At the heels of the 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, this year’s college basketball season tipped off last week. Based on an extremely limited sample size, I was really impressed with the play of some of the five-star recruits. If their level of play continues, next year’s draft could certainly live up to its prediction that it is loaded with talent.
Gonzaga University Bulldogs freshman Jalen Suggs is one of the first names that comes to mind. In his debut against the then number six ranked University of Kansas Jayhawks, Suggs dropped 24 points and dished out eight assists in a 12-point victory. On the very next day, Suggs followed up with 12 points and six assists on an efficient six for nine from the field in a 90-67 win over Auburn.
With his ability to make acrobatic finishes at the rim and his passing vision, Suggs could be next year’s top draft pick.
Oklahoma State University point guard and last year’s number one ranked high school recruit Cade Cunningham also showed out albeit against weaker competition. Against the University of Texas at Arlington, Cunningham posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Cunningham had another 20 point game along with four rebounds and four assists in a win against Texas Southern University.
Although with the limited sample size as previously mentioned, Cunningham is shooting the three at about a 43% clip and about 83% from the charity stripe. These shooting numbers are certainly exciting to see. At 6 feet 8 inches tall and with his athleticism, Cunningham could be a serious threat at the next level if the shooting stays consistent.
University of Kentucky shooting guard B.J. Boston also had a strong week individually. He scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards in the season opener against Morehead State University. In a losing effort against University of Richmond, Boston had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
A slasher with a bit of a mid-range game. Boston can finish at the rim exceptionally well and can rebound well for a guard. While he doesn’t have the range that would make him a three-level scorer and more enticing as a prospect, he has the foundation for a serviceable jumper based on his form.
By the time of publication, Duke University forward Jalen Johnson has already played in two games, but his debut against Coppin State University deserves mention. In 35 minutes of play, Johnson had 19 points, going a perfect eight for eight from the field. He added a ridiculous 19 rebounds to his stat line, as well as five assists and four blocks.
While it would be remiss of me not to mention Johnson's seven turnovers, he is obviously a net positive on both ends of the floor, and I look forward to seeing how his season plays out.
Finally, Josh Christopher from Arizona State University had himself quite the opening week. Through his first three games, Christopher is averaging 18.7 points per game on 57.9% shooting from the field. His most impressive showing came against then number three ranked Villanova University in a matchup where he dropped 28 points on 65% shooting.
Like his Arizona State predecessor James Harden, whose number Christopher wears, he has shown flashes of the Harden-esque scoring prowess while maintaining efficiency.
While it is certainly too early to brandish this draft as the greatest of the decade, these five freshmen came into this season ready to make an impact from the jump.