After taking a deeper look into the NBA prospects on each of the top five teams in the USA Today Coaches Poll, it’s time to check out the rest of the top 10 teams as we prepare to enter the 2015-16 college basketball season. This year o should be one of the deepest, most talented pools in recent memory, which should bring plenty of excitement throughout the season.
Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Villanova and Arizona round out the preseason poll and each has the talent to make a run at the national title, as well as possible draft picks for the 2016 draft.
Honorable mention: Mike Tobey (C, Virginia), Jameel McKay (PF, Iowa State), Josh Hart (SG, Villanova), Kaleb Tarczewski (C, Arizona)
5. Malcolm Brogdon, 6-5, 225, SG/SF, Virginia Senior
Brogdon was my fourth-best prospect on team USA’s Pan American Games roster, and should continue the recent trend of Virginia swingman getting drafted for the third straight year. While Brogdon lacks the athleticism of Justin Anderson or lethal shooting range of Joe Harris, he has great defensive ability and a chiseled, 6-foot-5 and 225-pound frame. Brogdon’s 6-10 wingspan helps him on the defensive end where he lacks the quickness to stay with elite athletes.
However, there’s a ways to go in Brogdon’s offensive repertoire before he can become the player he can at the next level. The senior only shot 34.9 percent from a shorter college three last season, and he’ll need to improve his consistency from that range if he hopes to develop into a 3-and-D type at the highest level. Brogdon has improved on finishing at the rim throughout his career, although he still only shoots 59.0 percent from there. His mid-range game has a ways to go as well, as he shot just 33.6 percent (per hoop-math.com).
Obviously, he needs to show more growth offensively in his redshirt senior year, but the tools are there for him to be a role player at the highest level — and a second round pick in 2016.
4. Alonzo Trier, 6-5, 200, SG, Arizona Freshman
Arizona freshman swingman Ray Smith tore his ACL for the second time in 18 months, which will give Arizona’s other five-star freshman wing, Alonzo Trier, a chance to make even more of an immediate impact. Trier’s speed is what sets him apart more than anything, as it allows him to get to the rim in the halfcourt and transition. He is solid shooting with his feet set but still has to gain consistency from the perimeter and off the dribble during his time in Arizona.
Trier can struggle to finish at the rim because of his slight frame and shorter wingspan (6-foot-6), so that will be an area to monitor during his freshman season. He also needs to continue to add strength to his frame, which will help him finish and defend with more success. It might take some time, but the talent, speed and athleticism give Trier intrigue at the NBA level. He has a big draft range when looking at his prospects, and it’s possible after one successful freshman season, Trier finds himself taken with a late first-round pick.
3. Jalen Brunson, 6-2 200, PG, Villanova, Freshman
I wrote a bit about Brunson before as my fifth-ranked prospect in the Big East, and he remains the top NBA prospect on a loaded Villanova squad of lesser-talented seniors who should have yet another great season. A former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, he had great success overseas for the U-19 FIBA World Championships, which caught the attention of NBA scouts. He is a tough, quick guard with decent size and great playmaking ability.
He separates himself in the pick and roll, which allows him to get to the rim and hit mid-range jump shots. Brunson might struggle defensively at the next level with his lack of length (6-3 wingspan), and that will be something to monitor during his time at Villanova. He should have an immediate impact for Villanova next year and eventually could find himself in the first round of either the 2016 or 2017 drafts.
2. Monte Morris, 6-3, 175, Iowa State Junior
Morris was one of the most prolific pick-and-roll players in the country last year for the Iowa State Cyclones, and returns as a junior sans Fred Hoiberg ready to lead this team offensively. At 6-3 with a 6-5 wingspan and a 175-pound frame, He has good size for an NBA point guard and a ways to go to fill out. Morris is pretty well-rounded offensively, hitting 72.2 percent at the rim, 38.5 percent on two-point jump shots and 39.5 percent from three last year (per hoop-math.com).
But Morris lacks the elite athleticism of most modern day point guards, although his size and decent length help compensate a bit. At 175 pounds, he’ll need to add more strength to his frame as he heads to the NBA. It might be a bit of an adjustment without Fred Hoiberg for the Cyclones this year, but Morris will be key in leading this team as they look to continue their recent success. If he can provide that leadership while continuing his offensive prowess, it won’t be a surprise if he enters the 2016 NBA draft as a potential first round pick.
1. Buddy Hield, 6-4, 215, SG, Oklahoma Senior
Hield is the best NBA prospect among these teams thanks to his elite shooting stroke and ability to create off the dribble. Hield has nice size for a shooting guard prospect, at 6-4.5 with a 6-8.5 wingspan, which allows him to get his shot off over bigger guards. Hield had a down year as a junior, following his best as a sophomore, and should have his best year as a senior after competing at the Pan American Games this past summer.Hield shot 38.6 percent as a sophomore, followed by 35.6 as a junior after defenses focused more on him.
But this caused Hield to improve in other areas, including steals, assists and rebounds throughout the season. His length helps him defensively, and he has enough strength at 215 pounds to develop into a solid defender at the NBA level.
Hield struggled with his in-between game last year, only knocking down 32.2 percent of two-point jumpers per hoop-math.com, improving from 29.6 as a sophomore, and the hope is that number can continue to improve as a senior. Hield should be relied upon plenty in his final season, and if he can regain the consistency he saw as a sophomore while impacting the game in multiple areas like he did as a junior, it won’t be a surprise if Hield is a lottery pick next June.