The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the upcoming NBA Draft officially came and went Sunday, and with it, only a few surprises have emerged -- none of which are particularly consequential (yet) with the NCAA's new rule that allows for all underclassmen, including those who signed with certified agents, to return to school so long as they withdraw by 11:59 p.m., May 29.
Still, the deadline has provided clarity if nothing else about what to expect this draft season, and who we expect near the top of boards. For now. This can all change, of course, during the winding draft process where teams can workout players, pick apart their physical and interpersonal skills to sort and shake their draft boards accordingly. To say the top-100 prospects as we barrel towards May is set in stone would be a disservice to you, the reader. So I come bearing truth: all of this is subject to change.
All we know for now is that Duke star Zion Williamson, like one Jon Snow, appears to be the rightful heir to the Iron Throne -- er, rather, to the No. 1 pick. It'd take a pretty chaotic and unlikely occurrence for him to be supplanted. Beyond him, though, it's a mystery. Murray State star Ja Morant and Duke scoring guard RJ Barrett figure to be leaders at Nos. 2 and 3, but even then nothing seems certain and the boards of teams will be changing frequently this spring as intel emerges on top prospects.
For now, here's where we stand with an update on the CBS Sports Top 100 Big Board and a look at some of the key risers and fallers from the last major update which was just before the NCAA Tournament.
When people describe this draft as top-heavy, I shake my head in disagreement like a 40-year-old Mike Gundy. Mostly for this reason: We don't really even know what the top of the draft looks like yet. And also for this reason: It's impossible to judge the depth of a class on face value. Determing the value of a draft class can take years. Just look at D'Angelo Russell! He went from a labeled bust (by some) to a bonafide All-Star as quick as the Lakers' sellers remorse set in.
Yes, there's Zion and Ja and RJ (oh my!), but I'm not convinced that Hayes shouldn't be included among the top tier of this class. When you're evaluating talent, you're evaluating what a prospect can be in three, five or eight years, and Hayes' star could shine as bright as any by then. His first start in basketball came as a senior in high school after a football-slanted start to his athletic career, so yes, the one-and-done freshman is raw. But in the NBA you can thrive with an elite skill, and Hayes has one: He's a real-life, human pogo stick. His instincts around the rim will allow him to thrive in virtually any situation as a rim-runner and shot-blocker. In a league that prioritizes those specific skill sets, Hayes seems primed to be a hit wherever he lands.
No. 6 Coby White | N. Carolina | Fr | PG | 6-5 | 185
Previous: No. 9
North Carolina's bouncy-haired point guard is going to climb draft boards this summer in workouts and at the combine, so hop on the train now. (You have officially been notified!) White's a terrific prospect for a number of reasons -- a 6-5 frame, prolific scorer, fantastic hair -- but it's upside as an offensive player that's going to earn him a lottery selection. He shot 35.2% from 3-point range as a freshman, and in the toughest league in America, while showing promise and potential as a go-to ball-handler. At worst, he's going to be a tremendous heat-check guy -- he finished in the 95th percentile in spot-up opportunities and in the 93rd percentile in catch-and-shoot opportunities, according to Synergy. At best, he's going to be a heat-check guy who can also quarterback a No. 1 unit. White displays shades of a young Damian Lillard; if he can reign in his handle like Lillard he'll be a star.
No. 20 Mfiondu Kabengele | Florida St. | Soph | PF | 6-10 | 250
When Florida State faced Murray State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, all eyes were on Ja Morant, the top-3 point guard prospect who had at that point elevated himself to Zion-levels of must-watch. Morant did well for his stock, scoring 28 and hitting five of his six 3-pointers against elite athletes from FSU; it wasn't a surprise, but rather, confirmation of his game. It was on the other side of the court, with 'Noles big man Mfiondu Kabengele, where stock rose significantly.
Kabengele played only 21.6 minutes as a sophomore, but he played more than 25 per game in the month of March and 23 against Morant's Racers, where he scored 22 and finished with seven rebounds, three blocks and a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
Kabengele has the perfect skill set of what you might look for now in a modern-day stretch big man. He averaged 37.7% from 3-point range in two seasons at FSU, and his shot-blocking elevated to 8.7% in conference play in his second season -- ranking sixth in the ACC. His shot-making and rim-protecting ways will be coveted among teams selecting in the late-first round and early-second -- if he stays on the board that long.
The NCAA Tournament can elevate your stock more so than any other non-NBA event. Just ask Carsen Edwards, Purdue's supernova guard, whoby drilling down, on average, seven 3-pointers and 34.8 points per game in four games. Edwards' size is a concern as is his decision-making with the ball, but when you're capable of being a threat in offense anywhere inside the logo you've got a shot to make it in the league.
Okeke,, could wind up being a sleeper in this draft if only because he'd have almost assuredly not been a sleeper had he not been injured in Auburn's impressive NCAA Tournament win over No. 1 seed North Carolina.
Okeke starred in that game -- "Chuma was the best player on the floor," Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said after the game -- scoring 20 points and knocking down three 3-pointers in the rout before going down. Pearl was right, too: On a court shared with Coby White, Nassir Little and Cameron Johnson, all potential first-round picks, Okeke was undeniably the best player on the court that night. The way he can stuff a shot on one end of the floor and confidently walk into a nothing-but-net 3-pointer on the other end puts him in rarefied big-man air in this class.
No. 7 Cam Reddish | Duke | Fr | SF | 6-8 | 218
Previous: No. 4
Reddish has talent. Tons of it. And he's got a beautiful-looking shooting stroke, above average defensive instincts, whole package. But in a situation at Duke last season where he was seemingly set up to thrive as an overqualified floor-spacer and shot-maker, Reddish was simply average.
Reddish still has all the tools to be successful, and I wouldn't advise selling all your Reddish stock yet because the fit at Duke, where he rarely was given the opportunity to dictate the offense, turned out to be a stinker. But his touch around the rim, his lack of killer instincts, it all leaves a lot to be desired for a top-10 prospect. If I'm taking a player inside the lottery, I want someone who will go down firing rather than hiding in the corner and watching the action. When he brings out his go-to instincts, he unlocks all that potential that's going to land him inside the lottery. It needs to happen more often in workouts leading up to the draft before he slides further.
No. 13 Nassir Little | N. Carolina | Fr | SF | 6-6 | 220
Previous: No. 10
Little's only season at North Carolina came to an unceremonious and disappointing end not because of his play, but because he. After scoring a combined 39 points in UNC's first two NCAA Tournament games, showing off the will and skill of the top-10 high school player the Tar Heels signed a year ago, he went out in a loss to Auburn with only four points in 13 minutes. For Little, it was a fitting end to a rocky season overall.
Little isn't slipping because he got sick though. Little is slipping because his stock has mostly plateaud and perhaps dipped a tad while other players -- PJ Washington, Brandon Clarke, among others -- have steadily risen higher.
Little's feel for the game just isn't quite there yet. Offensively or defensively. He gets caught ball-watching frequently while his man runs free on defense, and on offense, he was often a step behind, which stunted his development as he only earned 18.2 minutes per game. Little is still a gifted athlete with a physical profile that's keeping him in the lottery, and his pedigree as a high school player and projectability as an NBA player is still pretty flawless, but he didn't do much for his stock overall as a Tar Heel.
Langford is the archetypal NBA wing with his 6-6 frame and near-7-foot-wingspan, but beyond the physical profile, he still faces questions about his game. His shooting form -- the rearback fling that flies from above his head -- almost certainly will need to be overhauled. His off-ball game and how he functions as a true wing also shows he lacks the desirable instincts you expect from a blue-chipper like him. He rates out favorably as a pick-and-roll ball handler and as a finisher around the rim, though, and his touch is translatable. Langford just seems to be longer-away-than-expected from being ready to make significant contributions as a scorer in the NBA, and if he does, it might be in a similarly inefficient manner like his lone season at Indiana.
Slow-motion look at Romeo Langford’s shooting mechanics. He’s connected on only 12-of-53 triples (22.6%) so far this season and is a career 27.5% 3-point shooter on 247 attempts according to our database. 75% from the FT line on 328 attempts. Has natural touch. pic.twitter.com/xXGuKEVGvd— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 11, 2019
Talent, production and pure skill isn't the question for Porter -- staying on the court is. After tearing his right ACL and MCL prior to the 2018-19 season, Porter again tore his right ACL in March, which will understandably raise some red flags about his durability long-term. Porter is a crafty playmaker and floor-spacer who shot 36.4% from 3-point range as a freshman in 2017-18, showing signs of developing into a do-it-all big man. But no matter his abilities, his lack of availability has his stock falling downward.
Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects Big Board
|2||Ja Morant||Murray St.||Soph||PG||6-3||175|
|6||Coby White||N. Carolina||Fr||PG||6-5||185|
|8||Jarrett Culver||Texas Tech||Soph||SG||6-6||195|
|13||Nassir Little||N. Carolina||Fr||SF||6-6||220|
|15||Nickeil Alexander-Walker||Va. Tech||Soph||SG||6-5||205|
|20||Mfiondu Kabengele||Florida St.||Soph||PF||6-10||250|
|21||Kevin Porter Jr.||USC||Fr||SG||6-6||218|
|25||Luguentz Dort||Arizona St.||Fr||SG||6-4||215|
|26||Talen Horton-Tucker||Iowa St.||Fr||SF||6-4||233|
|27||Cameron Johnson||N. Carolina||Sr||SF||6-9||210|
|36||Goga Bitadze||Rep. of Georgia||-||C||6-11||251|
|39||Shamorie Ponds||St. John's||Jr||PG||6-1||180|
|41||Darius Bazley||No school||-||SF||6-9||200|
|44||Jalen Lecque||No school||-||SG||6-4||190|
|45||Jalen McDaniels||San Diego St||Soph||PF||6-10||195|
|46||Jaylen Hoard||Wake Forest||Fr||SF||6-8||215|
|48||Lindell Wigginton||Iowa St.||Soph||PG||6-2||189|
|49||Charles Bassey||W. Kentucky||Fr||C||6-11||245|
|57||Kerwin Roach II||Texas||Sr||PG||6-4||180|
|59||Terence Davis||Ole Miss||Sr||SG||6-4||205|
|60||James Palmer Jr.||Nebraska||Sr||SG||6-6||207|
|63||Markis McDuffie||Wichita St.||Sr||SF||6-8||218|
|65||Dean Wade||Kansas St.||Sr||PF||6-10||228|
|67||Marcos Lousada Silva||Brazil||-||SF||6-6||190|
|68||Brian Bowen II||Australia||Fr||SF||6-8||202|
|70||Charlie Brown||Saint Joseph's||Soph||SG||6-7||199|
|73||Zylan Cheatham||Arizona St.||Sr||PF||6-8||220|
|76||Sagaba Konate||W. Virginia||Jr||C||6-8||250|
|82||Aric Holman||Miss. State||Sr||PF||6-10||225|
|85||Ky Bowman||Boston College||Jr||PG||6-1||188|
|94||Nick Ward||Michigan St.||Jr||PF||6-8||245|
|96||Milik Yarbrough||Illinois St.||Sr||SF||6-6||215|
|97||Quinndary Weatherspoon||Miss. State||Sr||SG||6-4||205|
|100||Justin Robinson||Va. Tech||Sr||PG||6-2||195|