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Holiday Wish Lists: What are the nation’s best teams in need of adding this holiday season?

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Over the course of the next three days, we at College Basketball Talk will be cruising through a list of college basketball’s best teams, attempting to figure out who or what they need to add.

Put another way, with the holidays right around the corner, if your favorite team was able to ask for one thing as a gift, what would it be?

Do they need to add a point guard?

Is there enough big man depth on the roster?

Can they shoot?

Can they guard?

Today, we’ll roll through everyone from Alabama to Louisville.

Let’s get into it.

MORE: Maryland-Seton Hall | Syracuse-Xavier
FUTURES: Alabama-Louisville | Maryland-Seton Hall | Syracuse-Xavier

ALABAMA: Another scoring threat

Collin Sexton is awesome, and Avery Johnson no doubt wants him to continue being so, but the Crimson Tide could really use a little more help. Sexton’s usage rate is at 32.8 percent, one of the highest in the country and he averages nearly as many points per game (21.8) as the Tide’s next top two scorers combined (24.5). (Travis Hines)

ARIZONA: A healthy Allonzo Trier

Just when the Wildcats seemed to be building momentum towards the Pac-12 opener against Arizona State, Allonzo Trier goes down with a left knee injury against North Dakota State. The exact diagnosis isn’t known just yet, but the Wildcats really need him on the court if they’re to reach their potential. Trier’s been incredibly efficient, and given how well he’s played having to sit out an extended period of time would be unfair. (Raphielle Johnson)

ARIZONA STATE: Improved defensive rebounding

While many of us seem to believe in the Sun Devils at this point, the KenPom numbers aren’t as sold and for one very good reason: this team has work to do on the defensive glass. Arizona State’s opponents rebound 30.6 percent of their misses, with ASU ranking 219th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage as a result. Adding Mickey Mitchell to the mix gives them another front court option, and eventually Kimani Lawrence will do the same once healthy. This isn’t the tallest team, but they’re capable of being better on the defensive glass than they have been. (RJ)

Tra Holder (David Becker/Getty Images)

ARKANSAS: Consistency from Daniel Gafford

Arkansas could probably use some more frontcourt depth, but I don’t think that is all that necessary given what they currently have on their roster. Their guards are good and old, which is an ideal combination in the collegiate ranks, and there are some big bodies on their bench that can, at the very least, take up space and provide fouls. Their x-factor, however, is freshman center Daniel Gafford, who has been excellent for the most part. In Arkansas’ eight win, he’s averaging 14 points, 5.9 boards and 2.3 blocks. In their two losses? He’s averaging 5.0 points, 6.0 boards and 1.o blocks in just 16.5 minutes.

BAYLOR: Anonymity

The Bears have gone somewhat under the radar this season with losses to Xavier and Wichita State depressing their national cachet, but that’s got to be what Scott Drew wants for his team. Baylor always seems to be at its best when its undervalued and not saddled with a ton of expectation. The computers love this team. Drew will probably be happy if they’re the only ones that really heap praise until mid-February. (TH)

CINCINNATI: The AAC to be better

The Bearcats and head coach Mick Cronin are hoping the American gives them a legitimate schedule to help them land a top-four seed on Selection Sunday. With the No. 215 non-conference strength of schedule right now, according to KenPom, Cincinnati didn’t exactly help its cause over the last several months. There were opportunities for wins over Xavier and Florida that failed. Wins over programs like Mississippi State and UCLA don’t look all that impressive. Cincinnati had better hope its conference gives them enough quality games to be considered on par with the other power leagues. (Scott Phillips)

CREIGHTON: More people to notice Khyri Thomas

Left off of the preseason All-Big East teams this fall, the Bluejays wish for more national respect for junior guard Khyri Thomas. Already regarded as one of the nation’s better perimeter defenders, the 6-foot-3 Thomas has expanded his offensive game enough to become a consistent second scoring threat behind Marcus Foster. But nobody ever seems to talk about Thomas. He consistently covers the opposing team’s best perimeter option while providing efficient offense for a 9-2 team. It’s time to start paying attention to Thomas. And don’t be surprised if he earns Big East honors at the end of the year. (SP)

DUKE: Frontcourt defenders

There are a handful of issues currently present on this Duke roster. Grayson Allen has been inconsistent this year. Trevon Duval is not a natural point guard. They don’t have the kind of depth they had hoped for. Wendell Carter has not been as efficient as the staff would have liked. But the biggest problem Duke is currently dealing with is on the defensive side of the ball, specifically with their big men. Marvin Bagley III, Carter and Marques Bolden are not great rim protectors. But they also are not great at defending perimeter fours. The biggest issue, however, is that none of them are all that good guarding ball-screens. That’s why they lost to Boston College, because Jim Christian schemed ball-screen after ball-screen after ball-screen, and Duke’s big men had no answer. (RD)

FLORIDA: Toughness

This isn’t my idea. If it was me making this pick I would lean towards adding a big wing that can defend and make threes; another year of eligibility for Justin Leon or Devin Robinson to be allowed to play his senior season. Something like that. But if you listen to what the Florida players say after losses – and after their win over Cincinnati, the only game they’ve won in their last five – it’s toughness, both physical and mental, that they lack. (RD)

FLORIDA STATE: Better lead guard play

Florida State wishes to find players who can take care of the ball. The Seminoles have been one of the fun surprises in college hoops this season thanks to their depth and athleticism. This team also coughs up the ball 14 times per game, including 22 in a one-point loss to Oklahoma State last weekend. When you also factor that the Seminoles have faced an underwhelming non-conference schedule then how is this team going to handle pressure once they hit the ACC? (SP)

GONZAGA: Better perimeter defense

There isn’t a whole lot to single out when it comes to the flaws of this team. There have been times when the Zags have turned the ball over more than one would like, but with Josh Perkins running the show and weapons on the perimeter and in the paint the offense should be fine. Defensively, the three-point percentage defense could stand to improve some with opponents making 38.0 percent of their looks on the season. And given how good last year’s team was across the board on that end of the floor, asking Santa for better showings on that end of the floor may make the most sense for Mark Few’s team. (RJ)

IOWA STATE: Frontcourt production

Things are going better for the Cyclones than anyone could have imagined with eight-straight wins to offset a disastrous 0-2 start, but the Cyclones could still use some more production up front. Steve Prohm has to be hoping his two young forwards – Solomon Young and Cameron Lard – can consistently put up numbers come Big 12 play. (TH)

Bill Self (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

KANSAS: Bodies, preferably large ones

It’s pretty clear what Bill Self is hoping for, and that’s a couple of eligible big men. Self previously said that he’s optimistic about Billy Preston getting on the floor after the school – and NCAA – clear up the situation regarding the car he was driving around campus, and said Monday night they feel “really, really good” about Silvia De Sousa’s test scores that could clear the way for him to join the program. Self and the Jayhawks can probably count on a merry Christmas. (TH)

KENTUCKY: More of that three-point shooting

This one is obvious, right? Prior to Saturday, the Wildcats had played just a single team that had any business being in a game with a program like Kentucky. That’s probably why they entered that shootout with Virginia Tech as the program that had gotten the least amount of points from beyond the arc in all of college basketball. That changed against the Hokies. Kentucky shot 11-for-22 from beyond the arc, and quietly, they are shooting 37 percent from three on the season. That’s as much a product of the fact that they play the way Coach Cal wants them to play – he knows that they need to take advantage of their size and athleticism – but the fact they’re making the shots they’re taking is a good thing. If it continues to play out that way, Kentucky’s ceiling gets much higher. (RD)

LOUISVILLE: The V.J. King we saw on Saturday to hang around

King tied a season-high with 17 points on Saturday against Memphis at the Garden, and it’s not a coincidence that Louisville looked as good as they’ve looked against high-major competition all season long. The fact that they got hot from three helped, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that happened at the same time as King’s best game. He’s arguably the most talented wing on the Louisville roster, a guy that was getting some hype as a breakout candidate heading into the season. If he can play up to his ability – which is what we saw against Memphis – then it gives Louisville another dimension offensively. (RD)

Big 12 conference reset: Kansas even stronger after Final Four?

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The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone, and there are a dozen or so truly impactful decisions that are left to be made.

Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season.

The coaching carousel has come to a close.

The transfer market is slowly winding down.

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2018-19 season.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the Big 12 over the next six months.

KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES

THE KANSAS MACHINE: Bill Self had what many considered his worst Kansas team and what the Kansas coach himself admitted was his unlikeliest Big 12 champions – the Jayhawks won not only their 14th-consecutive conference title but advanced all the way to the Final Four. There’s simply little else in this world you can count on more consistently than KU being the best the Big 12 has to offer.

And the Jayhawks may be even better this year. Sure, they lose a sizable chunk of the core that propelled them to San Antonio last season, but one of the reasons the Jayhawks were so vulnerable last year – depth and versatility – is what will make them formidable this year with the best transfer class in the country becoming eligible. Which isn’t even to mention another top recruiting haul. Kansas is a machine – something of a mix between a watch and a wrecking ball.

(David Purdy/Getty Images)

LOOMING DECISIONS: There may be little drama surrounding who is the team to beat heading into the upcoming season, there remains some intrigue as spring turns to summer. Most NBA decisions have been made, but there are some that could swing the balance of power at different spots across the league hierarchy.

The most impactful is probably Udoka Azubuike, the Kansas center who became an integral part of the Jayhawks’ four-out offense last year as the man in the middle keeping defenses honest. The Jayhawks will be able to play different ways this season with an expanded roster, but Azubuike is simply a player most teams don’t have a counter for – he’s a 75.4 percent career shooter from the floor.

Lindell Wigginton’s stay-or-go decision could hold the biggest sway over the future for any team in the league. The 6-foot-2 guard exhibited his athleticism and scoring prowess during his freshman season and is now weighing whether to try to be the first Nova Scotia native to make it in the NBA now or wait a year. If he returns, the Cyclones have four starters back and one of the most dynamic scorers in the conference. If he doesn’t, Iowa State is going to be relying heavily on newcomers to put points on the board.

West Virginia’s success is likely tied to its system, but having Sagaba Konate on the back line swatting away shots sure makes that system a lot better. He’ll be back to school next season. Kansas State should return its whole starting, and though Barry Brown hasn’t made his return official, it’s widely expected.

BRUCE WEBER’S RESURGENCE: On Feb. 25, 2017, Kansas State lost by 30 to an Oklahoma team that would finish ninth in the Big 12. It was the Wildcats’ fifth loss in six games and dropped them to 6-10 in the Big 12. Kansas State faithful, already frustrated by back-to-back missed NCAA tournaments and mass player defections, seemed to have had enough. The drumbeat to part with Weber amplified out of Manhattan.

Now just 15 months later, Weber has been to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and should have his entire roster from an Elite Eight team intact in 2018-19. That is one heckuva turnaround. Weber may not ever get the level of admiration that his predecessor, Frank Martin, got in the Octagon of Doom, but the results – I haven’t even mentioned that split 2013 regular season Big 12 title – speak for themselves and 2019 could scream the loudest.

WHERE DOES OKLAHOMA GO?: There was probably nothing as fun in the first few weeks and months of the 2017-18 season than Trae Young and Oklahoma. The kid who graduated from Norman North High School was doing the best Steph Curry impersonation the sport has seen since, well, Steph Curry became Steph Curry. Young was, inarguably, a sensation as he bombed away from 30 feet, dished out assists by the bundle and had the Sooners cruising.

Then the bottom fell out. Young still ultimately led the country in scoring and assists while the Sooners made the NCAA tournament, but the freshman phenom languished down the stretch while Oklahoma lost nine of their last 11 games. Now, Young is a likely lottery pick and the Sooners got hit with a one-two punch of transfers by Jordan Shepherd and Kameron McGusty. Lon Kruger is one of the country’s best coaches, but things look a little sideways for the Sooners at the moment without a ton of talent on the roster and the stink of last year’s finish still in the air.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

WHO’S GONE?

  • DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, SVI MYKHAILIUK, LAGERALD VICK and MALIK NEWMAN: These are heavy losses for the Jayhawks to sustain – and they’re still waiting out Azubuike – but they’re uniquely positioned to sustain them like few other teams in the country. It’ll be Graham’s steadiness and leadership that could be missed most.
  • KEENAN EVANS and ZHAIRE SMITH, Texas Tech: Evans was maybe one of the more underrated and overlooked players nationally last season as he averaged 17.6 points and carried the offensive load for the defensive-minded Red Raiders – and he did it down the stretch with a broken toe. He could be one of the hardest players in the conference to replace. Smith was the most electric dunker in the Big 12 – and maybe the country. His upside was just too high to keep him in college for another year. He’s likely headed for the lottery.
  • JEVON CARTER and TEDDY ALLEN, West Virginia: Carter’s production, specifically on the defensive end, is going to be so hard for the Mountaineers to replicate, but it’ll be his presence, his attitude, his aura – he was Press Virginia personified – that make him irreplaceable even for a program that’s entered plug-and-play territory. Allen really became WVU’s go-get-a-bucket guy down the stretch, and given how much they’ve struggled to score in the halfcourt in recent years, his decision to transfer stings.
  • VLADIMIR BRODZIANSKY and KENRICH WILLIAMS, TCU: Brodziansky blossomed into arguably the Big 12’s best big man while Williams was a huge part of the Horned Frogs’ identity offensively. TCU has a lot coming back, but filling these two roster holes will be difficult.
  • JO LUAL-ACUIL and MANU LECOMTE, Baylor: Baylor was resurgent in the second half of the season in no small part thanks to this duo.
  • MO BAMBA and ERIC DAVIS, JR, Texas: Bamba was always destined to be a one-and-done player so Texas was always prepared to bid him farewell this spring and the emergence of Jericho Sims during Bamba’s absence due to a toe injury mitigates the damage. The Longhorns are losing a lottery pick, yes, but they’ve planned for it and have an excellent replacement option. Davis decided to pursue a pro career just a few weeks after he was connected to Christian Dawkins in a Yahoo report.
  • TRAE YOUNG, KAMERON MCGUSTY AND JORDAN SHEPHERD, Oklahoma: Young was the Sooners last year as the country’s leading scorer and assist man – which, depending on your perspective – was either the impetus of the Sooners’ late-season swoon or an indictment of his less-than-capable teammates. That supporting cast will get its chance to prove itself – minus McGusty and Shepherd, who elected to transfer out of the program.
  • JEFFREY CARROLL, Oklahoma State: Carroll was a huge part of Oklahoma State’s surprising competitiveness last season, and his consistency will be missed in Mike Boynton’s second season.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

WHO’S BACK?

  • ESA AHMAD, West Virginia: Ahmad had an uneven season after being ineligible for more than the first half of the year, but his talent and toughness is critical for the Mountaineers.
  • JARRETT CULVER, Texas Tech: Zhaire Smith’s talent and aerial acrobatics made him the Red Raiders’ most dynamic and promising freshman, but Culver showed a ton of promise averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his rookie campaign.
  • KANSAS STATE: You could single out Barry Brown or Dean Wade here, but the Wildcats are literally bringing back their whole rotation. A forgiving draw may have helped them to the Elite Eight, but Kansas State has talent, experience and cohesion – quite the triple threat.
  • ALEX ROBINSON, JAYLEN FISHER, DESMOND BANE and KOUAT NOI, TCU: Jamie Dixon may be losing Brodziansky and Williams, but he returns a solid core and gets Fisher back from injury. The Horned Frogs are going to be a competitive threat to the rest of the league now with Dixon getting things rolling at his alma mater
  • DYLAN OSETKOWSKI, JERICHO SIMS, KERWIN ROACH, MATT COLEMAN AND ANDREW JONES, Texas: The Longhorns don’t exactly have star power on this team – at least apparent star power at the moment – but they’ve got guys that have got it done at this level. Andrew Jones missed most of last season after being diagnosed with leukemia, but coach Shaka Smart has spoken this offseason about the hope that Jones will be able to suit up in Austin once again this season – which is great news for reasons well beyond basketball.
  • BRADY MANEK, Oklahoma: Manek certainly wasn’t at the talent level of his classmate Trae Young, but the young big man did show flashes that he at least could one day be counted on to contribute in the Big 12. The Sooners will need more than just glimpses this year.
  • CAMERON LARD and NICK WEILER-BABB, Iowa State: There were times when the 6-foot-9 Lard looked like he was making an assault on the crown of best big man in the Big 12, putting up double-double after double-double while blocking heaps of shots defensively, but his production waned down the stretch as his consistency wilted. Weiler-Babb was a threat to put a triple-double up seemingly every night as a 6-foot-6 point guard until knee tendinitis sidelined him down the stretch.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

WHO’S COMING?

  • DEDRIC LAWSON, K.J. LAWSON, CHARLIE MOORE, QUINTIN GRIMES, DEVON DOTSON AND DAVID MCCORMACK, Kansas: So the Jayhawks have three high-level transfers – including one potential conference player of the year – and a top-five recruiting class featuring two five-star and two four-star prospects. That’s not reloading – that’s switching to a bazooka. Dedric is the headliner, but K.J put up numbers at Memphis and Moore fills a need a point guard. Then there’s Grimes and Dotson, two top-20 guards. It’s good to be Bill Self.
  • COURTNEY RAMEY, GERALD LIDDELL, KAMAKA HEPA and ELIJAH MITROU-LONG, Texas: Shaka Smart didn’t land any Mo Bamba-level recruits, but he’s got a top-10 class with as many as four players capable of being instant-impact contributors. Mitrou-Long, the brother of former Iowa State standout Naz Mitrou-Long, comes to Austin after being a double-digit scorer at Mount St. Mary’s.
  • MICHAEL WEATHERS, Oklahoma State: The 6-foot-2 guard was the MAC freshman of the year after averaging 16.7 points per game at Miami (Ohio).
  • MARIAL SHAYOK, MICHAEL JACOBSON AND TALEN HORTON-TUCKER, Iowa State: Shayok gives the Cyclones versatility and pedigree (having played in the Elite 8 at Virginia) at the wing while Jacobson could be the floor-spacer in the frontcourt Iowa State lacked last year. The ultra-versatile Horton-Tucker is a top-50 prospect who headlines one of the most promising recruiting classes ever assembled in Ames.
  • MATT MOONEY, TARIQ OWENS AND KHAVON MOORE, Texas Tech: Mooney averaged 18.7 points per game last season at South Dakota before becoming one of the most coveted graduate transfers on the market. The 6-foot-8 Moore is a borderline top-50 recruit that Chris Beard will be looking to get production from.
  • MARIO KEGLER AND MAKAI MASON, Baylor: If Baylor is going to get back to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years, these two transfers will have to play major parts.

COACHING CHANGES

  • NONE: With seven teams in the NCAA tournament and two top-two NIT seeds in 2017-18, the Big 12 had one of its most successful seasons. That made for a quiet silly season, with all 10 coaches staying put and there really being minimal pressure on nearly all 10 of them this year.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-BIG 12 TEAM

Dedric LAWSON, Kansas (POY)
BARRY BROWN, Kansas State
NICK WEILER-BABB, Iowa State
DEAN WADE, Kansas State
UDOKA AZUBUIKE*, Kansas

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS

1. KANSAS: The Jayhawks are looking for 15 years of supremacy in the Big 12. It’s one of the most amazing accomplishments in the modern era of college hoops.

2. KANSAS STATE: With essentially the whole rotation returning from last year’s Elite Eight team, the Wildcats look to be the strongest contender to their in-state rivals.

3. TCU: The Horned Frogs used to be the laughing stock of the Big 12. Under Jamie Dixon, they have the look of perennial contender.

4. WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers are still going to embrace Bob Huggins’ gruff and tough personality with their Press Virginia style, but losing Jevon Carter is a huge blow to that identity.

5. TEXAS: If Shaka Smart can’t keep the Longhorns in the upper half of the Big 12, there may be some questions in Austin about his long-term viability there. With this roster, though, Texas should be able to accomplish that feat.

6. TEXAS TECH: Keenan Evans is irreplaceable and Zhaire Smith is unmatchable, but the Red Raiders look to have a persona about them under Chris Beard. There’s also certainly no dearth of talent.

7. IOWA STATE: Lindell Wigginton’s decision to return to Ames or stay in the draft is a huge fork in the road for the Cyclones. If he stays, he’s the high-volume scorer everything revolves around. Should he leave, the Cyclones have a lot of interesting pieces but no proven star power and a lot of new faces.

8. BAYLOR: Scott Drew is seemingly at his best when the least is expected of his Bears, so this could be a significant under-slotting, but Baylor will be quite reliant on players that are at some level unknown at this level.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE: Mike Boynton’s team exceedingly overachieved in Year 1 of his tenure, but some early departures and an uninspiring recruiting class means they probably slip in Year 2.

10. OKLAHOMA: Trae Young was the Sooners last year, and his teammates often looked unable to keep up. With no Young and no big-time replacements, it could be a long season for the Sooners.

West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate returns to school

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The nation’s most entertaining shot-blocker is back for another season.

Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-9 center from Mali, will return to school for his junior season to anchor West Virginia’s defense for yet another season, according to ESPN.

Konate declared for the draft and went through the combine, and while his shot-blocking and intensity shined through there as it did throughout the season, he’s more of a mid-to-late second round pick than he is a first rounder at this point.

As a sophomore, Konate averaged 10.8 points, 7.6 boards and 3.2 blocks. He also shot 79 percent from the free throw line.

So let’s sit back and enjoy what we get to see for another year:

Luke Maye to return to North Carolina for senior season

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Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Luke Maye is returning to North Carolina for his senior season, meaning that the Tar Heels will have their preseason National Player of the Year candidate back in the fold.

Who saw that coming?

“I have had a great experience learning from the NBA process and growing as a basketball player during the past couple weeks,” Maye wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for all of their support. Through this process, I have decided that I am going to comeback to school to improve as a player and finish my college career. I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that I will face and there is no better group to do it with than my teammates and the Carolina family! Time to finish the right way with two of the best players and leaders that I know! Let’s finish our legacy the right way!”

Maye, who averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 boards as a junior, declared for the draft last month, but he did not get invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. The 6-foot-9 forward is a stretch four that will fit perfectly at the four for the Tar Heels this season, with Nassir Little, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams on the perimeter and a trio of sophomore bigs to handle the five.

Getting Maye back was key, but expected. UNC reaching their ceiling this season will depend on whether or not their point guard play is up to par. With Jalek Felton gone and Joel Berry II graduated, that is going to come down to whether or not Seventh Woods can handle the lead guard role or if Coby White can step in and start as a freshman.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.