Top 20 College Basketball Players From Champions Basketball NetworkThe rankings below are from some very trusted sources that we have grown to trust over at the Champions Basketball Network. The list and commentary is courtesy of The Big Lead
20. Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame – Could be one of the best all-around point guards in the country after a strong sophomore year in which he averaged 12.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, and 1.6 spg, plus shot 50% from the field and 41% on three-pointers.
19. Buddy Hield, G, Oklahoma – His shooting percentages slipped a bit as a junior, which is probably why he didn’t leap to the NBA, but still pumped in 17.4 ppg and is a joy to watch. The Sooners are Final Four material, chiefly because of Hield’s relentless attacking style.
18. Antonio Blakeney, G, LSU – Great young scorer. Fairly athletic. High-impact player for the Tigers from the tipoff of the season opener.
17. Kyle Wiltjer, F, Gonzaga – Averaged 16.8 ppg while shooting 46 percent on 3-pointers in his first year after transferring from Kentucky. Could be the best scorer on the West Coast, and will get more shots with the Zags’ backcourt gone.
16. Caris Levert, G, Michigan – Missed the final two months of the season with a foot injury. Shot 40 percent on 3-pointers the last two seasons. Could play his way into becoming a lottery pick because he does so many things well at 6-foot-7.
15. Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah – Could have left early for the NBA, but another year developing his outside shooting – will he develop a 3-pointer? – would help his NBA stock. In only 23 minutes a night, averaged 9.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg and shot 68%, 5th best in the country.
14. Domantas Sabonis, F, Gonzaga – Averaged 9.7 ppg and 7.1 rpg in just 21 minutes a night on a guard-driven team. Shot 66% from the field. In a tall Zags frontcourt, he’s the best NBA prospect.
13. Ivan Rabb, F, California. Made all the postseason All-Star games. Consensus Top 10 player in his class. Went head-to-head with Ben Simmons and played well. Rabb won’t face nearly as many double-teams as he did in that game, not with Jaylen Brown on his team.
12. Ron Baker, G, Wichita State – Best senior shooting guard in the country, a 4-year icon for the Shockers. Had a terrific summer at the Pan-Am Games after a 14.7-point, 4.5-rebound season in which he shot 38 percent on 3-pointers. There’s got to be room for this guy on an NBA roster … right?
11. Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova – Son of a former NBA point guard looked like a high-impact player this summer, and he could be good enough to slide Villanova senior Ryan Arcidiacono to shooting guard. Brunson has that takeover quality you love in a point guard, and at times reminds me of a young Deron Williams.
10. Malik Newman, G, Mississippi State – Explosive combo guard with a shot to match. Instant impact player in the SEC, where he could lead the conference in scoring as a freshman.
9. Marcus Paige, PG, UNC – Top senior point guard in the country. There’s an argument that he was better as a sophomore, and he played with the burden of the NBA on his shoulders as a junior. The Tar Heels are stacked, and if he can shoot 45/40, he could be the Player of the Year and guide UNC to the Title.
8. Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland – Too bullish? I took heat for having him high in my 2016 NBA Mock Draft, but maybe I watched too much of his tremendous freshman season with the Terps: 16.2 ppg while shooting 44/41/86. Best returning player in the Big 10? Didn’t star at the Pan-Am Games, losing minutes to Bobby Brown, who plays internationally in China.
7. Brandon Ingram, F, Duke – The Blue Devils are rebuilding, and Ingram may be the focal point of the offense. He’s very wiry and will get pushed around, but his all-around game is strong. Absurdly cocky for 17, but I guess that happens when you win four straight State Championships.
6. Georges Niang, F, Iowa State – Best senior frontcourt player in the country, though I’m sure he’d trade in gaudy stats (15.3 ppg, 46% FG, 40% 3-pointers) and regular season wins for a deep March run. Would he have stayed if he knew Fred Hoiberg was going to the Bulls?
5. Jaylen Brown, F, California – Dominant inside-outside player who has drawn comparisons to a young Antonie Walker. Will be a force in the Pac-12, perhaps immediately. If he develops a reliable 3-point shot, look out.
4. Kris Dunn, PG, Providence – Highly-touted recruit finally got healthy and showed everyone what he’s capable of as a sophomore: 2nd in the nation in assists (7.6 per game) and averaged 15.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg, too. Shared Big East Player of the Year honors with Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono.
3. Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky – If you watched any of the Pan-Am Games, you know this kid became a star. Is this a bit knee-jerk? Perhaps. We do this list last month … he’s probably not in the Top 20. Murray is from Canada, and he lit up anyone who tried to check him this month. He’ll have a bigger impact in Lexington than Devin Booker did last year. And Booker was a lottery pick.
2. Skal Labissiere, F/C, Kentucky – Doesn’t quite enter college with the post skills of Jahlil Okafor, but he’s got more range on his jumper. He looks like a more offensive-minded Karl-Anthony Towns.
1. Ben Simmons, F, LSU – Versatile 6-foot-10 forward who can do it all. Lamar Odom? Ceiling higher than Andrew Wiggins? Point guard handle for a big man, and if he can develop a reliable jumper, the Magic Johnson chatter will begin.