6 High School and College Basketball Studs Who Could Be the Next Big NBA Star
Anthony Davis hasn't even played a preseason game in his new New Orleans Hornets uniform, but he's already cemented his status as a legitimate NBA star.
Who will be next?
The 19-year-old has proven that dominant defense and worlds of upside are enough credentials for the world to buy in to the hype. There wasn't the slightest of doubts that he'd be taken with the first-overall pick in the draft, regardless of who was making that selection.
Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel shares some uncanny likenesses with Davis.
Noel is making the flat-top haircut cool again, and Davis made the unibrow cool...for the first time, really. They're both making imposing interior defense cool thanks to countless blocked shots and tenacious rebounding.
But, Noel isn't the only youngster primed to be the next big thing. Here are the six to keep the closest of eyes on.
Nerlens Noel–F/C, Kentucky
If you're trying to get a sense of what kind of player Nerlens Noel will be, just think of Anthony Davis. Noel is even following in his footsteps to Kentucky, and it's hard to imagine him waiting to take his talents to the NBA.
Like Davis, Noel is an insanely athletic beast in the paint who will turn heads with his defensive impact before all else.
He also has the 6'11" size and vast wingspan needed to put the painted area on lockdown.
It's already more or less guaranteed that he's taken as a top-five draft pick, and a solid freshman campaign would seal the deal. NBA teams prize those kind of mobile paint defenders before all else, each looking to get their hands on the next Dwight Howard.
Noel may not be that, but he's got bountiful upside for sure.
Shabazz Muhammad–G/F, UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad may become one of the NBA's best all-around scorers one day soon.
The 6'6" lefty might have a lot of James Harden in him, and his career could get off to a similar start. He does all the things you like to see from a perimeter scorer, and he's not at all afraid to take the ball inside.
As his perimeter shot continues to improve, he'll look more and more like an NBA-ready swingman who can take games over.
And, in the unlikely event he doesn't blossom into an outright star, he should still make contributions as a solid starter. He already has the speed, strength and athleticism to hang with the professionals. He appears to have the intangibles needed to become a really good one as well.
Kyle Anderson–G/F, UCLA
It doesn't seem fair that the UCLA Bruins got their hands on both Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, instantly forming the best young wing duo in the country.
Think of Anderson as across between Josh Smith and Stephen Curry. If that sounds crazy, it should. Just try imagining Boris Diaw if he were really, really fantastic.
This guy can shoot and pass like a guard, but he's got the size and fearlessness to mix it up in the paint on both ends of the floor. That kind versatile skill set will keep scouts salivating for the next year and could translate into a top-five pick in the draft.
Anderson isn't as complete of a package as LeBron James, but he just might draw some comparisons thanks to his ability to do it all.
Isaiah Austin–C, Baylor
Isaiah Austin may not have the same kind of other-worldly athleticism that typifies young bigs such as Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, but he still moves quite well and has the offensive skills to more than make up for it.
Austin is an incredibly good shooter for a guy his size and age, and he already has an impressive assortment of post moves that will ease his transition to the pro game.
And, though he might lack an elite vertical, his ridiculously long reach still makes him a dangerous defender. He'll need to get stronger before he impede scorers in the post, but that's true for virtually all young big men.
Expect Austin to keep Baylor relevant this season, and expect a trip to the NBA Draft soon thereafter.
Jabari Parker–SF, Simeon Career Academy
Jabari Smith is still contemplating his college decision, but that doesn't mean it's too soon to take notice of what he might mean to the NBA.
He may be a little bit more Grant Hill than Lebron James, but the bottom line is that he's got all the makings of a skilled, versatile forward with all the physical tools to succeed at the NBA level. He still needs to work on his defense and add some strength, but he's otherwise one of the most complete young players in the country.
Parker can shoot from outside while finishing strong at the rim, and he's also perfectly happy to up shot opportunities if it means facilitating someone else's offense.
Remember Parker's name. You can rest assured more than a few NBA scouting departments already know it quite well.
Andrew Harrison–PG, Travis High School
Andrew Harrison has been compared to Tyreke Evans and for good reason.
He's a 6'5" guard who can shoot, slash to the basket, finish strong inside and pass like a legitimate floor general. His size is an obvious perk, but his strength and athleticism suggest that he's far more NBA-ready than virtually all of his peers.
Harrison won't just be good. He'll be a lot of fun to watch. He has all the makings of a star.
The kid still needs to develop a mental edge and learn how to play more consistently on the defensive end, but those are the kind of challenges you'd associate with almost any high-school standout.
Here's a fun fact: Andrew's twin brother, Aaron, is also pretty amazing. He's more of a traditional shooting guard, so Andrew has garnered a bit more attention thanks to his versatility.
But, chances are they will both build names of their own at the NBA level.