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, from 2016-2017 and from last year, 2017-2018. 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 2019 NBA Mock Draft and on teams in the 2018-2019 College Basketball Top 25.
50. Austin Wiley, C, Auburn, Sophomore – Averaged 8.8 ppg on 58% shooting as a freshman before missing last season because of an FBI investigation. Despite not playing, he was invited to the NBA combine.
49. Xavier Sneed, SF, Kansas State, Junior – Put his name on the map with a 22-point, 9-rebound game against Kentucky in the Sweet 16 upset.
48. M.J. Walker, G, FSU, Sophomore – Highly-touted recruit had a mostly quiet first season, and was a non-factor in the NCAA Tournament. Expect him to play much more than 18 minutes a night this season.
47. Grant Williams, F, Tennessee, Junior – The undersized 6-foot-7 post presence averaged 15.2 ppg for the Vols and won SEC Player of the Year.
46. Charles Matthews, SG, Michigan, Senior – The Kentucky transfer averaged 13 ppg for the Wolverines, helping lead them to the National Title game.
45. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky, Freshman – Top 10 recruit is an athletic freak, and looks like a young Dwight Howard, but he’s actually got a shooting touch. Off-the-court questions linger, which is why he’s at WKU.
44. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech, Sophomore – A bigger role is expected of the Canadian, who scored 10.7 ppg on only 8.4 FGAs in only 25 minutes per game. He shot 39 percent on 3’s and could be one of the biggest surprises in the ACC.
43. Ethan Happ, F, Wisconsin, Senior – The rare college basketball player who looks NBA-ready as a freshman, but stays all four years. Put up 17.9 ppg and a career-best 3.7 assists per game for the Badgers last year.
42. Payton Pritchard, PG, Oregon, Junior – Sneakily one of the best players in the Pac-12 last year, averaging 14.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, and shot 41 percent on 3-pointers. He’s got help this year, so the Ducks should be back in the NCAA Tournament.
41. Lindell Wigginton, G, Iowa State, Sophomore – Quietly had a monster year in the Big 12, averaging 16.7 ppg and shooting 40 percent from deep. He’s on the NBA’s radar.