Cunningham could become Oklahoma State’s first No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. The school has had just three Top 10 picks in the last 70 years (Joe Bradley-1950, Bryant Reeves-1995, Marcus Smart-2014) and the 2021 Big 12 Player of the Year is nearly a guarantee to become the fourth.
In his lone season on campus, Cunningham -a former AAU standout with the Texas Titans- averaged over 20 points per game, shot 40 percent from beyond the arc and pulled in six rebounds per contest. In addition, he shot a sparkling 85% from the free throw line. It all contributed to him being named the school’s first ever AP first-team All-American.
Kuminga, who was once ranked as the one of the top prospects in the 2021 recruiting cycle, reclassified to the 2020 class while at the prep level. After doing so, he turned down multiple collegiate offers and bypassed college altogether. The former five-star recruit signed with the NBA G League Ignite and averaged nearly 16 points per game in 2020-21 (15.8 PPG). Kuminga, a DR Congo native, has NBA and athletic bloodlines. Kuminga starred for the NY Rens in the Nike EBYL over a two-year period.
NBA Draft Prospect: N’Faly Dante C- Oregon, was one of the many athletes that the Ducks used.
Dante, a sophomore center for the Oregon Ducks, increased his production during his second season in Eugene. The NCAA cleared him late in the 2020 season after a knee injury. Dante’s minutes, points, steals, blocks and rebounds per game all increased in Year 2. A season ago (2019-20), 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 used his length and drop-step to average nine points per game on 65.6-percent shooting from the field.
Dante is 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 sits in the chair and moves laterally on the perimeter in pick and roll situations.
Can he make it at the next level?
One question with modern bigs is can they 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. For example, look at how the Wizards use Daniel Gafford. These are some of the question marks NBA scouts will have when breaking down his game. His free throw inefficiency has also ranked as an area of concern. As well as his injury history.
Arizona State guard Josh Christopher’s ball handling continues to impress in the open court, and it has actually been an impressive part of his game since his days as a Las Vegas prepster. Early in the second half against Arizona (11-3, 5-3), Christopher used a crossover, kept his balance and then finished at the cup for a bucket while drawing the foul, eventually finishing for a three-point play (2nd Half/16:36, Arizona ’21). The former five-star recruit is averaging 16.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for a Sun Devils team that has largely disappointed in 2020-21.
Later, he ran the court and just missed an opportunity for a transition shot block due to a goal tend. On the team’s next possession he knocked down a corner three off the catch-and-shoot to tie the score at 48. If it wasn’t enough, he was seen hustling for a loose ball to try and save a ball going out of bounds in-between those sequences.
Christopher contests versus drives to the basket in transition defense without fouling, even when giving up baskets in these instances (2nd half, Arizona ’21). Fouls, however, have been an issue in his first 11 career contests, posting four or more in five games. Becoming a more efficient passer within half court sets is an area that he could also look to improve the rest of the season.
His activity has to be a factor in all phases because he isn’t efficient behind the three-point line (25%), yet shoots 45% from the field and is excellent from the free throw line (85%). As a unit, the Sun Devils have a tendency to play in spurts. After Christopher nailed a three-pointer at the 2:24 mark of the second half to put Arizona State (4-7, 1-4) up 82-77, the Wildcats ran off the last seven points of the game to close out an 84-82 victory.
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).
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.
Moore’s ball handling in transition leads to easy scoring opportunities for the Blue Devils. It is a big reason why the 11-game starter begins the 2020-21 campaign as a preseason All-ACC selection.
Dating back to his days as a prep level star with Cox Mill High School (N.C.), he has been a clutch player. In fact, he won back-to-back state finals MVP honors for the Chargers.
The former five-star wing has the frame to dribble-drive left or right and pull-up over defenders from the baselines. In the open floor, he uses his body to lean into defenders while creating space for himself. His deft euro steps often attack the opposite shoulder of opponents while going up strong to the cup.
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.