It all feels a bit overhyped, doesn't it?
This freshmen class. Tuesday's Champion Classic with four of the nation's top five teams—Kansas, Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky—playing on one night in Chicago. I've got so used to writing "hyped" this offseason that my computer has suddenly started including the word before any reference of "freshman," "Kentucky" or "Andrew Wiggins."
But there's a possibility that Tuesday night could be the best display of talent on one night under one roof in the history of college basketball.
It's too soon to say. It's too soon to simply label Tuesday night as "the greatest display of talent in one night in the history of college basketball."
We have to give these things time. See how good the players become two, three, five years down the road.
But let's at least consider the possibility. Most Final Fours don't deliver this kind of star power. Only once (2008) has the NCAA tournament gone chalk.
This collection of talent includes two players, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, who have been labeled the best prospects since LeBron James. Additionally, the recruiting class could go down as the greatest of all time.
That GOAT class includes Julius Randle, one of the best power forward prospects this century who could ultimately be the No. 1 pick.
Then there's the vets from Michigan State with four or five future pros on the roster.
It's easier to imagine the possibilities when you allow the men who make predictions for a living tell us how good these guys can be. Below is a chart with prospects from the four teams who are projected by DraftExpress.com or NBADraft.net to be drafted in the next two years.
|Champions Classic Draft Prospects|
|DE Projection (Pick/Draft)||NBADraft.net Projection (Pick/Draft)|
|Andrew Wiggins, KU||1/2014||1/2014|
|Joel Embiid, KU||6/2014||9/2014|
|Wayne Selden, KU||14/2014||8/2014|
|Perry Ellis, KU||Not listed||19/2014|
|Jamari Traylor, KU||Not listed||53/2015|
|Jabari Parker, Duke||7/2014||2/2014|
|Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke||27/2014||15/2015|
|Rodney Hood, Duke||51/2014||25/2014|
|Quinn Cook, Duke||Not listed||52/2015|
|Andre Dawkins, Duke||Not listed||59/2014|
|Julius Randle, UK||2/2014||5/2014|
|Andrew Harrison, UK||8/2014||13/2014|
|Willie Cauley-Stein, UK||15/2014||16/2014|
|Alex Poythress, UK||28/2014||36/2014|
|James Young, UK||23/2015||7/2014|
|Aaron Harrison, UK||22/2015||Not listed|
|Marcus Lee, UK||Not listed||7/2015|
|Gary Harris, MSU||16/2014||10/2014|
|Adreian Payne, MSU||26/2014||26/2014|
|Branden Dawson, MSU||36/2014||38/2015|
|Keith Appling, MSU||Not listed||44/2014|
|DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.net|
Remember, this is only the next two drafts and does not include five underclassmen who were top-40 recruits in their class (Duke's Amile Jefferson, Semi Ojeleye and Matt Jones, and KU's Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp), according to Rivals.com's rankings.
So let's generously say that three of those guys end up in the league in addition to the 22 guys listed. That's 25 future NBA players in one gym on one night. Even if 20 make it, that's unprecedented.
You can study the history of the game as much as you want, and you will not find anything like that. The best two comparisons are the 1982 and 2008 Final Fours.
In 2008, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA combined to produce 17 eventual NBA players in addition to two others, KU's Sasha Kaun and Memphis' Robert Dozier, who were drafted.
It included six lottery picks (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brandon Rush, Cole Aldrich and Tyler Hansbrough), four other first-round picks (Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Darrell Arthur and Darren Collison) and two second-rounders (Mario Chalmers and Danny Green), who have become starters on two of the best teams in the league.
The 1982 Final Four with North Carolina, Houston, Georgetown and Louisville also had 17 eventual pros and had the best star power of any Final Four ever with future Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
Will we ever compare Wiggins, Parker, Randle, Joel Embiid and Andrew Harrison to those five?
But in terms of depth of talent, we may never see anything like what we'll witness on Tuesday night. Maybe the hype is warranted after all.
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