NBA: Who’s Got Next?

Staff Writer: Corey Darko

At the beginning of the college basketball season, this upcoming draft class was being compared to the stacked 2003 class. Prospects like Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz have led an outstanding variety of talented players this season. Despite the great players in this class, I’ve narrowed it down to five true game changers, and five players that I believe are the best in this class. They’ve got next.

The top prospect in this year’s draft class is Markelle Fultz. He is averaging a whopping 21 points per game, along with six rebounds and six assists. One Gm even stated that “ he scores like he breaths”. He is also getting it done on the defensive end, averaging 1.3 blocks and 1.9 steals. At this point in the season, Fultz is showing that he is arguably the most complete player in this draft class. He has the ability to score inside and out, and can create his own shot. His scoring ability is drawing comparison to some of the NBA’s best scorers. His defensive potential is also intriguing. He has NBA-ready length and size for a point guard and because of that, he is the top prospect.

Markelle Fultz, McDonald’s All-American // photos collected b       by  Ella Elbeck, courtesy of Creative Commons

From Chino Hills High School to UCLA, Lonzo Ball has been accustomed to winning. His 14 points per game and consistent passing displays have led to a dominant season thus far for UCLA, and he has transformed their entire program. When I asked my brother his opnion on the UCLA floor he stated “ he might be the best passer I’ve seen in college since Jason Kidd”. He’s also easily one of the best rebounding guards in the association. His athleticism is extremely underrated and he has proven to be the best passer in the draft class. Once he fully develops his mid-range game, and improves his scoring in the half court offense, he will be a force.

Lonzo Ball, McDonald’s All-American // pho tos collected by Ella Elbeck, courtesy of Creative Commons

The last time Kansas produced an athletic freak, it was Andrew Wiggins. Now it’s Josh Jackson, who’s outstanding athleticism and finishing ability is being compared to Wiggins. Despite concerns about his jump shot and free throws, Josh Jackson has been spectacular. Josh Jackson is also a great passer, which helps space the floor and open up scoring opportunities for his teammates. He’s also been a steady rebounding guard, averaging about six boards per game. His NBA-ready body and athleticism make him a threat on the next level.

Josh Jackson, McDonald’s All-American // photos collected by Ella Elbeck, courtesy of Creative Commons

Before committing to NC State and suffering two knee injuries, Dennis Smith Jr. was the number one high school player in the country. Now that he has returned, he has been a headache for opposing teams. Despite struggling early, Smith has averaged 20+ points through his last eight games, and he has drastically improved his jumpshot. Smith’s explosiveness, athleticism, and scoring ability makes him a can’t-miss prospect.

Dennis Smith JR punching in a dunk  // photos collected by Ella Elbeck, courtesy of Creative Commons


Jayson Tatum hasn’t had the hype that other prospects have, but he has far exceeded any expectations. His ability to score from anywhere on the perimeter is amazing. His athleticism and scoring potential make him a lock for the lottery come the NBA Draft.


Jayson Tatum, McDonald’s All-American // photos collected by Ella Elbeck, courtesy of Creative Commons

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