The start of college basketball is right around the corner. This Monday will be a holiday for many of us, especially with ESPN’s 24-hour college basketball marathon (bring it back). All season I do a running series with my thoughts on prospects and all things scouting as I work through the evaluation process.
In this first installment, I’ll predict a few potential draft picks after the first two weeks of the season that could make for a great opening week game, including some deep draft picks for both.
Biggest risers in two weeks?
Grady Dick (Kansas, Freshman)
As a 6-foot-8 knockdown shooter, Dick already has NBA positional size and the most sought-after skill: elite shooting. He combines these qualities with shooting versatility, effective offense, a high basketball IQ, and is a stronger athlete than he gives himself credit for.
The Champions Classic against Duke is obviously a key game for Dick and Kansas in the first two weeks of the season. He is considered a top 20 player overall. A solid performance against the Blue Devils at this stage could put him in the lottery conversation, if he isn’t already there.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (Indiana, Freshman)
A double sided big connector with an NBA shot, yeah sign me up. It remains to be seen whether Hood-Schifino will eventually play as a point guard at the NBA level, but there’s no doubt that he’s a skilled passer who can make others better. His relationship with Indiana is excellent. He can play his game around other offensive centers like Trace Jackson-Davis and Xavier Johnson.
Jumper – swing, especially from three. I’m buying his overall shooting ability and at this point he’s at least a capable shooter. If his jumper falls early, he should start to see his stock rise and once again show something reliable.
I’ll be interested to see how he compares to Anthony Black at Arkansas all season, with Good-Schifino projecting a similar game and role. Here’s hoping for an Indiana-Arkansas tournament matchup.
Deep Cut: Justin Fernandez (George Mason, RS Freshman)
The A-10 has a lot of exciting talent and Justin Fernandez could be the best of the bunch. He’s an explosive, flexible wing with ever-developing ball skills and a superior two-way edge. It’s guaranteed to create countless jaw-dropping highlights at both ends of the floor.
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Games against No. 15 Auburn and Boston College will highlight early season tests for Fernandez and George Mason.
Best single game opening week?
Marcus Sasser (Houston) vs. St. Joe
Given the level of competition and production, Marcus Sasser vs. St. Joe would be the best play for me.
Sasser returns for his senior year as an All-American and Player of the Year candidate for a third-place Houston team. His return comes after a dominant G-League Elite camp in which he showed no signs of a sprained toe, earning an invite to last year’s combine and leading the way there as well.
With his scoring versatility off the ball and his continued development, the six-foot-two shooting guard leads the Cougars in scoring and is expected to limit both his draft momentum and last season’s production before injury to 12 more games (17 per game). .7 points, 2.6 assists, 43 percent from three on 8.6 attempts per game).
Last season’s opening week for Sasser included 25 points against Hofstra and 26 points against Rice, making eight threes.
Deep Cut: Steve Settle III (Howard) vs. No. 4 Kentucky
Settle III is a fluid and versatile big man with functional ball skills who could be of interest to teams as a long-term development prospect, especially if he continues to show his ability to stretch the floor. While averaging 13.8 points per game, Settle III increased his three-point percentage (from 25% to 35%) by a greater amount (24 attempts out of 85 attempts).
His best performance last season came in prime time against Notre Dame led by Balke Wesley, the 25th overall pick by the Spurs. Settle III added 25 points along with 7 rebounds, 3 steals and two of five triples. He’ll get another chance to shine against Kentucky and their plethora of prospects, including Damon Collins and Jacob Topping.
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