Jahlil Okafor is the likely No.1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, and he’s been the most discussed player of this college basketball season. While he might be the clear choice to be taken first overall, others have stood out with the potential to be great at the next level.
Even though Okafor isthe top prospect, other college players have been nearly as good this season. Frank Kaminsky’s 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds have made Wisconsin one of the best teams in the country. Jerian Grant of Notre Dame has put up impressive numbers, and BYU’s Tyler Haws is averaging 22.3 points per game. They, however, don’t appear to have the same potential in the NBA as a few others.
Below is a look at the best five college basketball players of the 2014-2015 season, heading into the upcoming draft.
Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Okafor entered the season as the nation’s top recruit, and he hasn’t disappointed. Separating himself as the clear No.1 pick in the draft, he’s proven to be the best big man in all of college basketball. He leads Duke with 18.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, registering 10 double-doubles. In a win over Virginia Tech, Okafor became just the sixth ever Blue Devils freshman to score 30 points in a game.
Not only has he achieved individual success, but Okafor has helped make Duke a top-five team in the country. The Blue Devils have picked up five victories against teams ranked in the top 15.
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
The guard fills up the stat sheet like no other top prospect. Russell leads Ohio State with 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. His 5.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game rank second on the team. Russell has played better than any guard that will be taken at the top of the first round, and he could be the most coveted prize in the draft, after Okafor.
Phil Jackson made headlines by going to see Ohio State defeat Nebraska, in person. Russell only scored 11 points in 26 minutes, but the guard is a strong possibility for the New York Knicks, if they don’t land the No.1 overall pick.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky
The best prospect on the best team in college basketball, Towns will assuredly be taken near the top of the draft. He hasn’t put up impressive numbers like Okafor, but he has a legitimate chance to have the best NBA career of any player in this draft. Towns still has a long way to develop on the offensive end, but he’s been a force on defense, averaging 2.4 blocks in just 20.3 minutes per game.
Despite the work that he needs on offense, Towns continues to get better with each game. He’s only averaging 9.3 points per game, but he’s the Wildcats’ third-leading scorer, ranking seventh in minutes. In six of his last eight games, Towns has scored at least 12 points, making nearly 68 percent of his field goal attempts.
Stanley Johnson, Arizona
Johnson won’t be the No.1 pick, but he might be the best two-way player to be taken in June’s draft. He’s Arizona’s leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, shooting 46.9 percent from the field. He’s also tied for the team lead with 6.6 rebounds per contest, on a team that has a chance to reach the Final Four. The Wildcats have beaten 20 opponents by at least 10 points, in large part thanks to their best player.
Johnson has the combination of size and athleticism that should make him a very good player at the next level. Even as a freshman, his 6’7, 245-pound frame has made him a dominant force in college basketball.
Myles Turner, Texas
The freshman from Texas has been the least impressive player on the list. He’s a top big man in the draft, though not in the same category as Okafor or Towns. Turner hasn’t put up impressive numbers like Russell, and his team might not even qualify for the NCAA Tournament. His upside, though, will make him a lottery pick in 2015.
Even though he still needs time to develop, Turner is still averaging 11.2 points in just 22.6 minutes per game. Averaging 6.5 rebounds, Turner has had a few very impressive performances, posting five double-doubles, including two games with at least 25 points and 10 boards. The team that drafts him could have a superstar in two or three years.