Cheick Diallo, Kansas: While he has yet to be cleared by the NCAA, Diallo has a chance to be the top NBA prospect in the Big 12 this season. The 6-foot-9 power forward showed one of the best motors in high school basketball last year, which allowed him to dominate on the glass. Diallo also contests shots at a high rate, using his motor and athletic ability to protect the rim. He’ll need to show some potential on the offensive end, as he’s undersized for the center spot and is raw offensively, but the tools and energy are already there.
Perry Ellis, Kansas: One of the most experienced players in the conference, Ellis returns for his senior season at Kansas after averaging 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last year. Ellis is most effective in halfcourt sets, where he can post-up defenders and use his array of moves to get to the rim. He especially enjoys catching the ball in the short corner, where he takes a dribble to two towards the middle of the floor before spinning baseline for an easy look. Ellis does a good job carving space inside and creating his offense before he catches. He’s shown a solid jumper, but has only shown glimpses as a jump shooter. At 6-foot-8, Ellis lacks ideal length and athleticism for the power forward position, but he’s a high IQ prospect that will have a shot at the NBA or a long career overseas.
Rico Gathers, Baylor: Gathers is a physically dominant presence inside at 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds. He used his strength and non-stop motor to corral 11.6 rebounds per game as a junior, ranking fourth in the country in that category. While he isn’t a skilled offensive threat, Gathers did manage to add 11.6 points per contest as a junior. He’ll need to improve on his efficiency offensively and his 61.8% rate at the free throw line. With the NBA being a league of specialists, Gathers is one of the top rebounders in the country, a stat that typically translates to the next level, and could push for a draft selection with an improved offensive game.
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma: Another specialist, the 6-foot-4 Hield is a three-point sniper that has shot 37.2% from deep during the past two seasons, averaging 2.7 makes per game. He has good length that gives him potential as a 3-and-D prospect, but will need to improve his shot selection. Going into his senior season, Hield has pretty much already shown what he’ll bring to the next level. After averaging 17.4 points per game as a junior, Hield will try to defend his Big 12 Player of the Year award he received last season.
Monte Morris, Iowa State: Morris is perhaps the most underrated point guard in the country. He averaged 11.9 points, 5.2 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game as a sophomore while shooting 50.7% from the field and 39.5% from deep. He also led the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, averaging 4.63 assists for every turnover, which was almost a full point better than the player ranked second in the country (3.66). The composed floor general was one of the best pick-and-roll ball handlers in the country last season and was an underrated shooter, who preferred to create for others than look for his own offense. With the hiring of Steve Prohm to replace now Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg, Morris could actually benefit from the coaching change. Prohm helped develop NBA draft picks Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne at Murray State and is known for his offense revolved around the pick-and-roll. This should fit Morris’ game and allow him to showcase what he does best.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas: After playing his freshman season as a 17-year-old, Mykhailiuk should see a much bigger role after averaging just 2.8 points per game. The 6-foot-8 Ukrainian has impressive size and athleticism on the wing with a pure shooting stroke. Mykhailiuk will need to add strength, but it will be interesting to see how the young Mykhailuk progresses after spending a year in the program.
Georges Niang, Iowa State: Another experienced senior, Niang is one of the biggest mismatches in college basketball. The 6-foot-8 point forward averaged 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game last season and will be a key returner for the Cyclones. Most of his offense came in isolation situations last season, where Niang used his quickness and unique skill set to attack bigger defenders off the bounce. He also showed a nice jumper to compliment, shooting 40% from deep as a junior, but will face questions at the next level due to his lack of athleticism. If Niang has an NBA opportunity, the key will be finding a position to defend.
Taurean Prince, Baylor: Prince enters his senior season after averaging 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last year. He has the ideal tools to fulfill a 3-and-D role in the NBA after shooting 39.5% from three as a junior and measuring 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11.5 wingspan at the Pan Am Games. The wing possesses lots of energy on the defensive end and can guard both the shooting guard and small forward positions. He’s not very effective at creating his own offense in isolation situations, but could sneak into the first round as a role player with upside.
Wayne Selden, Kansas: The former 5-star prospect may have been in college longer than most would have anticipated, but Selden is still a talented 6-foot-5 shooting guard with NBA potential. His physical tools are ideal for the shooting guard position with plenty of strength, length, and athleticism, making him an elite defender. Selden was an impressive spot-up shooter, knocking down 36.5% of his three-point attempts last year, but has yet to average at least 10 points per game in Lawrence. He’s shown flashes as a ballhandler and passer, but has yet to put it all together offensively.
Isaiah Taylor, Texas: New head coach Shaka Smart will have a key returner in Taylor, who has been one of the top players in the conference the past two seasons. The quick 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore while shooting 40.1% from the field. Taylor saw most of his offense in pick-and-roll situations last season, where he loves to get into the lane and finish with a floater. Due to his size, he’ll need to improve as a three-point shooter for the NBA, as he’s been below 30% from deep the last two seasons. He’s a blur in transition and could rack up steals if Smart wants to employ his pressure defense he used at VCU.
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