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Aztecs extend Brian Dutcher’s contract 3 years through 2026

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego State basketball coach Brian Dutcher has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Dutcher signed the deal following one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Aztecs went 30-2, won the Mountain West regular-season title and were expected to be a No. 1 or 2 seed before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They opened the season 26-0 and were the nation’s last undefeated team.

“Having spent more than 20 years at San Diego State University I understand what a special place this is,” Dutcher said in a statement Friday. “I am humbled and honored to continue to represent SDSU and Aztec Basketball as its head coach.”

Dutcher is 73-26 in three seasons, the most victories by an Aztecs coach in his first three seasons. He spent 18 seasons as Steve Fisher’s top assistant, including six as associate head coach/head coach in waiting. He took over as head coach after Fisher retired following the 2016-17 season. The Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with Fisher at Michigan. In Dutcher’s first season with the Wolverines, Fisher was promoted to interim head coach on the eve of the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship.

2020 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Where will Obi Toppin get picked?

2020 nba mock draft
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Here is an updated 2020 NBA mock draft. Who are the best 2020 NBA Draft prospects?

One thing that needs to be mentioned before we get into the meat of this 2020 NBA mock draft is that the only thing certain about the draft is that, eventually, it is going to happen.

When will the 2020 NBA Draft happen? Right now it is scheduled for June 25th, but that seems likely to change at some point. We can’t hold the draft until we have a draft order, and we won’t have a draft order until the NBA season finishes. If you haven’t noticed, it seems pretty unlikely that the NBA will start again until at least May.

RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

There are also questions about the way the pre-draft process will play out. Prospects will not be flying around the country to participate in workouts. They will not be going from team-to-team to conduct interviews. It seems unlikely that there is going to be a combine in mid-May, if at all. There is a real feeling amongst NBA teams that they have scouted these prospects in person for the last time.

What does that mean for the players that have declared, or will declare in the coming days and weeks?

Preseason Top 25 | Coaching Carousel | Early Entry Tracker

Well, they won’t be able to convince teams that they were capable of doing things that they weren’t allowed to do within the confines of their college team. They won’t be able to spend eight weeks doing nothing but perfecting a three-point shot to look good at the combine or during workouts. They won’t be able to show out during the NCAA tournament and turn themselves into a first round pick.

This is all new and unprecedented.

So with that in mind, a couple programming notes:

First and foremost, I am not projecting which teams will be picking in specific slots. There are just far too many question marks about right now, particularly when you consider that the NBA changed the way their lottery works this season. So for now, this is just a ranking of who I believe are the best available players.

Secondly, 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 2020 NBA 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.

So without further ado, here is the NBC Sports 2020 NBA Mock Draft.



2020 NBA MOCK DRAFT

1. ANTHONY EDWARDS, Georgia, SG

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-4, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 19.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 40% FG, 29% 3PT

Edwards is the best scorer in this 2020 NBA Mock Draft. At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and explosive athleticism, he’s proven himself to be a dangerous three-level bucket-getter that can get hot and do things like score 33 points in a half. Ask Michigan State. 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 settled for deep, contested threes. They looked great when he hit a couple in a row, but he shot 29 percent from three as a freshman. That speaks for itself, although part of that inefficiency absolutely stems from the load he was asked to carry. Edwards was not getting too many easy looks created for him.

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-7, 180 lbs
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 you 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-7 lead guard that has all of the tools that would lead you to believe that he can be a star feature guard in the NBA. He’s a terrific passer that can make every read 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 and more athletic as he matures physically and gets into an NBA strength training program. When that happens, it should help his explosiveness and ability to handle physicality. There are risks here, but I don’t think it’s crazy to say he has the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft class.

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. He may have a high ceiling, but there’s also some bust potential at play. If it all works out, he could end up being the second-coming of Luka Doncic.

RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

3. JAMES WISEMAN, Memphis

Details: 19 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 quit on his Memphis team in December, halfway through a suspension for break (admittedly silly) NCAA rules.

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: 22 years old, 6-foot-9, 220 lbs
Key Stats: 20.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.2 bpg, 1.0 bpg, 63% FG, 39% 3PT

Toppin is one of three guys in this draft that, if I were an NBA GM, I would 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 2020 NBA Mock 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 was 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 is versatile offensively — he can hit a three, he can score off the bounce, he has a pretty good feel for the game, he’s a capable and willing passer. 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. And while there is some value in being capable of guarding fours or fives, there are some valid questions about whether or not he’ll be above average guarding either.

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. ONYEKA OKONGWU, USC

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-9, 245 lbs
Key Stats: 16.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 1.2 spg, 72% 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 produced at the college level, both as a scorer, a rebounder and a rim protector, 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 seems like his floor. He has a soft touch around the basket, and while he’s shooting just 15-for-35 on jumpers this season, according to Synergy, he’s 9-for-19 on jumpers inside 17 feet and shooting 72 percent from the free throw line on 143 free throws.

Worst-case scenario, Okongwu turns into an off-the-bench big that provides energy, rebounding and defense. If the jumper — and, especially, the passing — comes along, he can be much more than that.

6. ISAAC OKORO, Auburn

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-6, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 29% 3PT

Okoro is another guy that I would 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 2020 NBA Mock Draft that better fits that role than Okoro.

I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Okoro was 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. He definitely is a capable and willing playmaker.

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:

7. TYRESE HALIBURTON, Iowa State

Details: 20 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 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 that can make those passes in a year where the opportunity of rolling the dice at the top is relatively low.

8. COLE ANTHONY, North Carolina

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Key Stats: 18.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 35% 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 during the 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 plays like 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?

What I will say is this: Anthony did become a better passer later in the season, as he gained more confidence in his teammates and after he went through a stretch where he was shooting the Tar Heels out of games. That’s a good sign, but I still have my doubts.

NBA DRAFT PROSPECT PROFILES

9. TYRESE MAXEY, Kentucky

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 198 pounds
Key Stats: 14.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 29% 3PT

Taking a risk on Maxey this high in the 2020 NBA Mock 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.

And while he would show flashes of being the dominant scorer Kentucky needed him to be, the Wildcats late-season surge was a direct result of Immanuel Quickley’s improvement, not Maxey finding consistency. We spent the entire season saying “just wait until Maxey finds his stroke” and he never really did. He needs to be able to make that shot because the rest of his 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.

10. SADDIQ BEY, Villanova

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-8, 216 lbs
Key Stats: 16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 45% 3PT
Full Scouting Report

Saddiq Bey is the third guy that I would 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 2020 NBA Mock 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 hit 45 percent of his threes while shooting more than five per game, and he finished in the 98th percentile nationally in spot-up shooting, according to Synergy. He has shown some playmaking ability, and while he’s not much of an off-the-dribble shooter at this point in his development, he is capable of playing as the handler in ball-screen actions. Most importantly, 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 were the second-best defensive team in the Big East behind Seton Hall, who was 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 four of those guys have turned into players that will last in the NBA for a while. Bey is next in line.

11. 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. Again, that will come with time.

The biggest concern I have with Hampton — who played this past season in Australia — is that I’m not sure if he has an elite skill yet.

12. DEVIN VASSELL, Florida State

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-6, 180 lbs
Key Stats: 12.7 ppg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 42% 3PT

Vassell was one of the breakout stars of the ACC, leading a good Florida State team in scoring and doubles as their best three-point shooter. He’s got the size and the length to be a good defender at the NBA level, and he’s proven to be a playmaker on that end of the floor — he averaged 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks. Playing for Leonard Hamilton, you can be sure he got plenty of reps switching defensively and guarding bigger and smaller players. He’s not much of a playmaker on the offensive end, and at 180 pounds, he definitely needs to add some weight to his frame. But he’s precisely what you look for as a 3-and-D wing. In a 2020 NBA Mock Draft where it’s hard to find sure things, Vassell, on paper, seems to be as close to a known quantity as you are going to get in this range.

13. PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 15.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 1.1 spg, 33% 3PT

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 did make some threes 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 was a freshman this season and he is just two months younger than Kaleb Wesson, who was a junior. If Achiuwa embraces who he is, he has a long and profitable basketball career in front of him.

14. NICO MANNION, Arizona

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Key Stats: 14.0 ppg, 5.3 apg, 33% 3PT

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 shots 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, which is a problem for an NBA point guard. 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 he does that truly sets him apart, and the fact that he was the leader of an Arizona team that kept losing games they shouldn’t lose is concerning.

15. 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. That’s the kind of leap that Buddy Hield made heading into his senior season. Nesmith is just a sophomore.

That said, Hield won at a significantly higher clip than Nesmith did, and Hield did it against Big 12 competition. Nesmith’s season was cut short before he really got into the teeth of SEC play. But I’d be willing to roll the dice on his shooting carrying him to a role in the league.

16. ISAIAH STEWART, Washington

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-9, 250 lbs
Key Stats: 17.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 77% 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?

I also think Stewart is the kind of guy that will be hurt by the fact that there won’t be any workouts. He’s an impressive interview that could show off his shooting and, at least in theory, prove what he can do defensively.

17. PATRICK WILLIAMS, Florida State

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-8, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 9.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 32% 3PT

The numbers look fairly pedestrian, admittedly, but putting them in context is important: Williams was coming off the bench for a Florida State team that goes 11 deep and gives everyone pretty equal minutes. No one ever puts up huge numbers in a Leonard Hamilton program. What they do is incubate players that project as role guys in the league. At 6-foot-8, Williams is a terrific athlete and a burgeoning defender and that can protect the rim and guard out on the perimeter when needed. And while the shooting stroke was somewhat inconsistent this past season, the potential is there — he did shoot 84 percent from three this year.

18. JADEN MCDANIELS, Washington

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-10, 200 lbs
Key Stats: 13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.4 bpg, 34% 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. His ‘wow’ moments pop.

On the other hand, McDaniels is 200 pounds soaking wet with slender shoulders and skinny legs. He hasn’t handled contact all that well this season, and he is not all that explosive of an athlete. And during Pac-12 play, all of the red flags came to the forefront. Emotional outbursts led to far too many technical fouls. He led the Pac-12 in fouls and turnovers. He averaged just 11 points during conference play. He was benched for the last ten games, and Washington wasn’t definitively better with him on the floor.

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

19. JALEN SMITH, Maryland

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-10, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 37 3PT%

Stix Smith was one of the best players in college basketball over the course of the last month. He’s a pogo-stick athletically that stsrted 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. Defensively, he can protect the rim, but will that translate to the NBA, where every five he goes up against will have 20 pounds on him? 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.

All that said, over the course of the last eight weeks of the season, Smith’s potential turned into production. It was the biggest reason Maryland looked like one of the best teams in the country down the stretch. I’m willing to bet on him at the back end of the first round.

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20. TRE JONES, Duke

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-3, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 16.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, 1.8 spg, 36.1% 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. He was the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. His box score numbers were impressive, and his impact on basketball games goes well beyond the box score.

But more importantly, his jump shot showed real, tangible improvement. Jones made 36 percent of his threes and shot four of them per night. In catch-and-shoot situations, he made 40 percent of his jumpers and hit them at a 1.18 points-per-possession clip (or a 59% eFG, which was in the 82nd percentile nationally). His pull-up game isn’t there yet, but if he went from being a guy that teams flat-out did not guard beyond 12 feet as a freshman to a 36 percent shooter as a sophomore, whose to say his pull-up game won’t be next?

If Jones never gets any better, if this is who he is for the rest of his basketball career, he’s a backup point guard in the league until he doesn’t want to play anymore. If he continues to develop his shot, however, he could end up being a starting point guard. I find it hard to believe this kid isn’t going to keep getting better. In a draft like this, that’s great value this late.

21. JAHMI’US RAMSEY, Texas Tech

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-4, 195 lbs
Key Stats: 15.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 43% 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.

But he’s a bouncy athlete that can play in transition, shoots the cover off of the ball and should be able to attack closeouts. The two major question marks are on the defensive end of the floor and shooting off of the dribble, but those are things that can be improved with time. He’s not the player that I thought he would be, but he’s still good enough that using a top 25 pick on him makes sense.

22. KIRA LEWIS Jr., Alabama

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-3, 165 lbs
Key Stats: 18.5 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 37% 3PT

Lewis checks a lot of boxes. He’s young for a sophomore — he enrolled at Alabama as a 17-year old and won’t turn 19 until April — and he put up huge numbers for an Alabama team that is built to run, run, run and shoot nothing but threes and layups. He also shot 37 percent from three for the second consecutive season. He’s slender, he’s turnover prone and part of the reason he produced as much as he did this season was because of the pace that Alabama played at. He’s worth a first round pick, especially considering his age.

23. CASSIUS WINSTON, Michigan State

Details: 22 years old, 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.9 apg, 43% 3PT

Winston did not have the season many of us expected him to have as a senior — understandably, given the death of his brother in November — but he still put up All-American numbers for a team that won a share of the Big Ten regular season title. He was playing his best basketball down the stretch, and he still have the highest basketball IQ of anyone in this 2020 NBA mock draft. He’s an elite passer and shooter that thrives in ball-screens. Yes, the defense and athleticism are concerns, but we said the same thing about numerous point guards that have made careers out of being backup point guards. Winston is the next in that pipeline.

24. JOSH GREEN, Arizona

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-6, 210 lbs
Key Stats: 12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 36% 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 was limited as a scorer in the half court — 1.19 PPP in transition vs. 0.825 in the half court — and part of that is due to the fact that he shot just 33.3 percent on jumpers in half court offense.

25. VERNON CAREY, Duke

Details: 18 years old, 6-foot-10, 250 lbs
Key Stats: 17.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 38% 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. To be frank, I’m not really all that concerned about the offensive side of the ball with Carey. 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?

26. XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-8, 245 lbs
Key Stats: 13.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.1 bpg, 1.2 spg

I may be out on a limb here, but I truly believe that Tillman is worth a first round pick, especially in this year’s draft class. There’s really two reasons for this: For starters, 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. But he is also an excellent defender that can really read the game. Talk to people around the Michigan State program and they’ll tell you he ran everything defensively. It was his voice that teammates heard. Now, the major question mark is his size. At just 6-foot-8, can he defend fives? Is he quick enough to play the four? If we knew for a fact that the answer to both of those questions would be ‘yes, and he can do it very well,’ I would have him slotted as a top 20 pick.

27. DANIEL OTURU, Minnesota

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-10, 240 lbs
Key Stats: 20.1 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 37% 3PT

In a league where seemingly every team had a dominant interior player, Daniel Oturu has been arguably the best two-way center in the Big Ten. The numbers that he put up speak for themselves. He was 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 think his fit as a five in the NBA is better than some of the bigs slotted in front of him.

28. ZEKE NNAJI, Arizona

Details: 19 years old, 6-foot-11, 240 lbs
Key Stats: 16.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg

Nnaji is the most explosive big in this 2020 NBA mock 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?

29. DEVON DOTSON, Kansas

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 18.1 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 spg, 31% 3PT

At some point it just becomes impossible to ignore the production. Dotson averaged 18-4-4 for the best team in college basketball, showcasing the ability to get to the rim almost at will while playing tough, aggressive on-ball defense for the best defensive team in the sport. There are some concerns — he’s very right hand-dominant, he shot 31 percent from three, he’s not physically imposing — but he’s worth a flier in this draft class.

30. UDOKA AZUBUIKE, Kansas

Details: 20 years old, 7-foot, 250 lbs
Key Stats:13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 75% FG, 44% FT

I don’t think that it’s crazy to say that Doke helped his professional outlook more than any player in college basketball this season. He was the most dominant defensive force in the sport. His ability to control the paint was unmatched, but he shed enough weight and improved his footspeed enough that he was able to shutdown pick-and-roll actions playing drop coverage, something we are seeing more of in the NBA.

The big question is if he is quick enough to be able to do that at the professional level as well, because he is never going to be a threat to do anything offensively more than four feet away from the rim and he’ll always be a Hack-a-Doke risk given his free throw shooting.

But a year ago, I would have said there was no chance that Azubuike could play in the NBA. None. And now I think that he’ll be an effective piece for a team that is creative in the way they use him in certain matchups.

31. CASSIUS STANLEY, Duke

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-6, 193 lbs
Key Stats: 12.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 36% 3PT

Stanley is one of the most explosive athletes in this draft class. He’s a guy that projects as a plus-defender as a result. If you assume that his 36 percent three-point shooting is for real, he’s a solid 3-and-D wing prospect that could find a way onto a roster. His shooting mechanics are a little funky, and he was flat-out bad shooting off the dribble, but he was in the 87th percentile nationally on all jump shots at 1.099 PPP and the 93rd percentile nationally on catch-and-shoot jumpers at 1.312 PPP, according to Synergy.

32. YVES PONS, Tennessee

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-6, 215 lbs
Key Stats: 10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 35% 3PT

Pons is the best athlete and the best defender in this entire 2020 NBA mock draft class. You often hear things like “he can guard all five positions” which tends to be an exaggeration. Not for Pons. He can, quite literally, guard any point guard, any center and anyone in between. He can play the four, and at times even the five, in small-ball lineups in the NBA to great effect. What makes him even more intriguing is that he shot 42 percent on unguarded catch-and-shoot threes. I think this is the most important number when it comes to his three-point shooting, because these are the face-up, step-in threes that he’ll be shooting at the next level.

The thing about Pons is that he played the three as a sophomore. As a junior, he was Tennessee’s four, which meant that instead of coming off of screens to get a shot, he was stepping into them as a trailing big or catching and shooting as a floor-spacer. This is the role he would play in the league.

Put it all together, and I’ll buy on a player that has an elite NBA skill with the potential to fill out his game to be effective in a role.

33. PAUL REED, DePaul

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 220 lbs
Key Stats: 15.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 1.9 spg

Here’s what you need to know about Paul Reed right now: Since Shane Battier left school in 2001, there have been two high-major players that have averaged at least 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in the same season: Matisse Thybulle and Nerlens Noel. Noel is the only other high-major player to average 1.9 steals and 2,5 blocks. While Reed is shooting just 16-for-52 from three this season, he shot 40.5 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore and has been a 75 percent free throw shooter the last two years. Size, length, athleticism, defensive playmaking, defensive versatility and a shot at being a shooter, too? I’m in, even with DePaul’s late-season swoon.

34. AYO DOSUNMU, Illinois

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-5, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 16.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 30% 3PT

Dosunmu is a tough player to project. On the one hand, he has all the physical tools to be a capable combo-guard in the NBA, and he proved himself as a slasher and clutch-shot maker as a sophomore. On the other hand, in a year where he was trying to prove to NBA scouts that he can be a consistent three-point shooter, his numbers dipped from 35 percent to under 30 percent. He has a reputation for being a worker and a good locker room guy, and given his ability to defend both backcourt positions, I certainly think it’s reasonable to bet on him getting better as a shooter in the second round.

35. MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-1, 185 lbs
Key Stats: 17.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.5 rpg, 37% 3PT

Flynn is in a tough spot. On the one hand, he just finished his fourth season in college by having an All-American campaign while leading the Aztecs to a 30-2 record and the brink of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. He turns 22 in May. It makes sense for him to leave now, striking while the iron is hot.

But just how hot is that iron, so to speak? Flynn is a plus-shooter that shines in ball-screens and thrived in an offense that was built entirely around his ability to do those two things. But he’s 6-foot-1, somewhat limited physically and looking at being a preseason first-team All-American if he returns to school.

At this point, I think that he is what he is as a player — a career NBA backup with a chance to get a couple of contracts in the NBA doing just that.

36. JORDAN NWORA, Louisville

Details: 21 years old, 6-foot-7, 225 lbs
Key Stats: 18.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 40.2% 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.

37. GRANT RILLER, Charleston

Details: 23 years old, 6-foot-3, 190 lbs
Key Stats: 21.9 ppg, 3.9 apg, 36% 3PT

Riller is just a bucket-getter. He’s crafty off the bounce, he can finish around the basket and he is a capable three-point shooter. He also has positional size to play lead guard in the NBA. What’s the downside of drafting him in the second round and seeing what he develops into?

38. MAMADI DIAKITE, Virginia

Details: 23 years old, 6-foot-9, 224 lbs
Key Stats: 13.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 36.4% 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 was 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.

39. KALEB WESSON, Ohio State

Details: 20 years old, 6-foot-9, 250 lbs
Key Stats: 14.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 42.5% 3PT

Wesson is the guy that was 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.

40. MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall

Details: 22 years old, 6-foot-1, 195 lbs
Key Stats: 21.0 ppg, 2.9 apg, 30.6% 3PT

Powell’s efficiency numbers were way 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.

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.

The 12 most influential stay-or-go NBA draft decisions

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The NBA’s predraft process is going to be very different this season.

There is no guarantee that there will be a combine. No one knows if teams are going to be able to fly prospects in for workouts or for interviews. Hell, we don’t even know when (or if) the NBA is going to finish the season.

As of today, the draft is scheduled for June 25th. It seems fairly likely that will end up getting pushed back for the simple fact that the draft order cannot be determined until the season itself is complete.

That puts prospects that are testing the waters into a difficult spot. They are not going to be able to earn themselves a bump in the eyes of NBA GMs with impressive showings at the combine or in workouts. They are going to have to rely on the tape that they put together during the season itself and quite a bit of misinformation that is going to be floating around throughout the process.

Will it be worth it to go pro without knowing exactly what the league is going to look like next season? Will there be players that decide to return to school and try to play their way into being a higher pick next year? How much will the 2020 recruiting class — which is much more talented than this year’s class — factor into these decisions?

There are a lot of players that have quite a bit of soul-searching to do over the course of the next three months.

These 12 will have the biggest impact on the 2020-21 college basketball season.

These are the most influential NBA draft early entry decisions.

(One programming note: We only considered players that we think have real decisions. Dayton would be awesome if Obi Toppin comes back to school. Obi Toppin isn’t coming back to school.)

Preseason Top 25 | Coaching Carousel | Early Entry Tracker

1. MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State

The Aztecs went 30-2 last season, and while they lost Yanni Wetzel and K.J. Feagin, they are on track to return enough talent that they should be considered the favorite to win the Mountain West regardless of what happens with Flynn. Matt Mitchell is coming back. Jordan Schakel is coming back. Nathan Mensah, who started over Wetzel before getting hurt, is coming back.

Flynn is the guy that’s up in the air. A redshirt junior that transferred into the program from Washington State, Flynn — who is projected as a second round pick — was the engine of SDSU’s high-powered offense. Brian Dutcher schemed him into ball screen after ball screen after ball screen, and he was one of the best players in the country at executing those actions. His situation reminds me a little bit of the spot that Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss was in after the 2017 season. He, too, was a redshirt junior coming off of an All-American season that was not guaranteed to be drafted, let alone drafted in the first round. But he opted to leave school, was the 55th pick in the draft and spent a couple of years playing at a very high level overseas before getting his shot with the Jazz this season. Flynn could end up following a similar path.

If he returns, the Aztecs will be a top ten team. If he opts to go pro, San Diego State will plummet out of the top 25.

2. LUKA GARZA, Iowa

This one should be obvious. Garza is coming off of a season where he averaged 23.8 points and 9.8 boards for a top 25 team, was named a first-team All-American and put himself alongside Dayton’s Obi Toppin in the race for National Player of the Year.

But he’s also in a unique spot where he doesn’t really project as a great pro because of his lack of athleticism and mobility. How often is a player that is that unquestionably good returns for another year in the collegiate ranks? Cassius Winston did it. Doug McDermott did it. It’s a big deal having him on the floor, to say nothing of the impact that he has on everyone else on that Iowa roster. The only reason he’s not No. 1 on this list is that Iowa has enough of a supporting cast that, without Garza, I still think they’re a tournament team.

With him?

They can win the Big Ten and a national title.

(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

3. JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL, Villanova

Robinson-Earl is not the biggest name on Villanova that has a decision to make — that would be Saddiq Bey, who would be a preseason first-team All-American if he opted to come back to school — but I think his decision is much more influential on Villanova’s season than that of Bey.

The Wildcats have so many good guards. They are going to be absolutely loaded on the perimeter next year. Collin Gillespie is perennially underrated. Justin Moore was the most underappreciated freshman in America. Bryan Antoine should finally be healthy and ready to contribute. Caleb Daniels is going to be very, very good for Villanova. Brandon Slater. Cole Swider. Jeramine Samuels can even play the three is need be.

What they don’t have is much up front behind Robinson-Earl, who averaged 10.5 points and 9.4 boards while shooting 32.5 percent from three last season. Projected as a second round pick, Robinson-Earl is the kind of player that might be hurt by not being able to have workouts and get in front of NBA execs thanks to the coronavirus shutdown around the country.

If he does opt to leave, the Wildcats will be forced to play with either Dhamir Cosby-Rountree or Eric Dixon at the five. With Robinson-Earl I think Villanova is the favorite to win the national title. Without him, I think they’re more of a top 6-8 team in the country.

4. XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State

Michigan State is going to take a hit next season because they are losing Cassius Winston, but the Spartans will still have a chance to win the Big Ten title if they bring back Xavier Tillman. For my money, Tillman was an All-American this past season. He’s the anchor of Michigan State’s defense, a leader in the program and an underrated weapon offensively because of his ability to pass the ball. He’s the piece that brings everything else together for this roster.

And there are going to be some weapons there. Rocket Watts will be a year older, as will Aaron Henry, Gabe Brown, Malik Hall and Marcus Bingham. Joey Hauser will be eligible to play, and there’s a chance that Josh Langford will be back for his final season. But none of that really matters if Tillman isn’t there.

I think that he is a first round pick, especially in a year like this, and with a wife and two children already, I would not be surprised in the least to see him keep his name in the draft — he announced his intention to declare for the draft this week.

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

5. IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, Kentucky

The Wildcats are going to have an absolutely loaded freshman class in 2020-21. Terrence Clarke and B.J. Boston are the biggest names, but Devin Askew should have an impact at the point and the likes of Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware will push whoever is left in the frontcourt by the time things are settled in Lexington.

But what the Wildcats seem likely to lack is going to be any kind of veteran presence in their backcourt. I’m expecting Tyrese Maxey to declare and sign with an agent right away. Things should be more up in the air for both Nick Richards and Ashton Hagans, but I do think both will be drafted high enough that staying in the draft is the right decision. Quickley is more of a question mark. I think he’s legitimately 50-50 right now. He was the SEC Player of the Year as a spot-up shooter this season, and if he returns I would not be surprised to see him take over the point guard role.

That said, there’s still a chance that he is drafted anyway this year. If he leaves, Kentucky is a back-end top ten team in my mind. If he’s back, however, they’re a top five team and a very real title contender.

6. JALEN SUGGS, Gonzaga

Suggs is in a different situation than everyone else on this list. He’s an incoming freshman, but there has been some scuttle that he could end up going to Australia for his one-and-done season instead of playing college basketball. As a dynamic lead guard that can create for himself, he is precisely the piece that the Zags are going to need next season.

Now, he’s not the only guy weighing professional options. Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi and Filip Petrusev all will have a decision to make. Oddly enough, the guy most likely to leave — Petrusev — is probably the guy that Gonzaga can most afford to lose. With a backcourt of Suggs, Kispert and Ayayi, the Zags will be a top three team in the preseason regardless of who starts at the four and the five.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

7. JARED BUTLER, Baylor

I currently have the Bears sitting as the No. 3 team in my preseason top 25, and that’s assuming that Butler is coming back to school. That, however, is not a guarantee. Butler showed enough as a scorer this past season that he could end up getting picked in the second round of the draft, and that has been enough to make worse players opt to leave school.

The big issue with Baylor this past season is that they went through stretches where they just couldn’t score. Butler is, by far, their best scorer. Without him, how long will those scoring droughts last?

8. AYO DOSUNMU, Illinois

At this point, I don’t think that Ayo Dosunmu is coming back to school even after the season that he had. That doesn’t mean that he is a lock to be a top 45 pick. He’s a 6-foot-5 slasher that isn’t great creating for others and actually saw his three-point shooting dip as a sophomore. He is, however, a terrific talent for Illinois, and if he does end up coming back to school, the Illini will work their way back into my preseason top 25 somewhere.

9. WENDELL MOORE, Duke

This one is pretty simple. Assuming that Vernon Carey Jr. and Cassius Stanley follow Tre Jones to the NBA, Duke could end up starting four freshmen next season. Wendell Moore could end up being the veteran on this roster, if he opts to return to school. After a rough start to his freshman season, he came on strong towards the end of the years, and his slashing skill-set should fit really well next to Jalen Johnson and D.J. Steward. With him back, I think Duke is a borderline top ten team.

Without him, they are very, very young. Or playing Joey Baker.

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

10. YVES PONS, Tennessee

Pons is definitely not a guy that is going to make any preseason All-American lists if he opts to return to school, but he may just be the best defensive player in all of college basketball. At 6-foot-6 and easily the best athlete in the sport, Pons can quite literally guard anyone from a point guard to a center. And he can make a step-in three. His presence will allow the Vols to play all kinds of small-ball lineups, which is exactly what they need to do with the number of talented guards on their roster.

He is a borderline first round pick in my mind, although I would expect him to go in the second round if he leave. With Pons back, I have Tennessee at No. 14, and that may be too low.

11. JAY SCRUBB, Louisville

Scrubb is a shooter than can handle the ball at 6-foot-6, and given that he performed well at the Nike Basketball Academy over the summer, there will be some legitimate interest in him as a prospect. How much interest is a question that might have been answered better if he had a chance to workout and interview with NBA teams. He is a JuCo transfer that is scheduled to enroll at Louisville this summer. As of now, if NBA teams are basing decisions off of a camp from last summer and tape of JuCo games, that may push him towards playing a season in the ACC, and with Scrubb on the roster, I think the Cards are a top 25 team once again.

12. TRENDON WATFORD, LSU

The Tigers are already losing Skylar Mays to graduation, and it would not be surprising to see Javonte Smart and Emmitt Williams at the very least test the waters, but with five-star Cam Thomas headlining a solid crop of newcomers, Will Wade should have a pretty solid team. Watford, a bucket-getting combo-forward, could end up being their best player if he comes back to school.

NBC Sports College Basketball All-American Teams

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Today is the day that we unveil the NBC Sports college basketball All-American teams.

Picking this year’s National Player of the Year was actually pretty easy to do based on the way that the season played out down the stretch, but the first team was a bit more difficult. It really came down to seven or eight guys for the five spots, and they were not easy to pick between.

You can read all about it below.

Here are the definitive college basketball first, second and third team all-americans.

Obi Toppin (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL ALL-AMERICAN FIRST TEAM

PAYTON PRITCHARD, Oregon

  • 20.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.3 rpg, 41.5% 3PT

Pritchard has carried this Oregon team for long stretches this season, and he has hit so many big shots throughout the year. So the numbers themselves are incredible and deserving of this honor before you consider how many times he’s made plays late in games that won games. I think he is the most likely player to put a team on his back and will them to a national title a la Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier.

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MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall

  • 21.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 apg

I can already hear the criticism from people. “How can you make a player that shoots 30.6 percent from three a first-team All-American? He shot 26 percent from deep during Big East play!” Yes, those numbers are accurate. But what Powell brings this Seton Hall program goes so much deeper than that. It’s the intangibles, the leadership, setting the tone, all the cliche things that are so hard to measure with stats. Think about it this way: The Pirates won the Big East regular season title and have a chance to be a No. 2 seed if they win the Big East tournament. Markus Howard returned to school and the Hauser brothers immediately decided to transfer out.

OBI TOPPIN, Dayton

  • 20.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 39% 3PT

Toppin is the NBC Sports National Player of the Year. Of course he is going to be a first-team All-American.

LUKA GARZA, Iowa

  • 23.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 54% FG, 35.8% 3PT

Garza has been absolutely unstoppable this season. He’s averaging nearly 24 points and 10 boards on the season, and his numbers only improved during Big Ten play, a league that is stacked with talented big men. There is no one in college basketball that plays as hard or is as relentless on the glass or in the post as the Hawkeye center. If there is a knock on Garza, it is his ability to defend. The reason he is, for me, “only” a first-team All-American and not the National Player of the Year is because he is the reason the Hawkeyes have been forced to play zone so much this year.

UDOKA AZUBUIKE, Kansas

  • 13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 74.8% FG

Azubuike has turned himself into one of the most dominant frontcourt pieces in college basketball this season. He’s an animal on the block, one of the strongest players in the sport, and the fact that he plays for a coach that is elite at creating ways to get him a post seal makes him that much more dangerous. He’s also a terrific lob target, and Self has schemed ways to get him rolling to the rim more often this year. But what makes him a first-team All-American is his work on the defensive side of the ball. Azubuike is the best defensive center in the sport and, for my money, the Defensive Player of the Year. He anchors a defense for Kansas that is going to be what carries them through the tournament.

Udoka Azubuike (John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM

DEVON DOTSON, Kansas

  • 18.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg

Deciding between Azubuike and Dotson for first-team off of Kansas was tough, but I think that Azubuike’s value as a lob-catching, rim-defending pterodactyl makes him the choice. Dotson, however, was still terrific this season. He’s terrific in transition and is near-unstoppable when Self can space the floor and get Dotson to turn a corner. I’m not sure he has the kind of pro potential that Devonte’ Graham or Frank Mason had, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a damn good college point guard.

MARCUS ZEGAROWSKI, Creighton

  • 16.1 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.8 rpg, 42.4% 3PT

Teammate Ty-Shon Alexander beat him out for all-Big East first team, but I think Zegarowski is the quarterback of this Creighton team. He’s the guy that makes them tick. The way I think about it is pretty simple: We know how good Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are, but would the Chiefs have won the Super Bowl is they had Jimmy Garappolo instead of Patrick Mahomes? Zegarowski is their heartbeat. Here’s to hoping that he is healthy for March.

MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State

  • 17.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.5 rpg, 37.3% 3PT

Flynn is the engine for one of the nation’s most surprising teams in San Diego State. Brian Dutcher has built his offense around Flynn’s ability to be a playmaker in ball-screens, and it should come as no surprise that the Aztecs have thrived as a result.

MARKUS HOWARD, Marquette

  • 27.8 ppg, 3.3 apg, 41.2% 3PT

Howard is having a stupid-good season. He’s shooting 10 threes per game, many of which are absurdly difficult, and he’s hitting better than 41 percent of them. He is the guy that every defense is game-planning ways to slow down, and he still manages to be as efficient as this while leading the nation in scoring at 27.8 points. If Marquette hadn’t completely fallen off a cliff down the stretch, if they truly were good enough to make a run to a Final Four, Howard would have been a contender to win the national title.

CASSIUS WINSTON, Michigan State

  • 18.3 ppg, 5.9 apg, 42.6% 3PT

Winston’s senior season has been one of the biggest talking points in college basketball. He has underwhelmed — understandably so — based on what was expected of him entering the season. That said, he finished the season averaging 18.3 points and 5.9 assists while shooting 42.6 percent from three for the Big Ten tri-champs, a team that will likely enter the NCAA tournament as a top three seed and one of the five most trustworthy teams in the sport. He might not have been as dominant as we expected as early as we wanted him to be, but he still had a damn good season.

Tre Jones (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL ALL-AMERICAN THIRD TEAM

JARED BUTLER, Baylor

  • 16.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 38.1% 3PT

Butler is the one guy on this Baylor team that can go out and create a shot for himself, which is something that cannot and should not be undervalued. The Bears can go through stretches where they look like they forgot how to play offensively. Butler is the one guy that can get them out of that funk on his own.

TRE JONES, Duke

  • 16.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, 4.2 rpg, 1.8 spg, 36.1% 3PT

Jones is another guy that is on this list in large part due to things that can’t necessarily be found in a box score. He’s a terrific on-ball defenders, perhaps the best leader in college basketball and the guy that has been the veteran voice on the floor for a team that is starting three freshmen.

IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, Kentucky

  • 16.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 42.8% 3PT

In a year where nothing for Kentucky was consistent, Quickley was the guy that they could always rely on. He was a steadying force, and he just so happened to be one of the best shooters in America in the final five minutes of a game. Nick Richards got the hype early, and deservedly so, but Quickley was Kentucky’s best player this season.

SADDIQ BEY, Villanova

  • 16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 47.7% FG, 45.1% 3PT

Bey is the next great Villanova wing. He’s a terrific shooter, he’s the best defender in the program and he’s a guy that can play on the ball as well as off of it. I personally think he will be a lottery pick that spends a decade playing in the NBA, and we saw it throughout Big East play. If Villanova is going to make a run in March, Bey is going to be the guy that carries them.

XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State

  • 13.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.1 bpg, 1.2 spg

The most underrated player in college basketball. The stats speak for themselves. What doesn’t necessarily show up in these stats is just how good of a defender he is. He can take away any five in the country. He’s also just a terrific passer and decision-maker when forced into 4-on-3 situations after teams double Cassius Winston in ball-screens. He’s one of those guys that makes things just run more smoothly whenever he is on the floor, and he will get the proper credit for that here.

Dayton’s Obi Toppin only unanimous selection to AP All-America team

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Dayton star Obi Toppin is the lone unanimous first-team choice to The Associated Press college basketball All-America team announced Friday.

He was joined on the first team by Iowa’s Luka Garza, Marquette’s Markus Howard, Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Oregon’s Payton Pritchard.

Toppin received first-team votes from the entire 65-person media panel and is Dayton’s first first-team AP All-American after averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds and shooting 63.3% in a breakout season that was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. The 6-foot-9 sophomore helped the third-ranked Flyers match the program’s highest ranking in the final AP Top 25.

MORE: NBC SPORTS ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS

Garza, a junior forward, averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game to earn 63 first-team votes. Howard led the nation with 27.8 points per game, and Powell, a fellow senior, was 17th at 21.0 points.

Pritchard became the fourth Pac-12 player to lead the conference in scoring (20.5 PPG) and assists (5.5 APG). The senior guard is the first first-team AP All-American from Oregon.

AP All-America

First team

Obi Toppin, Dayton
Luka Garza, Iowa
Markus Howard, Marquette
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Payton Pritchard, Oregon

Second team

Devon Dotson, Kansas
Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
Malachi Flynn, San Diego State
Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Vernon Carey Jr., Duke

Third team

Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga
Jordan Nwora, Louisville
Jared Butler, Baylor
Tre Jones, Duke
Jalen Smith, Maryland

Honorable mention (at least 10 points): Daniel Oturu, Minnesota; Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky; Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton; Saddiq Bey, Villanova; Mason Jones, Arkansas