Petty has been one of the more consistent players in the SEC over the last four seasons and he has rightfully earned his place as one of the most impressive long range artists in the country. Want proof? Over his last three games, the senior guard is connecting at a blistering 65% rate from behind the three-point line.
Aside from just shooting three-point shots at a high rate (698 career attempts as of 1/20/21), he’s been rather efficient, connecting at 39.1% clip for his career. Petty very easily could have joined fellow Crimson Tide guard Kira Lewis in the 2020 NBA Draft if he had chosen to leave school a year early.
Instead, Petty -a former AAU standout with Team Penny dating all the way back to 2016- stayed in school for one more season to increase the chances of hearing his name called in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. The 18th-ranked Crimson Tide currently lead the SEC in three-point field goals per game (11) and rank sixth in the country in that same category (175 three-pointers).
The former five-star recruit stands out from the either the left or right wings off the catch-and-shoot, but he has also displayed his quick release from the corners of the court. He connected on 80% of his 10 three-point shots (made his first seven) to lead an Alabama charge that finished with an SEC-record 23 three-pointers in a resounding 105-75 win over LSU.
The Crimson Tide improved to 7-0 in SEC play and are led by a sharp shooter who plays on both ends of the floor. Aside from his three-point barrage, Petty also contributed three steals versus the Tigers (1/20/21). He has averaged over a steal per game in each of the last two seasons while also attacking the glass with vengeance. He tallied 6.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20 and is currently averaging 5.2 rebounds per game. After struggling with turnovers in 2019-20 (nine games with four or more turnovers), he is taking better care of the basketball as a senior (nine games with one or fewer turnovers).
Oregon Ducks sophomore center N’Faly Dante has seen his production increase during his second season in Eugene, after being cleared to play by the NCAA late in his freshman season following a knee injury. Dante’s minutes, points, steals, blocks and rebounds per game have all increased in Year 2. A season ago, the big man saw most of his offensive production come on lobs from Boston Celtics 2020 first round pick (26th overall) and Naismith Trophy award finalist Payton Pritchard. This year, Dante has been able to use his length and drop-step to average nine points per game on 65.6-percent shooting from the field.
Dante has been a force defensively, averaging 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Most players at the Oregon center’s size (6’11, 230) aren’t nimble enough to get down in a defensive stance, but Dante he sits in the chair and moves laterally on the perimeter in pick and roll situations.
As is usually the case with modern big men, can Dante do the little things to make it at the next level? Those include, but are not limited to, conditioning, defending without fouling and boxing out consistently. Those are the question marks scouts will have when breaking down his game. His free throw inefficiency has also ranked as an area of concern. The Bamako, Mali native has enough upside, however, to hear his name called in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft.
Sophomore center Drew Timme is next in line to continue Gonzaga’s run of skilled big men, which includes NBA players Domantas Sabonis, Zach Collins, Brandon Clarke, Kelly Olynyk and Killian Tillie.
Timme is off to a hot start this season, averaging 26.5 points per game and eight rebounds, in two games against Auburn and Kansas. His dropstep and ability to finish with either hand puts defenders in an uncomfortable position. Like former Zag Rui Hachimura, Timme is a problem in the pinch post because he is quicker than most centers and stronger than most power forwards.
Last year, he was named to the WCC All-Freshman Team and WCC All-Tournament Team after playing in all 33 games. The NBA hopeful is already on his way to topping his stats from 2019-2020, when he scored double-digits in 16 games.
Forgoing offers from major collegiate programs like Memphis, Arizona and Oregon, Jalen Green decided to join the NBA G League Ignite. The G League Ignite is part of the NBA G League and is in their inaugural season. Select NBA Draft prospects can join the team rather than attend college and play anywhere from 10-12 exhibition games alongside NBA veterans.
Green, a former consensus five-star prospect and arguably the best player in the Class of 2020, is an explosive leaper and a proficient ball handler. He impressed scouts on the AAU circuit with his ability to slash to the rim and create in transition. As the youngest member of Team USA’s FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup roster, Green averaged 10.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
The California native will have to improve his shooting mechanics, he shot 62-percent from the free throw line and 29-percent from beyond the arc against FIBA competition. In addition to his work on the international circuit, Green averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game as a senior in 2019-20 at Prolific Prep in Napa, California. He also helped lead Prolific Prep to a 31-3 overall record.
Despite a lackluster 14-19 record last season, North Carolina may have found a piece they can rely on in sophomore power forward Armando Bacot. As a freshman, Bacot finished with the most rebounds (286 total) by a Tar Heel freshman since Antawn Jamison in 1995-96.
On defense, the Richmond native has the length to alter shots. He finished with a team-high 36 blocks in 2019-20. In the 2020-21 season opener against the College of Charleston, Bacot added three blocks to his totals of 12 points and eight rebounds.
In an era of one-and-done players, head coach Roy Williams and his staff have done their best work with four-year players. Bacot has the physical tools to be successful but he could use the extra time in college to improve his conditioning. The former McDonald’s All-American selection averaged 24 minutes per game last year. However, he did play at least 30 minutes in eight games and, in six of those contests, he scored in double figures. Worth noting in the other 24 games, he scored in double figures just 10 times.
Johnson’s best contest in 2019-20 was his double-double performance versus LSU on February 26th. In terms of consistency, he impresses with his ability to crash the boards despite just standing a tad over 6-foot-5 (7.1 RPG as a sophomore).
Johnson’s offensive efficiency (54.4-percent FG) makes him an intriguing prospect for NBA teams due to his skill on both ends of the floor. In fact, he posted two or more steals in 11 contests a year ago, including an eye-opening total of four versus Providence in the 2019 Orange Bowl Classic.
His aggressiveness serves as both a positive and negative. Despite not fouling out of any contests as a sophomore, he had 11 games with four or more fouls in 2019-20. This came one season after fouling out of two games as a freshman.