Pounding the Table for James Wiseman

Never before has the top prospect in the draft gotten so little respect

In the past few weeks draft fans have witnessed James Wiseman fall on Internet draft boards, with many scouts and pundits ranking him outside of the top 5 and even outside of the top 10 prospects for the 2020 draft. Is this just a case of "out of sight out of mind" or are scouts around the web really not seeing what I'm seeing?
I’m here to make the case that not only is James Wiseman the best prospect in the draft but that we’ve
credit: Warren Roseborough
never before seen so little respect for a player who should be a consensus top 3 projection.
The case for James Wiseman starts with his obviously elite physical profile. But he not only has great size and length at 7-1 with a 7-4 1/2 wingspan but he moves like a small forward, showing quick twitch, change of direction and the type of coordination seen in NBA wings. These physical attributes alone make him a potential top 5 pick but there's so much more to like about Wiseman than just his size and agility. 

It's well known that centers generally take longer to develop than guards. Some of this has to do with the process of growing into their bigger frames and gaining strength and coordination after big growth spurts. And it's also a product of the way the game is played at the lower levels of play, with guards dominating the ball, leaving the big men to clean the glass and play defense. But at just 18 years old (19 by draft day) James Wiseman already has an advanced skill level, showing good footwork in the paint, an un-guardable turn-around jumper and flashes of open court ball-handling ability. He can face-up and take the ball to the hoop or let it fly from outside. He's certain to develop a good (if not great) outside shot over the years, and maybe sooner than later.

Now just imagine this 7-1 athlete flying down the court, doing his best Giannis impression with the long dribble and the easy dunk off the euro step. Imagine how un-guardable he'll be shooting from deep with NBA spacing. And we haven't even talked about his best attributes: crashing the offensive glass and defending the rim on defense.

As far as comparisons go I think Wiseman is a step below where Anthony Davis was as a college prospect. He's bigger than Davis but with a bit less finesse and polish and not quite as good timing defensively. He's got that freaky Mitchell Robinson-esque athleticism but with better strength and a much more advanced game than Robinson (think bigger Chris Bosh).
We've seen plenty of debate in the past about NBA prospects with a wide discrepancy of opinions but I can't remember a time when a player stood out so clearly to me as a top 3 prospect but got so little love from fellow draftniks and pundits. If this was a stacked draft class like 2018 I could see Wiseman not getting all the love but in this less than stellar group.... come on man!

We only got to see James Wiseman play 3 college games and his last game against Oregon was a bit of a dud, with foul trouble slowing him down. If he was playing a full college season he'd be making plays every week that would make our jaws drop - and make all scouts into believers. For those who remember seeing Anthony Davis at Kentucky, it was clear from the beginning of the season that he was really good. But as the season went along he started to find his rhythm and take his game to the next level, showing us just how special he was. I believe Wiseman would have been on that same trajectory and could have played his way to consensus no.1 overall status if he'd played a full freshman year. But thanks to the impeccable morality (cough) of the NCAA and Wiseman's decision to sign with an agent we'll be left to wonder what could have been.

Wiseman isn't a perfect prospect, none of them are. He relies too much on his left hand, he sometimes lacks intensity and he needs to add to his lower body strength and develop a more solid base. But you can be sure he's working behind the scenes as we speak and will reemerge from his hiatus stronger, more polished on offense and with a big ol' chip on his shoulder.

Putting this take out there, that Wiseman is the greatest thing since sliced bread is a bit risky. Big men often bust in the NBA. A quick look at NBA draft history will show you that time after time the tall, high-upside intriguing center flops when he gets to the League. But some of them succeed. And some become stars.

Wiseman will have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth before draft day. We can be sure that as draft workout season gets into full swing we'll see tantalizing video clips of a 7-1 stud looking more chiseled and explosive than ever, shooting it from deep and showing out in the pre-draft workouts. Until then the low rankings from Internet scouts will probably continue but I doubt most NBA scouts have dropped him out of the top 5 -  and he'll stay at no.1 in our mock draft.

Here's a refresher from Wiseman's brief stint at Memphis:

2020 McDonald's All American Game Roster Predictions

Updated 1/20/20

Five months before the 2020 McDonald's All American Game kicks off on April 1, 2020, the race to
Will Mark Williams be McDAAG bound?
claim one of the coveted spots on the East or West rosters is on. The players that make this game will first have to be nominated (usually by their coach or athletic director) and then chosen by a selection committee made up of 34 members, who will cast a series of votes to determine the 24 players that will play in the game. The announcement should come in mid to late January.

The high school season is now well underway and we've got a good idea of some of the names that'll be playing on April 1 and getting to showcase their talents to a national audience. The top half of each the East and the West roster is all but set, while there's still a ton of competition for the remaining spots.

Here's a guess at the 24 players that will be selected and a percentage of how likely their selection is:

  1. Cade Cunningham - Oklahoma State - (l00%)
  2. Scottie Barnes - Florida State - (100%)
  3. Sharife Cooper - Auburn - (90%)
  4. Terrence Clarke - Kentucky - (90%)
  5. Isaiah Todd - Michigan - (90%)
  6. Cam Thomas - LSU - (80%)
  7. Jaden Springer - Tennessee - (70%)
  8. Walker Kessler - UNC - (60%)
  9. Day'Ron Sharpe - UNC - (60%)
  10. Isaiah Jackson - Kentucky - (60%)
  11. Jaemyn Brakefield - Duke - (50%)
  12. Adam Miller - Illinois - (50%)

  1. Jalen Green - Undecided - (l00%)
  2. Evan Mobley - USC - (l00%)
  3. Greg Brown - Undecided - (100%)
  4. Brandon Boston - Kentucky - (90%)
  5. Joshua Christopher - Undecided - (80%)
  6. Ziaire Williams - Undecided - (70%)
  7. Jalen Suggs - Gonzaga - (70%)
  8. Daishen Nix - UCLA - (60%)
  9. Caleb Love - UNC - (60%)
  10. Devin Askew - Kentucky (60%)
  11. Nimari Burnett - Texas Tech - (50%) 
  12. Bryce Thompson - Kansas - (50%) 

On The Bubble
  1. Jalen Johnson - Duke - Having left IMG and not playing ball his senior year will probably keep him out of the game. But he's a top 5 player the class.
  2. Jeremy Roach (has had some injuries in H.S. which might hurt his chance of being selected )
  3. Mark Williams -
  4. Makur Maker (an older prospect who could jump straight to the League)
  5. D.J. Steward (easily talented enough to make the cut but there's only 24 spots and not everyone can make it)
  6. Micah Peavy (came on later in his HS career, might not have the buzz to get selected)
  7. Jabri Abdur-Rahim (the Virginia recruit could be on the outside looking in for this game but should get other All-Star game invites)
  8. Hunter Dickenson (just below the top tier of big men in the class)
  9. Moses Moody (might be overshadowed by the talents of his Montverde teammates)
  10. Earl Timberlake (a bit of a long shot to make the McDAAG)
  11. Keon Edwards (the dunk contest would certainly be better with Edwards participating)
  12. Mady Sissoko (Maybe more of an NBA prospect than a high school All-Star game guy)
  13. R.J. Davis (a sleeper, don't be surprised to see him on April 1)
  14. MarJon Beauchamp (has the talent to make the West roster but could lose out in the numbers game)
We'll find out in mid to late January which players make the cut. Until then these ballers have about one month to make their case that they deserve to receive this great honor.

Being selected to the McDAAG roster is a crowning jewel of a players high school career. It is an achievement celebrated by the whole city and the entire state that the player comes from. But it doesn't guarantee that they'll go on to be a one-and-done NBA Draft pick. There will still be plenty to prove in the years ahead.

Some of the names on the list above are featured in our 2021 Mock Draft, especially at the top of the draft. This 2020 recruiting class appears to be a truly special group, a group that has a chance to go down as one of the all time great classes. The 2020 McDAAG game will be must see TV on April 1, 2020. Stay tuned.

go to: 2020 NBA Mock Draft
          2021 NBA Mock Draft

The Top 5 Talents In High School Basketball

credit: Jon Lopez
As the high school basketball season gets into gear it's time to scan the nation and find the best pro prospects at the high school level, regardless of class.

Without further ado, here's our ranking of the top 5 NBA prospects in high school basketball, plus 5 honorable mentions.

5) LeBron James Jr. - "Bronny" is only a freshman but he makes our top 5 based on his rate of growth/improvement over the past year plus his obviously great bloodlines, which give hope that he'll continue to grow and develop into a superstar. It's very early in his development but so far he looks like a certain NBA player with a chance to follow in his old man's footsteps as a high draft pick and NBA star. This ranking is very much a projection of the future so we'll see how his game and frame develops over the next few seasons at Sierra Canyon.

4) Jonathan Kuminga - Big, strong, bouncy and dripping with potential - just a few words to describe Kuminga, a 6-8 forward originally form the Congo. He's a dominant athlete who already has an NBA frame and is a human highlight reel at the high school level. He scores in a variety of ways, is developing his mid range and perimeter game and is like a freight train in the open court. There's been some talk that he'll re-class to join the 2021 draft class but he recently shot-down those rumors. He's currently our no.1 overall in 2022.

3) Jalen Green - The freak athlete from Fresno lands at no.3 on this list but he's got the potential to be no.1. He's a world class athlete who reminds of a young Kobe Bryant. He's always been a high flyer but he's added strength to his frame over the past few years and he's developed his offensive game to the point of being nearly unstoppable. His quick first step and explosive athleticism help him get to the rim at will and now that his jumper is more consistent he's a nightmare to defend. It looks like Auburn and Memphis are the favorites to land Green for one highlight filled season before he jumps to the NBA Draft.

2) Cade Cunningham - The no.1 senior in the country and recent Oklahoma State commit is an elite level prospect and likely top 3 pick in June of 2021. Cunningham is a big point guard who dominates the game by controlling the pace of play and getting wherever he wants on the court. At the high school level he's simply too powerful and skilled to be stopped, can get to the rim whenever he wants and is deadly from mid range. He's the complete package: a team first player who excels at getting his teammates open shots but can also take over the game when needed. He's currently our no.1 overall pick in the 2021 mock draft

1) Emoni Bates - He might be the most polished scorer we've ever seen from a high school sophomore. He's got a lethal outside shot with a smooth, high release and now he's filling out his frame and taking his to-the-basket game to a new level. Emoni has a killer instinct and seems to be striving for greatness. He's currently our no.1 prospect for the 2023 draft but with the one and done rule change coming he'll be eligible for the 2022 draft and will likely be the top guy in that super-draft.

 Honorable Mention - the next 5
  1. Evan Mobley - The super long and talented Mobley has elite talent and athleticism but needs to get stronger to reach his full potential.
  2. Elijah Fisher (Canada) - Only a freshman, Fisher is a 6-8 wing with scary potential. He plays way above the rim and has exceptional body control, especially considering his age.
  3. Terrance Clarke - Kentucky bound, Clarke has elite level athleticism and can score the ball at will.
  4. Jalen Johnson - The Duke recruit is the complete package and should be a one and done lottery pick. 
  5. Paulo Banchero - A multi-talented forward out of Seattle, Banchero is big, smooth and talented with a chance to be special.

And finally here's our latest 2020 mock.

Fast Start for the Freshman

They came in with a lot of hype and the hopes of millions of fans riding on their shoulders and so far this freshman class has lived up to and exceeded the expectations.

Starting at the top, James Wiseman has dominated in his first two games against weak competition. He definitely passes the eyeball test and if the damn NCAA will just let him play he'll have a monster year for Memphis.

Anthony Edwards has started strong as well and looks the part of a no.1 overall type of prospect. He might not land in the top spot on draft day but he's that type of talent.

Arizona has three freshman who have come out of the gates quickly. Nico Mannion is a passing and
scoring savant who really controls the pace of play. He's looking like a lottery pick. Josh Green is showing the all around game that might not make him the biggest star on the court but gives him a lot of value on draft day. His ability to defend on the ball and make plays in the passing lanes, to go along with his offensive game, make him a likely first rounder in June. 6-11 Zeke Nnaji has really flashed, going for 20pts in his first game and 19 in his second and showing the ability to run the floor, operate in the pick and roll and score the ball from mid range. He might not be a one and done but he's looking like an NBA guy.

Washington had a huge win against a very good Baylor Bears team, helped by the play of Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels. Both are studs and both could be top 10 or even top 5 picks in June. They should both put up big numbers and it'll be interesting to see how far they can carry this Huskies squad.

Kentucky has gotten a big early contribution from Tyrese Maxey who looks like the best pro prospect on the team. His ability to score the rock from three levels and handle against pressure are just what you want in an NBA guard. His draft floor looks like mid first round and he could rise into the top half of the lottery with a big season.

Cole Anthony is doing just what everyone expected him to do; dominate on the offensive end and put up big numbers. He started the season off wearing goggles but ditched them after an off shooting half, and things have been rolling ever since.

We've been high on Nova's Jeremiah Robinson-Earl for a while and he's lived up the hype. JRE doesn't knock your socks off with athleticism but he's ultra talented at scoring the ball, has great lateral agility and just knows how to get his shot and get buckets. Watch for him to continue to put up numbers and start making a move up the draft boards.

Duke's Cassius Stanley has stood out as potentially the best pro prospect on the team. He's a high energy guy and world class athlete who has the upside that NBA teams look for. He's not a polished offensive player but he's got many years of improvement ahead of him. He's another guy who should be featured in the first round of mock drafts.

Here's the latest 2020 Mock Draft