What better way to prepare for the 2019-20 college basketball season than to go through every Division I roster and try to pick out the best player in the country by jersey number, an exercise I started last season when I undervalued Duke’s Zion Williamson and overvalued his teammate Cam Reddish.
Last season proved, once again, that freshmen can be some of the best players in the country, which obviously requires some level of projection, since we’ve never seen them play at the college level.
So if we’re projecting how freshmen will perform this season, it’s only fair that we also project potential breakout seasons and expanded roles for returning players, too. For example, I think a couple players wearing jersey No. 30 are poised for breakout seasons — Virginia’s Jay Huff and Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji.
Therefore, these rankings are a projection and prediction of which players will be the best player to wear their jersey number in the upcoming 2019-20 season.
Transfers who are sitting out this season were not considered. Mid-year transfers who will be eligible in December and players who are currently recovering from injuries were considered with respect to their availability.
Also a special shoutout to the top two recruits in Memphis’ No. 1-ranked recruiting class — James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa — for choosing double-digit numbers and making this exercise a little bit easier.
For each jersey number, I also chose a second player to watch.
By the way, if you’re a DI college basketball player who’s looking to be the best player to wear your jersey number, choose a number that’s in the mid-40s or 50s, something like No. 43.
Advanced stats courtesy of kenpom.com, hoop-math.com and barttorvik.com.
#00 – South Carolina’s A.J. Lawson
If not, it’ll be: Penn’s Ryan Betley
Yes, No. 0 and No. 00 are two different jersey numbers, just ask Auburn, which has players who wear both numbers. As a freshman, South Carolina’s A.J. Lawson started 27 of the 28 games he played in, averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists, while posting a team-high 19.5 percent assist rate and using 23.8 percent of the Gamecocks’ possessions when he was on the floor — the second-highest on the team.
His efficiency could use some improvement as a sophomore (a sub-par 98.4 offensive rating) but the raw production is there, especially because of his 35.8 percent 3-point shooting on 4.6 attempts per game. He shot just 26.9 percent on 2-point jumpers, per hoop-math.com, and 66.4 percent from the free throw line, so even if he can become an average shooter inside the arc and at the line, his efficiency can skyrocket.
#0 – Marquette’s Markus Howard
If not, it’ll be: Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans
Marquette’s 2019-20 campaign, especially the play of Markus Howard and the defensive attention he’ll receive, is going to be fascinating after the Golden Eagles went from a likely preseason top-10 team to one that may not be ranked at all in the Preseason AP Top 25 Poll after brothers Sam and Joey Hauser transferred in the offseason.
Howard averaged 25 points per game last season on one of the five highest usage rates in the country (36.1%) but without Sam (14.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 40.2% 3P) and Joey Hauser (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 42.5% 3P), it’s fair to wonder how efficient he’ll be, and who will provide Marquette’s secondary scoring and to what degree?
But we’re confident that Howard, who went for at least 30 on 10 occasions last season including a 53-point outburst at Creighton, will get his given how often the ball will be in his hands and how often his team will need him to shoot this season.
#1 – Kansas’ Devon Dotson
If not, it’ll be: Duke’s Vernon Carey
This might be the toughest pick of any jersey number with a mix of high-profile returning players (Dotson, Maryland’s Anthony Cowan, Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry, LSU’s Javonte Smart and Tennessee’s Lamonte Turner), five-star freshmen (Duke’s Vernon Carey, Oregon’s N’Faly Dante — who will miss the start of the season — and Florida’s Tre Mann), players who will be returning from injury (Texas’ Andrew Jones and Michigan State’s Joshua Langford) and a transfer who will likely play a big role for one of the best programs in the country (Gonzaga’s Admon Gilder).
We’ll go with Dotson, who should have a lot of shots available for him this season on preseason No. 3 Kansas with the losses of Dedric Lawson (14.1 FGA/game), Lagerald Vick (10.8) and Quentin Grimes (7.7). He and center Udoka Azubuike will be the centerpieces of the 2019-20 Jayhawks.
Dotson was efficient as a freshman (111.2 offensive rating), averaging 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He averaged just under one made 3-pointer per game at a 36.3 percent clip and he led Kansas with a 48.2 free throw rate — meaning he attempted roughly 48 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts.
#2 – North Carolina’s Cole Anthony
If not, take your pick: Kentucky’s Kahlil Whitney, Florida’s Andrew Nembhard or Virginia’s Braxton Key
North Carolina lost its top five scorers, including four of five starters, from last season, which means freshman guard Cole Anthony, the No. 4 recruit in 2019, will be given the keys to the car — a position that we just saw a slightly less-heralded freshman, Coby White, flourish in to the tune of 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds, which made him a lottery pick.
Anthony averaged a triple-double as a senior at Oak Hill Academy, and you can expect to see him put up more gaudy numbers in Carolina blue this season.
We cheated on the secondary option among players who wear No. 2 because there are a ton of really good options who project to have potentially similar roles and production.
#3 – Duke’s Tre Jones
If not, it’ll be: Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey
Duke has to have a player on this list, right? Well, not that the Blue Devils have to, but they probably enroll too much talent not to and Jones seems like the most obvious candidate, or the one who’s easiest to select. As referenced earlier, Duke’s third-highest rated 2018 recruit, Zion Williamson, was the Blue Devils’ best player last season, so let’s see what kind of roles Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley carve out this winter.
A reliable jumper held Jones back last season (37.2 percent on 2-point jumpers, 26.2 percent on threes) as he averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds. With Williamson and RJ Barrett out of the picture, and — for Duke’s sake — hopefully better team 3-point shooting, Jones’ assist rate should have room to climb from its 24 percent mark as a freshman. He’s a good free throw shooter (75.8%) but he didn’t get to the line with much frequency (19.4 percent free throw rate).
This pick hinges on how much Jones’ shooting can improve from his freshman to his sophomore year.
#4 – Washington’s Jaden McDaniels
If not, it’ll be: Ole Miss’ Breein Tyree
McDaniels, the younger brother of former San Diego State forward Jalen McDaniels, was the No. 8 overall recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He’ll join five-star center Isaiah Stewart (No. 3 overall) in a star-studded Washington frontcourt, and the analytics website barttorvik.com projects him to average 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds with an offensive rating of 114.
#5 – Michigan State’s Cassius Winston
If not, it’ll be: Georgia’s Anthony Edwards
While the competition to be college basketball’s best player who wears No. 5 is fierce — last year Winston, Duke’s R.J. Barrett, Virginia’s Kyle Guy and Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield wore the number (to name a handful of players) — this choice was arguably as easy as any jersey number.
Winston will be on the short list of any preseason national player of the year list and for good reason. The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and three rebounds per game last season, and if his scoring production makes another leap like it has in the last two seasons (6.7 ppg to 12.6 ppg to 18.8 ppg), then go ahead and mail every award to East Lansing now.
If you’re interested in the basketball mind that Winston has, we asked him and 10 other Big Ten stars to draw up a game-winning, baseline, out-of-bounds play at Big Ten Media Day.
#10 – Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp
If not, it’ll be: Notre Dame’s T.J. Gibbs
As a freshman, Wieskamp posted an offensive rating of 122.3, which ranked 87th nationally, as he immediately proved to be one of the best shooters in the Big Ten. He shot 42.4 percent from three on four attempts per game and 39.1 percent of his field goal attempts came at the rim, where he shot 63 percent per hoop-math.com.
With Isaiah Moss transferring to Kansas and Jordan Bohannon potentially missing the entire season with an injury, Wieskamp might become the Hawkeyes’ primary scoring option this season, giving him the chance to improve upon his already respectable averages of 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
#11 – Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu
If not, it’ll be: Penn State’s Lamar Stevens
As a freshman, Dosunmu averaged 13.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists, becoming the first true freshman for the Fighting Illini to lead the team in scoring. He had a 22.1 percent assist rate that ranked eighth in Big Ten play. The sophomore’s a difficult player to guard at 6-5, and he shoots it just well enough from outside (35.2%) to justify his 4.4 attempts per game.
Dosunmu was a member of the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and with single-game career-highs of nine rebounds and nine assists, he could flirt with double-doubles, if not a triple-double, this season. Lamar Stevens, by the way, is going to put up massive numbers as a senior after averaging 19.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game last season, but he shot just 35.6 percent on 2-point jumpers and 22 percent on threes for a 14-18 Penn State team. This pick is a bet on Dosunmu being more efficient for a much better Illinois team.
#12 – Iowa State’s Michael Jacobson
If not, it’ll be: Oklahoma State’s Cameron McGriff
In his first season playing for Iowa State after transferring from Nebraska, Michael Jacobson posted the 129th-best offensive rating in the country (120.1), while also ranking among the 200 best offensive rebounders in the country (10.5% offensive rebounding percentage) and taking care of the ball at a high level (12.7% turnover rate).
He averaged 11.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while often playing as the only true big on a Cyclones team that was full of skilled guards and wings. Iowa State lost its top three scorers and four of its top five in the offseason, so Jacobson’s production should climb even if his efficiency might take a hit.
#13 – Seton Hall’s Myles Powell
If not, it’ll be: Xavier’s Naji Marshall
Seton Hall senior guard Myles Powell took more shots last season than the Pirates’ second- and third-leading scorers combined for, but he still managed to score his 23.1 points per game efficiently with an offensive rating of 111.8. He’s just a good enough 3-point shooter (36.3%) to warrant the 8.7 attempts per game that he averaged last season, and he was just as efficient on a per-shot basis inside the arc (53.9%).
Powell gets to the line frequently — 6.1 free throw attempts per game in 2018-19 — and he shoots 84 percent from the charity stripe. For a player who shoots so often, Powell’s assist rate is also productive (18.4%), and he manages to defend (3.2% steal rate) without fouling (just 2.5 fouls committed per 40 minutes).
While Marquette’s Markus Howard gets a lot of attention as the Big East’s preeminent chucker (I say that endearingly), Powell probably deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation.
#14 – Oregon’s C.J. Walker
If not, it’ll be: Kansas State’s Makol Mawien
Walker was the No. 28 recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and the 6-8, 200-pound power forward projects to average 7.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists with an offensive rating of 111, according to barttorvik.com. Putting up those kind of numbers for the preseason No. 15 team would warrant this selection, which is actually a rarer jersey number among college basketball players.
#15 – Michigan’s Jon Teske
If not, it’ll be: Illinois’ Giorgi Bezhanishvili
Michigan will be one of the most intriguing teams to watch in the first few weeks of the season because we have no idea what the Wolverines will look like under first-time head coach Juwan Howard. Luckily for Howard, he has some cornerstone players returning in seniors Jon Teske and Zavier Simpson.
Teske, a 7-1, 260-pound center, posted the sixth-best offensive rating in Big Ten play last season at 127.1, and he was among the top 25 players in the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage (8.2 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively). His 6.3 percent turnover rate ranked fourth nationally and after attempting just two 3-pointers in his first two years of college, he made 23 last season, albeit at a 29.9 percent clip. If Teske’s 3-point percentage can climb even four or five percent as a senior, his already impressive offensive rating can climb even more and make him a unique player in college basketball who can protect the rim at an elite level (7.4 percent block rate) and stretch the floor on offense.
#20 – Kansas State’s Xavier Sneed
If not, it’ll be: Purdue’s Nojel Eastern
Sneed averaged 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game as a regular starter for Kansas State, and he ranked among the national leaders in both forcing turnovers (2.7% steal rate) and preventing them (12.6% turnover rate). His 34.6 percent 3-point percentage is high enough to keep opposing defenses honest, and his 105.3 offensive rating is above average.
#21 – Duke’s Matthew Hurt
If not, it’ll be: Oklahoma State’s Lindy Waters III
Hurt scored 17 points with four rebounds and two assists in Duke’s exhibition win over Northwest Missouri State, and if he can replicate even 85 percent of that production on a nightly basis for the Blue Devils in the ACC, he’ll be the best player in the country to wear No. 21.
He finished as the No. 12 recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
#22 – Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton
If not, it’ll be: Seton Hall’s Myles Cale
Haliburton posted the third-highest offensive rating in the country as a freshman (136.8) thanks to a 43.4 3-point percentage on 113 attempts. He used just 10.1 percent of the Cyclones’ possessions last season when he was on the floor — meaning just one in 10 possessions ended in Haliburton making a shot, missing a shot that ended in a defensive rebound or turning the ball over — so the next step will be for him to keep at least some of his efficiency while expanding his role.
Iowa State lost Marial Shayok, Talen Horton-Tucker, Lindell Wigginton and Nick Weiler-Babb, so there will be shots available for Haliburton, who also recorded some impressive defensive numbers (2.8 block percentage, 2.7 steal percentage) without fouling (1.6 fouls committed per 40 minutes).
#23 – Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman
If not, it’ll be: BYU’s Yoeli Childs
Tillman moved into Michigan State’s starting lineup at the end of last season and with Nick Ward not returning to the Spartans, he’ll be a full-time starter this season for the preseason No. 1 team in the country. As a sophomore, Tillman averaged 10 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks in 24 minutes per game, so assuming he averages five to 10 more minutes per game, his per-game numbers will inch closer to his per-40 numbers (16.6 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.8 blocks).
Chances are we haven’t seen the best of Xavier Tillman and that’s saying a lot for a player who finished last season with the 79th-best offensive rating nationally (122.8), 67th in offensive rebounding percentage (12.9%) and 84th in block percentage (7.3%). Plus, if Tillman (29.6 3-point shooter on 27 attempts) can go to the Kenny Goins School of 3-Point Improvement, one of the Big Ten’s most efficient scorers will become even more lethal.
#24 – Florida’s Kerry Blackshear Jr.
If not, it’ll be: Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert
The No. 1 grad transfer in Stadium College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman’s offseason transfer rankings, Blackshear left Virginia Tech and chose Florida, making the Gators Final Four contenders (props to you if you had the foresight to place a Florida national championship future bet prior to Blackshear committing).
His player profile page on kenpom.com looks like a Christmas tree (a yellow notation on the site marks any stat in which a player ranks among the national leaders). Blackshear ranked eighth in ACC play in offensive rating (121.9) on the conference’s ninth-highest usage rate (26.8%) thanks to a 60.5 true shooting percentage (sixth), and he ranked second in conference play in offensive rebounding and 11th in defensive rebounding. He’s not a high-usage or highly efficient 3-point shooter, but his 38.7 3-point percentage in ACC play is enough to make opponents respect him out to the arc.
#25 – Baylor’s Tristan Clark
If not, it’ll be: Colorado’s McKinley Wright IV
With respect to Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite, Texas Tech’s Davide Moretti and Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu, we’re going with Clark, who averaged 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals through 14 games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
He posted a 131.3 offensive rating, which would’ve ranked in the top 10 nationally among all players if he had played the entire season, and his 9.6 percent block rate would’ve placed him among the 30 best shot-blockers in the country. If he plays at that level this season, he could wind up on All-American lists in March.
#30 – St. John’s’ LJ Figueroa
If not, it’ll be: Virginia’s Jay Huff
Figueroa led St. John’s in rebounding last season (6.4 rpg), and he was third in scoring (14.4 ppg), while also averaging more than 1.5 assists and steals per game. While his 62.7 free throw percentage leaves a lot to be desired, especially for a player who is one of the top two scoring options for St. John’s this season, his 113.2 offensive rating was really strong, thanks to a 38.3 3-point percentage, 45 percent shooting on 2-point jumpers and 67.8 percent shooting at the rim.
#31 – Davidson’s Kellan Grady
If not, it’ll be: USC’s Nick Rakocevic
Grady’s efficiency dipped from his freshman to his sophomore season, but he still averaged 17.3 points per game for the Wildcats, while improving his rebound production to 4.5 boards per game.
He rarely turns the ball over (11.4 percent turnover rate) for a fairly high-usage player (23.7 percent usage rate) and his freshman-year shooting percentages of 37.2 percent on threes, 60.6 percent on twos and 80.4 percent from the free throw line suggest an incredibly high ceiling if Grady can get his efficiency to climb to match his increasing usage rate.
#32 – Memphis’ James Wiseman
If not, it’ll be: Purdue’s Matt Haarms
Wiseman was the No. 1 recruit in the 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and he decided to pick the Tigers and play for his former high school coach Penny Hardaway.
Wiseman, who’s listed at 7-1 and 240 pounds, will be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and playing in the American Athletic Conference will likely allow him to put up slightly better numbers than he would if he played in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or SEC.
#33 – Louisville’s Jordan Nwora
If not, it’ll be: Washington’s Isaiah Stewart
There’s a reason — well, several — that Louisville is widely projected to be a preseason top-10 team and it’s because of the return of the 6-7 Nwora, who was arguably the most important player to spurn the NBA Draft in favor of a return to school last season.
Nwora had a breakout sophomore season in which his points per game tripled from 5.7 to 17.0 and he maintained an acceptable level of efficiency (105.5 offensive rating) while attempting a team-high 13.1 shots per game and using 26.1 percent of Louisville’s offensive possessions.
#34 – Cincinnati’s Jarron Cumberland
If not, it’ll be: Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson
Cumberland should put up huge numbers in his senior year after averaging 18.8 points per game on a 31.3 percentage usage rate last season. That rate ranked 35th nationally, yet he wasn’t a ball hog. His 25.7 assist rate ranked in the top 200 nationally, and he’s able to stretch the floor as a 38.8 percent 3-point shooter on nearly six attempts per game.
The 6-5 guard drew nearly six fouls per 40 minutes — a great rate, especially for someone who has the ball in his hands as often as Cumberland does — and he shot 77.3 percent from the stripe last season. Memphis, thanks to the country’s No. 1 recruiting class, will dominate a lot of the headlines in the American, but Cumberland will have a say in the AAC Player of the Year race, and defending AAC Tournament champion Cincinnati will be a factor in the conference’s regular season championship picture.
#35 – Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike
If not, it’ll be: Cal State Northridge’s Lamine Diane
It’s a shame that Azubuike has only had one healthy season in his first three years of college as he was limited to 11 games as a freshman and nine as a junior. The Jayhawks won all nine games he played in last year and went just 17-10 without him, if you’re wondering how much of an impact he has for Kansas.
He averaged 13.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game before suffering a season-ending hand injury and his sophomore year offensive efficiency (121.0 offensive rating) showed his potential when he plays a full season. Azubuike is a dominant rebounder, a difficult player to guard at 7-feet, 270 pounds (5.5 fouls drawn per 40 minutes last season), and he’s an efficient scorer since all of his career shot attempts have come inside the arc.
#40 – Omaha’s Matt Pile
If not, it’ll be: Navy’s Evan Wieck
As a sophomore, Pile started all 32 games and averaged 11.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. He was one of the best rebounders in the country, grabbing 13.7 percent of Omaha’s missed shots (35th nationally) and 22.3 percent of opponent’s missed shots (124th).
Pile knows what he is and that’s not a 3-point shooter. He didn’t attempt a single shot from behind the arc last season, but made 58.3 percent of his shots inside the arc, giving him an offensive rating of 112.0 and an effective field goal percentage of 58.3 percent.
#41 – Villanova’s Saddiq Bey
If not, it’ll be: Tulsa’s Jeriah Horne
Bey averaged 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 29.6 minutes per game as a freshman starter for Villanova last season despite being the lowest-rated member of the Wildcats’ 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He had a limited role on offense (a 14.3% usage rate), but he was extremely efficient, making 37.4 percent of his 131 3-point attempts and 67.7 percent of his attempts at the rim, giving him a 121.2 offensive rating. Bey is also a productive offensive rebounder (8.2% offensive rebounding rate), and he rarely turns over the ball (11.2% turnover rate).
#42 – Mount St. Mary’s Malik Jefferson
If not, it’ll be: St. Francis’ Mark Flagg
As a freshman, Jefferson ranked in the top 50 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (13.4%), and he averaged 8.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 59.4 percent from the field. His 2-point percentage ranked in the top 220 nationally, while his defensive rebounding percentage (19.1%) and block percentage (3.6%) were also nationally ranked, according to kenpom.com.
#43 – UT Arlington’s Coleman Sparling
If not, it’ll be: Northern Colorado’s Roy Grigsby
Sparling averaged 8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a regular starter at Southern Idaho, and he had a season-high of 19 points.
#44 – Georgetown’s Omer Yurtseven
If not, it’ll be: Texas Tech’s Chris Clarke
Yurtseven, the 7-footer who was ranked as a four-star prospect and top-60 recruit in the 2016 recruiting class, transferred to Georgetown from NC State, where he averaged 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game during the 2017-18 season. His 120.2 offensive rating ranked in the top 150 nationally, and his offensive rebounding percentage (12.8%) and block percentage (7.7%) both ranked in the top 70 in the country.
#45 – Iowa State’s Rasir Bolton
If not, it’ll be: Baylor’s Davion Mitchell
Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton, who transferred from Penn State, received a waiver to play this season after he averaged 11.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game as a freshman. He had the second-highest usage rate on the Nittany Lions, which bodes well for his production this season at Iowa State, which has to replace its top three scorers from last season.
Bolton is a great free throw shooter (87.6% on 105 attempts last season) and an above-average 3-point shooter (36.1%), but he’ll need to lift his 40 percent 2-point percentage to become a more efficient scorer.
#50 – Purdue’s Trevion Williams
If not, it’ll be: Auburn’s Austin Wiley
This is one of the picks that hinges on a projection of an increased role that will lead to higher raw production. Williams averaged just 5.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season but his advanced stats were incredibly promising.
Williams had the second-highest usage rate on Purdue last season (27.3%), which was only behind Carsen Edwards’ hefty 34.7 percent usage rate, but he played less than a quarter of available minutes, so expect the 6-9, 280-pound big’s role to increase this season. He was efficient (115.9 offensive rating) thanks to a 54.6 2-point percentage, but the key will be getting to the line more often and then improving his free throw percentage once he’s there.
His rebounding percentages were off the charts — a 20.6 percent offensive rebounding rate and 25.8 percent defensive rebounding rate — and his 5.6 percent block rate suggests he can protect the rim as his role expands.
#51 – Boston University’s Max Mahoney
If not, it’ll be: Drexel’s James Butler
Mahoney put up big numbers in the Patriot League as a junior: 16.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game as an efficient scorer (119.1 offensive rating) with a high usage rate (28.4%). That efficiency comes from the 6-8 Mahoney not attempting a single 3-pointer last season and making 62.9 percent of his twos.
He’s a productive rebounder (11.5% offensive rebounding percentage, 19.3% defensively) and his three percent block rate makes him BU’s best rim protector.
#52 – South Carolina’s Jair Bolden
If not, it’ll be: Winthrop’s Chandler Vaudrin
As a sophomore at George Washington, Bolden averaged 11.2 points, 3.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game while using a tied-for-team-high 22.1 percent of the Colonials’ possessions. His 18.6 percent assist rate was nationally ranked, but the next step will be improvement as a shooter — he shot 41.5 percent on twos, 31.8 percent on threes and 67.7 percent from the free throw line.
#53 – Georgia Southern’s Isaiah Crawley
If not, it’ll be: Virginia’s Tomas Woldetensae
Crawley averaged 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for Georgia Southern last season with a 62.8 percent 2-point percentage that ranked 74th nationally. The 6-7 forward drew a ton of fouls (4.7 per 40 minutes), he’s strong on the offensive glass (an 8.6 percent offensive rebounding rate) and his 59.4 effective field goal percentage ranked 104th nationally.
#54 – Bryant’s SaBastian Townes
If not, it’ll be: Lafayette’s Myles Cherry
Townes was a big-time scorer as a junior at Bryant, where he averaged 15.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, making him the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer and rebounder. He led the team with a 27.9 percent usage rate, and he maintained average efficiency (102.0 offensive rating) in large part because of a 47.4 percent free throw rate.
#55 – Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa
If not, it’ll be: Iowa’s Luka Garza
Precious Achiuwa is Memphis’ other five-star freshman who will occupy the Tigers’ frontcourt, which means that if teams put their best post defender on James Wiseman, that potentially leaves defenses vulnerable against the 6-9, 225-pound Achiuwa.
The analytics site barttorvik.com projects Achiuwa to average 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds with an offensive rating of 112 on a 20 percent usage rate. If Achiuwa plays like a top-15 recruit for a talented Memphis squad, this pick will be justified.