Under-the-Radar Freshmen Who'll Have the Biggest Impact on 2015-16 CBB Season
Most college basketball fans are well-versed on the annual list of 5-star freshmen long before those future NBA players even play a collegiate game, but what about that list of under-the-radar, 4-star players who end up making a huge impact?
The 4-star freshmen are to college basketball coaches what fifth- through ninth-round draft picks are to a fantasy football or baseball owner. You assume you'll get a respectable but not superb return. You hope you'll find a diamond in the rough. Really, though, you're just hoping you didn't choose a dud.
But it is in these rounds of your fantasy draft—and from this group of players in college basketball—that championship contenders are bred.
Case in point, 247Sports had Stevie Clark rated as the 73rd-best overall recruit in the class of 2013. Monte Morris was slotted 83rd on the list. Neither was a sure thing, but modest production was expected from both. Yet, imagine how much different the Big 12 and national landscape would be right now if they had swapped places, resulting in Clark at Iowa State and Morris at Oklahoma State.
Neither one actually received an offer from the opposite school, but hopefully you get the idea that it can be a bit of a crapshoot.
With minimal exceptions, 5-star guys are guaranteed to immediately produce at a high level. The 4-star range, though, is a much less exact science. It's from that collection of roughly 100 players that we selected these top 20 "under-the-radar" freshmen.
Players were rated minimally on scouted talent and mostly on a combination of individual opportunity and team potential, with the latter holding a slightly stronger weight.
A 4-star guy who plays 40 minutes per game while leading a national champion in scoring would be the ideal package, but that will obviously never happen. However, someone who figures to play 25 minutes per game for a legitimate title contender is totally plausible and very valuable on this list.
20. K.J. Lawson, Memphis
Might as well get this party started with a last name that you're going to be hearing in Memphis for a long time.
This will be the eighth consecutive (and mercifully final) season in which a Plumlee dons a Duke uniform, but it shouldn't be long before the Lawsons overtake the Plumlees on the list of star siblings at the same school.
Both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be suiting up for Josh Pastner—and assistant coach Keelon Lawson, who is not-so-coincidentally the father of Dedric, K.J. and class of 2019 stud, Chandler—this November, and they will be a large part of the reason that most analysts will project Memphis to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing it this past March.
Of the two 4-star brothers, Dedric is arguably the better NBA prospect. However, as the sibling who is two inches taller, Dedric has more of an uphill battle on Memphis' depth chart behind Austin Nichols and Shaq Goodwin.
At 6'6", K.J. will be a small forward on a roster that both dismissed small forward Kuran Iverson and saw small forward Nick King transfer away in the past seven months. That leaves Trahson Burrell as K.J. Lawson's only real boundary to playing time. And while Burrell had a pretty solid 2014-15 season, Nichols and Goodwin are the heart and soul of this team.
They could each make a major impact for a major player in the AAC, but it's equally likely that both Lawsons play relatively limited minutes as freshmen before taking over the team as sophomores. Because of that, we couldn't put K.J. any higher on this list, but wouldn't be surprised in the least if he steals Burrell's job and contends with Connecticut's Jalen Adams for AAC Freshman of the Year.
19. Moustapha Diagne, Syracuse
Syracuse's scholarship reduction doesn't begin until the 2016-17 season, so Jim Boeheim is certainly giving it the ol' college try by adding a quartet of 4-star players this summer.
Without a doubt, though, the biggest of the bunch figures to make the loudest splash.
It wasn't that long ago that there didn't appear to be any room at the Power Forward Inn for the Orange. Future McDonald's All-American Thomas Bryant was reportedly down to a decision between Indiana and Syracuse in early January. Chris McCullough confirmed in early March that he would be coming back for a sophomore year after tearing his ACL.
But then Bryant saw Syracuse as a program in "chaos" and signed with Indiana. And McCullough changed his mind in early April and declared for the NBA draft. Throw in Rakeem Christmas graduating and Syracuse is looking razor-thin in the post—even if Dajuan Coleman is finally able to return to action next season.
Enter, Moustapha Diagne.
A 6'9", 240-pound power forward, Diagne could be the biggest man on Syracuse's roster by a 30-pound margin. That isn't to say he's out of shape or overweight, but is rather a testament to how desperately the Orange are searching for a replacement for Christmas and McCullough. He should get all the minutes he can physically handle while serving as the anchor of what figures to be a perimeter-oriented rotation made up of Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and Kaleb Joseph.
Diagne will join what has been a long line of block-happy defenses. According to KenPom.com, Syracuse has ranked in the top seven nationally in defensive block percentage in 11 of the past 14 seasons.
Even if he isn't remotely the offensive weapon that Christmas suddenly became last year, Diagne should still make a big impact by blocking a couple of shots per game in helping get Syracuse back into the NCAA tournament picture.
18. Marcus LoVett Jr., St. John's
As Zach Braziller recently noted for the New York Post, "The addition of Chicago 4-star point guard Marcus LoVett Jr. may be more important than some realized."
That was his opening sentence in the report that Rysheed Jordan may be academically ineligible for next season and may subsequently just leave St. John's altogether.
On a roster that already lost D'Angelo Harrison, Sir'Dominic Pointer, Jamal Branch and Phil Greene to graduation, losing Jordan would just be the icing on a very unpleasant cake. That would leave Chris Obekpa as the only returning player who scored at least 1.5 PPG last season, and he is much more about blocks and rebounds than actually putting the ball in the hoop.
Suffice it to say, St. John's is very likely going to struggle. Of the 20 schools represented on the list, the Johnnies are least likely to make the 2016 NCAA tournament. Even if Jordan does play the entire season, they're still at or near the bottom of that list.
However, team potential was only one of the two elements used to rank these players, and LoVett's individual opportunity is going to be off the charts.
As an undersized scoring guard with good court vision, excellent ball-handling skills and very minimal household names as teammates, the comparisons to Arizona State's Jahii Carson should come fast and furious.
Translation: LoVett will be a lot of fun to watch in 2015-16, even if St. John's isn't.
17. Markis McDuffie, Wichita State
It's kind of funny how everyone mentions the exact same three people in their justification for putting Wichita State in the way-too-early Top 25s.
"Gregg Marshall re-upping with the Shockers likely played a large role in Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet doing the same. Wichita State is going to be a national player for the fourth straight year," wrote SB Nation's Mike Rutherford.
"Gregg Marshall, Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker are all returning, which equals heaven for Wichita State," penned Gary Parrish of CBS Sports.
There are several other variations of those identical synopses that you can find with the help of your favorite search engine, but the general consensus is that Wichita State's Big Three is incredible enough that it doesn't really matter that the Shockers don't have an obvious starter at one of their frontcourt positions.
Adding Anton Grady from Cleveland State was an outstanding move, but he merely replaces the departing Darius Carter.
Who takes Tekele Cotton's spot in the rotation?
Maybe it's Kansas transfer Conner Frankamp. Perhaps either Shaquille Morris or Rashard Kelly will actually be entrusted with significant roles after each showed some promise as freshmen.
Or maybe it'll be Markis McDuffie. The 4-star small forward is one of the highest-rated players that Marshall has ever signed, and he could make a major impact in a rotation that is currently comprised of two great guards (VanVleet and Baker), one solid power forward (Grady), one glue guy (Evan Wessel) and a whole lot of uncertainty.
McDuffie is hardly guaranteed a significant role, but if he does become a starter for what should be a Top 25 team all season long, he might be the most noteworthy 4-star freshman in the country.
16. Jalen Coleman-Lands, Illinois
Jalen Coleman-Lands would rank higher on the list were it not for the litany of roadblocks standing in his way.
It must be nice to be able to lose Rayvonte Rice, Ahmad Starks and Aaron Cosby and still bring back Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn, Tracy Abrams and Jaylon Tate. The Illini don't have any superstars, but they are loaded with above-average talent that could keep their incoming freshmen from making much of an impact.
However, it wouldn't be terribly surprising in the least if John Groce frequently went with a four-guard lineup. Hill and Nunn are effective enough on the glass to serve as the de facto small and power forwards, and it would open up the opportunity to give some legitimate minutes to Coleman-Lands.
And once he gets the chance, he won't give it back. Coleman-Lands has the talent and the instinct to be the type of combo guard that Rice was for Illinois over the last two years. He and Abrams could be a lite version of the freshman-senior backcourt duo that Duke had in Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook this past championship season.
15. Jeremy Hemsley, San Diego State
Make no mistake about it: San Diego State needs a scorer.
The Aztecs have been outstanding on defense, but have consistently been one of the least-efficient offenses to make the NCAA tournament over the past few years. It's great that they're regularly making the tournament, but they simply haven't had the scoring prowess to make a deep run in March.
And with three of last year's four best scorers (J.J. O'Brien, Aqeel Quinn and Dwayne Polee II) graduating, the desperation for a scoring wing only increases.
Perhaps Jeremy Hemsley can be that guy.
As noted in ESPN's scouting report, "Hemsley plays as if he was shot out of a cannon." He's a great slasher on offense and a shutdown on-ball defender on defense. His three-point shot isn't his best weapon, but that didn't stop Jamaal Franklin or Xavier Thames from making a huge impact for multiple years with San Diego State.
Hemsley probably won't lead the team in scoring. He might not even start ahead of Matt Shrigley early in the year. But if Steve Fisher goes into March with a primary rotation of Trey Kell, Hemsley, Malik Pope, Skylar Spencer and Winston Shepard with Zylan Cheatham and Shrigley off the bench, that could be one heck of a force to reckon with out of the Mountain West.
14. Jacob Evans, Cincinnati
Moving right along from one excellent defense-atrocious offense combo to another, Jacob Evans could be the star of Cincinnati if he is capable of throwing the ball into the hoop with any degree of regularity.
Evans just barely made the list as a 4-star player—No. 124 was the cutoff this season and the shooting guard is ranked No. 121 by 247Sports. But this is very much a case of being in the right place at the right time.
Not a single player averaged double figures for the Bearcats last season. Octavius Ellis (9.9 PPG) and Troy Caupain (9.6 PPG) came close, but ultimately fell short of that relatively modest goal.
Moreover, Cincinnati's three-point shooting was pretty dreadful. The Bearcats shot 32.9 percent as a team. Caupain was the only individual to shoot better than 35.0 percent. So while Cincinnati isn't losing much from its roster, it wouldn't take a whole lot for Evans to immediately become a major contributor.
It seems safe to assume that he'll get an extended audition at some point early in the year. A good shooting night or two and he could win the job of starting shooting guard for one of the favorites in the AAC.
13. Stephen Thompson Jr., Oregon State
Might as well keep it going with the trend of shooting guards joining a team that painfully needs one.
Like San Diego State and Cincinnati, Oregon State was one of the best defensive units in the country, ranking 16th in adjusted defensive efficiency and ninth in turnover percentage. Sadly, that defense went to waste as the Beavers missed the NCAA tournament because of an adjusted offensive efficiency that ranked 280th in the nation.
They shot 32.0 percent from three-point range as a team and had just one player who made better than one out of every three triples attempted—6'10" Olaf Schaftenaar made 37.6 percent of his 125 attempts.
Help could be on the way, though, because Stephen Thompson Jr. is one of the purest shooters in this year's recruiting class.
Considering Oregon State is one of my sleeper picks to make the 2016 NCAA tournament, this could be a match made in heaven. However, his potential playing time and his ability to survive that playing time are of significant enough concern to rank him 13th on the list.
While the Beavers don't have any great returning shooters, they do have everyone returning from last year, as there wasn't a single senior on the roster and no one has transferred out (yet). Wayne Tinkle is also adding six players this summer to a roster that was already 16 players deep. If anyone has trouble getting media credentials to an Oregon State game this year, it's probably because its bench is taking up most of media row.
In addition to that playing-time conundrum, Thompson is currently listed at 6'3" and 165 pounds, giving him the estimated body mass of a stick figure. The proposed rule changes from earlier this month allow for more freedom of movement and less physicality on the perimeter, but he'll still need to be able to absorb some contact from time to time.
If his stroke remains as good as advertised, he'll certainly be put to some use on this year's team. However, we would guess Thompson's real breakout party comes in 2016-17, after he has hopefully packed on the freshman 15 and after the graduation of Gary Payton II and Langston Morris-Walker opens up some room in the rotation at his position.
12. A.J. Harris, Ohio State
Ohio State didn't land any 5-star recruits in this year's class, but the Buckeyes are still absolutely reloading with five 4-star guys.
Of course, they need to do so with all that they lost. D'Angelo Russell was the biggest blow, but losing Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams, Trey McDonald and Anthony Lee to graduation is a pretty big collective punch to the gut, as well.
Somehow, though, Thad Matta's club has some quality returning players at most of the positions on the court.
Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson should be a step up from what the Buckeyes had been cobbling together at center for the past three seasons. Jae'Sean Tate is only 6'4", but the small forward was an outstanding rebounder who shot 63.1 percent inside the arc. Keita Bates-Diop, Marc Loving and Kam Williams can all make it rain from three-point range.
What Ohio State is desperately lacking is a point guard. Scott and Russell combined to average 10.9 assists per game, but Loving leads all returning players in the category with a grand total of 20 assists.
As the only true point guard in the incoming class, A.J. Harris should be the primary guy filling that need. At any rate, it'll only be a matter of time before the world falls in love with the 5'9" ball-handler and rec specs-wearer.
11. Brevin Pritzl, Wisconsin
Brevin Pritzl is going to be one of those guys who is absolutely adored by his own fanbase and despised by every other school in his conference for years to come.
He has limitless three-point range. He makes wild, off-balance shots. He's cocky. He's aggressive. He's physical. And, perhaps most importantly for that love-hate dichotomy, he's a four-year guy who figures to play a ton from day one.
Wisconsin's roster is going to be a shell of what we saw two months ago. Many are still propagating the Badgers as a Top 25 team solely because Bo Ryan is a wizard, but they only have two returning players who scored more than 72 points last season.
If Wisconsin is going to remain nationally relevant this year, it will need to be because of new faces like Pritzl. He probably won't start in the backcourt—those spots figure to be reserved for Bronson Koenig and Zak Showalter—but Pritzl should be Wisconsin's first guy off the bench, averaging upward of 25 minutes per game.
From there, we just have to wonder if he'll make enough of an impact to even remotely keep the Badgers in the conversation for a third consecutive Final Four appearance.
10. Juwan Morgan, Indiana
Juwan Morgan's 2015-16 stock took a sizable hit when Indiana signed 5-star big man Thomas Bryant. However, Morgan should still play a very important part for the Hoosiers.
With Jeremiah April and Max Hoetzel electing to transfer and Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis getting dismissed from the team, the only returning player on the roster taller than 6'7" is Tim Priller. The 6'9" forward scored two points in the season opener before playing a grand total of 14 minutes the rest of the season.
Needless to say, there are minutes to be had in a frontcourt that really struggled in 2014-15.
Troy Williams will start at power forward. Bryant will play all the minutes he can handle at center. But as a versatile power forward who rebounds and defends well, Morgan should be the primary reserve for both of those starters.
With enough minutes, he could be a double-digit type of scorer. He might not have the strength to bang in the post with the big men in the Big Ten, but he can finish with either hand and score from all three levels if you don't properly respect his range. If properly utilized, he could be a pivotal Swiss Army knife for Tom Crean.
9. Matt Ryan, Notre Dame
Matt Ryan is one year too late to really reap the benefits of being a spot-up shooter at Notre Dame alongside Jerian Grant, but he still ought to be a major part of the show that Demetrius Jackson will be running.
The Fighting Irish are losing a pair of absolute studs in Grant and Pat Connaughton, but they're actually still in great shape with their starting five. Jackson and Steve Vasturia will man the backcourt while V.J. Beachem, Bonzie Colson and Zach Auguste handle the rest. But that's about as deep as they go with returning players, so Ryan should occupy and dominate the sixth-man job.
Joining a rotation already renowned for its affinity for stroking the deep ball, Ryan might be the best shooter on the roster. He has absurdly deep range and the necessary quick release to either create his own shot or fly around the perimeter for catch-and-shoot opportunities.
There are concerns about his potential to do much else—particularly on defense—but we've seen plenty of three-point shooting, one-trick ponies successfully come through the college ranks in recent years. Plus, we have little doubt in Mike Brey's ability to either teach or unlock another useful skill or two to make Ryan a more complete player.
8. Raymond Spalding, Louisville
Like Brevin Pritzl in Wisconsin a few slides ago, Raymond Spalding should be one of the primary benefactors from a mass exodus at his new home.
Louisville didn't just lose a couple of players. The Cardinals will open the 2015-16 season sans 82.5 percent of its scoring from this past year. Rick Pitino plugged some major gaps by adding graduate transfers Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, but even they won't be enough to replace 56.9 points per game.
Most noteworthy for Spalding's freshman season outlook: Neither Lewis nor Lee plays in the frontcourt.
With Montrezl Harrell's departure, Louisville's post game is left in shambles. The Cardinals do have a plethora of returning big men, but not a single one of them was dominant enough to suggest that Spalding couldn't potentially practice his way into a significant role.
He desperately needs to hit the weight room and the cafeteria to pack on some mass, but Spalding has the hands and the scoring instinct to be a major contributor once he's strong enough.
7. Malik Beasley, Florida State
Why doesn't anyone have Florida State in their Top 25 projections?
The Seminoles have one of the best recruiting classes in the country and are bringing back all six players who scored at least 165 points for them last season. By the end of the year, Xavier Rathan-Mayes was one of the most exciting players to watch in the ACC. He has a pretty solid supporting cast that just needs a little more perimeter scoring to really make a national impact.
Good thing for them, four of their five incoming players are shooting guards.
Unfortunately for us, there's no telling which one will make the biggest impact.
Dwayne Bacon is widely regarded as the best total package of the bunch, but Malik Beasley is pretty ridiculously talented in his own right and could see just as much floor time as the 5-star stud.
The deciding factor for playing time figures to be three-point accuracy. Between Montay Brandon, Phil Cofer, Boris Bojanovsky and Jarquez Smith, Florida State has plenty of trees down low to handle the two-point buckets. What Leonard Hamilton needs is someone other than Devon Bookert who can actually hit a 20-foot shot with any degree of regularity.
If Beasley can be that guy, he'll be a major player for a team that is going to be better than most analysts apparently think.
6. Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
Like Marcus LoVett Jr. at St. John's, Jawun Evans could be a real star for a team that seems destined for a bit of a rebuilding year. But Evans is considered to be a better recruit than LoVett, and Oklahoma State's tournament hopes are significantly better than those at St. John's. Thus, Evans occupies a much higher spot on the list.
Oklahoma State does still have Phil Forte, but replacing Le'Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins and Anthony Hickey on a team that nearly played its way out of the 2015 tournament picture will be no small feat.
Ideally, JUCO transfer Igor Ibaka (younger brother of Serge) will help fill the voids in the paint while Evans hits the ground running like a clone of Marcus Smart. He might not be the defensive wizard that Smart was, but he's the type of guy that can score from anywhere on the court while absolutely murdering you with assists if you don't respect his court vision.
Will it be enough, though, on a roster with just two returning players who averaged at least 14.0 minutes or 4.0 points per game last season? Evans will have plenty of individual opportunity, but we're a little too concerned about the team potential to put him in the top five.
Still, look for Evans to challenge Kansas' Cheick Diallo for the title of Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
5. Jessie Govan, Georgetown
It's not often that a 6'10", 250-pound man looks small, but that could be the case when Jessie Govan replaces the departing Joshua Smith at center for Georgetown.
By all accounts, Govan could be an absolute stud.
He has the perfect body type and build for a center, soft hands, great footwork and solid defensive instincts. The biggest knock on him is that he sometimes lacks assertiveness with the ball down low and doesn't run the floor particularly well, but what else is new for the Hoyas? They always seem to have a mountain in the paint who gets labeled as too passive or unathletic.
And yet, they always seem to do well. John Thompson III has had his well-documented issues with trying to lead teams deep into the tournament, but he also has a well-documented history of finding and developing big men. From Roy Hibbert to Greg Monroe, Henry Sims and Smith, there's no shortage of recent centers who were pretty unstoppable by the time they left Georgetown.
Who's to say Govan couldn't be next in that line? He may not be very assertive on offense, but does he really need to be this season? The Hoyas still have D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and a trio of outstanding sophomores in Isaac Copeland, Paul White and L.J. Peak. If Govan can just cause problems on defense and clean up messes on offense while avoiding too much foul trouble, he'll be a huge asset.
4. King McClure, Baylor
Four of Baylor's five starting jobs appear to be set in stone.
Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley will own the paint and the offensive glass. Taurean Prince—probably the most underappreciated stat-sheet stuffer in the entire country—will be the primary small forward, and Lester Medford can start at either of the guard positions.
With Kenny Chery and Royce O'Neale both graduating, though, that second guard spot is very much up for grabs.
If required to give the job to an incumbent player, Ali Freeman would have to be the favorite. But if we welcome incoming players to the conversation, King McClure stands a pretty good chance at averaging double figures as a freshman.
McClure is much more of a slasher than a spot-up shooter, but that should fit nicely on this roster with Medford and Prince handling the bulk of the long-range duties. Plus, his penetration should open up a little more space for Gathers to operate in the paint and continue to serve as one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation.
McClure might not play his way into the national Freshman of the Year rankings, but he could be the missing link that elevates Baylor to its first Final Four appearance since 1950. That's good enough for a spot near the top of the list.
3. Charles Matthews, Kentucky
Based on little more than the fact that John Calipari signed him to play at Kentucky, big things will be expected of Charles Matthews. It must be nice to be able to accurately say things like that on the recruiting trail.
A shooting guard who has been a much better slasher than shooter to this stage in his career, Matthews could see ample playing time with Devin Booker and both Harrison twins off to the NBA draft. A long, athletic, plus-defender, he could develop into a version of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that isn't quite so present on the glass.
That's assuming he even gets the opportunity to shine.
Alternatively, he might be buried on the depth chart before the season begins. The Wildcats already have Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Mychal Mulder and Dominique Hawkins in the backcourt, and there's still a reasonable chance that they'll add Jamal Murray, too. Even if they employ a three-guard lineup, that's not a favorable players-to-minutes ratio.
We're leaning more toward the former scenario than the latter, though.
Earlier this month, Dan Bodner of KY Sports Connection offered his take on Kentucky's likely rotation for the 2015-16 season, and he likes Matthews to start at small forward. Even if the Wildcats go a little bit bigger and start both Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee in the frontcourt alongside Skal Labissiere, it's reasonable to assume that Matthews will be the first guy off the bench for a title contender.
2. Tyler Davis, Texas A&M
Texas A&M is right on the cusp of a breakthrough year.
The Aggies still get one more season each out of Danuel House, Jalen Jones and Alex Caruso and will be adding one year of South Florida transfer Anthony Collins. Alex Robinson and Peyton Allen developed admirably and could be major players this season.
The problem, however, is that every single one of those players is listed on Texas A&M's roster as a guard. House and Jones could pass for forwards at 6'7", but Billy Kennedy desperately needs an impact center.
As an entire team, the Aggies blocked 97 shots last season; Jones led the team with 17. There were seven individual players elsewhere in the country who blocked more shots than A&M.
Fortunately, shot blocking is one of Tyler Davis' best attributes. He also has excellent footwork, a nose for rebounds and range out to 15 feet. No need to worry about his toughness, either, because he was an offensive lineman for his high school football team.
The biggest question—as it always ends up being with talented big men—is conditioning, but he has the type of talent that the Aggies are going to want on the court as much as possible.
Davis isn't currently listed in the 2016 NBA mock draft on DraftExpress, but we have a sneaking suspicion that will change by January. We're already looking forward to watching Davis go to war with Kentucky's Skal Labissiere. The kid is a beast, and he is in the perfect position to shine.
1. Deyonta Davis, Michigan State
It almost doesn't seem fair to include Deyonta Davis on the list. The 2015 McDonald's All-American is the highest-rated 4-star player and a no-brainer to make a major impact at Michigan State.
Before Caleb Swanigan changed his mind and signed with Purdue, one could have made the argument that playing time would be at a premium with Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling and Marvin Clark Jr. also in the picture. Now, however, Davis figures to be the primary option at power forward following Branden Dawson's graduation.
There have been a lot of comparisons made between Davis and Adreian Payne, but it wasn't until midway through his junior year that Payne really began to blossom into a stud.
Davis just might hit the ground running from day one. He's got that long athleticism that scouts always adore and the ability to face up and hit shots anywhere within 18 feet of the hoop, which could probably best be described as "Tim Duncan range."
(Note: That isn't meant as a favorably direct comparison between Davis and the greatest power forward of this generation. It's merely in terms of the outer limit of their range and their willingness to extend to that point where Davis and Duncan have some similarities. You can put down the pitchforks.)
Davis will have every opportunity to play. He will do so for a team that makes the Sweet 16 almost every year. And he arguably has more talent than any other player available for consideration.
What's not to love?
Maximum of one player per school. All recruiting ranking courtesy of 247Sports.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.