11.15.18 | News
Ranked players fill the 2018 tournament top to bottom
The bloodlines are strong for the 6-foot-3 point guard Cole Anthony, whose father, Greg, starred at UNLV and played 11 years in the NBA. Anthony’s basketball IQ suggests he learned a lot from his dad, but the younger Anthony has a better vertical leap, at 43 inches, and impressive athleticism. He has an improving outside shot and, if he upgrades his ball distribution, he could become a sought-after commodity at the game’s highest level.
Vernon Carey Jr. is the son of a former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman, and it shows. The left-hander is a load at 6-foot-10 and 275 pounds, and he has a strong understanding of how to use his bulk to his advantage in the paint. He also has quality footwork, agility and a soft touch around the basket, making him a massive offensive threat. He’s also a menace on the boards, and if he works on further sculpting his body, he can maximize his defensive skills.
Australian-born Josh Green is already committed to Arizona, where he’ll have a chance to showcase his intriguing combination of athleticism and versatility next year. He’s 6-foot-5 shooting guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan that allows him to defend just about anyone. He can play some point guard on offense, too, and he knows plenty of ways to get to the cup. He tends to go to his right much more than his left, so more balance would round out his game.
Armando Bacot is a throwback type who’s committed to a traditional power: North Carolina. He’s a 6-foot-10 conventional center with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a sophisticated post game that makes him a scoring and passing threat in the low and high post. He combines rebounding and shot-blocking with high IQ and a mobility that may catch unsuspecting opponents off guard. If he works on his body and his shooting mechanics, he could find a home in the NBA.
Memphis commit D.J. Jeffries offers an intriguing mix of raw talents. He’s 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, allowing scouts to imagine him at either wing position or as a combo forward. His above-the-rim leaping ability makes him fun to watch, and he’s proven he can rebound with the best of them. He’ll turn 19 the week after he visits the City of Palms, making him older than most opponents, and the Tigers will be counting on him to continue to improve defensively.
Trendon Watford is a gifted scorer with elite length at 6-foot-8 and a 7-foot-4 wingspan. Alabama’s 2018 Mr. Basketball can carve up defenses with his drives and his ball distribution, and he has a strong understanding of the game. He’s sturdily built at 220 pounds, and while he may not have dazzling quickness, he can make up for that with his other physical attributes. His brother, Christian Watford, played for Tom Crean at Indiana.
Already ESPN’s second-ranked recruit in the 2020 class, power forward Scottie Barnes may still be growing, a chilling thought for opponents. For now, he’s 6-foot-8 with a wingspan listed variously at 7-foot-1 and 7-foot-2. He’s a flashy open-court player with a strong understanding of the game to go with impressive quickness and agility for his size. If he adds an outside shot to his game, he could make NBA scouts salivate.
Jaden Springer is a canny scorer who combines 6-foot-4 size with a 6-foot-8 wingspan and tantalizing athleticism. The two-guard can play above the rim, and his strong defensive footwork shows his commitment to the game. The next step for him could be bringing his shooting range out beyond the arc, but he just turned 16 on Sept. 25, so he has plenty of time to develop.
Playmaking point guard Jeremy Roach has a strong feel for the game and plays above the rim. He’s a strong ball-handler and a threat to score once he gets into the paint. He’s also a talkative communicator on defense, a trait that should earn him bonus points with recruiters. His shot will need work, but that’s not uncommon at this level, and at 6-foot-2 he doesn’t have elite size, but he may still be growing.
Sharife Cooper had quite a summer. The speed merchant became the first player ever to lead the Peach Jam in scoring and assists, and he drew praise from none other than Kevin Durant. He’s a crafty point guard who has shown the ability to dominate games offensively, but at 6-foot-0, he’ll have to answer questions about how well he can hang defensively. Still, if Isaiah Thomas can be an NBA All-Star, maybe Cooper can, too.