The early NCAA men's basketball top 25 is great for generating conversation among avid college basketball fans. Everyone seems to have an opinion. From guaranteed dominators to possible Cinderella's, the individual players will be the ones who make truth out of early season NCAA basketball prognostications.
Many of these same stars will be on a long list of talented basketball players looking to take their skills to the next level. The NBA mock draft for 2020 is checkered with names from these early-season top college basketball squads.
First, we'll take a quick look at the initial NCAA top 25 basketball ranking. Then, we'll let you know our feelings about the top stars from a few of these NCAA top 25 basketball teams, and how they will project heading into next year's NBA draft.
Pre Season 2019-20 NCAA Men's Basketball AP Poll
Michigan State Kentucky Kansas Duke Louisville Florida Maryland Gonzaga North Carolina Villanova Virginia Seton Hall Texas Tech Memphis Oregon Baylor Utah State Ohio State Xavier Saint Mary's Arizona LSU Purdue Auburn VCU
The Associated Press has the opening NCAA men's poll loaded at the top with some very common names. Perennial success often leads to early-season respect. Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke and Kansas are all very talented teams heading into the new season.
However, their history of success boosts voter confidence in their ranking before there is even an official tip-off. The rest of the top-10 continues with a similar feel. Louisville and Florida come in at number five and six, followed by Maryland Terrapins and Gonzaga.
The Zags are a talented team that lost to the eventual runner-up Texas Tech Red Raiders. The remaining top-10 teams are also part of a list of the usual suspects. North Carolina and Maryland are both being whispered as dark horse candidates to steal the national spotlight.
The number 11 ranked defending champion Virginia Cavaliers leads the bottom 15 teams in the first NCAA top 25 basketball rankings. There is a blend of big-conference teams with a couple smaller, more basketball focused universities.
Ohio State and Purdue give the Big 10 a total of four top-25 teams, slightly shy of the conference's normal ranking prowess. Auburn, Baylor and LSU give the SEC a total of a half dozen ranked teams.
The ACC comes in with four ranked teams to match the Big 10. However, three of those four make it into the first 10 ranked teams, most in the nation. With a returning first-team All-American point guard; however, Michigan State and their 60 out of 65 first place votes is the consensus team to beat heading into the new NCAA basketball campaign.
Michigan State Spartans - Cassius Winston: Our first player on everyone's mock draft board for next year is the floor general on the number-one ranked Spartans. Cassius Winston is an extremely talented point guard at the college level.
Winston has the ability to help guide Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans to a successful season. However, he is not currently projected as day-one NBA prospect. At 6' 1", Winston is small in stature, but big on ball distribution skills.
Winston will be a key cog in the Spartan's offense and his performance will accent his 2020 draft movement. A strong statistical season and the Spartans cutting of the final nets would increase his prowess as a team leader on draft day.
Kentucky: Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, Nick Richards, Kahlil Whitney –We've heard and probably debated Coach John Calipari's one-and-done philosophy at Kentucky. Three Wildcat stars were absorbed in the NBA first round in the 2019 draft.
Nick Richards will try to become the next in a consistent line of outstanding Kentucky big men to excel at the pro level. The fourth Wildcat star hasn't hit any of the bigger mock draft projections, yet.
Kahlil Whitney, a long and athletic 18-year-old out of Chicago, may be an early sleeper as the mock draft ratings change over the next few months.
Kansas - Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike: For the Jayhawks, both point guard Devon Dotson and wingman Ochai Agbaji go in round one on most mock drafts. While the 6'11" Udoka Azubuike projects as a late second round pick.
Like Kahlil Whitney, Quentin Grimes isn't on the majority of early 2020 NBA hot picks lists. Grimes, a transfer to Houston has been ruled eligible, immediately for the 2019-20 season. Grimes initially put himself on last year's NBA draft board, but withdrew in the hope more college exposure would raise his draft value.
Duke - Tre Jones, Wendell Moore, Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, Cassius Stanley, Javin DeLauier: It might seem hard to fathom that a team with six players making a majority of the NBA's mock draft boards isn't the top-rated team in the country. Duke has enough talent for Coach K to craft himself yet another NCAA title run.
All six of the top Blue Devils are mentioned across the majority of the 2020 mock drafts. Tre Jones and Wendell Moore are two top-rated prospects on many draft boards, but Matthew Hurt and Cassius Stanley are deemed to be exceptional talents.
Louisville - Jordan Nwora, Samuel Williamson: Jordan Nwora and Samuel Williamson actually make up a group of four players with enough talent to play at the next level. Williamson is a freshman that is projected to shift to the NBA after one college season.
Jordan Nwora is a talented 6'7" forward who projects as a late first-round, early second-round pick. Both center Steven Enoch and shooting guard Jay Scrubb are often mentioned as potentially coveted NBA draftees next season.
Florida - Scottie Lewis, Kerry Blackshear Jr., Tre Mann: The sixth-ranked Gators have a trio of talented young college players looking transfer that talent to the pro level. Scottie Lewis and Kerry Blackshear Jr. each project as solid first and second round NBA draft picks.
Tre Mann is a five-star MacDonald's High School All-American and hometown Gainesville, Florida talent who many feel could be the best player on a very good team. How good Mann is might be part of the reason a number of early NCAA prognosticators tab the Gators as a Final Four worthy team.
Maryland - Jalen Smith: We drop down to the number-seven ranked Terrapins for our next mock draft possibility. Maryland actually has a couple players deemed talented enough to be taken in next year's NBA draft. Power forward Jalen Smith is the best of these two.
Smith has an NBA body and NBA strength to be an instant force under the bucket. Sophomore shooting guard Aaron Wiggins still has to be produce for a full season to raise his draft day stock.
Gonzaga - Killian Tillie: Tillie is yet another big man who brings the skill and strength to compete at the professional level. Gonzaga has been producing pro quality players for years now, and Killian Tillie projects to be on nearly every mock draft board.
North Carolina - Cole Anthony, Armando Bacot: The ninth-ranked Tar Heels have two potential superstars in Anthony and Bacot. Anthony is a projected top-10 lottery pick, while Bacot is like a few other underclassmen, still in need of a little more seasoning. After a year at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the newest star Tar Heel may have the most potential of all.
Villanova - Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: The Villanova Wildcats have their own duo of potential superstars. Robinson-Earl is skipped over on some draft boards, but as high as a lottery pick on others. Antoine is another freshman yet to prove himself at the college level, but who many pro scouts deem a possible pro talent.
Virginia - Mamadi Diakite: The 6'9" Virginia power forward off the defending national champion Cavaliers projects as a second-rounder on most boards. Diakite slips off of some draft lists, but his performance during the Cavaliers run to defend their title could boost his value quickly.
Memphis - James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa: The Tigers have a pair of first-round projections, including a player many think could be the first player off the board. Wiseman is talented seven-footer who reminds many of a slimmer version of Anthony Davis.
The Nigerian-born Achiuwa is long player who has the ability to muscle up inside and shift outside as a wing. How he shoots the ball for Memphis this season will go a long way towards easing one point of angst pro scouts mention.
Oregon - N' Faly Dante: We're all going to have to wait nine games to see if Dante can live up to the hype surrounding this young talent. The 6'11 Oregon freshman is tremendously talented. There are draft gurus who feel he may end up better as a pro than Wiseman. We'll have to wait to see how good Dante really is.
Utah State - Neemias Queta: Queta is yet another in a full class of big men ready to enter the NBA. He doesn't have quite the talent around him as a couple of the other centers, but Neemias Queta should be able to display his ability to play with anyone as Utah State pushes through their season.
Arizona - Nico Mannion, Josh Green: Arizona's offense will be directed by Mannion, the point guard many have as a sure-fire NBA lottery pick. Green doesn't have the exposure on US soil yet, other than his final high school year at IMG. The 6'6" Aussie sharpshooter may prove a sleeper as we near next year's NBA draft day.
LSU - Trendon Watford: Trendon Watford is yet another freshman who may play one season of college ball and shift to the NBA. He is multi-talented forward with a massive wingspan of a seven-foot player. Watford's jump shot will be scrutinized, but he has already shown the ability to score under the bucket.
Auburn - Austin Wiley: The last player on our mock draft list is yet another center. Auburn Tiger senior Austin Wiley has great mobility and a soft touch. His four-year run in the SEC makes a potentially more-seasoned big man, which adds to his appeal on some mock draft boards.
This is clearly an overview of the initial 2019 NCAA top-poll and how some of the best players on the best teams might fair in next year's NBA draft. Early polls are full of conjecture, as are NBA mock draft projections, especially with a full season of games ahead of us.
How both the college and pro seasons play out will have a lot to do with which names are called in which draft spots next year. However, these players from some of the top NCAA basketball teams will be ready to take their talents to the next level. Stay tuned, because as the cotton curls with every three-point swish, new rankings will appear and sleeper superstars will emerge.