Every summer we make a list of the 50 best players in college basketball for the upcoming season. Here’s the list from 2011-2012, from 2012-2013, from 2013-2014, from 2014-2015, from 2015-2016 and last year, from 2016-2017. The criteria: 1/3 their NBA prospects, 1/3 their individual talent, 1/3 how vital they are to their team’s success. Some of the names below are in our 2018 NBA Mock Draft and on teams in the 2017-2018 College Basketball Top 25.
50. De’Monte Buckingham, Sophomore SG, Richmond: The A-10 freshman of the year – who was only a 3-star recruit – averaged 10.5 ppg and made 35 percent of his 3-pointers. Scored a career-high 26 in March vs VCU.
49. Ben Lammers, Senior C, Georgia Tech: Improved significantly as a junior, averaging 14.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 3.4 bpg (3rd in the country) while shooting 51 percent from the field.
48. Manu Lecomte, Senior PG, Baylor: Spent two years at Miami, and transferred to Waco, where he had an immediate impact (12.2 ppg, 41 percent on 3-pointers), and was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
47. Carsen Edwards, Sophomore PG, Purdue: Enjoyed big-time success on the U-19 national team this summer. It’s an indication he’s going to make a big leap from his 10.3 ppg.
46. Johnathan Williams, Senior F, Gonzaga: As the 3rd or 4th option last year he still averaged 10.2 ppg, 6.4 ppg in just 24 minutes a game. Made a wise move to remove his name from the NBA Draft.
45. Robert Johnson, Senior SG, Indiana: A three-year starter for the Hoosiers, Johnson averaged career-highs in points (12.8), rebounds (4.4), 3-pointers made (2.1) and minutes (29.4) per game. A fantastic on-ball defender, Johnson should fit perfectly in Archie Miller’s system.
44. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Senior SG, Kansas: There’s been NBA talk about the sweet shooter since he got on campus, but he’s only 20. He shot 39 percent on 3-pointers last year, but defensive questions remain.
43. Obi Enechionyia, Senior F, Temple: If I could buy futures stock in Enechionyia, I would. The 6-foot-10 stretch four started last season hot, torching Florida State (16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 blocks) and West Virginia (22-12-5) in November wins that opened NBA eyes. But it must have gone to his head, and he struggled from December-February before ending the season with four good games.
42. Jordan McLaughlin, Senior PG, USC: There are two other really talented PGs on the roster (De'Anthony Melton and Derryck Thornton, the latter whom transferred from Duke), but McLaughlin, right now, is the best option. The 3-year starter shot 40 percent on 3-pointers.
41. Angel Delgado, Senior C, Seton Hall: Averaged 15.2 points and an NCAA-leading 13.0 rebounds last year for the Pirates. Was First team All-Big East. Turns 23 in November.
40. Jock Landale, Senior C, St. Mary’s: One of the best players on the West Coast but got little publicity. Made the leap to 16.9 ppg and 9.5 rpg shooting 61 percent.
39. Moritz “Mo” Wagner, Junior F, Michigan: Is he on this list if not for his 26-point explosion against Louisville in the NCAA Tournament? Only played 23.9 minutes a night but averaged 12.1 ppg while shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers.
38. Devonte’ Graham, Senior G, Kansas: Excellent junior year ended with a thud against Oregon in the Elite 8 (0-for-7 shooting in 38 minutes). With Josh Jackson and Frank Mason gone, Graham will have to step up his scoring (13.4 ppg, 38 percent shooting 3-pointers).
37. Kamar Baldwin, Sophomore G, Butler: Impressive freshman season (10.1 ppg), and could become a star in the Big East.
36. Gary Trent, Freshman SG, Duke: Top 20 national recruit and the son of 9-year NBA veteran will probably play alongside Allen and Duval in a 3-guard attack that might be the team’s best look come January.
35. Malik Newman, Sophomore SG, Kansas: Former 5-star recruit averaged just 11.3 ppg as a freshman at Mississippi State before transferring to Lawrence and sitting out.
34. Troy Brown, Freshman, SG, Oregon: Top 15 recruit goes to a team that lost its three best players to the NBA, and Brown’s going to get a lot of shots. Gave him the nod here over one of my favorite players on the West Coast last year, Ducks’ PG Payton Pritchard.
33. Justin Jackson, Sophomore F, Maryland: The Canadian had a solid first year, put his name in the NBA draft, then withdrew. The 43 percent on 3-pointers (and 10.5 ppg) has the NBA intrigued. I’d expect him to be the focal point of the offense.
32. Jaylen Adams, Senior PG, St. Bonaventure: Was 24th in the country in scoring (20.6 per game) and 7th in assists (6.5 per game). I think he’s a 2nd round pick in 2018. One of four returning starters for the Bonnies, who should be dancing in March.
31. Jeffrey Carroll, Senior G, Oklahoma State: Made a huge leap to 17.5 ppg as a junior, and should be 1st team All-Big 12. Turns 23 in November.
30. Rawle Alkins, Sophomore SG, Arizona: The 6-foot-5 guard who removed his name from the NBA draft is one of the reasons Arizona will open the season #1. Averaged 10.9 ppg on 46/37 shooting as maybe the 3rd option.
29. Jalen Brunson, Junior PG, Villanova: Averaged 14.7 ppg and 4.1 apg while shooting 54/37. Might be the best point guard in the Big East.
27. Shake Milton, Junior G, SMU: Significantly improved his output from deep (82 three-pointers vs 52 as a freshman), and will be The Guy for the Mustangs this year, so expect him to build on 13.0 ppg, 4.5 apg and 4.1 rpg.
26. Bryant McIntosh, Senior SG, Northwestern: One of the best players Northwestern has had in the last few decades, he averaged 14.8 ppg and 5.2 apg, but actually shot better from the field his first two years. Gave Wisconsin 25-7-7 in February; scored 45 points in two NCAA Tournament games.
25. Joel Berry, Senior PG, North Carolina: Wisely pulled his name out of the NBA Draft, and has a chance to be a memorable 3-year starter on a team that goes to the NCAA Title game three years in a row.