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McDonalds High School All-American guard Collin Sexton (10) dunks during the McDonald’s High School All-American Powerade Jamfest at the Keating Sports Center at Illinois Institute of Technology. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
College Basketball

The top 12 NCAA basketball players the NBA has its eye on in the 2018 draft

Injury sidelines Missouri’s Michael Porter, but there is still plenty of talent for the 2017-18 college basketball season

The 2017 NBA draft class will likely go down as one of the deepest classes we have ever seen. But with all due respect to Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum, the 2018 NBA draft class should have greater star power despite the injury to Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter.

“Any one of them in the top four next year would have gone first in this year’s draft,” one longtime NBA scout told The Undefeated. “That’s not a knock on this year’s draft, nor is it saying it wasn’t good. It had a lot of depth in it, more than next year will. There is no one in this year’s draft that could be a franchise player, but there is a couple in next year’s draft.”

Check out our list of the top 12 NCAA basketball players to watch in next year’s draft. We recently talked to several NBA executives and scouts to come up with the list. As usual, true freshmen are expected to dominate the lottery of the first round.

Michael Porter, Freshman, Missouri, SF-PF, 6-10, 215 pounds

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Porter will have back surgery and likely will miss the rest of the season, Missouri announced on Nov. 21. Recovery time is estimated at three to four months.

NBA scout’s comment: “High skill level as a passer and a shooter for a guy his size. Superb ball handler in the open floor. Possesses an above-average basketball IQ. The game comes easy to him, which allows him to make it easy for others.”

Marvin Bagley, Freshman, Duke, PF, 6-11, 225 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Bagley is a versatile big man who impacts the game on both ends of the floor. He’s mobile, a gifted scorer and just scratching the surface with his skill set right now.”

Mohamed Bamba, Freshman, Texas, C, 7-0, 215 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “In the last 15 months, he has made great strides in his offense. He has gone from a player that was a long, athletic rim protector to one with offensive skills, including a jump shot.”

DeAndre Ayton, Freshman, Arizona, C, 7-0, 260 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “He’s got great physical dimensions, and hand skills and athleticism to go with it. He could end up being the top player in this draft early on because his body is NBA-ready.

Jaren Jackson Jr., Freshman, Michigan STATE, PF-C, 6-11, 240 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “The son of an ex-NBA player is a raw prospect with a lot to be intrigued about. He has great positional size and length and is going to block a ton of shots this season. Not the best athlete, but his length makes up for it.”

Miles Bridges, Sophomore, Michigan StAte, SF-PF, 6-7, 230 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Bridges is a high flier with an NBA motor and athleticism. He has an improved jump shot that still lacks consistency. He also needs to lock in nutritionally to keep his weight down.”

Robert Williams, Sophomore, Texas A&M, PF, 6-9, 240 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Long, athletic and runs the floor well. Will be able to defend every frontcourt position. Quick off of his feet. Great finisher around the rim. Good hands. Will catch lobs. Solid 15-foot jumper.”

Collin Sexton, Freshman, Alabama, PG, 6-2, 185 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Arguably the most confident player in this year’s draft. Very fast with a great motor, although he has to continue to learn how to harness that and play under control.”

Lonnie Walker, Freshman, Miami, SG, 6-4, 200 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Very disruptive on the defensive end when he is engaged. A bit raw on the offensive end, but he has the potential to be a decent scorer around the rim.”

Kevin Knox, Freshman, Kentucky, SF-PF, 6-8, 210 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Knox is a big-time athlete who attacks the rim and is good in transition. He is a solid offensive player similar to Kelly Oubre. Good build. Can make plays. Handle is good.”

Wendell Carter JR., Freshman, Duke, PF-C, 6-10, 260 pounds

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NBA scout’s comment: “Very talented and well-rounded, but a bit undersized at the center position from an NBA standpoint. Could transition to power forward in the NBA with continued development.”

Trevon Duval, Freshman, Duke, PG, 6-2, 190 pounds

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

NBA scout’s comment: “Tough, quick and fast with the ball. Attacks the basket and finishes well. Shot is good, and it sets up his drives, but it can be better.”

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.