Column: Which freshmen have helped and hurt their draft stock as the season winds down

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Georgia's Anthony Edwards is defended by South Carolina's AJ Lawson during a game Wednesday in Athens, Ga.  Photo courtesy of Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP

Georgia’s Anthony Edwards is defended by South Carolina’s AJ Lawson during a game Wednesday in Athens, Ga. Photo courtesy of Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP

We’re still months away from the NBA draft, but a mere few weeks from the end of the college basketball regular season. Similar to preseason rankings, draft “experts” compile mock drafts as early as they can, seldom being more than slightly accurate. It’s awfully difficult to project draft picks before any of these products have played a college game. We knew that James Wisemen and Anthony Edwards were good in high school, but have they helped or hurt their draft prospects during their (likely) only year in college? This season has been a whirlwind and players everywhere have come into and fallen out of the draft scene.  

Anthony Edwards, Stock: Up 

Entering this year, everyone was raving about the NBA ceiling of Edwards. He’s done nothing to dispel those projections, showing spurts of greatness, highlighted by 33 second half points in Maui against Michigan State. He has also been extremely inconsistent, disappearing at times when a weak Georgia team needs him. You can judge him on certain games when he’s struggled to shoot the ball, but his willingness to attack downhill cannot be questioned. He passes the eye test with flying colors. He has a jump shot as pure as any (earning Carmelo Anthony comparisons) and off the chart athleticism. His season has been very up and down but the “ups” have been more than convincing enough for me to believe he’s a lock to be the number one overall pick. 

Cole Anthony, Stock: Down 

Anthony spent the middle portion of this season injured, which is obviously no fault of his own, but he hasn’t been able to carry North Carolina when he is healthy. Granted, this Carolina team is unusually bereft of talent. With a healthy Cole Anthony they are 6-9, which is bad for any ACC team, let alone a blue blood ranked as a consensus preseason top ten. Anthony is averaging 19.5 points, showing that he isn’t a total bust; what is concerning though shooting 35.9% from the floor, including 27.1% from 3. He was nearly a unanimous top 5 pick before the year began. Now I’d be surprised if he remained in the top 10, despite it being a top heavy draft field. I predict Anthony will go somewhere in the late lottery.  

James Wiseman, Stock: ? 

Wiseman is an extremely interesting case. He is pretty much still an unknown as he only played three games before being deemed ineligible by the NCAA. Two of those games were against UIC and South Carolina St., so it’s difficult to scout from that. It’s not as if he disappointed in his short lived college career, averaging 19.7, 10.7 with an unreal 76.9% from the field, but it is such a small sample size. Besides consistent three point shooting, Wiseman has everything you could ask for in an NBA big man; it’s just hard to maintain such a high stock without really playing. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he goes anywhere in the top five and I don’t think anybody would scoff if some team takes a chance on him at one.  

Vernon Carey, Stock: Up 

Carey is thought of as almost a poor man’s Zion Williamson. Slightly taller, same weight both lefties with questions surrounding their shot. Carey isn’t the athlete Zion is, but if you look at their numbers at Duke, you certainly see why they draw comparisons. Besides Zion averaging four more points (22.4), the rest of their stats are nearly identical. Shooting extremely well from the two, nine rebounds and two blocks per game. In fact, Carey is shooting a far better 42.9% from the three (on 14 attempts, so take it with a grain of salt). I am not at all saying he will be as surefire or as good as a prospect as Zion. Nobody is, or will be for the foreseeable future. What Carey is though is a more than ready NBA body, with a good touch around the rim and a jumper capable of being developed. I see him anywhere between 15-30 in most mock drafts, but he is easily a top 10 talent.  

Isaiah Stewart, Stock: Down 

Isaiah Stewart was the ESPN 100 number three recruit headed into his freshman year at Washington. The 6’9” center is slightly undersized for his position, so his ability to stretch the floor and pass was vital to his NBA draft stock. 0.7 assists and 25% from deep isn’t convincing many NBA scouts. Stewart and the Huskies started the season on a tear, but that all changed halfway through the season when point guard Quade Green was ruled ineligible by guess who… the corrupt NCAA. Since that point Washington is 1-10 and Stewart has struggled as the team’s focal point. His percentage from the field hasn’t been terrible, but he has shown an inability to create without Green in the lineup. Stewart would be an easy top 10 pick 15 years ago. But this is a new NBA and Stewart has not shown he fits the mold yet. YET. He still has potential to be a starter one day in a small ball NBA starting lineup. The Rochester native is far from a sure thing though and I don’t see a team spending higher than a late first round pick on him.  


Tamir March is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tamir.march@uconn.edu.

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