Hey, the draft is already only about 11 months away! Why not take the time to get prepared now with a little primer on who looks like lottery level talents at this stage? While basketball players are no longer locked into one position, we can generally break them down into three categories: Bigs, wings, and guards. As such, we decided to look at the three-best players that fit each of those bills at this early juncture of draft scouting.
James Wiseman, Memphis, Freshman
The consensus top recruit in the class of 2019 by most outlets, Wiseman absolutely jumps off the page. Standing a good 7’1 and 230 pounds with an alleged 7’6 wingspan, Wiseman has the size and tools of a dominant center. Where things get tricky is on tape. He’s a good shot blocker overall, but really lacks the elite movement skills you’ll find in a player like Jaren Jackson or even Jaxson Hayes. It just takes him a long, long time to get off the floor. He does have pretty good footwork, but it’s hard to see plays like this…
…and imagine him having any switchability in the NBA. Wiseman’s shooting is similarly concerning, as he has good touch, but loads his jumper up like a trebuchet.
This isn’t meant to disparage him as a prospect, since there’s still a lot to like about Wiseman’s size, length, touch, and general productivity, and he should have a very good season at Memphis, where he is Penny Hardaway’s prize recruit. Still, he is hardly a lock to go No. 1 once the 2020 draft rolls around.
Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia, Freshman
A very different kind of big man, Oscar Tshiebwe is more compact and ferocious than Wiseman, and arguably a more effective player right now. He’s older and less impressive traditionally, so he almost certainly won’t be picked as highly, but Tshiebwe’s motor, length, and physical dominance will at least set him up for a terrific season under Bob Huggins.
Measuring at 6’8.5, 250 with a 7’5 wingpsan, he’s basically built for Big 12 warfare, and will probably immediately be the most dominant physical prescence in the conference, with apologies to Kansas bigman Udoka Azubuike. Ceiling is really the question for Big Oscar, because he’s as ready as any of these guys to play professionally right now.
Amar Sylla, Real Madrid
The trendy pick for the best actual best big man prospect in 2020 is Sylla, a 17-year-old out of Senegal who plays for Eurloeague powerhouse Real Madrid, having just anchored their Adidas Next Generation Tournament (ANGT) winning squad. He’s much smaller than most of these other bigs (listed at only 6’9, 190), but has incredible length and a good frame for adding weight and muscle. He’s also, and I’m not exaggerating here, roughly 400x faster and more fluid than even Tshiebwe. He’s just an absolute blur out there, hedging and switching and running people down in the open court.