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.