This week marks the end of the first month of college basketball, the time of year when NBA teams and fans start keeping a closer eye on the young talent about to transition to the next level. These young players are doing everything possible to increase their publicity and take the next step in their basketball careers during draft night, and among them are five young players to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
- James Wiseman
Wiseman is a first-year center for the Memphis Tigers, who were at the top of many mock drafts at the start of the season. Wiseman is currently serving a 12-game suspension after violating several NCAA regulations. To start, Wiseman accepted $11,500 and assistance in relocation from Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, then he proceeded to play in multiple games while suspended. These suspensions have caused controversy around the league, however, Wiseman is still among the top players in most mock drafts due to his speed, athleticism, and size, with a height of 7 feet, 1 inch and a weight of 240 pounds. Wiseman’s stellar defense and ability to own the paint is impeccable, while flashes of an improving jump shot and mid-range game prove that Wiseman could still be a safe lottery pick.
- Cole Anthony
Anthony is a first-year point guard at the University of North Carolina who proves that he deserves to be a lottery pick every time he laces up. Anthony’s consistency and off-dribble scoring ability demand defensive attention and draft stock increases, but teams have voiced concern on his takeover ability, which is desired in a professional-level point guard. After having multiple 30-point games this season and showing his ability to break down defenses with prodigious passing and finishing ability, a team in need of a stellar point guard could safely take him as a top-three pick.
- Tyrese Maxey
Maxey is a first-year shooting guard at the University of Kentucky who has moments of greatness and streaky play, showing that he has the potential to be the face of the 2020 NBA draft. Currently, his shooting percentages are lower than desirable for the professional level, averaging less than 15 points per contest. While these statistics definitely raise concerns, Maxey’s ability to take over games with his shooting range and dribbling proficiency provides a massive upside for the transition to the next level. Maxey’s positive attitude in interviews, as well as his team-driven mentality, make him an excellent leader and a top prospect for the next level.
- Anthony Edwards
Edwards is a first-year shooting guard who plays for the Georgia Bulldogs. He is one of the top scorers in the nation and has the ability to make clutch shots under pressure. Standing at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and weighing 225 pounds, Edwards has an explosive amount of athleticism and speed. Edwards shows signs of being the clear best player in the draft, but some say that his decisions don’t always correspond with the greater good of the team. With the right coaching and experience, Edwards could reduce the number of wild shots and reign as the best player in the draft.
- Lamelo Ball
Ball chose to opt-out of playing basketball at the college level to play in the National Basketball League (NBL). At 18 years old, Ball has now risen to the top of many draft boards, as he is able to take over games and make his teammates around him better. Although competition in the NBL can be less intense than in high-level college basketball teams, Ball shows that he has the skills to thrive at any level of play. Although Ball is known for his ability to make shots from almost anywhere on the court, his lesser-known talent lies in his ability to create openings for teammates to take shots and finish drives to the basket. Ball’s decision-making skills and overall maturity should displace NBA executives’ concerns on the level of competition.
As we move deeper into the season, the drive of the players to earn their spot in the NBA grows stronger. Look out for these five players as they could very well be the future faces of basketball.