The College basketball season is just about a month and a half away (November 25th opening day) and it’s time to start getting excited to watch this elite class of talent, led by the clear no.1 prospect Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State. At this point Cade is no.1 on everyone’s board and it would be a major surprise if he falls from that top spot.
The 2021 draft class is really strong overall and especially strong at the forward position. The weakest position is center (even if you count Evan Mobley as a center), with potentially just 2 or 3 centers likely to be drafted in the first round. Mobley and Ibou Dianko Badji lead the way here but there’s not much depth.
It’ll be interesting to see how Kai Sotto develops this year with the G League Unite team. He’s an intriguing center prospect with a really nice skill level and an improving frame/agility. At this point we see him as an early second rounder but there’s plenty of upside there.
Another story-line we’ll be watching is the development of Makur Maker of Howard University. At 7-0 Maker can play some center but often operates more as a point guard and his coach confirmed that he’ll get plenty of minutes at the point guard position this season.
It will also be interesting to monitor the progress of the players who opted out of the 2020 draft to return to school, including: Jared Butler, Scottie Lewis, James Bouknight, Keyontae Johnson, Chris Smith, Trendon Watford, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and plenty more. Which of these players will emerge this season and solidify themselves as first rounders? We’ll start to find out next month!
A few developments to note for the 2021 draft class:
- Cade Cunningham is sticking with his commitment to Oklahoma State, despite the post season ban.
- Jonathan Kuminga has officially reclassified and signed with the G League pro pathway team. Kuminga is pretty much a top 5 lock with top 2 potential.
- Moussa Cisse also reclassified and signed with Memphis. The 6-10 center is not only the best shot blocker in his class but shows flashes of big time potential on the offensive end including a rapidly improving 3pt shot.
- Makur Maker is likely to withdraw from the 2020 draft and has signed with Howard University – the first 5-star prospect in the modern era to sign with an Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Maker is a potential first rounder in 2021.
- Arizona added to an already strong recruiting class with Lithuanian big man Azuolas Tubelis, a big time prospect and potential draft pick in 2021 or soon thereafter.
- The addition of these prospects, especially Kuminga, help to make the 2021 draft class even stronger. This will be an historic draft and the talent pool is getting deeper and deeper.
The latest 2021 draft related news involves two of the top prospects in the class. Cade Cunningham, the early favorite to go no.1 overall will have a big decision to make. Cade turned down G League money to sign with Oklahoma State (where his brother is an assistant coach) but now the NCAA has banned OK. State from postseason play due to violations. Will this cause Cade to go another route like sign with the G League or perhaps switch his commitment to Kentucky? My bet is he’ll stick with his commitment to the Cowboys and his brother. Cade doesn’t need postseason play to showcase his skills and, as we’ve seen from other top prospects over the years, me might actually prefer to end his college career early to avoid injury and focus on the draft. We should find out soon what his decision will be.
The other big news involves Jonathan Kuminga reclassifying to join the 2020 recruiting class, making him eligible for the 2021 draft. This news was expected for many months and now it’s official. The 6-8 forward from the Congo has narrowing his list down to Auburn, Kentucky, Duke, Texas Tech and the G League. Whoever lands Kuminga will be getting a world-class athlete with an elite physical profile, who is still developing his feel for game. This will be an important training year for Kuminga, as he looks to turn his raw talents into a more finished product before the 2021 draft roles around.
The 2021 draft class has always been a strong one but with some talented freshman returning for a second college season this class gains even more talent and depth. Scottie Lewis headlines the group. He’s an all-world athlete with elite defensive attributes but an inconsistent offensive game. A second season at Florida will do him well and he will likely take the next steps in his development and solidify a place in the first round of the 2021 draft. Keyontae Johnson is also returning for another year at Florida – and the Gators will be loaded with talent and high expectations next season.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl also made a good decision to return to school and should have a breakout year for Villanova next season. He would have been drafted this year but has a chance to work his way into the first round in 2021.
There’s been a few major announcements over the past few days, with Jalen Green opting to skip college and go the G League route. He’ll be joined by Isaiah Todd, who had committed to Michigan but instead choose to join Green in the G League. But don’t expect this to be part of a trend, since it is likely that players will be allowed to go straight from high school to the League, starting with the 2022 draft.
Stud small forward Ziaire Williams made his college decision, choosing to go to Stanford. The Cardinal don’t normally get a lot of one-and-done players but Williams could be just that, as we project him to be a lottery pick in 2021.
We’re still waiting on Jon Kuminga and Greg Brown to announce where they’ll be playing next year. Stay tuned.
The 2021 draft class has been hotly anticipated for years and it seems to only be getting stronger. The top guys in the class (Cade, Jalen Green) have continued to play at an elite level, showing superstar potential, while the next tier of prospects has emerged as potential stars as well. The two Sierra Canyon wings, Brandon Boston Jr. and Ziaire Williams have blossomed in their senior high school season and Greg Brown and Terrence Clarke both flash elite upside.
One interesting development is that Duke-bound Jalen Johnson, an elite prospect in his own right, has left IMG academy and might not play his senior year. Could he be considering overseas options?
Gonzaga has been on a great run this past decade and their recruiting has really benefitted. The Zags recently signed 5-star combo guard Jalen Suggs, their highest-ranking recruit ever. Their recruiting class is loaded with Dominick Harris, Julian Strawther and now Suggs (although Suggs has expressed some interest in taking the professional route and playing overseas in preparation for the 2021 draft).
There are still a few major recruits who have yet to sign, namely Greg Brown, Ziaire Williams, Jalen Green and Josh Christopher. Stay tuned.
Evan Mobley has held onto the no.1 ranking in a lot of recruiting services but his NBA projection isn’t totally clear. He’s a special athlete with elite mobility for size but remains very light in the pants and doesn’t project as a good interior defender at the NBA level. He’s got a lot of work to do to put on the weight, add the strength and/or develop his wing skills to have a shot at the no.1 spot in June of 2021. His brother Isaiah has some of the same limitations and hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in his first season at USC, scoring in single digits in 8 of his last 9 games.
We currently project that Saddiq Bey of Villanova will stay for his junior season and enter the 2021 draft instead but the way he’s playing he could well declare for 2020. At 6-8 with a solid build he’s one of the better outside shooters in college ball, hitting 44.6% from 3 on the season. He’s the type of floor spacer and versatile defender that has a ton of value on draft day.
Oscar Tshiebwe has been a monster on the boards all season long and clearly has an NBA frame. He’s another guy who could test the 2020 draft waters but might be wise to stay a second season under Bob Huggins and potentially work his way into the lottery next year. At this point Tshiebwe is a work in progress on the offensive end but his shot isn’t broken and it’s likely that he’ll develop into a decent scoring option down the road. But his real value comes as a rebounder and defender who uses his enormous wingspan and great leaping ability to control the paint. He’s currently mocked at no.12 in our 2021 mock.
The biggest mover up the list is Terrence Shannon Jr. of Texas Tech, rising from early second round
to the lottery. He’s displayed a much more advanced game than we gave him credit for including showing primary initiator skills and a very respectable outside shot. He’s an exceptional athlete, has board shoulders and can handle a lot of contact on his way to the rim. He’s a possible one and done but could stay in school for a second year and make a run at being a lottery selection in 2021.
Greg Brown got bumped up a few spots in the mock thanks to his continued development of his all around offensive game. He’s always been a freak athlete who can play at the top of the backboard and jump quicker and higher than anyone else. But now he’s added a lot to his face up game including a much-improved 3pt shot, making him more of a modern day 4 who can also play on the wing. The 2021 draft class is loaded and the competition for those top 5 spots will be fierce but if Greg Brown keeps doing what he’s doing he’ll be right there in the mix.
Devin Askew joins the 2021 draft class after officially reclassifying. He could be a one and done for a Kentucky squad that will be stacked next season thanks to a great recruiting class (Boston, Jackson, Askew) and the likely return of a few current freshman including Whitney and Juzang. Askew isn’t the type of prospect that has fans jumping out of their seats but he’s a consummate floor general who controls the pace of the game, can penetrate and use his strength to score in the paint and is just a playmaker. In some ways he reminds of Cade Cunningham but without the elite positional size.
Landers Nolley II has burst onto the national scene early in the season as one of the elite shooting/scoring freshman in the country. He’s got an NBA build with broad shoulders and good strength and he excels at today’s most valuable skill, hitting the 3pt shot. He’s another player who could be a one and done or a two year college player.
Big news this week with projected no.1 overall pick Cade Cunningham committing to Oklahoma
State (where his brother is an assistant coach). And the Cowboys could just be getting started, with 5-star Bryce Thompson on deck to make his college decision, with Oklahoma State among his final schools.
Jalen Green is currently mocked no.2 overall but he’s looking stronger, more polished on offense and even more athletic (if that’s possible) than he looked over the summer. He’s very much in contention for that top spot. Auburn and Memphis seem to be in the lead in his recruiting.
Spanish power forward Usman Garuba is showing well for Real Madrid. He’s a rebounding force and efficient on the offensive end. We’ve moved him up from the 2022 mock to 2021, projecting him as a top 10 pick. He reminds of mix between Tristan Thompson and Al Horford.
Isaiah Mobley got off to a nice start in his USC career. He’s a potential one and done player but we have him mocked in 2021, thinking he’ll stay for a second season so he can play with his brother Evan next year. Isaiah is just so smooth for a big man and seems like a great fit for today’s NBA, with his 3pt shooting ability and switchability on D.
Jahmi’us Ramsey is off to a nice start for Texas Tech and is looking like a potential first rounder, sooner or later.
Good news out of Villanova as Bryon Antoine is cleared to practice again after a lingering shoulder issue. He’s probably not a one and done but could be a 2021 first rounder.
Duke scored another recruiting win with the commitment of 7-0 center Mark Williams. He’s currently projected in the early second round of our 2021 mock but could move up with a big senior year of high school.
Tre Mann moves up to the mid first round. There’s a chance he’ll enter the 2020 draft with a strong freshman season at Florida but for now we’re predicting that he’ll return for a second season. He’s got a game that is tailor-made for today’s NBA, with a lightening quick release on his jumper and great 3pt accuracy. He also knows how to keep the ball moving and doesn’t get caught up playing hero-ball.
News out of Villanova is that Bryan Antoine is still out with a shoulder injury and isn’t set to return any time soon. There’s a chance Antoine red-shirts this year, in which case he’ll almost certainly forgo the 2020 draft and return to Nova next season. He’s an interesting prospect, a dynamic athlete and tenacious defender, but he’s got a ways to go before he’s NBA ready and missing this season won’t help. Hopefully he gets back on the court soon.
The top prospects for the 2021 draft have been making their official college visits and announcing
their commitments. UNC scored a big win with the addition of smooth center Walker Kessler. The 6-11 big man is currently mocked as a late first round pick and possible one-and-done player for the tar heels.
Auburn is getting a lot of buzz as a possible landing spot for stud shooting guard Jalen Green. The Tigers recently landing 5-star point guard Sharife Cooper, a guy who other players want to play with. And Auburn is also going hard after Jaemyn Brakefield and human pogo stick Greg Brown. As for Jalen Green, he seems like a candidate to play overseas, perhaps following R.J. and Melo to the NBL.
Elite shooting guard Jaden Springer is down to Memphis, Michigan and Tennessee.
Not much movement in the mock this time of year but we’ve moved Michigan State wing Aaron Henry up to the mid first round of 2021. He could declare for the 2020 draft, with a strong second season for the Spartans, or push for the lottery in 2021. Henry isn’t a guy who will get a lot of press but he’s got the frame, athleticism and defensive tenacity to be an impact player in the League.
We’ve moved Terrence Clarke up to the 2021 mock, projected that he’ll reclassify to the 2020
recruiting class. Clarke is an elite prospect with no.1 overall type of talent. He’ll join a loaded draft class, making it even stronger at the top. Clarke starts out at no.5 in the 2021 mock.
Addison Patterson recently classed-up to join the 2019 recruiting class and signed with the Oregon Ducks. He’s probably not a one and done player but should be on the radar for 2021. He joins a loaded Oregon recruiting class so it’ll be interesting to see how the minutes shake out and which of these players emerge as the best of the bunch.
Not much movement this time of year. Jalen Green regains a spot in the top 2 after his Peach Jam performance. And Jalen Johnson moves up to no.3.
Big, bad, Ibou Dianko Badji moves into the lottery. He’s one of the most intriguing prospects in this class, possessing insane measurables and guard-like agility in a monster frame. He’s got a long ways to go but his ceiling is in the stratosphere. We’ll be tracking his progress closely.
Jalen Suggs moves up a few spots into the mid first round, while Kai Jones moves down a few spots.
Another superstar prospect and future lottery pick is headed to Duke: Jalen Johnson of Glendale, Wisconsin is a 6-8 forward who handles the ball and runs the break like a point guard, showing next level court vision and an advanced feel for the game. Johnson is a plus athlete, even by NBA standards and is a sure-fire one & done lottery pick, who could be in the conversation for no.1 overall. Coach K does it again. And again and again and again.
Major movement for Makur Maker after a strong spring. Maker is a big-bodied guard/center with an intriguing skill set. He fits the mold of modern big who can stretch the floor, pass the ball and he shows impressive open court ball handling ability and the ability to rip and run. Maker is up to no.4 overall in our 2021 mock and is in the conversation for no.1 overall.
Lok Wur is a new comer to the mock, landing at no.30 overall. Wur is far from a finished product but based on athleticism and upside alone he gets consideration as a potential first round pick. Not saying he’s the next Giannis but he shows the same type of flashes as Giannis showed as an 18 year old in Greece. Wur is a blur in the open court, gliding past defenders with long strides, and exploding to the rim with ease. Keep an eye on him over the next year or two.
Probably the hottest name right now is Cade Cunningham. The big point guard has elevated his stock to the point of being in the conversation for no.1 in his class. At this point we have him listed no.4 overall in our 2021 mock behind Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Johnson.
Adam Miller is another riser (and another big point guard). AceWolf is a crafty ball handler who finds angles well when driving the ball and is a creative finisher in the lane. He’s got the size to shoot over defenders and can really get buckets. He’s moved up our list to no.22 in the 2021 mock.
Jaden Springer is currently ranked no.16 in the mock but after a great end to the HS season and a good showing this spring, he’s looking like a potential lottery pick.
And of course we’re all waiting for/anticipating the end of the one-and-done rule, which could mean the top prospects from the 2021 recruiting class could be in this draft as well. Better get to know the name Terrance Clarke!