My goal with this article is to highlight some talented freshmen who deserve to be getting some draft buzz (or at least be on your radar for future drafts) but aren’t getting the type of attention they deserve. If I was writing this article a few months ago I could have added Elmarko Jackson and Garway Dual but they have already started to fly up draft rankings and are no longer underrated.
As the college basketball season goes on expect to see a few of the names on this list move up the 2024 draft rankings, while some of the others on this list will start to gain traction for future drafts.
10 Underrated Freshmen
Coan Carr – SF/PF – Michigan State – Carr will be one of the most explosive athletes in college basketball from the first minute he steps on the court. He’s a freight train in the open court and an elite above the rim player. Carr is an absolute menace on the fast break, either filling the lane or as a trail man where he can use his explosive ability to finish at the rim. He can also operate in the half court, using his power to absorb contract and get to the rim. He can get into the lane with a variety of spin moves or power drives and he’s hard to stop once he gets going. At 6-7 he’s got the height of a wing but should play a combo forward roll at Michigan State, using his strength and power down low (like Zion did at Duke).
DeShawn Harris-Smith – SG – Maryland – DHS is a strong 6-5 power-guard with big time athletic ability. He plays with a ton of tenacity and effort and impacts all aspects of the game. He’s an intense defender who can guard at least 1 through 3 and is a real force on the defensive end. He’s a high level rebounder for a guard and really impacts all aspects of the game with his physicality and athleticism. If his outside shot develops it’ll take his game to the next level. He’s probably not a one and done but has a NBA future after a few years in school.
Brandon Garrison – C – Oklahoma State – Garrison was a McDonald’s All American, so isn’t flying totally under the radar but I haven’t seen him on any draft boards or getting any buzz. He’s a burly 6-10 center with a big upper body and overall strength plus underrated athleticism. He’s an excellent shot blocker and overall defender who covers ground in a hurry, slides his feet well and projects the rim. Garrison shows promising flashes of shooting ability and will continue to develop into a mid range face-up option with eventual 3pt range. He reminds me of a more offensively gifted Tristan Thompson.
Gavin Griffiths – SF – Rutgers – There’s a ton of buzz for Rutgers class of 2024 recruits Ace Bailey and possibly Dylan Harper but the Scarlet Knights are also bringing in a very underrated talent this year in big wing Gavin Griffiths. He’s a smooth athlete with a lethal jump shot who appears to have a clear NBA skill. He’s probably not a one and done and so could be part of a loaded Rutgers team next year.
Cameron Carr – SG – Tennessee – While Carr might not be a 2024 draft prospect he’s got the type of shooting ability that NBA scouts look for, with a smooth, quick release, deep range, deadly accuracy and a nice ability come off screens and light it up from downtown. He’s a long and wiry 6-4 guard who will have to fill out his frame but a few years at Tennessee will help. Fellow freshmen Freddie Dilione will get more immediate draft buzz and could be a one and done. But long term Carr has a chance to generate his own draft buzz.
Myles Colvin – SG – Purdue – A top 100 recruit who had a good showing in this past summer’s FIBA U19’s Colvin is a sturdy 6-5 shooting guard who plays a controlled game, can shoot the rock and makes good decisions. He might not be the elite run/jump athlete that gets fans jumping but he’s got the poise and skill level of a future pro. I’m hoping he stays at least two years at Purdue so we can see him alongside Kanon Catchings next season.
TJ Power – SF – Duke – While other Duke freshmen and sophomores get most of the NBA draft buzz don’t sleep on the talents of TJ Power. The 6-8 wing is a versatile offensive talent who can shoot the cover off the ball. He’s got nice size and strength with a good deal of finesse. With the return of Filipowski and Mark Mitchell Powers will be buried on the depth chart so don’t expect too much from him in year one. He might just give us some flashes this year as a prelude to a breakout sophomore campaign.
Blue Cain – PG – Georgia – Cain is a just a playmaker who get it done on the court. He can run the offense, pass the rock, pressure the ball on D and score when needed. He’s got good size at 6-3 or 6-4 and solid athletic ability but his path to the NBA will be around skill level and decision-making. He’s a likely 3 or 4 year college player but one to track for future drafts.
Jordan Burks – SF – Kentucky – Burks is a lengthy, high-scoring wing with athletic upside. He might be buried on the UK bench this year and so we might only see flashes from him this year but he’s one to keep an eye on for future drafts. I like his tools and his shot making ability and think he has a NBA future.
Yves Missi – C – Baylor – Missi is an athletic 6-11 center who has been on a steep upward trajectory over the past two seasons, going from a raw rim-running player to a center who impacts all aspects of the game. He’s always around the ball, does a good job of battling for rebounds and can really fly above the rim. Look for Missi to play a supporting role in year one at Baylor and emerge as a potential 2025 draft prospect in year two.
A few more underrated freshmen to track for future drafts:
- Scotty Middleton – SG – Ohio State
- Rayvon Griffth – SF – Cincinnati
- Carey Booth – C – Notre Dame
- Amani Hansberry – PF – Illinois
- Arrinton Page – PF/C – USC
- Joseph Tugler – PF – Houston