest faller throughout this entire process, Mannion was locked in as a lottery pick at the beginning of the season. Four months later, the hype for Mannion has died down, and I see him outside of the lottery in almost every mock draft/big board I see. Mannion had a 52 TS% during his freshman year, and that number decreased to 48% when playing a top 100 team. Lacking a high-level handle and athleticism, one has to wonder how effective he will be at the NBA level in terms of getting to and finishing at the rim, a spot on the floor where he only shot 54% from this season. Mannion’s flashes of pull-up shooting and PnR passing keep him in the first round, but this was an underwhelming season for the guard out of Arizona. He also doesn’t have a single blocked shot in 1,032 minutes, which is quite the feat.
Cole Anthony: PG – North Carolina
A consensus top-three pick at the beginning of the year, Cole Anthony’s stock has decreased during North Carolina’s worst season in the Roy Williams-era. Coming out of high school, Anthony possessed top-tier athleticism, as well as a nice blend of pull-up shooting and defensive ability. For some reason (injury is a possibility) Anthony never showed the same explosiveness at UNC, and as a result, he struggled to finish around the rim, shooting only 54% from there on the year. Anthony also isn’t the most cerebral passer in the world, which makes me compare him to Collin Sexton (offensively) in my head. This year’s UNC team was truly horrific, especially spacing wise, as they were 308th in the nation in 3-point percentage. Due to this, I have a hard time dropping Anthony too much, but relative to expectations, he under-performed this past season, and I’m curious to see how the NBA views him.
Matthew Hurt: F – Duke
A top 15 recruit according to 247Sports, it doesn’t appear that Matthew Hurt is going to be the one-and-done player that people thought he would be. Hurt is a legitimately good shooter for his size (39 percent on 107 attempts this year) but coupled with a low free-throw rate, low steal percentage, and low assist numbers, you have to wonder if he’s going to be anything other than a stretch big. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a solid stretch big on your NBA team, but I don’t think he’ll end up being the first-rounder that people might have envisioned. He’ll most likely be heading back to school.
Tre Mann: PG – Florida
Mann was a player I mentioned in my piece before the NCAA season, and it’s safe to say that I missed the mark on that one. Mann was legitimately bad this season as he registered a negative BPM on both Bart Torvik and Basketball Reference. Coming out of high school, Mann was a dynamic scorer from the perimeter with elite pull-up ability. This year for Florida, Mann had a slash line of 5.3/1.9/0.7 on a nightmarish 44.6 TS%. Mann has shown rare flashes of what made him such a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school, but it’s safe to say that he’s not the one-and-done prospect that some people thought he would be.
Anthony Edwards: SG – Georgia
(He will most likely get drafted top three which is why I didn’t list him, but he fell short of what most people expected from him this season)
Wendell Moore: F – Duke
Kahlil Whitney: F – N/A
It’s hard to think of many cases in which a players stock truly plummeted over the past season. This year’s draft is quite polarizing and with no S tier prospect like a Zion Williamson or Anthony Davis, it’s hard to gauge consensus rankings. With all sports put on hiatus, I’ll have more time to dig into more college players as I get prepared for this year’s upcoming draft, whenever it is.