The 2019-20 men’s college basketball season might be the year of the senior. It’s rare these days that top players at big-time programs stick around for four years, but this year we have an exception. A few of the country’s most exciting players will be entering Year 4 with their respective programs. Many of those players will have a serious effect on March Madness odds as the season progresses. There are still plenty of outstanding young players as well, including several freshmen that will likely end up as lottery picks in next year’s NBA draft. Here’s a look at this year’s most exciting NCAA basketball prospects.
The Elder Statesmen The prototypical point guard, Michigan State’s Cassius Winston can simply do it all. Winston averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 assists per game last year leading the Spartans to a Big Ten title and the Final Four. Winston was named the conference player of the year and is a favorite to win this year’s national player of the year.
Like Winston, Marquette’s Markus Howard proves good things come in small packages. Listed at 5-feet-11-inches, Howard was one of the top scorers in the nation averaging 25 points per game. Despite his size, he also averaged four rebounds per game. Howard is the type of talent that can score 30, 40, or even 50 points any night.
Myles Powell of Seton Hall will be a contender for the Big East’s Player of the Year in 2019-20. Powell averaged 21.7 points per game last year and is one of those special players that can score when the game is on the line. He scored in double figures in all but one of the Pirates games last season.
Both Jarron Cumberland and Kerry Blackshear are seniors playing their final seasons. Blackshear played his first three seasons at Virginia Tech and then moved on to Florida as a graduate transfer. At 6-10, Blackshear is a presence inside averaging 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds last season with the Hokies. Cumberland was the American Athletic Conference player of the year last season after averaging 18.8 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. Along with Winston and Howard, Cumberland and Blackshear will all be playing in the NBA a year from now. All four are likely to be draft choices.
The Newbies There is a trio of incoming freshmen that will make predicting the NCAA basketball tournament more difficult. Any of the three could propel his respective team to this year’s Final Four and each of the three will certainly have a shot at the national player of the year award as well.
Memphis C James Wiseman might have been the most talked-about recruit in this year’s class. At 7-feet-1-inch, Wiseman is a dominant post player who is an athletic defender. Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway coached Wiseman in high school and both could take the Tigers deep into the postseason this year.
Cole Anthony, son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony, will step in a take over the point for North Carolina. At 6-3, Anthony averaged a triple-double – 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists per game – as a senior in high school.
Five-star recruit Anthony Edwards will be the most-watched player in the SEC. A 6-5 guard, Edwards brings back memories of Dominique Wilkins, a Georgia alum who went on to a Hall of Fame career in the NBA.
All three players – Wiseman, Anthony, and Edwards – could be the top pick in next year’s NBA draft. Who ends up No. 1 will likely come down to who wins next year’s draft lottery.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.