College Prospects Expected to Declare/Sign with Agent:
DeAndre Ayton, Arizona freshman C
Status: Ayton officially announced his plans to enter the draft on March 21st. He debuted at No.2 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: While Arizona’s season was full of distractions and disappointments, Ayton still managed to keep himself at or near the top of most draft boards. On one hand, it was encouraging how focused and how hard Ayton played in his one season with the Wildcats. At the same time, he struggled so much defensively that scouts question whether he’ll end up being an impact player on that end of the floor. What can’t be debated is Ayton’s physical gifts and how, as a freshman, they helped him become one of the best players and finishers in college basketball. As a 7-foot-1 center with a 7-foot-5 wingspan who arrived to the United States from the Bahamas five years ago, Ayton has the potential to become the next “unicorn” center, following Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis. He is a dominant post scorer with elite strength, a respectable assortment of back-to-the-basket moves and the poise to handle double teams. He can also faceup and drive past defenders with one or two dribbles and his range extends to the three-point line. In other words, there’s not much Ayton can’t do, which for someone with his size and athleticism makes him a can’t-miss prospect. Ayton found himself out of position too often and his defensive effort was questioned in high school, but there’s room for growth there in the right situation. His team was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after allowing 89 points to 13th-seeded Buffalo.
Marvin Bagley III, Duke freshman PF
Status: Bagley made things official on March 28th. He debuted at No. 3 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: If there’s a guaranteed elite NBA scorer in this draft class it’s Bagley, who shattered freshman records at Duke while averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game. Bagley, however, has had to deal with questions about what else he does well and how he fits into the modern NBA game. For a player projected to go in the top-five of the draft, it’s more nitpicking than anything, but he doesn’t project to be an elite defender like Jaren Jackson Jr. and doesn’t have the length to play center like him, DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba or Wendell Carter either. There’s also questions about his impact on winning, yet Bagley helped carry the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight, plays with a high motor and doesn’t hunt shots. He’s also a better shooter than he’s given credit for, ranking in the 90th percentile in catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy Sports, and he’s an elite finisher as well, ranking in the 96th percentile around the basket. He projects to be nearly unstoppable in transition and probably has probably the quickest second jump in the draft. He might not be a transcendent talent that fits perfectly into the modern NBA, but not taking him in the top-five would be a result of overthinking.
Mohamed Bamba, Texas freshman C
Status: Bamba declared for the draft with the intention of signing with an agent on March 20th. He debuted at No. 4 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: A mobile 7-foot center with a longer wingspan (7-foot-9) than any current NBA player, Bamba was tabbed as candidate for the No. 1 pick when he arrived in Austin last fall. And in his one season at Texas, Bamba’s game-changing length was on full display as he ranked fifth nationally in block percentage and helped the Longhorns finish in the top-15 in defensive efficiency. In an era that’s traded mid-range jumpers for more three-point shots and close-range attempts, it’s hard to understate Bamba’s value as a rim protector. However, he needs to become stronger and more physical to realize his potential as an all-around defender. It certainly helps his projection that Rudy Gobert — the No. 27 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and the current owner of the NBA’s longest wingspan — has blossomed into one of the league’s best defenders and a second-team all-NBA performer. Offensively, it’s almost unfair when Bamba catches the ball around the basket due to his wingspan but his underdeveloped frame prevents him from scoring in the paint with any type of consistency. He’s not much of a post-up threat and lacks a mid-range game. He has shown three-point range, but he shot 14-51 from deep with the Longhorns. Bamba has been on the NBA radar for years now, and there’s questions as to how much more he’ll develop offensively. There’s also concern that Bamba’s interests outside of basketball could affect his development. He’s been described as a renaissance man.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State freshman PF/C
Status: Jackson declared for the draft on April 2. He debuted at No. 5 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: As a high schooler, Jackson Jr. went from a top-75 prospect to a McDonald’s All-American in a year’s time. Since then, his stock has continued to trend up. Now the question is whether he has superstar potential akin to fellow freshmen big men and projected top draft picks DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley. His ceiling appears to be unlimited, but even if the answer is no, what Jackson brings to the table may be more enticing to some than landing a more dominant scorer. The son of an NBA shooting guard and the owner of a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Jackson projects as an elite defensive stretch five. He has excellent mobility for a new-age center and was one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball this season. As a 40 percent three-point shooter and a willing passer with developing ball skills who’s most comfortable facing the basket, Jackson’s skillset also translates well to modern NBA offenses. Jackson has the athleticism and shooting touch to be a great finisher, but he hasn’t shown the ability to consistently score in the paint the same way as Ayton or Bagley. In terms of intangibles, Jackson checks all the boxes. He’s a team-first player whose toughness improved under Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
Wendell Carter Jr., Duke freshman C
Status: There’s been no official announcement, but Carter’s mom has made it clear that her son’s heading to the pros. He debuted at No. 6 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Coming soon.
Michael Porter Jr., Missouri freshman SF
Status: Porter Jr. officially closed the door on his collegiate career by signing with an agent on March 29th. He debuted at No. 7 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Porter came to Missouri with a chance to lead his hometown school to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 and answer questions surrounding his toughness, attitude and durability in the process. But the way Porter’s lone season in Columbia actually unfolded only raised more questions about his intangibles; the Tigers breaking their NCAA Tournament drought didn’t help his cause. Porter missed all but two minutes in the regular season before conveniently returning in time for tournament play and shooting 9-29 from the field with only one assist in two games, both losses. He was rusty, of course, but knowing that, he should’ve leaned on his teammates more. Still, Porter was the No.2 recruit out of high school because he’s 6-foot-10 with legitimate perimeter ability. That hasn’t gone away. He is much more fluid than most players his size trying to masquerade as wings. A three-level scorer with knockdown shooting ability, imposing athleticism in transition and, as the son of a coach, a strong feel for the game. Even with the injury and other questions about his game, it’s hard to see Porter falling outside the top-10 because he has all-NBA potential.
Trae Young, Oklahoma freshman PG
Status: Young announced his intentions to forgo his remaining college eligibility in this ESPN piece on March 20th. He debuted at No. 8 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Young was a McDonald’s All-American before coming to Oklahoma but nobody envisioned him posting video game numbers as a freshman and climbing into the top-10 of draft boards. His stats now make him impossible to overlook. Even though he was granted nearly unlimited offensive freedom by Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, Young had one of the best single seasons, statistically speaking, regardless of class in college basketball history. But how much of his uncharted success was because he was simply the first player to try to replicate Curry’s game in college? He faces similar questions as Curry did about his slight frame and pedestrian athleticism, and the sequel is almost never better than the original. Like Curry, though, Young has elite vision and shooting range. He also thrives in the pick-and-roll and is probably more advanced offensively at the same stage. Sure, it’s tough to be compared to an MVP, but that’s what happens when you’re the first prospect to successfully imitate Curry’s style at the college level. The challenges scouts face is feeling out Young’s ceiling and floor and determining how he’ll fit on a team if he doesn’t turn into a star. Young is an unproven defender without ideal measurables (6-foot-4 wingspan). He has also been criticized for his shot selection, which seemed to affect him at times. His team began the season 14-2 before finishing 4-12 down the stretch and losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Mikal Bridges, Villanova junior SF
Status: Bridges hasn’t declared yet as his team just finished playing this week. He debuted at No. 9 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Is it surprising that Bridges, a top-100 recruit who possessed NBA measurables and athleticism coming out of high school, has developed into one of college basketball’s best players as a junior under the tutelage of Villanova coach Jay Wright? It shouldn’t be. But does that make him a top-10 draft pick? Opinions vary. Bridges is easy to like as a prospect because he looks the part physically and comes from a winning culture. He has also become an elite outside shooter. For those reasons, most scouts see the 6-foot-7 forward as a prototypical three-and-D prospect with a high floor. But in terms of his upside, Bridges appears unlikely to develop into more than a third or fourth option on offense. His floor game isn’t particularly advanced and he’s always played a supporting role with the Wildcats. Bridges, however, is a very efficient offensive player because he understands his limitations and consistently makes the right play. Defensively, he brings a high motor, a 7-foot wingspan and the ability to defend three positions. He’s active in passing lanes, blocks shots from the weakside and plays with toughness, but doesn’t hurt himself gambling too often. He is projected to get drafted mid-to-late lottery.
Miles Bridges, Michigan State sophomore SF/PF
Status: Bridges declared for the draft on March 28th and stated that he intends to sign with agent Rich Paul. He debuted at No. 10 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Bridges passed up a chance to be a lottery pick last spring to chase a national title at Michigan State, but his return didn’t go as planned as his team was upended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and he showed minimum improvement statistically. However, don’t let the numbers fool you: Bridges transitioned to small forward this season after functioning as a small ball 4 as a freshman, and his more perimeter-oriented role, combined with less spacing and less one-on-one matchups against big men, led to him attempting more low-percentage shots. Bridges has clearly become more comfortable at creating for himself off the dribble over the past year, so by no means has he regressed, but his sophomore season did magnify questions about his playmaking ability from the wing. The good news for Bridges is he can play the small ball 4 in the NBA with his size (7-foot-0 wingspan), strength (230 pounds) and elite explosiveness and be a mismatch nightmare on the offensive end. On the defensive end, he needs to become more active and a bigger presence on the boards. Bridges may not end up becoming much more than a plus-defender, but he can guard multiple positions which adds to his value. In a wider scope, Bridges projects as a fairly high volume scoring forward who excels in transition a la Justise Winslow.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky freshman PG/SG
Status: A decision is expected to come from Gilgeous-Alexander on April 9th. The writing seems to be on the wall here, but the delayed timeline is interesting. He debuted at No. 11 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: It may not be surprising to see a Kentucky guard projected as a lottery pick but Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t considered as a one-and-done prospect when he arrived in Lexington last fall. In fact, among the Wildcats’ seven incoming freshmen, Gilgeous-Alexander was ranked sixth. But by the end of the season, after he took over point guard duties from Quade Green in December, Gilgeous-Alexander was Kentucky’s best player, and his production — along with his playmaking ability and 7-foot wingspan — vaulted him into the lottery discussion. Oversized point guards haven’t had the greatest success rate in the NBA recently, but Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t coveted just because he can run a team. He’s a crafty scorer, a natural in the pick-and-roll, and a 40 percent three-point shooter (albeit at a low volume). If he doesn’t have the ball handling or the lateral ability to play point guard in the NBA (two of the biggest concerns with him), then he could still be an effective, three-level scoring two-guard. Gilgeous-Alexander — as you’d expect for someone who has leaped from relative obscurity to stardom — has been praised for his tireless work ethic.
Collin Sexton, Alabama freshman PG
Status: Sexton is expected to declare for the NBA Draft on April 6th. He debuted at No. 12 in our 2018 mock draft.
The arrival of Sexton and fellow five-star guard John Petty at Alabama was met with high expectations. Sexton then backed up the hype by leading the Crimson Tide to its first NCAA Tournament since 2012 while ranking second in the SEC in scoring and earning the conference’s freshman of the year award. After such a good season, it’s hard to argue his impact and potential at the next level. But then again, Alabama lost one more game in conference play than it did a year ago, got worse defensively and finished outside the top-100 in offensive efficiency, improving only marginally from the previous season. There’s no denying Sexton is a gifted one-on-one scorer with a competitive mentality, but scouts have questions about his ability to elevate the play of teammates. Sexton is also only an average shooter standstill shooter, ranking in the 31st percentile in catch-and-shoot opportunities, although he’s considered a hard-worker and has shown consistent improvement since high school. Sexton offers value in the pick-and-roll, as well as in isolation sets, due to his ability to shift directions and probe defenses, but he needs to improve his vision if he wants to measure up to the top point guards in the league today, especially since he falls short of being an elite NBA athlete. Sexton may not be a can’t miss prospect, but at the very least he projects to be a high usage playmaker either as a starter or in a sixth man role. Defensively, he boasts a solid frame with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and should be aided by his quickness and competitive nature.
Robert Williams, Texas A&M sophomore PF/C
Status: Williams announced that his career at Texas A&M was finished after the Aggies lost to Michigan in the Sweet 16 on March 23rd. He debuted at No. 14 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Before his freshman season, Williams wasn’t even considered a top-50 player in his high school class. By the end of it, he was a potential lottery pick. Still, instead of striking while the iron was hot, Williams chose to return to Texas A&M. As a sophomore, he didn’t show much improvement statistically — his scoring average actually went down — but his stock remains relatively unchanged. Why? Because offense was never a selling point for him anyway and he’s still an elite athlete with strength and a 7-foot-5 wingspan. With his physical traits and low maintenance nature, Williams has the potential to be an elite defensive big men in the NBA. Had he shown noticeable improvement offensively, it could’ve vaulted him into the top-five discussion, but he can play at the next level without being a threat outside the paint. And make no mistake about it — Williams is a non-shooter at this stage who lives off of simple yet effective post moves, cuts, putbacks and transition opportunities, which made it tough for him to play alongside another non-shooter (Tyler Davis) at Texas A&M. At the next level, Williams is best-suited playing next to a shooting big man so he can focus on rebounding, finishing and protecting the paint, three things he already does very well, even by NBA standards. Still, he’s not a exactly a safe pick. His motor runs hot and cold and he was suspended for two games at the beginning of the season, which combined with his lack of improvement raises questions about his commitment and maturity.
Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State junior SF/PF
Status: Bates-Diop announced his intentions to declare and sign with an agent via press conference on March 26th. He debuted at No. 18 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Bates-Diop missed the majority of the 2016-17 season with a stress fracture in his leg but under new coach Chris Holtmann returned to capture Big Ten Player of the Year as a redshirt junior. He is a skilled combo forward with an all-around skillset, a reported 7-foot-4 wingspan and solid athleticism. Some scouts are concerned about Bates-Diop’s motor but it’s just as important that he becomes a consistent shooter because at his size he’s capable of getting his shot off whenever he wants. For the first half of his redshirt junior season, Bates-Diop looked like he answered any concerns about his jumper but he shot just 35 percent from three in conference play and ranked in the 59th percentile among all D-1 players in catch-and-shoot attempts. However, while his future may comes down to whether he can hit jumpers at an above average rate, Bates-Diop contributes in almost all facets offensively. He has a good feel and makes precise cuts to the basket, can post-up and also handles in pick-and-roll situations. He has thrived as a mismatch nightmare, small ball 4 at Ohio State, but could play either forward spot at the next level. Bates-Diop is known as a quiet, team-first player who if anything can be too passive at times, but after a coaching change and roster turnover, he asserted himself as the Buckeyes’ top player this season and led them to a four seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Lonnie Walker IV, Miami (FL) freshman SG
Status: Walker declared for the NBA Draft on April 4th He debuted at No. 19 in our mock draft.
Analysis: An AAU teammate of potential No. 1 2019 pick Cameron Reddish, from a small public high school 60 miles outside of Philadelphia, Walker was never asked to be a go-to scorer against formidable competition before he arrived at Miami. And even this season as a freshman with the Hurricanes, Walker had the luxury of playing with other talented scoring guards like Bruce Brown, Chris Lykes and Ja’Quan Newton, so his production wasn’t all too impressive. That said, Walker’s NBA stock is all about potential. An explosive athlete with a reported 6-foot-10 wingspan and a picturesque jumpshot, he certainly has the profile of a three-and-D prospect. Walker also showed promise this season as an isolation scorer, ranking in the 87th percentile nationally, but those numbers came in limited possessions as he didn’t look to create his own shot too often; part of the reason for his low turnover rate. Walker is also mostly straight line driver. He’s shown glimpses of mid-range scoring ability, including a floater and one or two dribble pull-ups, but he must continue to improve in that area as he struggles to finish inside due to rigidness and a lack of creativity. Interestingly enough, Walker shot in the 97th percentile nationally in unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities, compared to the 23rd percentile when guarded, and he struggled in his final two games of the season — shooting a combined 9-26 from the field and committing more turnovers than assists in first round losses to North Carolina (ACC Tournament) and Loyola-Chicago (NCAA Tournament) — which could raise questions about his ability to play under pressure. Whoever drafts Walker will get a player with a high upside and translatable skills, but there’s also a decent chance becomes a Ben McLemore type and nothing more.
Jacob Evans, Cincinnati sophomore SG
Status: Evans hasn’t signed with an agent yet, but he doesn’t plan to return to school. He debuted at No. 20 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Coming soon.
Kevin Knox, Kentucky freshman SF/PF
Status: Knox is taking his time with the process and flirting with the idea of returning to Kentucky, but it’d be surprising if he followed through. His father said on March 26th that a decision hasn’t yet been made. He debuted at No. 21 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Knox projects better as a forward than a wing at the next level but he went to one of the few places in the country with the necessary frontcourt depth for him to play on the perimeter. That’s created a challenge when it comes to evaluating him. Knox managed to average more than 15 point per game while playing mostly with two more traditional big men on the floor, but he didn’t show a lot of translatable perimeter skills in the process. Many of the same concerns that existed before he came to Lexington — his shooting, ball handling, passing, just his small forward skills in general — remain valid. In his lone season with the Wildcats, Knox shot a modest 34 percent from three, averaged more turnovers (2.3) than assists (1.4) and didn’t impress with his feel for the game. A former quarterback and the son of a Florida State football player, Knox does bring occasional toughness and strength to the table. They’re not always the most aesthetically pleasing, but he can also create shots for himself off the dribble. More often than not, though, Knox looked miscast during his freshman season. He would’ve been better served showcasing his versatility than his scoring. Given his athleticism and 7-foot wingspan, it’s still possible to project him as a stretch 4 who can defend multiple positions at the next level, but that doesn’t seem to be how he envisions himself at this point. He needs the right coach and situation.
Landry Shamet, Wichita State sophomore PG/SG
Status: Shamet announced that he’d declare for the draft and sign with an agent on March 29th. He debuted at No. 22 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Shamet wasn’t considered much of a prospect coming out of high school, but he’s developed into an NBA talent in two years at Wichita State and could hear his name called among the first 30 picks in this year’s draft. Shamet’s strengths are clear: he’s a 6-foot-4 guard who ran point for the Shockers but is equally effective off the ball because of his deadly shooting ability. He ranked in the 99th percentile nationally in catch-and-shoot situations this season and thrived in the pick-and-roll (87th percentile) as well. He also has a 7-foot wingspan. He might not have the strength and quickness to consistently make plays in the NBA as he did in college, but he might be the best shooter in the draft and his point guard skills will show through his high basketball IQ and passing ability. Shamet plays with great control, rhythym and craftiness, can get his shot off in a number of different ways, and does a good job dancing around screens and keeping defenses on off balance. He’s better in the halfcourt than in transition. He’s not a great isolation scorer, but he doesn’t have to be at the next level, where he’ll be more of a ball mover. Defensively, Shamet struggles at times to keep quicker guards in front of him, but he’s smart and knows where his help is. He could fit well next to a smaller scorer guard. He does have some injury concerns as he’s undergone surgery on both of his feet at separate times in the last three years to repair stress fractures, but that should be the only thing that keeps him out of the first round.
Aaron Holiday, UCLA junior PG
Status: Holiday announced that he would forgo his final season of collegiate eligibility on March 26th. He debuted at No. 23 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Holiday averaged more than 20 points per game this past season at UCLA, his junior year, and now he hopes to join his two brothers in the NBA. He isn’t as explosive as Jrue or as long as Justin, but he’s an excellent shooter who shot above 40 percent from three and 80 percent from the line in each of his three seasons with the Bruins. He inherited point guard duties from Lonzo Ball this season and averaged more than five assists per game, but he’s not the type of playmaker who can consistently get to — and finish at — the rim. Instead, he’s a savvy pick-and-roll ball handler in pick-and-rolls who understands how to draw defenders and get teammates open without driving deep into the lane. At the next level, he projects more as a ball moving/shooting combo guard who brings value defensively due to his ability to guard two positions effectively.
Troy Brown, Oregon freshman SF
Status: Brown announced that he was one-and-done at Oregon on April 3rd. He debuted at No. 24 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Brown is only 18 years old and is one of the best non-point guard facilitators in the draft. With natural passing and ball handling ability, he has the the potential to be a point forward-type in the NBA, or at least a slasher with playmaking ability from the wing. Brown averaged more than three assists per game as a freshman at Oregon, despite playing mostly small forward against defenses that sagged off of him due to his shooting struggles. His physical tools and floor game are what makes him a potential lottery pick. Brown shot just 29 percent from three at Oregon and ranked in the 29th percentile nationally as a jump shooter, per Synergy Sports, but he’s a 74 percent foul shooter with solid touch around the basket. He’s more comfortable with the ball in his hands, which for a non-shooting wing makes him a tricky projection, a la Evan Turner, but he has a great first step, plays mostly under control, and has shown the ability to hit occasional fadeaways. It’s hard to understate how impressive he can be as a playmaker, but he struggled against top competition because he’s easy to key in on without the threat of a jumper. He needs to add strength as well. Defensively, Brown has the physical tools and showed plenty of promise with the Ducks, adding to his value and making him a lock for the first round. At the next level, he projects as a versatile defender with plenty of playmaking ability and overall skill on offense. He’ll likely need a couple years to get stronger and improve his jumper, but he has a legitimate chance to be an NBA starter down the road.
Shake Milton, SMU junior PG/SG
Status: Milton originally announced that he would test the waters, but declared for the draft with the intention of signing with an agent only a few days later on March 30th. He debuted at No. 28 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: How important was Milton to SMU? The Mustangs were a fringe top-25 team before Milton broke his hand and missed the final 11 games of the season and won just two games without him. Milton did a little bit of everything for his college team, and his versatility — he’s a 6-foot-6 combo guard with a 7-foot wingspan — is the biggest reason why he’s projected to go either in the late first round or early second. Milton also shot 43 percent from three and can score and facilitate in pick-and-rolls, although he was better in one-on-one situations this year and projects secondary ball handler at the next level. He plays better in the halfcourt than in transition as he isn’t a great athlete. He has a smooth game and can create his own shot with relative ease, but struggles to finish at the rim. Defensively, Milton’s tape doesn’t offer much to get excited about. Perhaps it was to keep him fresh on offense since SMU rarely subbed him out of close games, but Milton didn’t guard the opposition’s best player and showed a concerning lack of unawareness at times.
De’Anthony Melton, USC sophomore PG/SG
Status: Melton withdrew from USC with the intentions of entering the NBA Draft on February 21st. He debuted at No. 35 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Melton showed a lot of raw potential as a freshman, doing a little bit of everything for the Trojans except scoring efficiently, as he was the only NCAA player to average at least 5.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes last year. Scouts were looking forward to see him growing into that potential as a sophomore, but he wasn’t allowed to play due to the ongoing college basketball bribery scandal. That means the questions about Melton from last year — mainly revolving around his position and shooting — remain unanswered. He is a bit of a point guard-shooting guard tweener, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when combined with his three-point struggles (28.4 percent from three) and lack of experience it’s tough to project him into an offensive role with any confidence at this point. However, the potential is there, as Melton shows impressive passing instincts and a knack for making difficult plays look easy. He just needs to make the simple ones too. Melton was mostly a secondary ball handler at USC and did his best work in transition. Defensively, he has quick hands, a good frame and the potential to defend multiple positions with his 6-foot-8 wingspan, but he played too upright at times and the effort wasn’t always there. It’s possible that he could’ve played his way into a late lottery with a strong sophomore season, so a team should be willing to roll the dice on him in the late first/early second round.
Justin Jackson, Maryland sophomore SF/PF
Status: Jackson announced the end of his career at Maryland on March 28th. He debuted at No. 36 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: After surprising scouts with his shooting ability as a freshman, hitting threes at a near-44 percent clip, Jackson was invited to the NBA Combine only to returned to school when he didn’t receive a first round guarantee. Due to his shooting and 7-foot-3 wingspan, some believed that Jackson would work himself into the lottery this season if he showed improved playmaking ability, but instead he struggled to transition from power forward to small forward and then opted to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery in December, effectively ending his college career. He will likely get drafted on the merits of his physical profile and his strong freshman season, as he shot 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from threes in 11 games as a sophomore, but scouts will have to determine how much his struggles had to do with his shoulder. If Jackson rediscovers his shooting stroke, he has a fairly clear role in the NBA as a stretch forward who can guard multiple positions. He obviously didn’t do anything to work his way into the first round this year but he’s too talented not to get drafted in the second round, assuming he’s healthy enough to workout for teams.
Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky sophomore SG
Status: There’s probably a better chance of Diallo returning to Kentucky than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox, but that chance is still very slim (10 percent) according to Wildcat beat writer Kyle Tucker. He debuted at No. 38 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in the middle of last year, showed off his elite athleticism at the NBA Combine, returned to school without a first round guarantee and then struggled to take advantage of his physical gifts in actual games. With a 7-foot wingspan and a 40+ inch vertical, Diallo might have the best physical profile in the entire draft, but he finished his redshirt freshman season as the Wildcats’ fourth leading scorer, shooting just 43 percent from the field, 34 percent from three and 61 percent from the line. It’s not just his shooting that’s a concern either. Diallo has a wiry frame, shaky handles and showed limited feel in pick-and-roll situations. As a result, he ranked in the 29th percentile nationally in halfcourt efficiency, so despite his profile his upside is significantly limited by his lacking skillset. Of course Diallo, who turns 20 in July, can improve, but he’s a long ways away from becoming above average in anything on offense that doesn’t involve running the floor and dunking. His defense also isn’t nearly as good as his measurables suggest. Although he has the length to bother opponents in the halfcourt and will occasionally record a chasedown block in transition, he struggles with positioning and doesn’t have the mentality of a lockdown defender. He also gets beat off the dribble too often. Diallo is a classic boom-or-bust wing whose upside doesn’t appear to be nearly as high as it’s perceived to be.
Chimezie Metu, USC junior PF
Status: Metu didn’t play in the NIT and then declared for the draft with the intention of signing an agent on March 22nd. He debuted at No. 43 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Metu heads to the NBA after graduating from USC in three years at the age of 20. A Los Angeles native who spent years of his childhood in Nigeria, Metu is an explosive run-and-jump athlete who plays with an edge and occasionally allows his emotions to get the best of him. In January, he was suspended and stripped of his captaincy for punching an opposing player in the groin. He’s also been outspoken about issues on social media. But when Metu’s energy is channeled on the court, he can be a dominating presence. He’s an imposing weakside shot-blocker and quick enough to play passing lanes. He also led the Pac-12 in pick-and-roll finishes and ranked second in isolation scores. Metu has an explosive first step and can drive past defenders from the foul line extended area and also spot-up and hit fadeaway jumpers. A powerful dunker who runs the court with ease, Metu also thrives in transition. He has potential to expand his range to the three-point line but hasn’t done so yet. That, along with his below average wingspan (6-foot-11) and strong but slight frame, make him a bit of a power forward-center tweener. Still, Metu has a relatively high upside for a third-year college player if he can improve his jumper or blossom into a defensive center, so he should get selected in the late first/early second range as long as teams are comfortable with his attitude. Metu chose not to play for the Trojans in the NIT this season to avoid injury.
Trevon Duval, Duke freshman PG
Status: Duval declared for the draft with the intention of signing an agent on March 4. He debuted at No. 44 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Duval drew comparisons to Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose out of high school and was a projected lottery pick heading into his freshman season, but he struggled in his one year at Duke and enters the draft as a projected second round pick. It’s hard to justify someone’s stock falling so quickly, but even though Duval’s situation at Duke wasn’t ideal, it’s clear he’s not the next Westbrook or Rose. An impressive athlete with the frame to match, Duval’s physical profile is enough to get him drafted, but what exactly is a Westbrook-type player in today’s NBA without unstoppable athleticism? Post-injury Rose is perhaps the best answer out there. Duval still has significant potential if he fixes his jumpshot and improves as a floor general, but he looks to be at least a year or two away from being an NBA rotation player. If he returned to Duke, regained his confidence and started to perform up to his high school billing, Duval could’ve worked his way back into the first round discussion next year, but as things stand it’s hard to invest a first round pick in a guard who isn’t ready to contribute nor guaranteed to stick in the league long-term.
Allonzo Trier, Arizona junior SG
Status: Trier declared for the draft with the intention of signing an agent on March 16th after Arizona lost to Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He debuted at No. 50 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: The longer Trier stayed in school, the more his game was picked apart, but he still offers intrigue due to his shot-making ability. He can shoot from anywhere on the court, guarded or not, off the dribbling or spotting up, and that might be enough to get him selected in the second round of this year’s draft. However, his true expertise is hitting difficult shots off the dribble, specifically from a step or two inside the arc, which doesn’t exactly translate well to the next level. According to Synergy Sports, Trier ranked in the 95th percentile on jumpers off the bounce, but only in the 50th percentile in catch and shoot situations. It doesn’t help Trier’s cause that he relied a lot of his strength advantage and only has average length for a shooting guard (6-foot-7 wingspan). Multiple suspensions due to failed drug tests (for banned performance-enhancing substances) only raise more red flags. He projects as an average at best defender. Still, he could stick in the league as he has considerable talent and certainly appears capable of improving as a spot-up shooter.
Brandon McCoy, UNLV freshman C
Status: UNLV announced that McCoy was heading to the NBA on March 27th. He debuted at No. 52 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: A former McDonald’s All-American, McCoy put up big numbers in his lone season at UNLV, setting conference freshman records for scoring and rebounding, but wasn’t surrounded by much talent, and thus, didn’t get a lot of national attention. McCoy has legitimate NBA potential but he has a relatively short wingspan for a center (7-foot-1.5) and isn’t super explosive, so his upside isn’t as high as your typical one-and-done former McDonald’s All-American. However, McCoy also could be a relatively safe pick in the second round as he’s a good rebounder who plays with physicality. He was double teamed often in the post with the Runnin’ Rebels, which is why he posted such a poor assist-to-turnover ratio (1:5.2), but he isn’t a particularly skilled offensively player. He has an ugly — yet somewhat effective — mid-range jumper and a basic bag of post moves. He showed solid passing ability at times, but also made lazy and rushed passes. Defensively, he’s a little slow recovering in ball screen coverages, but plays with discipline. He’s a good post defender, but he doesn’t have the length to contest top NBA players and isn’t an intimidating shot blocker. DeAndre Ayton, his former AAU teammate, had his way with him down low in an early season matchup.
Rawle Alkins, Arizona sophomore SG
Status: Alkins tweeted that he was entering the NBA Draft with the intention of signing an agent on March 27th. He debuted at No. 53 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Alkins tested the waters after his freshman season and was good enough to get invited to the NBA Combine, but ultimately decided to return for what he knew was going to be his final season at Arizona. As a sophomore his efficiency went down, but part of his struggles from the field can be attributed to him breaking his foot and missing the first nine games of the season. He also missed games later in the season due to soreness in his surgically-repaired foot. A native New Yorker and a former McDonald’s All-American, Alkins offers plenty of toughness and an intriguing enough skillset to get drafted somewhere in the second round. He doesn’t have the greatest handles or first step, but he’s a good slasher who knows how to bully his way into the lane. He’s competitive and has had some of his best games against top competition, but also plays down to the opponent at times. If he can play with a consistent motor, he has potential to be a good defender ala Lance Stephenson, another New Yorker who faced similar questions about his shooting, athleticism and motor out of college. Like Stephenson, Alkins shouldn’t be written off based on an underwhelming year.
Tony Carr, Penn State sophomore PG/SG
Status: Carr announced that he was declaring for the draft and signing with an agent on April 2. He debuted at No. 55 in our 2018 mock draft.
Malik Newman, Kansas sophomore SG
Status: Newman announced that he was declaring for the draft and signing with an agent on April 4. He debuted at No. 57 in our 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: Newman wouldn’t have much buzz if not for a strong March. But after scoring 17 or more points in seven his final eight games, the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore is hoping to plateau his success into an NBA roster spot. Newman has always been an elite scorer, dating back to high school, so his hot finish doesn’t exactly change the perception of who he is as a player — a largely one-dimensional scoring guard — but it did serve as a reminder of what he’s capable of when he’s at his best. Newman’s never going to be a point guard and he lacks great physical tools as a shooting guard, but he’s an exceptional one-on-one scorer, ranking in the 94th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler, 86th percentile in isolation and 92nd percentile as a jumpshooter off the dribble. Newman will also make you pay if you leave him open beyond the perimeter, as he improved to a 41.5 percent three-point shooter this season, ranking in the 90th percentile in unguarded catch-and-shoot situations. Still, he’s much more comfortable shooting off the dribble than squaring up from three with a defender closing in, and he’s a tunnel vision driver who makes a lot of careless mistakes. His overall value at the NBA level is questionable, but he should be able to score at a high volume off the bench a la Monta Ellis. He is a worthwhile pick in the second round, but lacks first round upside.
Ray Spalding, Louisville junior PF/C
Status: Spalding announced April 3rd that he was staying in the NBA Draft. He wasn’t listed on our first 2018 mock draft.
Analysis: When it comes to Spalding’s NBA value, it’s his defensive stats that are intriguing. Spalding is one of only 17 players in the last 10 years to averaged more than 1.5 blocks, 1.5 steals and 8.5 rebounds per game, joining an exclusive list that includes Kenneth Faried, Wes Johnson, Trevor Booker, James Johnson, Larry Nance and Nerlen Noels. Outside of perhaps Noels, Spalding is the tallest player to accomplish the feat, which speaks to how well he moves laterally at 6-foot-11. That’s translate to defending well in space, as he ranked in the 99th percentile in pick-and-roll ball handler defense this season. Spalding is fairly explosive, but his timing stands out even more when he blocks shots. He understands positioning and does a good job baiting opponents. Still, Spalding can be thrown off balance, both by quick guards and strong bigs. Offensively, he is a capable post scorer at the college level, but he isn’t particularly skilled on the block, and again, he can be pushed around. He’s also not a great shooter. His biggest strength on the offensive end of the floor is his passing, and his ability to finish as a role man. He’s very coordinated for his size and has good ball skills. Spalding will likely have to play center in the NBA given his skillet, which limits his upside, but he has an intriguing combination of tools and could be good end-of-the-bench guy a la Ekpe Udoh.
Gary Trent Jr., Duke freshman SG
Moritz Wagner, Michigan PF/C
College players turning pro/not projected to get drafted:
Deng Adel, Louisville junior SF
LeRon Black, Illinois junior SF/PF
Eric Davis, Texas junior PG/SG
Marcus Derrickson, Georgetown junior PF
Dikembe Dixson, Illinois-Chicago sophomore SF
Drew Eubanks, Oregon State junior C
Mustapha Heron, Auburn sophomore SG
DJ Hogg, Texas A&M junior SF/PF
Harry Froling, Marquette sophomore PF/C
Robert Franks, Washington State junior PF
Terry Larrier, UConn junior SF/PF
Jack McVeigh, Nebraska junior SF
Corey Sanders, Rutgers junior PG
Fred Sims, Chicago State junior PG
LaGerald Vick, Kansas junior SF
Testing the waters (notables):
Kostas Antetokounmpo, Dayton freshman PF/C
Ky Bowman, Boston College sophomore PG
Bruce Brown, Miami (FL) sophomore PG/SG
Jordan Caroline, Nevada junior PF
Terence Davis, Ole Miss junior SG
Tyler Davis, Texas A&M junior C
Carsen Edwards, Purdue sophomore PG
Jon Elmore, Marshall junior PG
Jarrey Foster, SMU junior SF
Melvin Frazier, Tulane junior SF
Bruno Fernando, Maryland freshman PF/C
Jaylen Hands, UCLA freshman PG
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin junior C
Jalen Hudson, Florida junior SG
Dewan Huell, Miami sophomore PF
Justin James, Wyoming junior SF
Sagaba Konate, West Virginia sophomore C
Fletcher Magee, Wofford junior SG
Cody Martin, Nevada junior SG
Caleb Martin, Nevada junior SF
Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech sophomore SG
Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s sophomore PG
Jontay Porter, Missouri freshman PF/C
Kerwin Roach, Texas junior SG
Jerome Robinson, Boston College junior PG/SG
Quinton Rose, Temple sophomore SF
Khyri Thomas, Creighton junior SG
Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech freshman SG/SF
Ray Spalding, Louisville junior PF/C
PJ Washington, Kentucky freshman PF
Lindell Wigginton, Iowa State freshman PG
Austin Wiley, Auburn sophomore C
Kris Wilkes, UCLA freshman SF
Omer Yurtseven, NC State sophomore C
Testing the waters (continued):
Esa Ahmad, West Virginia junior SF
Jordan Brangers, South Plains CC sophomore SG
Barry Brown, Kansas State junior PG
Tookie Brown, Georgia State junior PG
CJ Burks, Marshall junior SG
Kameron Chatman, Detroit junior SF
Haanif Cheatham, Florida Gulf Coast junior SG
Yoeli Childs, BYU sophomore PF
Chris Clemons, Campbell junior PG
Tyler Cook, Iowa sophomore PF/C
Isaac Copeland, Nebraska junior SF/PF
Bryant Crawford, Wake Forest junior PG
Jon Davis, Charlotte junior PG
Noah Dickerson, Washington junior PF
Torin Dorn, North Carolina State junior SFc
Eugene German, Northern Illinois sophomore PG
Armon Gilder, Texas A&M junior PG
Tyler Hall, Montana State junior SG
Jared Harper, Auburn sophomore PG
Tramaine Isabell, Drexel junior PG
DeAngelo Isby, Utah State junior SF
Zach Johnson, Florida Gulf Coast junior PG
Makinde London, Chattanooga junior PF
Dominic Magee, Southern Miss junior SG
Zane Martin, Towson sophomore PG
Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State freshman PF/C
Elijah Minnie, Eastern Michigan junior PF
Shelton Mitchell, Clemson junior PG
Doral Moore, Wake Forest junior C
Matt Morgan, Cornell junior SG
Isaiah Moss, Iowa sophomore SG
James Palmer Jr, Nebraska junior SG/SF
Kobe Paras, Cal State Northridge sophomore SG
Ajdin Penava, Marshall junior PF
Lamar Peters, Mississippi State sophomore PG
Marcquise Reed, Clemson junior PG
Trayvon Reed, Texas Southern junior C
Ahmaad Rorie, Montana junior PG
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee junior PF
Max Strus, DePaul junior SG/SF
Deshon Taylor, Fresno State junior PG
Reid Travis, Stanford junior PF
Jordan Varnado, Troy junior PF
Nick Ward, Michigan State sophomore C
Nick Weatherspoon, Mississippi State freshman PG
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State junior SG
Andrien White, Charlotte junior SG
Demajeo Wiggins, Bowling Green junior C
Justin Wright-Foreman, Hofstra junior PG
Notables returning to school:
Daniel Gafford, Arkansas freshman C
Markis McDuffie, Wichita State junior SF/PF
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga sophomore PF
D’Marcus Simonds, Georgia State sophomore PG/SG