SLAM’s 2016-17 NCAA Men’s Players to Watch

The 2016-17 college basketball season kicks off tomorrow night with a full slate of games capped by a star-studded double header in Hawaii that pits Arizona vs. Michigan State and Indiana vs. Kansas. This year’s freshman class is widely-considered one of the best of the one-and-done era and features plenty of ballers that will be household names by the 2017 NBA Draft. While the youngn’s will garner plenty of hype, there are still quite a few sophomores and upperclassmen who are poised for a big season.

Get familiar with the next wave of college stars before they’re all over your TV this season.

Jarrett Allen, Fr., F/C, Texas

A highly-touted recruit, Allen will try to follow in the footsteps of LaMarcus Aldridge, Myles Turner and Tristan Thompson as big men who spent time in Austin before becoming a top Draft pick.

Lonzo Ball, Fr., G, UCLA

One of three Ball brothers committed to UCLA, you’ll see very soon why Lonzo is as fun a player as there is in the college game.

Dwayne Bacon, So., G, and Jonathan Isaac, Fr., F, Florida St.

A talented scorer, Bacon averaged just under 16 ppg during his freshman season and hopes a big sophomore campaign will result in a first-round selection in next year’s Draft. Isaac is a 6-11 small forward who is oozing with potential and will likely be a Lottery pick in ’17.

VJ Beachem, Sr., F, Notre Dame

Beachem blew up in the ’16 NCAA Tournament, averaging 17.5 points and 4.0 boards and became a social media sensation when he banged on Carolina’s Nate Britt in the Elite Eight.

Jaron Blossomgame, Sr., F, Clemson

Blossomgame averaged 18.7 points and 6.7 boards per game last season and flirted with entering the Draft. With another strong season, he could be a top-20 pick in 2017.

Thomas Bryant, So., F, Indiana

This big man likely would have been a first-round pick in the ’16 Draft. In Bryant and OG Anunoby, the Hoosiers have two of the best forwards in the country.

Markelle Fultz, Fr., G, Washington

A potential top-3 pick in the 2017 Draft, Fultz went from not even playing varsity as a sophomore to one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.

Marcus LoVett, RS Fr., G and Shamorie Ponds, Fr., G, St. John’s

Save for a W over Syracuse, Head Coach Chris Mullin’s first year in Queens was a disaster. The Red Storm will be better in ’16-17 and a lot of that has to do with the talented, fun guard combo of Chicago’s LoVett and BK’s Ponds.

Charlie Moore, Fr., G, and Ivan Rabb, So., F California

The top prep player from Chicago, Moore decommitted from Memphis and decided to head west this past May. Rabb came in to Cal with a ton of hype and is looking to play with more consistency in his second year with the Bears.

Dennis Smith Fr., G NC State

An absolute freak athlete and a highlight waiting to happen, Smith will make an otherwise uninteresting Wolfpack team worth watching before he goes to the L.


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Photo by Atiba Jefferson / @atibaphoto