The 6’9, 220 lb. power forward from Dayton made a big jump in production from year one to year two. In the 2019-20 season, Toppin averaged 20 points per game to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots. At his size, with a 7’2 wingspan, this young man has the potential to be a very versatile two-way player at the next level. He is a strong finisher at the rim and isn’t afraid to attack with power. With a high motor, Toppin has proven to be a problem on the offensive boards. A quick second jump has allowed him to lead the NCAA in dunks last season. In addition, his experience playing the 5 at Dayton will absolutely help his versatility in the NBA. Other than dominating on the offensive boards and posting up down low, Toppin is able to step back into mid range and even beyond the arc and sink shots. He has consistent, solid shooting mechanics for a big man, allowing his team to space the floor more on the offensive end. While he has the ability to catch and shoot, the Dayton forward is also able to create his own offense and pull up for jumpers off the dribble. Whoever drafts this young man will be getting someone who can move without the ball and be very effective in the pick and roll game as well. One thing Toppin needs to put time into is footwork on the defensive end. He has the tools to become a super versatile defender but from what we have seen from him at Dayton so far, there is plenty of room for improvement on being able to switch out onto quicker perimeter players. With some added core strength and muscle, Toppin can become an even better rebounder. He is surely capable of more than 7.5 rebounds per contest at his size. The amount of improvement shown from year one to year two with Toppin is a great sign that he always works to get better and has a high basketball IQ.
2. Jalen Smith, Maryland
The 6’10 Terp has proven he is not only one of the top rebounders in college basketball but he is also one of the best shot blockers as well. Smith made big improvements from year one to year two increasing nearly every stat. His numbers last year were 15.5 points per game, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocked shots per game on almost 54 percent shooting from the field. To earn those numbers, especially in the Big Ten, this kid is a beast of a big man. Smith is a two way player who you can’t afford to not have in the game from a coaching standpoint. His defense turns into offense and he is a strong finisher at the rim, especially in transition. He is a big presence down low that any defensive oriented team needs. Solid post skills down low with a soft touch are also a plus with this young man. He has the potential to be an effective, spot up mid range shooter as well. Smith should work on improving his low post game offensively, needs to add more moves and not appear as robotic. Very common with big men, Smith needs to also put some effort into improving his footwork on defense and being able to switch outside. That one skill alone will make any big man so much more versatile as a two way player. While Smith is a great shot blocker, his perimeter defense will need some attention as the draft comes closer and closer.
3. Precious Achiuwa, Memphis
This young man is an extremely athletic 6’9 combo forward with tons of upside. In his freshman year at Memphis, after teammate James Wiseman decided to leave school and prepare for the draft, he had an impressive season. Achiuwa averaged a double double with 15.8 points per game and 10.8 rebounds on just under 50 percent shooting from the floor. Impressively, he also averaged 1.9 blocked shots per game as well as 1.1 steals. His athleticism and quick first step allow him to be able to blow by defenders in the high post, especially being a strong finisher at the rim. He is more of a slasher than a pick and pop forward. Regularly makes high effort plays on both ends of the floor. The 6’9 forward doesn’t commit silly fouls, tends to play with a high basketball IQ. He is exceptional for his size at sliding his feet on defense and staying in front of who he is guarding. Versatility on offense is the main thing that Achiuwa should spend time working on. His ball handling needs work if he wants to produce more on offense. He is somewhat of an in between forward meaning that he isn’t a clear 4 and not a clear 3 either because of his lack of distance shooting. He is not a volume shooter by any means but he also isn’t a traditional power forward. However, he has the potential to improve his game and become much more versatile. Luckily, his defense will likely earn him more minutes at the next level. His shot should come with time.
4. Tyler Bey, Colorado
The 6’7 forward was a machine in the Pac-12 all last year. Bey showed improvement in all three of his seasons with the Buffaloes. Last year he averaged 13.8 points per game as well as nine rebounds on 53 percent shooting from the floor. 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game are his numbers on defense. Bey is a super versatile two way player who can be inserted in more than one position. He can catch and shoot, or create his own offense and shoot off the dribble. He is super athletic with a high motor who is willing to take on any matchup. He is one of those players who still has a huge impact on games even if he isn’t his team’s leading scorer. He is an ambitious defender who has a natural leadership element to him. He has a soft touch and is very capable of making opponents pay with his free throw making ability. He is able to step back and shoot the deep ball as well. Bey needs to continue improving his shot, especially his outside shot. That alone would make him much more valuable of a commodity with the draft coming up. He has to improve his overall shooting stroke and have it look more natural. One more glaring absence from his game is playmaking for his teammates. He needs to be looking to pass a little more than he does. His scoring ability is so vast that he should be able to draw in defenders and kick it to the open man.
5. Reggie Perry, Mississippi State
Perry is a strong, 250 lb. 6’10 big man. He showed tremendous improvement in his second year at Mississippi State. Last year, Perry averaged an impressive double double with 17.4 points per game and 10.1 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the floor. Perry is highly mobile at his size and has a willingness to hustle for offensive boards and loose balls. He has tremendous leaping ability and a high motor. A strong presence in the low post who knows how to fight for entry passes and finishes through contact. Good at rotating on the defensive end and blocking shots. He has the quickness to keep up and stay in front of a lot of perimeter players. Perry has the building blocks to become a better face up and mid range jump shooter. He has exceptional ball handling for a big man. The 6’10 big man from Mississippi State needs to work on his post moves down low and add more moves to his bag. His pump faking and control down low should come with time. Overall awareness in late game situations at times can be in question. Needs to commit more to being a dominant rim protector. He forces things sometimes and needs to let the game come to him more. Sometimes tries to make risky passes when a simple pass would suffice.
6. Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia
This young man is a 7 footer with a 7’3 wingspan from Serbia who has quite a diverse skill set. His ball handling ability at his size is very rare and what is also rare about his game is that he can play either position in pick and rolls. In Serbia, he averaged 10.8 points per game with 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game as well. He has shown he is able to pass off the double team to open cutters or shooters and that he’s a very unselfish player with tremendous court vision. Pokusevski is also able to step out and knock down jumpshots with his soft touch. He has a clean shooting stroke and jumpshot elevation for his size. He is a player who you have to step up on as a defender but that gives him the ability to blow past defenders. Soft touch around the rim as well. If he gets the ball down low, it is tough to stop him from scoring. His long arms help him block shots on the defensive end. Soft touch tends to disappear at times when finishing in transition. Misses transition layups if a defender is able to cut him off, even if a smaller player. Needs to gain weight and become more of a low post presence. Weight gain will help him rebound better as well. Needs to work on staying with his defensive assignment as well as not reaching and committing unnecessary fouls. Defensive footwork focus is also a must. If this kid can grow into his man body and be able to improve sliding his feet on defense staying in front of his man, he can eventually become something special.
7. Paul Reed, DePaul
Reed has a very high motor and is a versatile two way player. This 6’9 forward from DePaul has made a big jump in each of his three years at the school. Last season he averaged a double double scoring just over 15 points per game and just over 10 boards on 51.6 percent shooting from the floor. Paul Reed’s defensive impact is something to stop and look at. 2.6 blocked shots and 1.9 steals per game does not happen without aggressive, high IQ defense. His jump out of the gym athleticism and 7’2 wingspan have helped Reed be a top shot blocker in the nation. Offensively, he is able to handle the basketball fairly well while also playing the slashing role or posting up. He has a fluid jumpshot that he is able to step back beyond the arc and make. He is effective moving without the basketball but is capable of creating his own offense. One thing this young man needs to work on his ball control in transition offense. He cannot allow his strength, which is turning tenacious defense into offense, hurt him because he is out of control in transition on the other end. Another thing, while having a fluid looking jumper, it does not look that way every time and needs to be much more consistent. His shot selection also needs to improve. Most of these things will come with time and practice but the draft is right around the corner. Perhaps having three years in college under his belt will pay off dividends for him as a NBA rookie.
9. Mamadi Diakite, Virginia
The senior for Virginia has shown improvement in each of his years in college. Strong ball handling skills for his size and big time athleticism. In his senior campaign, the 6’9 Diakite averaged 13.7 points per game, and just under 7 rebounds on 48 percent shooting from the field. He can take defenders off the dribble and convert on wild finishes attacking the rim. He is able and fearless when it comes to stepping outside and hitting spot up, catch and shoot 3’s. Tremendous post presence with a quick first step. Dangerous in the high and low post with a number of moves. A beast at catching lobs especially in transition off a turnover. Strong rebounding ability and willing to fight to secure a possession for his team. Aggressive shot blocker. Shot selection, especially from beyond the arc needs to be reeled in a bit. Consistency in shooting stroke from deep needs more consistency. He needs to become more of a playmaker and think about passing to cutting teammates more. Diakite needs to work on his defensive footwork, particularly when switching on to and guarding smaller perimeter players.
10. Marko Simonovic, Serbia
Simonovic hopes to follow the foot steps of Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac and Goga Bitadze as the next big from Mega that gets drafted and plays in the NBA, after a good season in Aba Liga. If there is one word that can describe Simonovic, it would be “productive”. He is a mobile big with ability to play either frontcourt position, with potential to be a threat in Pick and Roll and Pick and Pop situations thanks to his touch around the basket. He is an average athlete, who lacks elite jumping ability, but he is pretty quick for his size. He has good basketball I.Q and is a great rebounder, but he has problems against physicality. -Stefanos Markris