Kelly Kline/Under Armour

College Basketball Talk’s Class of 2015 Draft

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour

When it comes to discussions of drafts in relation to college basketball, the focus is the NBA with mock drafts projecting where college players could possibly go. But what if there were a draft for the nation’s best recruiting prospects? The staff at CBT entertained this idea, with each of us having eight selections in the “snake” draft to put together our own teams.

A couple things to be considered: only players in the Class of 2015 are eligible to be selected, so names like Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum (2016) won’t be seen here. Also, the player has to be healthy at present time, with the idea of this being to put together a group that would be able to play immediately. Unfortunately that means no Ray Smith due to the torn ACL he suffered earlier this month.

Below is the result, with each full team available for viewing after you go through the pick-by-pick results. We’ll revisit this early next week, taking a look at each team’s strengths and weaknesses. Feel free to leave your thoughts on the draft below.

1. Ben Simmons: In a class filled with big men and forwards, Simmons has proven to be the best of the bunch. (Terrence Payne)

2. Malik Newman: The best scoring guard in a class that lacks elite backcourt options. (Scott Phillips)

3. Ivan Rabb: Give me the big man who can take care of business in the paint on both ends of the floor. (Raphielle Johnson)

4. Jaylen Brown: Brown’s the 2nd-best player in 2015. The 6-foot-7 power wing is a steal at No. 4. (Rob Dauster)

5. Diamond Stone: Stone is the best low-post scorer out of the elite bigs in the class. (RD)

6. Skal Labissiere: Going with the “Twin Towers” idea here. Good luck scoring in the paint against he and Rabb. (RJ)

7. Henry Ellenson: Long and skilled big man can shoot from the perimeter, get post touches and rebound. (SP)

8. Chase Jeter: The youngest player in Rivals top-10 has shown promise on the grassroots circuit, gaining experience through adidas Gauntlet and USA Basketball. (TP)

9. Isaiah Briscoe: Good size for the combo guard, who stuffed the stat sheet for Peach Jam champions, New Jersey Playaz last week. (TP)

10. Cheick Diallo: A steal at 10 as a rim protector, rebounder and emerging low post scorer. (SP)

11. Antonio Blakeney: He’s lit it up offensively this spring/summer. And with Skal and Ivan on the block things could open up for him on the perimeter. (RJ)

12. Jawun Evans: For my money, Evans is the best pure point guard in 2015, a pure-bred winner. He can run any team, he doesn’t make bad decisions and he’s a flat out winner. (RD)

13. Luke Kennard: The 6-foot-5 lefty is one of the best shooters in a class that doesn’t feature many of them. There’s a reason he committed to Duke. (RD)

14. Allonzo Trier: I’ll take another high-level scorer on the wing. It makes the PG position even more important though. (RJ)

15. Jalen Brunson: He can knock down perimeter shots and get open looks for other players at the point. (SP)

16. Brandon Ingram: For the 3-spot I’ll go with Ingram, a five-star forward who battled with consensus top-5 recruit Jaylen Brown twice in Chicago at the adidas Unrivaled. (TP)

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17. Malachi Richardson: Adding a 6-foot-5 shooter to my back court, paired with the physical play of lead guard Isaiah Briscoe. (TP)

18. Deng Adel: The Louisville commit is explosive, skilled and fills the lanes on breaks incredibly well. (SP)

19. Stephen Zimmerman: Too many bigs? Not in my view, and given the spot this is undoubtedly a value pick. (RJ)

20. Dwayne Bacon: You can never have too much scoring pop on the wing, and Bacon can fill it up as well as anyone. (RD)

21. Justin Simon: A playmaker on both ends of the floor, Simon will fit in well with Team Dauster Elite’s run-and-gun style. (RD)

22. Jalen Coleman: My team needs a point guard, so we’ll go with Coleman as a player who can also create for himself. (RJ)

23. Carlton Bragg: A top ten talent falling this far is well worth it as Bragg can score inside, rebound and has skill. (SP)

24. Elijah Thomas: Not a known as a big-time athlete but will be tough to stop on the block. (TP)

25. Jalen Adams: Another playmaking guard, who can help run the point while putting up big scoring numbers. (TP)

26. Tyler Dorsey: Can play both guard spots for me off the bench and can provide another perimeter scoring option. (SP)

27. Kevaughn Allen: The Florida commit has the ability to handle the ball, and as we’ve seen this month scoring and defending won’t be an issue. (RJ)

28. Deyonta Davis: He has all the talent in the world, his issue is effort and motivation. It’s a good thing my pregame speeches are Eric Taylor-esque. (RD)

29. Tyler Davis: A monster on the block, Davis will allow me versatility in my lineups. (RD)

30. Danjel Purifoy: A wing who can also initiate the offense. That will help with this group. (RJ)

31. Caleb Swanigan: Swanigan gives me a big body in the post and the EYBL’s leading rebounder — and three of the top five rebounders overall. (SP)

32. Montaque Gill-Ceasar: Will do more on the wing than just score, he’ll add some defensive pressure as well. (TP)

Terrence’s Team
G Isaiah Briscoe
G Malachi Richardson
G Jalen Adams
G Montaque Gill-Caesar
F Ben Simmons
F Brandon Ingram
F Chase Jeter
F Elijah Thomas

Scott’s Team
G Malik Newman
G Tyler Dorsey
G Jalen Brunson
F Deng Adel
F Henry Ellenson
F Carlton Bragg
C Caleb Swanigan
C Cheick Diallo

Raphielle’s Team
G Jalen Coleman
G Antonio Blakeney
G Allonzo Trier
G Kevaughn Allen
F Danjel Purifoy
F Ivan Rabb
C Stephen Zimmerman
C Skal Labissiere

Rob’s Team
G Jawun Evans
G Luke Kennard
G Dwayne Bacon
G Justin Simon
F Jaylen Brown
F Deyonta Davis
F Tyler Davis
C Diamond Stone

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson