Ranking CBB's 5-Star 2018 Recruits Who Have Hurt Their Draft Stock Most
The 2018 college basketball recruiting class featured 29 recruits who earned a 5-star grade, according to the composite rankings at 247Sports.
Some players from that list have lived up to expectations, will go one-and-done and be taken early in the 2019 NBA draft. Guys like Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish (Duke) and Romeo Langford (Indiana).
Others were never viewed as one-and-done prospects, so their freshman performances and eventual draft stock are not directly linked. Guys like Moses Brown (UCLA), Jordan Brown (Nevada) and Jahvon Quinerly (Villanova).
However, there are a handful of 5-stars who have seen their draft stock fall considerably this season.
What About the Other 5-Star Recruits?
- RJ Barrett, Duke
- Bol Bol, Oregon
- Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
- Tre Jones, Duke
- Romeo Langford, Indiana
- Kevin Porter Jr., USC
- Cam Reddish, Duke
- Coby White, North Carolina
- Zion Williamson, Duke
- Jordan Brown, Nevada
- Moses Brown, UCLA
- Devon Dotson, Kansas
- Ashton Hagans, Kentucky
- Louis King, Oregon
- EJ Montgomery, Kentucky
- Andrew Newbhard, Florida
- Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky
- Jahvon Quinerly, Villanova
- Emmitt Williams, LSU
- Darius Bazley
- Anfernee Simons
Before we turn our attention to the guys who have hurt their draft stock, let's take a quick inventory of the rest of the 5-star freshmen:
Draft Stock Up or Holding
Never Viewed as a First-Round Candidate
Did Not Attend College
So that leaves eight guys for our list...
8. Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest
247Sports Recruit Rank: 24
Preseason Big Board: 29
Current Big Board: Unranked
2019 Stats: 30.4 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, 18.7 PER
Will Jaylen Hoard be the first one-and-done player in Wake Forest history?
It looked like a foregone conclusion at the start of the season. Now, not so much.
"I don't think he's ready at all. I think he needs to come back to school another year. He's not physical. He has every god-given ability, I just don't know if he's ready to take that step to the big leagues," one opposing coach told Sam Vecenie of The Athletic.
One of the biggest knocks is his lack of an outside game. He's made just 10 three-pointers at a 20.4 percent clip, and he hasn't been disruptive enough defensively (17 steals, 19 blocks) to offset that limited offensive skillset.
He's also disappeared at times in ACC play, scoring single-digit points six times in 16 games. On a sub-500 Wake Forest team where he's the most talented player on the roster, that can't happen.
Hoard is the kind of athlete who could endear himself to a team at the combine and secure a late first-round guarantee. Otherwise, he looks like a prime candidate to return for his sophomore season.
7. Jalen Smith, Maryland
247Sports Recruit Rank: 16
Preseason Big Board: 25
Current Big Board: Unranked
2019 Stats: 26.5 MPG, 11.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 20.9 PER
With a lanky 6'10", 215-pound frame, Jalen Smith certainly doesn't look NBA-ready.
One opposing coach told Vecenie:
"You can go right through his chest. Watch the Indiana game. Juwan Morgan went alpha male on him and went right through his chest. He didn't want any part of that. That would put my antennas up on if he was ready."
At the same time, his upside is obvious. He can run the floor, can knock down outside shots and alter shots in the paint.
As such, that same coach also said: "I think he's a pro. I don't know at what point. But I think he's a pro. Maybe he goes this year and it's on potential. He's just a kid. He plays the right way. He's long as hell, he hits 3s, he can shoot."
To his credit, playing alongside fellow big man Bruno Fernando is less than ideal. If the sophomore leaves for the NBA as expected, Smith would no doubt benefit from returning to a situation where he can be more of a focal point.
Few, if any, 5-star freshmen would benefit more from a return to campus. And it's looking more and more like a lack of first-round interest could steer him in that direction.
6. Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
247Sports Recruit Rank: 6
Preseason Big Board: 20
Current Big Board: 36
2019 Stats: 31.4 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 25.7 PER
It's rare that a freshman averaging a double-double is considered a disappointment.
However, that's the kind of criticism that Charles Bassey was welcoming when passed on offers from Kansas, LSU, UCLA, and others in favor of Western Kentucky.
Playing against lesser competition in Conference USA, the numbers were going to have to jump off the page for people to be impressed. The scoring and rebounding are nice, but his game is limited. He's handed out just 20 assists in 29 games, averages 3.0 turnovers per contest and isn't a threat from long range.
Wasserman wrote: "He's a force around the basket, but questions about his scoring skill, passing and defensive switchability raise concerns over his NBA fit and upside."
With that, he's seemingly slipped out of the first-round discussion.
5. Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
247Sports Recruit Rank: 13
Preseason Big Board: 8
Current Big Board: 23
2019 Stats: 30.5 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 18.4 PER
While EJ Montgomery (No. 9 recruit) and Ashton Hagans (No. 12 recruit) were higher-ranked recruits, Keldon Johnson was viewed as the most likely one-and-done candidate from another stacked Kentucky freshman class.
The 6'6" Oak Hill Academy product started off the season with a bang, scoring a team-high 23 points against Duke in the Champions Classic.
Since then, he has more single-digit scoring games (eight) than 20-point games (four).
To that point, Wasserman wrote: "Johnson has had a tendency to fade in and out, partly due to limited creation ability."
Despite that, he's still put up solid numbers and still appears likely to make the jump to the NBA after the season. He's now viewed more as a late first-round selection than a potential lottery pick.
4. Nassir Little, North Carolina
247Sports Recruit Rank: 3
Preseason Big Board: 3
Current Big Board: 29
2019 Stats: 18.4 MPG, 9.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.8 APG, 19.9 PER
Nassir Little wrapped up the recruiting cycle as the No. 3 recruit in the 2018 class, behind only RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish.
With an NBA-ready 6'7", 205-pound body and off-the-charts athleticism, he was viewed as a sure-fire lottery pick and a potential candidate to sneak into the No. 1 overall pick discussion with a strong freshman season.
Instead, a lack of polish has relegated him to a reserve role for the Tar Heels, and he's playing just 18.4 minutes per game.
"Little has played promising stretches lately, but none impressive or long enough to upgrade his overall evaluation. His physical profile is tremendous when you consider his strength, length and athleticism. And even without skill, he's been a threat to face up against 4s and score at the rim. Little's limited creation and feel for the game are problematic, however. Potential and room to improve still exist, but betting on it means betting on a major transformation."
If he doesn't come away from the combine with a firm feeling he'll be taken with one of the first 30 picks, a return to Chapel Hill might be in the cards. The fact that is even a possibility speaks to how far his stock has slid.
3. Naz Reid, LSU
247Sports Recruit Rank: 18
Preseason Big Board: 7
Current Big Board: 40
2019 Stats: 26.2 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 20.6 PER
Naz Reid checks all the boxes to be a high-ceiling stretch four.
He has a strong 6'10", 250-pound frame, he can run the floor, he's connected on 24-of-69 three-point attempts, and he has good enough handles and attacking ability to keep the defense honest.
There were some red flags entering the season, though.
Despite checking in at No. 7 on his preseason big board, Wasserman offered up the following words of warning: "The big keys for Reid: keeping his motor revved, avoiding careless decisions and appearing switchable defensively."
Four months later, guess what he had to say about a player who has since slipped out of the first-round conversation and down to No. 40 on his board?
"Reid's decision-making, effort and defense can be frustrating."
With LSU expected to bring back point guard Tremont Waters (15.3 PPG, 5.8 APG), rising senior Skylar Mays (13.7 PPG) and fellow freshmen Ja'vonte Smart (11.4 PPG) and Emmitt Williams (7.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG), Reid might be best served returning to a team that could be a legitimate title contender next season.
2. Simisola Shittu, Vanderbilt
- Feb. 16 vs. Auburn: 17 min, 2/2 shooting, 6 points, 2 rebounds
- Feb. 19 @ Tennessee: 35 min, 4/14 shooting, 9 points, 6 rebounds
- Feb. 23 @ Alabama: 29 min, 7/13 shooting, 16 points, 11 rebounds
247Sports Recruit Rank: 11
Preseason Big Board: 13
Current Big Board: Unranked
2019 Stats: 27.2 PG, 11.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 15.8 PER
Simi Shittu is the classic prospect where there's a clear disconnect between his physical talent and NBA readiness. One opposing coach offered up the following to Vecenie:
"He's a talented kid, but he's very soft. Can't shoot it, either. I saw him a lot in AAU. He doesn't have a lot of competitive character. When it gets hard, you'll notice he takes plays off. Sometimes, he doesn't even try to go over and contest. Now, obviously, he's an NBA talent. He's 6-10, can handle the ball, rebounds it, can pass it. He's versatile. But I don't think he's very tough."
A stretch of games earlier this month was the perfect embodiment of his inconsistency:
All told, he's averaging just 9.6 points and shooting 44.4 percent from the floor in conference play.
Returning for his sophomore season should be an easy decision.
1. Quentin Grimes, Kansas
247Sports Recruit Rank: 10
Preseason Big Board: 9
Current Big Board: Unranked
2019 Stats: 26.3 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 7.4 PER
Despite ranking him at No. 9 on his preseason draft board, Wasserman made it clear that Quentin Grimes was a volatile prospect:
"Grimes could move up the draft board if he proves to be sharper and more efficient offensively. Poor shooting percentages and a low assist-to-turnover ratio may cause him to fall toward the 20s."
The 6'5" guard is shooting 39.2 percent from the field and he actually has more turnovers (56) than assists (55).
It's not hard to see why he's plummeted down draft boards.
During a 13-game stretch in Big 12 play, he all but disappeared, scoring in double-figures just once while averaging 5.5 points, 1.6 assists and 1.7 turnovers per game and shooting 31.7 percent from the floor.
He's picked it up a bit since with strong games against Kansas State (12 points, 3/6 3PT) and Oklahoma State (17 points, 4/7 3PT), but the damage is done.
Kansas can all but pencil Grimes into the lineup for the 2019-20 season.
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through Feb. 2.