With the conclusion of the college basketball season, the game's top prospects have started declaring for June's NBA Draft. Their focus will now shift to May's combine, working out for NBA teams and daily training.
This is our fourth Big Board update and the top spot has stayed the same throughout, as have the names from two to nine, but there's been quite a bit of movement at the bottom of this list and I'd expect it to continue to shuffle as the draft gets closer.
Since the first Big Board I put together, Fultz has sat in the pole position, and three months later he’s in the same spot. Sure, his team didn’t do well this year and NBA scouts have expressed that concern, but he’s the best prospect in the draft, according to these eyes. His combination of size, length and athleticism mixed with his passing, vision and ability to shoot (41.3 percent from 3) make him a special talent and the likely No. 1 pick in the 2017 June NBA Draft.
Elaine ThompsonAP photo
Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke, freshman
Last ranking: 2
When elite freshman prospects enter the last 10 or so games of their season, they often show vast improvement. That was certainly the case for Duke's Tatum. He is the most skilled wing prospect in this draft, and that was on full display when he took the court in the Barclays Center for the ACC Tournament. His size, advanced scoring package and ball skills are among the reasons he’s so valued as a prospect. He didn’t shoot it great from three-point range this past season, but the potential is there, especially when you factor in his elite work ethic.
Rainier EhrhardtAP photo
Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas, freshman
Last ranking: 4
Much like Tatum and De’Aaron Fox, as the season wore on Jackson continued to show more and more of his game. It’s clear how gifted he is from an athleticism standpoint. He also excels in transition, has potential as a defender and rebounds well from the perimeter. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how he shot it from long range this season, hitting nearly 38 percent of his attempts. It’s a close call between Tatum and Jackson as the best wing in this draft.
Tony GutierrezAP photo
De'Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky, freshman
Last ranking: 5
Fox made himself some money late in the season. Multiple NBA executives have mentioned his undressing of Lonzo Ball in the Sweet 16 to FOX Sports, and it’s caused them to think a little harder when comparing the two. Fox has impressive quickness and speed, which helps him on both ends. He pushes the tempo, finds ways to get into the paint and improved quite a bit from midrange over the course of his college season. Obviously, three-point shooting (24.6 percent) is a concern, but he’s a competitive lead guard that plays on both ends.
Brandon DillAP photo
Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA, freshman
Last ranking: 3
Ball is perhaps the most polarizing prospect in the top five of the draft. His passing, vision and size (6-6) are exceptional and clearly the best of the potential draft prospects at his position. He helped change the culture at UCLA this season, and that’s notable. That said, late in the season De’Aaron Fox pummeled him into submission in a head-to-head matchup, outplaying him for the second time this season. Multiple NBA executives said that raised their eyebrows.
Justin FordUSA TODAY Sports
Dennis Smith, PG, NC State, freshman
Last ranking: 6
Missing the NCAA Tournament doesn’t necessarily hurt Smith, but Fox’s ability to play in the event and in turn perform well is significant and it caused me to bump him even further ahead. That said, Smith is gifted physically and athletically. He's a playmaker in transition, an improved, but not consistent long-range shooter (35.9 percent) and a good passer when he wants to be. He did average 6.2 assists this past season, but he has stretches where he gets careless with the ball and he must improve on his 3.4 turnovers a game. In a normal draft, Smith would be the first point guard taken, but that’s unlikely to happen with this loaded field.
Gerry BroomeAP photo
Jonathan Isaac, SF/PF, Florida State, freshman
Last ranking: 7
There’s a lot to like about Isaac as a long-term prospect. In fact, his upside is potentially as big as any player's in this draft. Isaac has grown nearly 5 inches over the last three years and at 6-11, he’s mobile, athletic and skilled enough to play inside and out. Now his lack of strength and consistency are certainly concerns and things he’s going to have to address, but he’s a gifted prospect with a high ceiling.
Logan BowlesUSA TODAY Sports
Lauri Markkanen, C/PF, Arizona, freshman
Last ranking: 9
It’s not every day you find a post player who stands 7-feet tall and can shoot the ball the way Markkanen can. He has impressive shot mechanics and good range and thrived in pick-and-pop situations throughout the year for Arizona. Markkanen finished the year at 42.3 percent from three-point range. He also has good touch inside, is a good area rebounder and showed improvement as a defender late in the season.
Kelvin KuoUSA TODAY Sports
Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky, freshman
Last ranking: 8
Monk had a sensational season, showing impressive improvement as a shooter (nearly 40 percent from three) from high school to the college level. Monk is an explosive scorer who not only showed he could make shots but tough, contested shots on a consistent basis. He led Kentucky with 19.8 points a game despite being slightly undersized. He’s gifted athletically, and his ability to score stands out to NBA executives. He seems a lock to go in the top 10.
Brian SpurlockUSA TODAY Sports
Justin Patton, C, Creighton, freshman
Last ranking: 11
After a redshirt season at Creighton, Patton has developed into a potential lottery pick. Standing 7-feet tall, his rapid development over the last two years is beyond impressive. He was the best pro prospect in the Big East and showed promise with his ability to score around the basket, run end to end, rebound in and out of his area and protect the rim. There’s upside here, and he’s certainly on the uptick as a prospect.
Steven RyanGetty Images
Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina, junior
Last ranking: 16
It’s taken some time for Jackson to develop, but his third collegiate season has been his best, and NBA personnel are buzzing about his improvement, especially as a shooter (up to 37 percent on three-pointers). Jackson has good size for a wing player, and his scoring arsenal continues to round out. He has the best floater in college hoops, and his midrange game is impressive. He has worked his way into the lottery conversation with his big season.
Nelson ChenaultUSA TODAY Sports
Frank Ntilikina, PG, Strasbourg
Last ranking: 12
The 2017 draft class is particularly loaded at the guard position, which is evident by where Ntilikina landed on this list. A lead guard with good size (pushing 6-foot-6), Ntilikina is long, quick, athletic and versatile. His weakness was shooting, but then he went to the U-18 European Championship and hit 17 of his 29 three-point attempts. There’s area for growth as a ballhandler, but he has potential as a defender, makes plays in transition and is an intriguing all-around talent.
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Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State, freshman
Last ranking: 13
Miles Bridges is another prospect who has yet to decide whether he will stay in college or go to the NBA. If he does come out, he appears to be tracking as a potential top 15 pick. Bridges is a strong, powerful wing prospect equipped with good athleticism. He's an improving long-range shooter and a good rebounder, especially for a perimeter player. There are areas for concern, like ballhandling, shooting on the dribble and his range, but he’s progressed a lot over the last three years and continues to do so.
Tony GutierrezAP photo
Jarrett Allen, PF, Texas, freshman
Last ranking: NR
Over the course of the collegiate season, Allen, a former five-star prospect coming out of high school, continued to get better at Texas. He scored in double figures in 11 out of his last 12 games and averaged 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. At 6-foot-10, Allen has a +7 wingspan, good mobility and athleticism and a developing offensive game. There’s a ways to go, but the talent is clear. Allen has declared for the draft but did not hire an agent and so could still return to Texas.
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Ike Anigbogu, PF, UCLA, freshman
Last ranking: 19
It’s likely a surprise to see a player who averaged just 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds a game this high on a Big Board, but Anigbogu is a tremendous long-term prospect. At 6-foot-10, he has a +4 wingspan, is a very good leaper and has the potential to protect the rim as well as anyone in this draft. Based on his age, Anigbogu could have been in high school this past season, so it’s evident he’s still maturing and his best days are ahead. His defense is ahead of his offense, but he has potential on that end as well.
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports
Ivan Rabb, PF, California, sophomore
Last ranking: 15
Rabb has the makeup of a prototypical NBA power forward. Standing 6-foot-10, he has good length (+4 wingspan and mobility), plus has potential as a scorer. He has good hands, quality touch and can score facing up or with his back to the rim. Rabb has good feel as a rebounder, averaging 10.5 boards a game, and promise as a post defender because of his length, IQ and athleticism.
John HeftiUSA TODAY Sports
Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga, freshman
Last ranking: NR
Collins has shown significant improvement over the last two years and was a pivotal piece to the Zags' run to the national title game. Collins averaged only 17.2 minutes a game but was very productive, scoring 10 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. In the title game alone he showed his importance, as his footwork, post moves, rebounding prowess and scoring touch were all on display. It’s not a guarantee he comes out, but the possibility is there and there’s buzz building with him among NBA executives.
Kelvin KuoUSA TODAY Sports
OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana, sophomore
Last ranking: 18
This is a tough evaluation because Anunoby missed the last half of the season with a serious knee injury. Prior to that, buzz had been building around the versatile 6-foot-8 wing prospect. A good athlete, Anunoby can defend multiple positions and is a unique offensive player. His three-point shooting wasn't great this year, but he has potential as a shooter and good all-around shot mechanics. Ultimately, the medical test is going to be a big factor here, but if he’s good to go, he’s tracking as a potential top 20 pick.
Brian SpurlockUSA TODAY Sports
Terrance Ferguson, SG/SF, Adelaide
Last ranking: 14
In past drafts, hiding yourself (Thon Maker) from NBA personnel has proven a decent method. This could apply here. NBA executives have given mixed reviews regarding Ferguson’s play in Australia. He does have a big performance on his resume at the Nike Hoop Summit, where he hit seven three-pointers just prior to going to Australia to play professionally. Ferguson will be an interesting one to follow on draft night, as he has impressive size, athleticism, defensive position and three-point shooting.
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TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA, freshman
Last ranking: NR
UCLA could potentially have three players go in the top 20 of this NBA Draft. Leaf is certainly in this range, and he impressed scouts throughout the season with his energy, rebounding, skill level and efficiency on the offensive end. At 6-foot-10, Leaf showed a versatile offensive game, scoring both with his back to the basket and facing up. Leaf’s ability to stretch the floor is notable, and although his sample size from three-point range wasn’t large, he made 27 of his 58.