Class Wars – A Roundtable Discussion
Which freshman will have the biggest impact in 2019/20?
Mat: James Wiseman, Memphis. He is the leader on this young team which already has a ton of hype around them. Look to see the frosh on ESPN highlights very early in the season.
Matt: James Wiseman, Memphis. If Memphis looks to make the jump back into the NCAA tournament since 2014 then it will be Wiseman that needs to make the impact. Yes, the Tigers have plenty more talent but the real uncertainty will be if they can make a push and Wiseman will be the answer.
Sam: Cole Anthony. It’s the obvious answer, but Anthony not only has the most hype around him, he also has the responsibility of leading a blue blood. UNC lost a lot of talent, and Anthony has to play a big part in keeping UNC relevant in the national conversation.
Ariel: Cole Anthony. UNC are looking very different than last season and will have to rely on Anthony throughout the season.
Jordan: Nico Mannion. The University of Arizona has been blessed by the gods with the talent they will get from Mannion. As Dick Vitale would say, “This kid a PTPer baby”. The white mamba has arguably the best handles in college basketball and will create a highlight tape like no one else. I suggest staying up late to watch him school the rest of the Pac-12.
Spencer: Cole Anthony. Anthony has so much hype around him heading into his freshman year and many scouts have called him the best guard they’ve ever scouted. He will need to play great for UNC to succeed.
Ben: Anthony Edwards. Georgia has struggled the past few years and this is the highest rated recruit they have landed in a while. He will likely lead the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament. Many people think it should be Cole Anthony, but Cole Anthony will be playing at UNC which always has top recruits
Which sophomore will have the biggest impact in 2019/20?
Mat: To me it’s Ashton Hagans. He could have easily been a lottery pick if he went to the draft. I see him as the next Rajon Rondo, but he stayed in college to really hone in on his jumper. Hagans should be the star of this Kentucky team.
Matt: Trevion Williams, Purdue. When Williams entered the lineup last season he was a big reason the Boilermakers turned their season around and made a run deep into March. Williams had raw talent as a freshmen and without Edwards will be a big go to for Purdue this season and difficult to contain.
Sam: If this was best sophomore, I’d say Hagans. However, Tre Jones will have the biggest impact. Jones is taking on a Grayson Allen-type role this season, and he has seemed much more mature than Allen did his sophomore year. Jones not only has to facilitate to a group of highly touted freshman, he also has to lead them as a guy who has played big games before.
Ariel: Shareef O Neal. Technically it’s his first season because he missed last year with an injury, but it’s his second year in college. O Neal has looked dominant this summer and will be the focal point of this new look Bruins.
Jordan: Tre Jones, Duke. Last year, everyone was in awe of how well he played as a freshman and lead duke when Zion went down with a knee injury. Personally, I was shocked that he didn’t declare for the draft because he would have been selected in the lottery. Duke has an almost completely new roster and Jones will have a major role of being the team leader and being counted on in the final stretch of games. Duke’s success will ultimately rely on how well Jones plays.
Spencer: Jalen Smith, Maryland. With Bruno Fernando heading to the Hawks, that leaves Jalen Smith in the Terrapins frontcourt and I expect him to have a big year.
Ben: I definitely have to go with Jalen Smith from Maryland. Smith probably would’ve been a first round pick if he would’ve entered the NBA Draft. But he wanted to come back to Maryland and lead them to a National Championship. Because he was behind Bruno Fernando last year, he was the second big man on the team and wasn’t getting as many touches. But now that Fernando is gone, Smith will be the number one big man on this team.
Which sophomore will be most improved in 2019/20?
Mat: Jalen Carey, Syracuse. Carey really didn’t play much as a freshman, but did have a 20 point outburst against Connecticut. This year though, Jim Boeheim loses A LOT of talent – including starting guards in Tyus Battle and Frank Howard. Carey will have to play a lot of minutes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes over for Battle’s scoring, maybe even upper of 15 points per game.
Matt: Andrew Nembhard. Florida is going to be relying on him and he is going to step up big.
Sam: Kihei Clark. Clark was mainly a defense and passing guy last year, and with more responsibility for Virginia, he will get more volume on offense and make a true name for himself.
Ariel: Andrew Nembhard. Nembhard showed flashes of his potential last season but didn’t have the stats to show for it. This year, with a year of experience and a team more suited for his game, Andrew will emerge as a top guard in the country.
Jordan: Quentin Grimes, Kansas. I’m shocked that my colleague Ariel didn’t choose Grimes as well. My original pick would’ve been Brandon Williams from Arizona, but sadly he tore his acl in a scrimmage game. Last year, Grimes was very inconsistent scorer, but when he found his touch he was unstoppable. I expect Grimes to get more consistent and increase his average points per game by double.
Spencer: Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers. Ron Harper Jr., son of NBA champ Ron Harper, has looked great this offseason and is expected to be a main man on a Rutgers team that is looking to surprise a lot of people last year. Harper jr. showed his potential last year with a 27 point outing against a top 25 Iowa team on the road.
Ben: Aaron Wiggins, Maryland. Last season, Wiggins wasn’t a starter or a player that would have the ball at the end of a game. But he still averaged 8.3 PPG. Last season, he would show spurts of getting to the basket and finishing but he was mainly a shooter other than that. This season he will be getting more minutes and that will build confidence so I think he will have a big year.
Who will be the best junior in 2019/20?
Mat: Jordan Nwora, Louisville. I really don’t think you could go with anyone else here. Nwora proved last season that he could lead the Cards, and will only improve on his numbers this season. He’s also the most experience and best player in the ACC, and should be a first team All-American when it’s all set and done.
Matt: Tristan Clark, Baylor. Nwora will be the center of attention from day one in every scouting report and Baylor leaves more room for Clark to have an outbreak season.
Sam: Jordan Nwora. Louisville has a lot of expectations coming into the year, and Nwora is a big reason why. He is a versatile player, and can send the Cards deep into March.
Ariel: Tristan Clark. Nwora is a terrific player, but Clark will take this Baylor team to the next level. He showed a dramatic increase in production last season and is primed to be an all NCAA member at the end of the season.
Jordan: Jordan Nwora, Louisville. I hate to repeat what everyone else is saying, but it’s true. Louisville is going to have a lot to prove this season and it all starts with the play of Nwora.
Spencer: Jordan Nwora, Louisville. Jordan Nwora is a great all around basketball player who can score the ball and play defense. I expect him to lead Louisville this year to a great season.
Ben: Jordan Nwora, Louisville. Nwora easily could’ve been a top 15 draft pick this year. Instead he is coming back to play for a loaded Louisville Cardinals team.
Who will be the best senior in 2019/20?
Mat: Myles Powell, Seton Hall. I know, I know, why not Cassius, right? Here’s why it’s Powell. He is the LEADER of this Pirates team. Don’t get me wrong, this is a talent SHU team that has the potential to reach the Final Four. But Powell isn’t playing with other four and five stars like Cassius. Compare him to Markus Howard, and Powell is just stronger and a better finisher at the rim. Expect BIG things from MP13 in 2019/20.
Matt: Markus Howard, Marquette. Howard lost the Hauser twins and will now need to carry even more of a load. Howard was 5th in the nation in scoring a year ago and now without the scoring and leadership of the Hauser twins Howard will need to take an even bigger role. Expect his scoring to increase as well as his ability to set up his teammates to make more room for himself.
Sam: Markus Howard. Marquette saw their season end pretty quickly last year due to the surge of Ja Morant, and Howard has an added responsibility now that the Hausers transferred out. If Howard can lead the team on his own, Marquette will not only be a top 25 team, he will be a first round draft pick.
Ariel: Cassius Winston. Winston is the best player in the country and can score and pass at an incredibly high level.
Jordan: Payton Prichard, Oregon. Before you scroll down to the next question, hear me out. Prichard and the ducks were one of the biggest stories of college basketball last year. They started the season ranked #19 and were serious contenders. Then they lost Bol Bol, to an injury early in the season. They looked to be done for the season after going 10-8 in Pac-12 play and earned the #6 seed in the Pac-12 tournament. The ducks went on a magical run to win the Pac-12 tournament, earned the #12 in the NCAA tournament south region and went all the way to the sweet sixteen before losing to the eventual national champions. Prichard was a major factor in their success last year and will play a crucial role as being the leader for this very talented team. The ducks are lucky to have him back for his senior season as it will help them get closer to their goal of winning a national championship.
Spencer: Cassius Winston, Michigan State. This one could go to either Cassius Winston or Myles Powell. I decided to go with Cassius because of his leadership. We already know of his talent, but his leadership separates him from Powell. Powell has done some questionable, immature stuff in the locker room and that’s why I gave the nod to Winston.
Ben: Cassius Winston, Michigan State. Winston has been a leader since he arrived at Michigan State. He is both a vocal leader and a leader by example. This season he will show why every preseason ranking system has Michigan State at number one.
In what order would you rank each class?
Mat: Seniors, Juniors, Freshmen, Sophomores. This is an amazing senior class with Powell, Howard, and Winston. Close behind come the juniors, led by Nwora, Anthony Cowan, and Kerry Blackshear. Freshmen vs sophomores was a bit of a toss up, but I like the potential of Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, and Cole Anthony above Hagans and Tre Jones.
Matt: Seniors, Juniors, Freshman, Sophomores. No one can compete with the likes of Winston, Howard, Powell, and Merrill.
Sam: Seniors, Sophomores, Freshmen, Juniors. I’m a big fan of experience wins games, and that will show this season with the stacked senior class.
Ariel: Seniors, Sophomores, Freshman, Juniors. I’m a big fan of the sophomore class, after many top guys decided to forgo the draft and stay an extra year.
Jordan: Seniors, Freshman, Juniors, Sophomores. I like a lot of seniors this year because I have been able to see them grow since they were freshman. I believe every freshman class is very hyped up because of social media and has forced me to put them as the second best class.
Spencer: Seniors, Juniors, Freshman, Sophomores. This senior class has a few of the top players in Winston, Powell, and Howard. I put the freshman ahead of the sophomores because of their potential and I believe in the hype surrounding the top recruits.
Ben: Seniors, Sophomores, Freshman, and Juniors. This year’s senior class is one of the most talented seniors college basketball has had in awhile. Cassius Winstn, Myles Powell, and Markus Howard are all coming back for their senior years. This much talent staying in college is very surprising. The Sophomores who decided to stay are very talented and a few such as Jalen Smith, Tre Jones, Ashton Hagans could’ve all been first round picks.
Which class has the most to prove in 2019/20?
Mat: Sophomores. Hagans and Jones came back in order to work on different parts of their games, so if that improvement isn’t made, this was a failure of a class (from what’s left of course).
Matt: Seniors. The class is loaded and the Freshmen are not overshadowing them. They have made the choice to come back year after year and now it’s their last chance to have an unforgettable season.
Ariel: The freshman. After a star studded class last year, the freshman have a lot to prove that they can make just as much of an impact as the freshmen did last year.
Jordan: The freshman. As I said before, this class has a lot of hype around it and they need to prove they are worth the hype. They have a lot of big names who have the potential to turn around programs and make a deep run in the tournament.
Spencer: The freshman. This freshman class led by Cole Anthony and James Wiseman has hype all around it and I want to see if they can prove that it was deserved.
Ben: Freshman class. There is a ton of hype around a few teams with a lot of freshmen in their lineup so many teams will be counting on these freshmen to have a good season.