NCAA Basketball: 5 players to watch this season

College basketball is back! Well… Almost. November 5th is the day we’re all anxiously waiting for. Soon will return the thrill and the agony of the always exciting collegiate hoops season and I know I’m not only speaking for myself when is say I am excited as always. With the 2019/20 NCAA basketball season creeping up, I take a look at five young players who will look to make a big impact in the upcoming season.

Cole Anthony (Freshman) Last Season: 17.8PPG, 10.0RBPG, 10.0APG

Any product of the legendary Oak Hill Academy is likely to garner attention. The school has produced many NBA stars and the next is Cole Anthony who was at one point touted as the top guard in the country. The #2 recruit was a 2019 McDonald’s All American. Anthony is an explosive athlete and showed glimpses of his potential to be a commanding floor general. He plays with the kind of killer instinct that you just cannot teach and is always on the attack. If you want to see some exciting basketball, tune into the North Carolina Tar Heels and Cole Anthony.

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(North Carolina Athletic Department)

Nico Mannion (Freshman) Last Season: 24.1PPG, 5.0RBPG, 5.5APG

One of the most exciting freshmen of the upcoming NCAA season is point guard Nico Mannion. Son of NBA journeyman Pace Mannion, Nico has developed into one of the country’s most explosive young guards. He received huge media attention due to his flashy style, but scouts still question his long-term upside. Mannion is quick off the dribble and has demonstrated his distance shooting as well as his ability to drive into the paint. With a big season, he could work his way to becoming a 2020 lottery pick.

James Wiseman (Freshman) Last Season: 25.8PPG, 14.8RBPG

James Wiseman was the #1 Ranked high school recruit in the country… that speaks for itself. The 7’1” centre was dominant in high school. Wiseman is a threat both ends of the floor looking polished with both his scoring and defensive abilities. His size makes him difficult to stop from getting good inside looks and the footwork he displayed in his senior year spoke volumes in terms of his development. His distance shooting leaves something to be desired and in today’s game he is going to have to become a more efficient distance shooter. However, the remainder of his game is nothing short of spectacular. The nation will be watching as Wiseman and the Memphis Tigers take to the hardwood for the first time on November 5th.

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James Wiseman (NBC Sports)

Tre Jones (Sophomore) Last Season: 9.4PPG, 5.3APG, 3.8RBPG, 1.9STL

Returning for his sophomore season is Duke point guard Tre Jones. Jones enjoyed a fruitful 2018/19 campaign contributing heavily to the Blue Devils’ Elite Eight run, where he showed flashes of strong distribution and defensive prowess. Not to mention his 22-point performance in Duke’s Sweet Sixteen victory over Virginia Tech. However, their season was ultimately labelled “underwhelming” due to the absence of superstars like #1 NBA Draft pick Zion Williamson and #3 pick R.J Barrett from the latter stages of March Madness. Jones elected not to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, becoming the only returning member from last season’s star-studded Duke freshman class. Now with the experience of a deep NCAA tournament run, expect Jones to step up and become the all-seeing floor general he gave us a peek at last year.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. (Senior) Last Season: 14.9PPG, 7.5RBPG, 2.4APG

Having spent his first three years of college at Virginia Tech, Kerry Blackshear Jr transferred to his home state school, Florida State, after his most productive college season yet. The 6-10 forward’s experience cannot be ignored. He is fundamentally sound and has improved every year he has been at college, although there have been many questions asked of his defensive ability. He may not be on the top of the draft boards just yet, but look for Blackshear to surprise everyone this season.

With all of these players primed for top seasons, the 2019/20 NCAA campaign will be must-watch television.

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