The (#) indicates the difference in the winning half
1. Point Guards: Trae Young has established himself as the headliner in this year’s class of point guards with his scoring and playmaking ability. Collin Sexton has remained an active scoring guard who is a relentless on-ball defender, and Trevon Duval has thrived in his role as the pass first point guard and who puts pressure on the defense by getting into the paint. A name to continue to watch as we get closer to March is Aaron Holiday. He’s producing offensively as the lead guard for UCLA, and after years playing behind other talented guards, he’s proving he can carry scoring and playmaking load for this team night in and night out.
2. Shooting Guards: The top of this position guard isn’t quite as distinguished as others in terms of top tier rankings. Right now Bruce Brown has shown slightly more consistency on both ends of the floor for Miami. Allonzo Trier is still the ready-made go-to scorer for Coach Sean Miller’s offense, showing he can score running a two-man offense with DeAndre Ayton or creating off the bounce in one on one scenarios. Chandler Hutchinson from Boise State has displayed a lot of polish with his game offensively and given his prototypical 2 guard size, he may be looked at as someone who can increase his draft stock with enough impressive performances in the month of March.
3. Small Forwards: Mikal Bridges has been by far the most consistent and improved player in this position group at this point. He has continued to flash his improved jump shot and decision making skills on offense while maintaining his dominance and playmaking defensively. Kevin Knox appears as if he is ready to play up to his potential as the number scoring option for Kentucky, now that he understands exactly how he needs to attack the paint offensively. One small forward to monitor going forward would be Troy Brown Jr. The freshman entered the year as a potential first round lock for the draft, but his play has been inconsistent so far this season. Look for him to begin to assert himself as a constant facilitator and or scorer as the season progresses.
4. Power Forwards: Marvin Bagley III has exceeded expectations as the number one overall recruit in the Class of 2018. He’s dominating each and every game, showing his ability as a scorer, rebounder and rim protector. Bonzie Colson has been leading Notre Dame offensively and is using his length exceptionally well on defense when it comes blocking shots at the rim. Freshman forward Omari Spellman is a player to really watch as Villanova looks to make their Championship run. Not only does this freshman have three point range, but he’s very active on the defensive glass, and has shown he can consistently protect the rim when Villanova uses a smaller lineup. Look for Spellman to make a noticeable impact throughout the month of March.
5. Centers: DeAndre Ayton has cemented his position as the best center in college basketball so far this season. The scary part about Ayton isn’t that he’s averaging 19 & 10, it’s that he is far from a finished product on either end, and really hasn’t put his three point range on full display so far this season. Mo Bamba has been fun to watch because his length and upside really seem endless. He’s averaging a double-double now and could prove to become a more dominant player on defense in the latter half of this season. Jessie Govan is really reaping the benefits of having Patrick Ewing as his head coach. His offensive game has developed to show a lot promise as back to the basket scorer, who can step out and hit the 3, and make his free throws.
Defensively he has room develop as an inside presence that can routinely defend the paint without picking up unnecessary fouls.
Overall, this class is proving to be deeper than many originally thought going into the season. There’s a lot to like about the top players in each of these position groups, but there are several players in the top 25 and honorable mentions with break-out potential going into the final months of the season. Check out these names as chances are there could be multiple guys who end up on the NBA draft radar by the end of this college basketball year.
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Written by Edwin Blebu