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2020 NBA Mock Draft: Who is going No. 1?

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Here is an updated 2020 NBA mock draft.

This year’s draft class is, in a word, not good.

And, to be frank, the top of this 2020 NBA mock draft doesn’t have all that much to do with the top of college basketball this season.

The top pick plays for a Georgia team that is not going to get to the NCAA tournament. The No. 2 pick skipped college altogether. The No. 3 pick quit in the middle of the season. The No. 5 pick is done for the season and wasn’t on a tournament team either way. The No. 9 pick skipped college. The No. 10 pick was hurt and had his season derailed. Picks 13-17 are all going to miss the NCAA tournament.

It’s a very, very weird year for NBA fans that watch college basketball.

Last thing: I don’t know that I’m actually an expert on anything, but I’m certainly not an expert on European hoops. So for now, this is less a mock draft and more a power ranking of the best prospects in the NCAA with LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton sprinkled in. I’m sure Deni Avdija is awesome. Until he plays in the EYBL, I won’t have any feel for what he can do beyond watching the same YouTube videos you watch.

Hey, at least I’m being honest about it.



2020 NBA MOCK DRAFT

1. ANTHONY EDWARDS, Georgia, SG

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-4, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 19.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 41% FG, 32% 3PT

Edwards is the best scorer in this draft. At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and explosive athleticism, he’s proven himself to be a dangerous three-level scorer that can get hot and do things like score 33 points in a half. He also has the physical profile of a guard that can defend two or three different positions in the NBA. It’s all there.

But Edwards is still learning how to play and how to be consistent. Far too often he settles for deep, contested threes. They looked great when he hits a couple in a row, but he is shooting 32 percent from three this season. That speaks for itself. There are also too many stretches where he looks disengaged in the game, whether it’s due to his lack of focus on the defensive end of his passivity offensively. He’s developed a reputation dating all the way back to his high school days for being a guy that starts slow and puts up huge second half numbers in a losing effort.

2. LAMELO BALL, Australia

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-6
Key Stats: 17 ppg, 7 apg, 7.5 rpg

I know what you’re going to think when you hear LaMelo Ball’s name. The reaction is going to be thinking back to the little 5-foot-11 kid with braces and a blonde mohawk launching shots from halfcourt and cherry-picking against overmatched competition to try and get to 100 points in a game. You’re going to immediately think of all the things you hated about Lavar Ball, and I get it.

But Melo grew up. He’s not just the baby brother anymore. He’s now a 6-foot-6 lead guard that has all of the tools that would lead you to believe that he can be a star lead guard in the NBA. He’s a terrific passer that can make every pass you want a point guard to make out of ball-screens with either hand, and he has the size to see those passes over the defense. His feel for the game and basketball IQ are elite. He’s been an inconsistent and inefficient shooter throughout his career, but he’s always been a good free throw shooter and while he certainly needs to tweak his mechanics, some of those low percentages can be explained away by the degree of difficulty of the shots he is taking.

Which leads me to what may be the most important point here: Not only is Melo one of the youngest players in this draft, he is also a late-bloomer. He’s still growing into his frame, and while I doubt he’s ever be on par with someone like Russell Westbrook, he’s definitely going to get stronger as he matures physically. When that happens, it should help his explosiveness and ability to handle physicality.

The bigger issue is the off-the-court stuff. He has a reputation, fairly or unfairly, of being a lazy defender with a lacking work ethic. Teams picking at the top of the draft will have to do their due diligence, but I think it’s fair to say Melo has the highest-upside of anyone in this draft class. If it all works out, he could end up being the second-coming of Luka Doncic.

3. JAMES WISEMAN, Memphis

Details: 18 years old, 7-foot-1, 240 pounds
Key Stats: 19.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3.0 bpg

Wiseman has all the physical tools that you want out of a five in the modern NBA. He’s 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, an exceptional athlete that can really get up and down the floor and finish above the rim. He has all the tools to be a rim protector that can guard in ball-screens and switch on the perimeter if needed. He’s not Dirk Nowitzki but he’s not Clint Capela, either — he’s shown some flashes of being capable on the perimeter.

The red flags with Wiseman are two-fold. For starters, his competitiveness has been questioned throughout his career. He hasn’t always controlled games the way someone his size should be able to. He isn’t as tough or as physical as some would like, and he seems to have a habit of trying to prove that he can play away from the basket instead of overpowering anyone that gets between him and the rim. None of these concerns were helped by his decision to leave Memphis in December.

My gut feeling on Wiseman is that if he decided he wanted to be, say, the next Myles Turner, he could end up one of the eight-to-ten best centers in the NBA. If he decides that he wants to be the next Giannis, I don’t think it will go as well.

4. OBI TOPPIN, Dayton

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-9, 220 lbs
Key Stats: 19.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.3 bpg, 35.5% 3PT

Toppin is one of three guys in this draft that I want to definitively be higher than the field on, and the reason for that is two-fold: On the one hand, Toppin is one of just a handful of players in this draft that I believe can make a significant impact in the NBA as a rookie, and given that the top of this draft class is made up of players that are going to be drafted on their potential without having the upside of being a franchise-changing talent, I think there is value in drafting a guy with a rock-solid floor.

The reason that Toppin’s floor is so high is because of how well he fits as a role player at the next level. Anthony Grant’s offense at Dayton is as close to a modern NBA scheme as you are going to find in the college game, and the reason he is able to play that way has everything to do with Toppin’s skill set. At 6-foot-9, he’s an explosive leaper that has a versatile offensive skill-set — he can hit a three, he can score off the bounce, he has a pretty good feel for the game. He also has the size and physical tools where it is conceivable that he can play the four or the five in small-ball lineups, although he’ll need some development here; he has high hips and a slender waist which casts some doubt on how well he’ll be able to put on weight and how well he can sit in a stance and guard on the perimeter.

I do think that will come with time spent in the right NBA strength and conditioning program, and the fact that he’s a late-bloomer that was just 6-foot-2 as a high school junior is relevant here as well.

I broke down why Toppin is such a good fit for Dayton’s offense last month, and all of that applies to why he’ll be such a good fit at the next level as well:

5. TYRESE HALIBURTON, Iowa State

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-5, 175 lbs
Key Stats: 15.2 ppg, 6.5 apg, 5.9 rpg, 41.9% 3PT

Haliburton’s numbers jump off the page. At 6-foot-5, he’s a lead guard with terrific vision that can throw every pass a point guard is going to be asked to make. He’s an excellent three-point shooter that has positional size and has shown himself to be, at the very least, adequate as an on- and off-ball defender. He was the best player on the floor for Team USA at the U-19 World Championships over the summer. All of that adds up.

If there is a concern with Haliburton, it’s his physical tools. He’s not an explosive athlete and, at 175 pounds, there are valid concerns about how well he is going to handle the rigors of getting to the rim in the NBA. He also has a slow, funky release on his jumper — think Shawn Marion. Will he be able to get that shot off at the next level? I’m not that worried about the fractured wrist he suffered last week. He’ll be just fine.

I’m high on Haliburton because, after seeing the way that elite passers like Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and Trae Young have thrived early in their NBA career, I’m willing to take the risk on a 6-foot-5 point guard in a year where the opportunity of rolling the dice at the top of this 2020 NBA mock draft is relatively low.

6. TYRESE MAXEY, Kentucky

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-3, 198 pounds
Key Stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 29.3% 3PT

Taking a risk on Maxey this high in the draft means betting on the fact that his 29 percent three-point shooting as a freshman has more to do with adjusting to the college level than it does his actual shooting ability. Coming through high school, Maxey had the reputation for being a big-time scorer because of his ability to make deep jumpers off the bounce and because of the way that he can finish around the rim with a variety of floaters and layups.

He needs to make those threes because the rest of Maxey’s game is somewhat limited. He’s not a natural creator, he’s wired to score more than anything else, and he certainly isn’t an elite athlete by NBA combo-guard standards, although he is a pretty good on-ball defender. He’s also a worker, and by all accounts a great kid and competitor. I think there’s a real chance his ceiling is as a second-unit scorer, but if it all comes together I can see him putting together a career on par with Lou Williams.

7. ISAAC OKORO, Auburn

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-6, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 28.6% 3PT

Okoro is another guy that I want to be higher than consensus on, because I think he has a chance to be a really good starter on an NBA team for the next 12 years. I’m not sure there is anything more valuable in the modern NBA than a wing that is a multi-positional defender, that can guard in space and that is capable of creating against a close out or in isolation, but I am sure that there is no one in this draft that better fits that role than Okoro.

I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Okoro is the best perimeter defender in college basketball this season. He can guard up, he can guard down, he can move his feet, he’s already built like a pro, he’s shown the ability to block shots as a help-side defender. It’s what he hangs his hat on. But he’s also proven to be particularly adept off the dribble, where he’s a nightmare to stop once he gets a step. He can finish above the rim, but perhaps his most underrated skill is his ability to read defenses and pass the ball.

The one question mark is the shooting, but in conversations I’ve had with people that know Isaac, both at the collegiate and high school levels, the consensus is that he’s a worker. He’ll put in the hours that he needs to in order to make himself a threat from three.

Here’s a breakdown from January:

8. NICO MANNION, Arizona

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Key Stats: 14.0 ppg, 5.5 apg, 35% 3P4

I’m not sure whether or not Mannion will actually get drafted this high, but I’m willing to rank him this high because of what his floor is in a draft where there are a number of prospects that could end up being total busts. To me, Mannion has the same kind of prospect profile as the likes of Jalen Brunson, or Fred VanVleet, or T.J. McConnell, or Ryan Arcidiacono. He’s a guy that, at worst, will spend a decade playing in the NBA as a backup point guard because of his basketball IQ, his ability to makes threes and the fact that he can operate in a pick-and-roll.

My concern with drafting him this high is that he doesn’t really have an NBA skill. He’s a good athlete but not a great athlete, and that isn’t helped by the fact that his wingspan is reportedly 6-foot-2.5. He’s not great at beating defenders off the dribble in the halfcourt. He’s a good shooter but he’s not a great shooter. He’s a high-level passer but he’s not Trae Young or Luka Doncic. He tries defensively but he just doesn’t have the physical tools to be a lockdown defender. I’m just not sure what the ceiling is.

9. R.J. HAMPTON, Australia

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-5, 188 lbs
Key Stats: 9.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 31.7% 3PT

Hampton is a kid that has quite a bit of potential, but he’ll need time to develop at the next level. He’s a 6-foot-5 guard that can play on or off the ball, but needs to continue to develop his ball-handling and his perimeter jumper to be able to do either at the NBA level. He has the length, quickness and athleticism to be able to defend either backcourt spot in time, but he is something of a late-bloomer that needs to put on some weight and strength. He’ll try defensively, too, but he needs to be coached up. That will come with time.

The biggest concern I have with Hampton is that I’m not sure if he has an elite skill yet, but he’s still young; he just turned 19 last week.

10. COLE ANTHONY, North Carolina

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Key Stats: 19.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 33.3% 3PT

I’m torn on Cole as a prospect. On the one hand, I love everything about the way he is wired. He’s tough, confident and competitive, the ultimate alpha. He’s a worker that will put in the hours in the gym. Given the way he grew up, he’s not going to be intimidated by anything. In an era where draft prospects are quitting their teams, what they call “shutting it down”, midseason once they’ve earned a spot near the top of the lottery, Cole fought back from a knee injury that required surgery to get back on the court and fight with his team despite the fact that they really don’t have much left to play for this season.

I respect that. If I’m an NBA GM, I want players wired that way.

The problem with Cole is the way that he plays. He’s tough and athletic, but given his average height and length, he’s more or less going to have to guard point guards at the next level. I’m not sure he’s quite good enough to be the guy in the NBA that he has been throughout his career. He’s basically Russell Westbrook, a hyper-kinetic athlete that is a streaky, sometimes inefficient shooter with a limited passing range that has a habit of dribbling the air out of the ball and shooting his team out of games on off nights. He’ll be 20 years old by the time he’s drafted. How much more room is there for him to change?

11. ONYEKA OKONGWU, USC

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-9, 245 lbs
Key Stats: 16.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 1.1 spg, 74.2% FT

For me, the intrigue with Okongwu is pretty simple. He is a 6-foot-9 five that is an explosive athlete with an already-sturdy frame. He produces at the college level, both as a scorer and a rebounder, and has shown some pretty solid post moves for a 19-year old. He can defend the rim. He’s athletic enough that being a switchable five is in the range of outcomes. He has a soft touch around the basket, and while he’s shooting just 12-for-29 on jumpers this season, according to Synergy, he’s 9-for-17 on jumpers inside 17 feet and shooting 74 percent from the free throw line on 124 free throws. Worst-case scenario, Okongwu turns into an off-the-bench big that provides energy, rebounding and defense, and if the jumper comes along, he can be more than that. How much is there to really think about?

12. SADDIQ BEY, Villanova

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-8, 216 lbs
Key Stats: 15.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 47.5% 3PT

Saddiq Bey is the third guy that I want to be higher than anyone on, because I think that he has a chance to be one of the best players to come out of this draft. Bey is something of a late-bloomer. He’s was a 6-foot-1 guard when he was a sophomore, and according to the Villanova coaching staff, he has actually grown an inch or two since he arrived on campus. He’s listed at 6-foot-8 and may be closer to 6-foot-9 by the time it’s all said and done.

Bey’s shooting ability speaks for itself. He’s knocking down 47.5 percent of his threes while shooting more than five per game. He has shown some playmaking ability, and as we have seen with the wings that have come out of the Villanova program of late, they just know how to play. You won’t see the floor there if you don’t, and given the fact that Bey was asked to be the do-it-all point guard on his high school team, he has experience being more than just a scorer.

But the thing that has really stood out about Bey since he arrived on the Main Line is his ability to defend. He’s the best defender in the program, and while Villanova has not always been known for how they guard, they are the second-best defensive team in the Big East behind Seton Hall, who is a top-eight defense nationally. They’ve put him on lightening quick point guards like Devon Dotson and Kamar Baldwin, and Villanova’s tendency to switch means that Bey has spent plenty of time guarding bigs as well.

So what we have here is a multi-positional defender that shoots the cover off the ball and can be a playmaker off the bounce. I think he’s just as good of a prospect as Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Josh Hart, and all three of those guys have turned into players that will last in the NBA for a while. Bey is next in line.

13. ISAIAH STEWART, Washington

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-9, 250 lbs
Key Stats: 17.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 75.3% FT

What you see is what you get with Stewart. He’s a tireless rebounder that, at 250 pounds of solid muscle, is ready to compete in the paint against NBA bigs right now. He’s a good post scorer that has shown some glimpses of being able to make threes — the Washington staff will tell you he’s lights out in practice. That’s the good. The bad is that he is an undersized center at 6-foot-9 that doesn’t have the length or explosiveness to be able to protect the rim at the NBA level, and while he’ll put in the effort to guard on the perimeter, he has never really shown that ability. Playing in that Washington zone hasn’t helped quell those concerns, either. He’s tough, he has a motor, he’s really good at the things that he does well, but if he’s not going to protect the rim or guard on the perimeter, where does he fit in the modern NBA?

14. PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 15.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 1.2 spg

The biggest question mark for me when it comes to Achiuwa is whether or not he is going embrace what he actually is. For my money, he’s something of a poor man’s Bam Adebayo, a big man that can be used at the four and, ideally, as a small-ball five. He plays hard, he has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and he’s proven himself as a rebounder. He also has some perimeter skill, and he is 8-for-20 from three this season. There’s a market for that in the NBA, and it’s a role Achiuwa should be able to thrive in.

But is that what he wants to be? Or does he think that he’s a three? The potential is there for Achiuwa to be effective as a face-up forward against bigger, slower centers. I’m not sure the same can be said for him as a three. Remember, Achiuwa will turn 21 years old before he plays in his first NBA game. He’s two months younger than Kaleb Wesson, who is a junior. If Achiuwa embraces who he is, he has a long and profitable basketball career in front of him.

15. JADEN MCDANIELS, Washington

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-1-, 200 lbs
Key Stats: 12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 31.5% 3PT

On the one hand, it is very easy to see why McDaniels is such a tantalizing prospect. Players with his size and his length aren’t supposed to be able to do the things that he does on the perimeter. He has impressive handle, he can knock down tough perimeter jumpers and every once in a while he will do something during a game that will make it to the House of Highlights page.

On the other hand, McDaniels is 200 pounds soaking wet. He hasn’t handled contact all that well this season, and he is not all that explosive of an athlete. And of late, his decision-making has come into question. He leads the Pac-12 in both fouls and turnovers. He’s second nationally with five technical fouls this season. He’s been benched in two of the last four Washington games, and the Huskies are sitting in dead last in the Pac-12.

He’s a lottery ticket in this 2020 NBA mock draft.

16. AARON NESMITH, Vanderbilt

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-6, 213 lbs
Key Stats: 23 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 52.2% 3PT, 8.2 3PAs

Again, this one is pretty simple for me. Nesmith is a 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-foot-10 wingspan that was shooting a ridiculous 52.2% from three while taking more than eight threes per game before suffering a foot injury that ended his season. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he was one of the most improved players in the country before he got hurt. I’m willing to take a bet on a guard with those measureables when he’s a hard enough worker to go from 33.7 percent shooting as a freshman to this.

17. PAUL REED, DePaul

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 220 lbs
Key Stats: 15.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.8 bpg, 2.0 spg

Here’s what you need to know about Paul Reed right now: Since Shane Battier left school in 2001, there have been three high-major players that have averaged at least 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in the same season: Matisse Thybulle, Nerlens Noel and Paul Reed. While Reed is shooting just 13-for-46 from three this season, he shot 40.5 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore and has been a 77 percent free throw shooting the last two years. Size, length, athleticism, defensive playmaking, defensive versatility and a shot at being a shooter, too? I’m in.

18. DANIEL OTURU, Minnesota

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-10, 240 lbs
Key Stats: 20.1 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 30.8% 3PT

In a league where seemingly every team has a dominant interior player, Daniel Oturu has been arguably the best two-way center to date. The numbers that he is putting up speak for themselves. He’s one of the most improved players in the country. He doesn’t have the greatest feel for the game, and he’s something of a blackhole when he does get the ball in his hands, but he has shown off a bit of three-point range and is actually able to put the ball on the floor and make things happen off the bounce. I like him slightly more than Jalen Smith simply because of the physicality. I think his fit as a five in the NBA is better.

19. JALEN SMITH, Maryland

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-10, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 15.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 39.7 3PT%

Stix Smith has been one of the best players in college basketball over the course of the last month. He’s a pogo-stick athletically that is starting to make threes on a consistent basis. I’m worried about his frame — he checks in at 225 pounds, but looks like he’s closer to 200 pounds — and I’m not sure how much of a weapon he is offensively beyond being a spot-up shooter. And while he is a terrific athlete, he plays stiff and upright. I’m not sure how well he will use that athleticism without a runway for takeoff.

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20. JOSH GREEN, Arizona

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-6, 210 lbs
Key Stats: 11.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 30.8% 3PT

Green is a consistent jumper away from being a guy that can stick in the league as a role player for a decade. He’s really athletic, he’s terrific in transition and he’s a willing defender that gives effort. He can be coached up on that end. But he has been somewhat limited scoring in halfcourt settings this season — some of which, admittedly, can be attributed to the tempo Arizona is trying to play at — and much of that is due to a lacking jumper.

21. PATRICK WILLIAMS, Florida State

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-8, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 32.5% 3PT

The numbers look fairly pedestrian, admittedly, but putting them in context is important: Williams is coming off the bench for a Florida State team that goes 11 deep and gives everyone pretty equal minutes. At 6-foot-8, he’s a terrific athlete and a burgeoning defender and can protect the rim and guard out on the perimeter when needed.

22. VERNON CAREY, Duke

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-10, 250 lbs
Key Stats: 17.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 38.5% 3PT

Carey has proven himself as a terrific low-post scorer and has actually shown off a nice touch from the perimeter. He is left-hand dominant, but that’s something that can be worked on. The biggest issue for Carey is that he is not all that explosive and he is not all that quick, even with the weight he shed during the offseason. He’s struggled in ball-screen coverages and he does not profile as a rim protector at the NBA level. If you can’t guard the rim and you can’t guard ball-screens, where do you fit defensively in the NBA?

23. JOEL AYAYI, Gonzaga

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-5, 180 lbs
Key Stats: 10.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 35.4% 3PT

I had no expectation for Ayayi coming into the season. He had been great in Europe over the summer, but Gonzaga went out and recruited a pair of grad transfers at his position during the offseason. That’s never a good sign. Yet here we are in February, and Ayayi has been arguably the most important player for the Zags. He’s their best handler in ball-screens, he’s a terrific rebounder for a guard and, at 6-foot-5, he has the size and length to be a multi-positional defender. He’s also young for a redshirt sophomore; he enrolled at Gonzaga when he was 17.

24. KIRA LEWIS Jr., Alabama

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-3, 165 lbs
Key Stats: 17.4 ppg, 4.7 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.8 spg, 32.4% 3PT

Lewis checks a lot of boxes. He’s young for a sophomore, having enrolled at Alabama as a 17-year old, and he’s putting up huge numbers for an Alabama team that is built to run, run, run and shoot nothing but threes and layups. The problem is that he’s making just 32 percent of his threes, down from 36 percent a season ago.

25. CASSIUS WINSTON, Michigan State

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.9 apg, 38.4% 3PT

Winston has regressed from where he was last season. He has not lived up to the hype he had coming into the year — understandably — and that’s the biggest reason by Michigan State has fallen short of expectation. But he’s still the highest IQ player in college basketball. He’s still the best ball-screen point guard in college basketball. And I still think that he’ll spend the next decade being a positive presence in an NBA locker room and a rock solid backup point guard.

26. DEVIN VASSELL, Florida State

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-6, 180 lbs
Key Stats: 13.4 ppg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg, 42% 3PT

Vassell has been one of the breakout stars in the ACC, as he is leading a good Florida State team in scoring and doubles as their best three-point shooters. He’s got the size and the length to be a good defender at the NBA level, and playing for Leonard Hamilton, you can be sure he is getting plenty of reps switching defensively and guarding bigger and smaller players. He’s not much of a playmaker, and at 180 pounds, he definitely needs to add some weight to his frame. But he’s a really interesting prospect with a chance to be a first round pick this year, and is one in this NBA mock draft.

27. JAHMI’US RAMSEY, Texas Tech

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-4, 195 lbs
Key Stats: 15.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 45.2% 3PT

I’ve gone through stages with Ramsey. I loved him in high school. I was frustrated by him early on in his college career, as Texas Tech worked through figuring out what the best way to use him is. What they’ve settled on is as a scorer and an elite shot-maker. The big red flag for me is that I expected Ramsey to play the Jarrett Culver-Keenan Evans role for Texas Tech, but he’s not that guy because he is not on their level at creating out of ball-screens or as a passer. Since he is only 6-foot-4, that’s something to monitor in the longterm.

28. ISAIAH JOE, Arkansas

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-5, 180 lbs
Key Stats: 16.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 spg, 34% 3PT

On the one hand, Joe is one of the most prolific shooters in this draft class and, at 6-foot-5, has the size to be able to guard NBA wings. On the other hand, his percentages have dipped to 34 percent this season, his slight frame is worrisome defensively and he is dealing with a knee injury that required surgery. There are certainly justifiable concerns.

29. XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-8, 245 lbs
Key Stats: 13.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.2 bpg, 1.2 spg

Some recent struggles with his ability to finish around the rim are somewhat concerning, but I am beginning to think that Tillman is worth a first round pick. There’s really two reasons for this: He’s a really good defender and he is a terrific passer. No one in college basketball is better than making the right play in a 4-on-3 scenario when the defense traps a pick-and-roll ball-handler than Tillman.

30. ZEKE NNAJI, Arizona

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-11, 240 lbs
Key Stats: 16.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Nnaji is the most explosive big in this draft class. He’s really, really athletic, and his second jump is something to behold. His production speaks for itself, even if some of it has to due with Arizona’s pace and the play of Nico Mannion. That said, I’m down on Nnaji compared to the rest of the field because I think that he’s somewhat limited defensively. He has a tendency for getting lost guarding ball-screens and he is not a very good rim protector. Can those things be coached up enough to make him worth being picked over the likes of Daniel Oturu, Isaiah Stewart or Jalen Smith?

31. TRE JONES, Duke

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-3, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 15.6 ppg, 6.6 apg, 1.9 spg, 32.1% 3PT

Jones is a really good passer, a terrific defender and the kind of point guard that checks all the cliche boxes about being a winner, a leader and a facilitator. If he figures out the jumper to the point that he is a threat from distance, he could end up being an NBA starting point guard. What’s more likely is that he follows a similar career arc to his brother.

32. JORDAN NWORA, Louisville

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-7, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 19.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 44.1% 3PT

Nwora has the size, the length and the shooting ability to make it as a wing in the NBA. He’s a better leaper than he gets credit for because of his reputation for being a subpar athlete, but where that lacking athleticism is seen functionally is in his ability to defend. He’s not that quick laterally, and that’s a concern for a guy that will theoretically be twos and threes in the NBA.

33. LAMAR STEVENS, Penn State

Details: 22 years old, 6-foot-8, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 17.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg

Stevens that prototypical, combo-forward that is big and strong enough to guard up with having the physical tools to play out on the perimeter on both ends. The thing with him is going to be his jumper. He’s terrific in transition and he’s at his best when he’s slashing to the bucket, and if he’s able to shoot — if he forces defenders to close out hard — he suddenly becomes that much more dangerous.

34. ASHTON HAGANS, Kentucky

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-3, 198 lbs
Key Stats: 12.3 ppg, 6.8 apg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 spg

Hagans is never going to be a great shooter, but the truth is that you’re not drafting him for his ability to shoot the ball. You’re drafting him because he’s a junkyard dog, a competitor that is a terror as a defender at the point of attack, a playmaker in the passing lanes and a much-improved passer. There’s a job for him in the NBA as a poor man’s Patrick Beverly, and if the shooting every does come around, maybe he works his way into a starting job.

35. MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall

Details: 22 years old, 6-foot-1, 195 lbs
Key Stats: 21.9 ppg, 2.4 apg, 32.3% 3PT

Powell’s efficiency numbers are down this year, but he has dealt with some injuries. I’m mostly buying on him the way I bought on Carsen Edwards — whose efficiency suffered before exploding in the NCAA tournament — last season. He’s tough as nails, he can shoot off the dribble or off the catch, and he’ll put in the effort defensively.

36. SCOTTIE LEWIS, Florida

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-5, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 8.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 1.3 spg, 30.2% 3PT

Scottie Lewis is a major question mark because of the complete lack of offensive threat that he brings to the table, but he is an elite athlete with a 7-foot wingspan and the desire to be a great defensive player. He’s also a worker that is, by all accounts, a great kid. He’s worth gambling a second round pick on.

37. AARON WIGGINS, Maryland

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-6, 200 lbs
Key Stats: 10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 32% 3PT

I’m still in on Wiggins as a potential pro despite some of the struggles he’s had this season. He’s got the size and the athleticism to be a really good 3-and-D wing, but the fact that he has dipped down to being a 32 percent three-point shooter this year is cause for concern.

38. ISAIAH LIVERS, Michigan

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-7, 230 lbs
Key Stats: 13.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 49.2% 3PT

Livers is a lights out three-point shooter that can guard either forward spot and has been the difference between Michigan being a team that beat No. 2 Gonzaga by 18 points and a team that went 5-6 in his absence. How much more do you need to know?

39. MAMADI DIAKITE, Virginia

Details: 23 years old, 6-foot-9, 224 lbs
Key Stats: 13.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 37.8% 3PT

Diakite is 23 years old, he’s not overly physical, he has never been a great rebounder and he’s a better rim protector in theory than in practice, so I get it. But also understand that he has been Virginia’s best three-point shooter this season, the guy that is being used in actions that Tony Bennett ran for Kyle Guy last year, and he’s a 6-foot-9 switchable four. I’ll forever be on the Mamadi bandwagon.

40. KALEB WESSON, Ohio State

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 250 lbs
Key Stats: 14.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 39.7% 3PT

Wesson is the guy that has been helped the most by testing the waters of the NBA draft last year. He shed some weight, he’s gotten much better as a defender in ball-screen actions and he’s still a bully on the block that can really pass and knockdown threes. He’s got a shot to stick.

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama guard John Petty Jr. is staying in school instead of entering the NBA draft.

The Crimson Tide junior announced his decision to return for his senior season Monday on Twitter, proclaiming: “I’m back.”

Petty, the Tide’s top 3-point shooter, averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds rebounds last season. He was second on the team in assists.

Petty made 85 3-pointers in 29 games, shooting at a 44% clip.

Alabama coach Nate Oats called him “one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal,” Oats said.

Fellow Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. is regarded as a likely first-round draft pick.

McKinley Wright IV returns to Colorado

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McKinley Wright IV will be back for season No. 4 with the Colorado Buffaloes.

The point guard tested the NBA draft process before announcing a return for his senior year. It’s a big boost for a Buffaloes team that’s coming off a 21-11 mark in 2019-20 and was potentially looking at an NCAA Tournament bid before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wright was an All-Pac-12 first team selection a season ago, along with an all-defensive team pick. He and athletic forward Tyler Bey declared for the draft in late March. Bey remains in the draft.

“We’ve got unfinished business,” said Wright, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

Midway through the season, the Buffaloes were looking like a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since ’15-16. Then, the team hit a five-game skid, including a loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament. Simply put, they hit a defensive rut they just couldn’t shake out of, Wright said. It drove him to work that much harder in the offseason.

“This is my last go-around and I’ve got big dreams,” the 6-footer from Minnesota said. “I want to take CU to a place they haven’t been in a while. We want to go back to the tournament and win high-level games.”

The feedback from NBA scouts was reaffirming for Wright. He said they appreciated his transition game, movement away from the ball and his defensive intangibles. They also gave Wright areas he needed to shore up such as assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting the 3-pointer with more consistency.

He took it to heart while training in Arizona during the pandemic. He recently returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he’s going through quarantine before joining his teammates for workouts.

“The work I put in and the time I spent in the gym compared to all my other offseasons, it’s a big gap,” Wright said. “Last offseason, I thought I worked hard. But it was nothing compared to the time and different type of mindset I put myself in this year.”

Another motivating factor for his return was this: a chance to be the first in his family to earn his college degree. He’s majoring in ethnic studies with a minor in communications.

“My grandparents are excited about that. My parents are excited about that,” Wright said. “I’m excited about that as well.”

Wright also has an opportunity to take over the top spot on the school’s all-time assists list. His 501 career assists trail only Jay Humphries, who had 562 from 1980-84. Wright also ranks 13th all-time with 1,370 career points.

NOTES: Colorado announced the death of 95-year-old fan Betty Hoover, who along with her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, became fixtures at Buffs sporting events and were season ticket holders since 1958. Wright used to run into them not only on the court, but at the local bank. “I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two,” Wright said. “They hold a special place in my heart. It sucks that Betty won’t be at any games this year. Maybe we can do something, put her name on our jersey. They’re two of the biggest fans in CU history.”

Jared Butler returns to Baylor

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Baylor got some huge news on Monday as potential All-American Jared Butler announced that he will be returning to school for his junior season, joining MaCio Teague is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft to get the band back together.

Butler was Baylor’s leading scorer a season ago, averaging 16.0 points and 3.1 assists for a team that went 26-4, spent a portion of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and was in line to receive a 1-seed had the 2020 NCAA Tournament taken place.

With Butler and Teague coming back to school, the Bears will return four starters from last season’s squad. Starting center Freddie Gillespie is gone, as is backup guard Devonte Bandoo, but those are holes that can be filled. Tristan Clark, who was Baylor’s best player during the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury that lingered through last year, will be back, and there is more than enough talent in the program to replace the scoring pop of Bandoo. Matthew Mayer will be in line for more minutes, while transfer Adam Flagler will be eligible this season.

Baylor will enter this season as a consensus top three team in the country. They will receive plenty of votes as the No. 1 team in the sport, making them not only a very real contender for the Big 12 regular season crown but one of the favorites to win the national title.

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As MaCio Teague returns, Baylor now awaits Jared Butler’s NBA draft decision

Butler is the key.

Baylor was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams last year. They finished fourth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, a ranking that dropped after they Bears lost two of their last three games to TCU and West Virginia. Where they struggled was on the offensive end of the floor. The Bears would go through droughts were points were at a premium and their best offense was a missed shot. Butler’s intrigue for NBA teams was his ability to shoot and to create space in isolation. He’s the one guy on the roster that can create something out of nothing for himself.

And now he is back to try and lead Baylor to a Final Four.

Arizona State’s Martin to return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (–Arizona State guard Remy Martin is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season in the desert.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach Remy Martin for one more season,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement Sunday. “Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”

A 6-foot guard, Martin is the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer after averaging 19.1 points in 2019-20. He also averaged 4.1 assists per game and helped put the Sun Devils in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin’s return should put Arizona State among the favorites to win the Pac-12 next season.

Martin joins fellow guard Alonzo Verge Jr. in returning to the Sun Devils after testing the NBA waters. Big man Romello White declared for the draft and later entered the transfer portal.

Hurley has signed one of the program’s best recruiting classes for next season, headed by five-star guard Josh Christopher.

Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman will remain in the 2020 NBA Draft

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In the end, Xavier Tillman Sr.’s decision whether or not to return to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft for his senior season came down to security.

A 6-foot-8 forward that averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.1 blocks this past season, Tillman was an NBC Sports third-team All-American a season ago. He’s projected as the No. 23 pick in the latest NBC Sports mock draft. He was the best NBA prospect that had yet to make a decision on his future until Sunday.

That’s when Tillman announced that he will be foregoing his final season of college eligibility to head to the NBA.

In the end, it’s probably the right decision, but it’s not one that the big fella made easily.

Tillman is unlike most college basketball players forced to make a decision on their basketball future. He is married. He has two kids, a three-year old daughter and a six-month old son. This is not a situation where he can bet on himself, head to the pro ranks and figure it out later on.

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He needs something stable, particularly given the fact that we are living in the midst of a pandemic that has put the future of sports in doubt, at least for the short term.

He needs security.

He needed to know that there would be a job for him in the NBA. Not a two-way contract. Not a spot on a camp roster or a chance to develop in the G League. Hell, there might not even be a G League next season. That was an option at Michigan State. He was living in an apartment with his family that was covered by his scholarship and stipend. He had meals paid for. He was able to take food from the training room home and have dinner with his family. He was able to get to class, to the gym, to practice and back home in time to do the dishes at night. He told NBC Sports in March that the school was able to provide him with $1,200-a-month to help pay for things like diapers high chairs. That was all going to be there if he returned to school. It was a great situation, one that lacked the uncertainty that comes with the professional level.

Because as much as I love Tillman as a role player at the next level, NBA teams do not all feel the same. The tricky thing about the draft is that it makes sense to swing for the fences on the guys that can be locked into salaries for the first four years of a contract. The Toronto Raptors took Pascal Siakam with the 27th pick and have paid less than $7 million in total salary in his first four years for a player that made an all-star team. Kyle Kuzma is averaging 16.0 points through three seasons and is on the books for $3.5 million in year four.

Tillman’s ability to defend, his basketball IQ, his play-making and his professional demeanor means that he can step into the modern NBA and do a job as a rotation player for just about any team in the league. But he doesn’t have the upside that other bigs in the same projected range have — Jalen Smith, Daniel Oturu, Jaden McDaniels, Zeke Nnaji — so there are teams that are scared off.

I don’t get it.

But Tillman’s decision to head to the professional ranks indicates that he does, indeed, feel confident in the fact that he will have gainful and steady employment next season. Since he would have walked at Michigan State’s graduation in May had it been held, that doesn’t leave much to return to school for.

The Spartans will now be left in a tough spot. There are quite a few pieces to like on this roster. Rocket Watts had promising moments as a freshman, as did Malik Hall. Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham are both talented players. Joey Hauser had a good season at Marquette, and the early returns on freshman Mady Sissoko are promising. But this is going to be a young and unproven group.

Izzo has had less at his disposal before, but this is certainly not an ideal situation for Michigan State.