Note that while the top 20 includes the top international prospects in this year’s draft class, this list excludes the second tier internationals.
21. Theo Pinson (ESPN: 44, DX: 31 in ’17)
The #15 RSCI recruit in 2014, Pinson is the 3rd highest rated returning sophomore behind Justin Jackson and Isaiah Whitehead. He had limited opportunity to showcase himself as a freshman coming off the bench behind Jackson and JP Tokoto, and then a foot injury sidelined him for the majority of the 2nd half. He is skinny but otherwise he has ideal tools to defend either wing position, and he used his athleticism to fill up every non shooting/scoring stat category in his freshman sample with exceptional passing for a wing. With Tokoto gone, Pinson figures to play big minutes next year and has strong breakout potential.
22. Troy Williams (ESPN: 41, DX: 20)
Williams has a good base of athleticism, quickness, ball handling, and passing ability for a wing. There are questions about his shooting ability, as he only attempted 0.6 3P per 40 minutes as a sophomore. But he was also playing PF/C for a small Indiana team, and he did shoot 74% FT. If he can develop 3 point range, he has nice upside with the tools to be a good defensive wing and the ball skills to play on the perimeter.
23. Malik Pope (ESPN: 6, DX: 30)
Pope had a decent season for a toolsy 18 year old freshman, and he has clear breakout potential as a sophomore. He missed significant time in high school with injuries, so he may have extra sneaky upside if he can finally stay healthy for an extended time frame. But he did not excel at anything as a freshman and is merely a good not great athlete, so Chad Ford should probably relax before ranking him ahead of Dragan Bender.
24. Wade Baldwin (ESPN NR, DX 39 in ’17)
In 2012, Baldwin measured 6’1.5″ without shoes and a 6’10” wingspan. His length explains how he amassed a 3.1% steal rate for a typically low steal coach, and it gives him the versatility to defend either guard position. Offensively he posted a solid assist rate with a 2.3 assist to turnover.
The main question for Baldwin is: can he score? He is a decent but not elite athlete and did not get to the rim with overwhelming frequency. While he shot 44% from 3 and 80% from FT, his shooting was considered a weakness as a recruit and he did not attempt a high volume of 3’s. It is too soon to anoint him as a legitimately good prospect, but he is one of the top returning players to monitor in 2015-16.
25. Damian Jones (ESPN: 15, DX: 16)
He is 7’0, strong, athletic, and young for his class as he only turned 20 at the end of last June. This is a great foundation for a prospect, but the rest of his profile is lackluster. He has a highly underwhelming rebound rate for a player with his tools, and his block rate is only OK. He hardly ever gets steals, and while he vastly improved his assist to TOV rate as a sophomore it was still a paltry 0.34. His 60% sophomore FT% is not bad for a 19 year old big, and he does have a semblance of a short to mid range scoring game. But without outlier athleticism and an average 7’2″ wingspan, he did not show the skill or BBIQ to be worth more than a late 1st based on his first 2 seasons at Vanderbilt.
26. Gary Payton II (ESPN: 61, DX: NR)
The Mitten is a fascinating prospect– on one hand he is undersized to play SG at 6’2.5″ with a 6’6.5″ wingspan and an underskilled PG with many offensive limitations as an athletic 22 year old. On the other hand, he had higher block and defensive rebound rates than Jahlil Okafor last season to complement the 2nd highest steal rate in the NCAA behind Corey Walden. His measurables understate his possible defensive impact, and he is roughly next draft’s version of Terry Rozier with bigger defensive upside.
27. Jalen Brunson (ESPN: 23, DX: 27 in ’17)
Brunson seems all sorts of awesome in terms of basketball playing skills, as he is a pure point who is a smooth slasher and finisher, can shoot, plays pesky defense, and has good basketball IQ. But he is 6’2″ with a lackluster 6’3″ wingspan and average athleticism, which makes it hard to succeed in a league loaded with talented and toolsy point guards. Brunson strikes me as the type who has a shot to overcome the odds after watching him dominate FIBA u19, but I would prefer to see a signficant sample of NCAA success before getting too giddy over the possibility.
28. Chinanu Onuaku (ESPN: 27, DX: 26)
He is a completely one way defensive prospect, as he is young, toolsy, and has shown the ability to rack up steals and blocks on defense. He is a zero offensively outside of O-Rebs, but he was one of the youngest players in NCAA last year, so there is room for him to grow into a useful garbage man. He is poised for a big sophomore leap and is a player to monitor next season. The only reason I am not higher on him is because his measurables of 6’10” with a 7’2.5″ wingspan are weak for a one way defensive center.
29. Stephen Zimmerman (ESPN: 31, DX: 8 in 2017)
Zimmerman looked good in the Hoop Summit. He is a reasonably athletic 7’0″ with a balanced array of strengths who has clear potential to contribute on both ends. He is a jack of all trades and master of none, and is one of the more appealing non-lotto freshmen.
30. Keita Bates-Diop (ESPN: NR, DX: NR)
Last year’s #29 RSCI recruit only played 10 mins/game as a freshman on a team driven by D’Angelo Russell and upperclassmen. But he has nice tools for an NBA SF as he is 6’7″, long, and athletic. He can rebound, block shots, make 3’s, and he posted more assists than turnovers as a freshman. He is skinny and doesn’t seem to offer much shot creation, but he has breakout potential and I am not sure why he is completely off the radar.
31. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (ESPN: 17, DX: 17)
Mykhailiuk struggled as an 17 year old freshman, posting a 7.2 PER in 291 minutes. Now as a sophomore he will still be one of the youngest players in the NCAA, so it would not be fair to hold his small freshman sample against him given his athleticism, basketball IQ, and shooting. But he is not a great shooter (31.3% 3P% in 288 career attempts according to DX) and his short arms prevent him from being much of a playmaker defensively. He has struggled badly inside the arc his whole career, as he is not comfortable finishing in traffic and tends to throw up wild shots in the paint. He has potential for significant improvement in this area, but DX and ESPN are taking a large progression for granted in ranking him as a mid-1st rounder.
32. Grayson Allen (ESPN: 18, DX: 32 in ’17)
He is small for a SG, but his athleticism gives him upside as a scorer as he has the skill to both slash and shoot. His championship game performance blew his ESPN hype a bit out of hand, but it’s feasible that he eventually lives up to it.
33. Chase Jeter (ESPN: 51, DX: 17 among freshmen)
Jeter could be the Bobby Portis of the class, as scouts are glazing over him due to not being a great athlete or having a standout skill in spite of his #14 RSCI rating. But between his youth, size, quickness, rebounding, basketball IQ, and budding offensive skill he has a number of small edges that could add up to a quality player.
34. Jake Layman (ESPN: 35, DX: 24)
I am not sure that he has the perimeter skills to be an NBA SF, but in round 2 it is worth gambling on the possibility that he does given his athleticism.
35. DeAndre Bembry (ESPN: 42, DX: 38)
Bembry stuffed the statsheet as a sophomore for an inexperienced St. Joseph’s team, racking up a healthy share of points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. His efficiency was mediocre and he is only a career 33.5% 3P 61.1% FT shooter. But he has solid size for an NBA SG (6’6″ tall 6’8″ long) as well as the athleticism, quickness, and ball handling skills to succeed at the position should his shooting and decision making improve.
36. Justin Jackson (ESPN: 22, DX: 23)
Last year’s #9 RSCI freshman is the top rated returning sophomore. Jackson is the anti-Moreyball player: he is lethal from mid-range, which makes up a big portion of his offense. He lacks the athleticism to create layups and FT’s, and has limited shooting range as he shot just 30.4% from 3 on low volume as a freshman. He is also limited defensively as he does not have the size to make a big impact. His redeeming qualities outside of mid-range dominance are that he has nice size for a SF and is a good passer with good feel as he posted an elite assist:TOV rate as a freshman.
He has an interesting blend of strengths, but the trouble is figuring how this amounts to a useful NBA player. Mid-range shooting is not that valuable for an off the ball wing, so to become a good NBA’er he needs to develop 3 point range as well as ball skills to justify regular touches.
37. Isaiah Whitehead (ESPN: 77, DX: NR)
Whitehead had a horribly inefficient season as an old freshman PG (he turned 20 in March), as he shot just 38% on 2P and posted nearly as many turnovers as assists. But in spite of limited athleticism and quicks he showed defensive potential and is a decent shooter– if he cleans up his decision making on offense he will emerge as a viable prospect.
38. Monte Morris (ESPN: NR, DX: 39)
Morris has fairly average tools for a PG, is not a volume scorer, and even his assist rate is not stellar. But the smooth operator has posted a stunning 4.7 to 1 assist to turnover rate in his 2 years at Iowa State while making 40% 3P, 80% FT, and posting great steal and block rates for a player of his physical profile. He is a unique prospect that seems to have an outlier intersection of coordination and feel for the game.
39. Michael Humphrey (ESPN: NR, DX: 71 among sophomores)
This is my shot in the dark super draft sleeper. There is limited information on him, as I cannot even find his birthday. What I do know is that he was the #60 RSCI freshman and is an athletic 6’9″ PF. He played a bit role for Stanford last season until he was inserted into the starting lineup near the end of Pac-12 play. In 6 games and 126 mins as a starter, he averaged 15.9 pts 13.0 rebs 2.5 blks per 40 shooting an awesome 67% inside the arc before spraining his ankle and missing the majority of the remaining season. He also posted nearly as many assists (13) as turnovers (15) over the full course of the season. He is a skinny PF who shot just 11/22 FT and 0/2 3P, so he could be perceived as a very undersized center. But between his assist rate and acceptable scoring on non-rim 2’s (15/33), he appears to have hope to develop an acceptable PF skill package. The main caveat is this is all a very thin slice, and more information is needed before any strong conclusions are drawn.
40. Isaiah Briscoe (ESPN: 19, DX: 18)
Briscoe is a big, strong guard who appears to be the second coming of Andrew Harrison. He is not athletic or quick, and is bad defensively even though he has the measurables to defend SG’s. He also is a mediocre shooter. His saving grace is that unlike Harrison he appears to be a legitimate point guard with floor vision and passing skills. Overall he is bleh to me, and I am not convinced that he will prove to be the 3rd best freshman prospect on Kentucky ahead of #50 RSCI Charles Matthews.
41. Ray Smith
42. James Webb III
43. Derryck Thornton
44. Daniel Ochefu
45. Buddy Hield
46. Denzel Valentine
47. Melo Trimble
48. Brice Johnson
49. Tim Quarterman
50. Fred Van Vleet
51. Deonte Burton
52. Devin Robinson
53. Kennedy Meeks
54. Thomas Bryant
55. Malcolm Hill
56. Allonzo Trier
57. Justin Simon
58. PJ Dozier
59. Mike Tobey
60. Gary Clark