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The Undefeated’s top 10 college basketball players for the 2016-17 season

Everything you need to know on the top players — with the help of NBA scouts

Excitement for the deep 2017 NBA draft will start beginning to boil with the arrival of NCAA college basketball this week.

The 2017 NBA draft is expected to be front-loaded with freshman talent, per usual. But there is a far from normal depth in talent that will make first- to middle-round draft picks more valuable than normal. Led by University of Kansas freshman small forward Josh Jackson with University of Washington freshman point guard Markelle Fultz on his heels, check out The Undefeated’s top 10 NBA college prospects of the 2016-17 season determined with a little help from a few anonymous NBA personnel.


“The 2017 NBA draft class is deeper than last year’s draft, especially at the point guard position, which is pretty loaded,” one NBA scout said. “It’s going to be the type of draft that even if you draft in late teens or early 20s, you’ll get the typical lottery talent. The depth of this draft will push some talent outside the lottery.

“There is a lot of talent in this draft. This draft should be as good as it’s been in a while, but this time of the year, you are little more excited.”

1. Josh Jackson, Freshman, SF, Kansas, 6-foot-8, 203 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “He’s tough with a winning spirit. His skill is developing, but he has a feel for how to play. His shot is getting better. He’s got the DNA to build around.”

Kansas guard Josh Jackson during the first half of an exhibition NCAA college basketball game against Washburn in Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

2. Markelle Fultz, Freshman, PG, Washington, 6-foot-4, 195 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “Can play both guard positions and has great size for a point guard. He has the ability to shoot, get to the basket. Athletic. Great feel for the game.”

30 March 2016: McDonald's All American Boys East Team guard Markelle Fultz (20) during the McDonald's All-American Boy's Basketball Game at the United Center in Chicago, IL.

30 March 2016: McDonald’s All American Boys East Team guard Markelle Fultz (20) during the McDonald’s All-American Boy’s Basketball Game at the United Center in Chicago, IL.

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

3. Dennis Smith, Freshman, PG, North Carolina State, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “He’s athletically explosive and can get anywhere he wants to on the court. Great handle. Gets his own shot. Appears to have recovered from knee injury.”

Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack puts up a shot against Chances Matlock #20 of the Lynn Fighting Knights at PNC Arena on November 3, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack puts up a shot against Chances Matlock #20 of the Lynn Fighting Knights at PNC Arena on November 3, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lance King/Getty Images

4. Harry Giles, Freshman, PF, Duke, 6-foot-11, 222 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “This kid has top 5 talent, but his knee health will determine if he stays there. If he is healthy, he is in the conversation for the top pick overall in the draft.”

Harry Giles #1 from Team CP3 and Wesleyan Christian Academy during Session Four of the Nike EYBL on May 23, 2015 at Maple Grove Community Gym in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Harry Giles #1 from Team CP3 and Wesleyan Christian Academy during Session Four of the Nike EYBL on May 23, 2015 at Maple Grove Community Gym in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

5. Jayson Tatum, Freshman, SF, Duke, 6-foot-8, 204 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “He has great size at his position. He has a smoothness to his game and can produce offensively. Decent athleticism. A Paul Pierce-type of guy.”

East team's Jayson Tatum, right, shoots against the West team during a high school basketball game in the Jordan Brand Classic in New York.

East team’s Jayson Tatum, right, shoots against the West team during a high school basketball game in the Jordan Brand Classic in New York.

AP Photo/Gregory Payan

6. Bam Adebayo, Freshman, C, Kentucky, 6-foot-10, 250 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “He is going to be more ready physically than anything else. He has a very athletic and strong body. He is developing offensively. A very imposing athlete.”

Kentucky's Edrice "Bam" Adebayo (3) dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition against Clarion, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky’s Edrice “Bam” Adebayo (3) dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition against Clarion, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Lexington, Ky.

AP Photo/James Crisp

7. Jonathan Isaac, Freshman, SF, Florida State, 6-foot-11, 205 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “He’s a stretch power forward. He’s also very athletic. He’s a great kid who could stay in school. He may need to be pushed to go to NBA if he does well.”

The East team's Jonathan Isaac #1 in action against the West team during a high school basketball game in the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday, April 15, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY.

The East team’s Jonathan Isaac #1 in action against the West team during a high school basketball game in the Jordan Brand Classic on Friday, April 15, 2016 in Brooklyn, NY.

AP Photo/Gregory Payan

8. Ivan Rabb, Sophomore, PF, California, 6-foot-10, 215 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “A fundamentally great player. He doesn’t beat you with his athleticism. He beats you with his head and hands. Has worked really hard to improve his jump shot.”

California Golden Bears forward Ivan Rabb (1) dunks the basketball against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half of the Pac-12 Conference tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

California Golden Bears forward Ivan Rabb (1) dunks the basketball against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half of the Pac-12 Conference tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

9. Lonzo Ball, Freshman, PG, UCLA, 6-foot-6, 190 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “Excellent size for point guard. Very good passer who has a good feel for distributing the basketball. Needs to dramatically improve his perimeter shooting.”

UCLA guard Lonzo Ball (2) shoots a free throw during an exhibition NCAA basketball game between the Master's University and the UCLA Bruins on November 1, 2016, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA.

UCLA guard Lonzo Ball (2) shoots a free throw during an exhibition NCAA basketball game between the Master’s University and the UCLA Bruins on November 1, 2016, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, CA.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

10. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Freshman. Kentucky, 6-foot-4, 171 pounds

NBA scout’s comment: “A jet with the ball. Helps his teammates by breaking down the defense on the dribble. He and Malik Monk might be best freshman backcourt of all time.”

Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox goes up for a dunk during the second half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition game against Asbury, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox goes up for a dunk during the second half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition game against Asbury, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Lexington, Ky.

AP Photo/James Crisp

 

Honorable mentions: Jarrett Allen, C, freshman, Texas; Lauri Markkanen, F, freshman, Arizona; Malik Monk, G, freshman, Kentucky; Edmond Sumner, PG, sophomore, Xavier.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for The Undefeated. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.