Photo from Phenom Hoop Report
It’s been a WEIRD year in college basketball. We’ve had 6 number ones and a host of upsets that seem to continually plague any team in the top 10. Only 2 teams are still undefeated and teams like Kansas and Kentucky have been bullied out by guys like Baylor and Auburn. 3
Despite the strangeness this season has brought us, it’s also brought us a great deal of talent. And in an NBA where talent only increases year by year, it’s always a good idea to look into the future and find out which guys look league ready at this point in the season. So, here are THREE guys that look absolutely ready to dominate the league!
VERNON CAREY JR. - DUKE UNIVERSITY
Photo from The Chronicle
Vernon Carey Jr. has been killing all season. Running the center at one of the greatest schools in the country has been a great look for Carey – he’s averaging 17.4 PPG and is 4th in scoring for all D1 freshman. Of course, some of this scoring is thanks to the good work of point guard Tre Jones, but it’s mostly Carey who does the dirty work down low.
Carey’s skillset has been unique ever since his high school days, where he was a McDonald’s All American playing at University High School in Florida. At 6’10”, Carey is a presence in the post and gets most of his points scoring right at the rim (or getting fouled and going to the line). But that isn’t all he can do. When he gets tired of babying you down low, Carey can very easily sag off and knock down a mid range jumper or even a three-pointer, if necessary. His agility and athleticism add to this seemingly perfect game and have made him almost impossible to guard this season.
He’s not great on defense, but with all of his offensive talents, there’s no doubt he’ll be a player to watch in the draft this year.
ISAIAH STEWART - WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
Photo from ESPN Seattle
Isaiah Stewart has made a big impact up north for Washington University. Stewart shocked the high school basketball world last season, choosing his native Washington University over bigger programs last spring. However, it seems like the choice has worked out for his so far. The Huskies aren’t great, but nevertheless, Stewart has filled the stat sheet, averaging 18.2 PPG (second for D1 freshmen) and 8.6 RPG (6th for D1 freshmen). Joined by fellow McDonald’s All American Jaden McDaniels – Stewart has amazed the country with his unique aggressive play thus far.
Stewart plays like an old fashioned 4 – a strong interior presence who is aggressive on the block but has the ability to turn around and shoot a mid-range jumper if needed. But one thing sticks out – he is STRONG. His strength has given him a big advantage all season, and he has seemed like a man amongst boys against D1 competition all year. He’s an effective defender and an overall good hustle guy. What’s the drawback? He’s not particularly explosive or athletic, and his overall skill set is a little more limited than some of his draft-mate’s.
But despite that, Stewart is a top-10 pick with a league ready body and mindset. He’ll be prized possession in the draft later this year.
ANTHONY EDWARDS - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
Photo from USA Today
It feels eerily similar to watching Ben Simmons a few years ago. A strong SEC player who is facing and dominating against high-level talent. But there’s one thing that defined Simmons and defines Edwards now: they aren’t winning games. They’re 10-5 (which I guess is OK) but sit at a 0-2 in conference play – a stat that probably won’t improve much. Nevertheless, Anthony Edwards has looked stellar. The reclassed freshman is only 18 years old, but his play this season has made him seem like a vet. He’s leading all D1 freshmen with 18.7 PPG and has been torching the defenses of top programs like Memphis and Kentucky.
Edwards can do pretty much everything. He’s a high-motor athlete with a knack for getting to the basketball, finishing, and drawing a foul while doing it. He’s an above average shooter, and he can end you whether you have a hand up or not. And it doesn’t matter in what fashion either – catch and shoot, off the screen, off the dribble, ISO stepback, you name it, Edwards has it. He sometimes is slow to pass but that doesn’t get in his way too much. He’s a quiet and reserved personality who lets his game do the talking, an unquantifiable stat but one that NBA coaches have noticed this far into the season.
Edwards looks like he’s ready to move up and kill at the next level – so keep a lookout for Edwards as he walks across the stage at the draft in 2020.