Around my house, it doesn’t really feel like fantasy college basketball season until I hold my first mock draft. Last week, we accomplished just that when seven stalwart people joined up and made a go at the top 70 players in Tier 1 (i.e. the power conferences). We were playing under the auspices of the Big Chief league rules in which each team must start two guards, two forwards, a center, and a utility player. One of the starters has to be a freshman (designated with an *). Other than that, there were no rules, which is as it should be in a mock draft. The names of the mock participants have been withheld (although one RotoWire college basketball editor was present). I had the last pick of the first round and we snaked.
1. Ben Simmons*, LSU, F
2. Kris Dunn, Providence, G
3. Georges Niang, Iowa State, F
4. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, G
5. Melo Trimble, Maryland, G
6. Jaylen Brown*, California, F
7. Josh Hawkinson, Washington State, F
I’d be shocked if there were a draft in which Simmons is not the first pick. Seemingly everyone is aboard the hype train for the top-rated recruit and he may well stand up to it. Simmons can score, pass, and board. If a person were a bit worried about the unknowns of freshmen production, then Dunn would be an excellent pick. He looks like he may have to do it all of the Friars, which is great for his fantasy season. A couple of solid options from the Big 12 came off the board next. I’d like my first round picks to be a bit more well rounded than Hield, but he should be a big scorer for the Sooners. Tremble offers similar scoring with more assists than Hield. I was wondering who the second freshman off the board would be and it was the high-flying Brown from the Golden Bears. California is going to be a really interesting team with three established players and two top freshmen. Can they share the ball? I finished the round with Hawkinson, the proverbial double-double machine.
1. Josh Scott, Colorado, F-C
2. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana, G
3. Cheick Diallo*, Kansas, F
4. Diamond Stone*, Maryland, C
5. Brandon Ingram*, Duke, G-F
6. Tyrone Wallace, California, G
7. Skal Labissiere*, Kentucky, F-C
First round strategy is easy: you take the best player available. Some thinking is required in the second round. Do you want to balance out your first pick or add to your team’s strength? I chose the latter by taking the best center available in Scott. His 14 points and eight rebounds might not knock your socks off, but the center position is always the hardest to fill. The team after me decided to take the top point guard on the board, then the freshmen started to be grabbed. Our resident Jayhawk fan was not worried about Diallo’s unknown playing status and grabbed the Jayhawk big man. Getting a freshman center who plays is a huge bonus in these leagues. The Terps have a lot of offensive options, but Stone should get playing time and boards at least. Ingram looks like another in a line of one-and-done Blue Devils. Wallace broke the freshman run. The Golden Bears have a more complete team, so he is unlikely to grab seven boards a game again, but he should continue to be productive. Labissiere falls into the same basket as Diallo with his eligibility in question. He is thinner than past Wildcat centers, but should be productive when (likely not if) he is deemed worthy to put on a uniform.
1. Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, G
2. Ivan Rabb*, California, F
3. Damion Lee, Louisville, G
4. Ricardo Gathers, Baylor, F
5. Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina, F-C
6. Damian Jones, Vanderbilt, C
7. Henry Ellenson*, Marquette, F
The third round started with one of my favorite players. Any player who makes a statistical leap while being one of my late-round picks becomes of one of my favorites. Valentine may be even better as a senior. Rabb is my third favorite freshman coming into the season. Simmons is one and I took my second favorite later in the round. The first transfer was selected with the high-scoring Lee who should solve the Cardinals’ offensive woes nearly singlehandedly. Gathers is a massive board man. A couple of centers came off the board with the solid Meeks and Jones. I think Ellenson is going to have a big year for the Golden Eagles, who were offensively challenge like Louisville last season. The 6-10 forward has nice ball handling skills and should be a good rebounder. With three frontcourt players on my roster, I am going to have to concentrate on guards soon.
1. Gary Payton, Oregon State, G
2. Perry Ellis, Kansas, F
3. Monte Morris, Iowa State, G
4. Shavon Shields, Nebraska, G-F
5. A.J. Hammons, Purdue, C
6. Cinmeon Bowers, Auburn, F
7. Daniel Ochefu, Villanova, F-C
I couldn’t be more pleased to find Junior Glove on the board. He was second in the nation in steals last season and adds plenty of assists and boards from the guard slot. My team is going to be tough to beat on the glass. There were no freshmen selected in the fourth round. Every team had already taken one first-year player. Perry Ellis continues to be college basketball’s answer to Carlos Boozer. Coach Steve Prohm handled some excellent point guards at Murray State, and should enjoy the speedy Morris. We stay in the heartland for Shields and Hammons. The worry with Hammons is that he has Isaac Haas and freshman Caleb Swanigan to deal with. Bowers is among the SEC’s best rebounders. Despite coming from guard-laden Villanova, Ochefu is the first Wildcat to come off the board (and just the third player from the Big East).
1. Marcus Paige, North Carolina, G
2. Tonye Jekiri, Miami, F-C
3. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin, F
4. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown, G
5. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest, F
6. Codi Miller-McIntyre, Wake Forest, G
7. Bryce Alford, UCLA, G
I like Paige a lot, but I am a little worried that his sophomore season may have been his best. His scoring fell off last year despite improving from three-point land. He is a solid guard to land at this point, but we draft for upside and I am not sure he has much. Jekiri is a nice rebounder to put at the C-position. Hayes was a great pick at this point. He could be the Badgers’ next superstar and will have plenty of shot opportunities. The same questions I asked about Paige could be referred to Smith-Rivera, whose scoring fell off last year. He could facilitate more as a senior. Miller-McIntyre is a really sweet all-around player. I continued to load up on guards by taking the coach’s son at UCLA. He provided 15 points and five assists last year. With a couple of Pac-12 players in the backcourt, my assortment of guards isn’t looking too shabby.
1. Isaiah Taylor, Texas, G
2. Caris LeVert, Michigan, G
3. Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Florida State, G
4. Troy Williams, Indiana, F
5. Michael Gbinije, Syracuse, G-F
6. Roosevelt Jones, Butler, F
7. Alex Caruso, Texas A&M, G
Drafting guards is fun! I think Taylor will enjoy playing whatever they end up calling HAVOC in Texas. He should control the ball on offense and put up plenty of points and assists. LeVert leads the redshirt squad. If he is past his foot issues, he could be a major bargain here in the sixth round. The X-man (sorry, Xavier McDaniel) from Florida State put up similar numbers to LeVert and should be ready for a solid sophomore campaign. Heading into the frontcourt, Williams is a solid, somewhat unexceptional player. People get seduced by upside, but Williams should help his team on the boards. Jones is one of my favorite players because he is a passing forward. He won’t hit many long range shots, but Butler has other players (Kellen Dunham) to do that. I am a little worried about Caruso since Texas A&M brought in the non-shooting Anthony Collins, who should get minutes at point guard.
1.Angel Delgado, Seton Hall, F
2. Jamal Murray*, Kentucky, G
3. Stefan Moody, Mississippi, G
4. Alex Olah, Northwestern, C
5. Malik Newman*, Mississippi State, G
6. Jakob Poeltl, Utah, F
7. Ryan Anderson, Arizona, F
Round seven is about patching holes. The starting lineup should mostly be set, but it is time to shore up statistical categories or positions. Delgado had a very impressive freshman season for the Pirates. He even managed to stay out of foul trouble despite battling in the paint. Both freshmen taken in Round 7 have the potential to score a lot. Murray should lead the Wildcats in scoring and add a few dimes. Newman is the hope for the Bulldog future and should form an excellent backcourt with Craig Sword. Moody is a fine scorer across the state from Newman, but the rest of his stats are somewhat low. I was all set to take Poeltl from Utah, but he got snagged right in front of me. I made amends with Anderson, the transfer from BC who should do well in his move west.
1. Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall, G
2. Gavin Ware, Mississippi State, F-C
3. Tony Parker, UCLA, F-C
4. Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma, G
5. Alonzo Trier*, Arizona, G
6. Devin Williams, West Virginia, F
7. Jalen Brunson*, Villanova, G
I took another Pirate to open round eight. Whitehead looked like he might be a candidate for Big East Player of the Year before he hurt his foot in December. He could be in for a big year for the resurgent Hall. In this league, Ware and Parker are nice backup centers. In the actual leagues (which run 16 and 20 teams deep), they will be starters. Trier and Brunson are nice freshmen guards that will need to earn their minutes. Trier doesn’t have much competition, but Brunson will have to force his way into minutes in the always guard-laden Villanova squad. Williams brings plus rebounding from a forward slot with average scoring.
1. Luke Fischer, Marquette, C
2. Caleb Swanigan*, Purdue, F
3. Zach Auguste, Notre Dame, F
4. Jameel McKay, Iowa State, F
5. Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame, G
6. Anthony Barber, North Carolina State, G
7. Chase Jeter*, Duke, F-C
If I were ever to be critical, I can bring out the swords in round nine. It may be that Ellenson allows Fischer to concentrate on boarding and blocking. Fischer opened his Marquette career with two great games then faded into the woodwork. I am not sure how much playing time Swanigan will get with A.J. Hammons still on the team. Auguste and McKay are decent picks, but not very sexy. I like sexy. Even at my crankiest, I have to admit that I like the Jackson and Barber picks. Jackson could inherit a great deal of offensive responsibility from Jerian Grant, while Barber has always had potential to do great things. He will also get more offensive reps with Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner gone. Jeter will play in the shadow of Jahlil Okafor, but my expectations for him are limited. It is nice that he hits the freshman and center spots, but he might be a 10-point, five-board guy.
1. Jalen Reynolds, Xavier, F
2. Marcus Georges-Hunt, Georgia Tech, G-F
3. Zak Irvin, Michigan, G-F
4. Sheldon McClellan, Miami, G
5. Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa, F
6. Danuel House, Texas A&M, G
7. Michael Young, Pittsburgh, F
I like to take a flyer in the last round. Reynolds is my Big East sleeper and he could be in for a big bump production with Matt Stainbrook off the team. He also needs to control his fouling. It remains to be seen whether Irvin can produce meaningful numbers with LeVert. The combo did pretty well in the non-conference, but Irvin fell off in conference play. Uthoff could get a nice bump with Aaron White gone. If House could get healthy, he could lead a very interesting Texas A&M. The Aggies also have Jalen Jones, who I liked a little more than House. Pitt brought in some size with transfers Rafael Maia and Alzona Nelson-Ododa to take some pressure off Young, who could prosper against similarly sized players. Nice pick for the last one!