In Thursday’s Rivals Views, we assessed the 2018 NBA Draft and who might go on to be selected first overall next June. In this week’s Conference Rundown, we dive deep into next year’s draft and pinpoint the top NBA prospect from each league. Some are returning stars while others are a member of the 2017 high school graduating class. Here are the players that will be in the news come lottery time one year from now.
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ACC - TREVON DUVAL
One of the last prospects to come off of the board this spring, Duval finally selected Duke as his likely one year stop before the NBA. This year’s draft is chock full of top flight lead guard talent; next year, not so much. Thus, it adds even more value to Duval, the top point guard prospect in the 2017 class, as he will likely battle Alabama’s Collin Sexton as the first primary guard option to be selected next June. Reminding many of a younger Derrick Rose, Duval does have to understand what a good shot is and what a bad shot is, along with cutting down his turnover count. Seeing that he is headed to Durham and will suit up for a program that will place polished scorers around him, the electrifying athlete should enhance his stock greatly and could potentially work his way into the top-five of the 2018 NBA Draft.
BIG EAST - MIKAL BRIDGES
The top NBA prospect from the Big East can be found on the Mainline, that being Villanova’s Bridges. Making the case for someone that failed to average double figures in points is difficult, but the potential out of the eastern Pennsylvania native is outstanding. The 3-and-D prospect has become as valuable as ever in recent years and thanks to a late growth spurt, an improved jumper (Bridges made close to 40-percent of his threes last season), and a 7-foot plus wingspan, the Villanova junior has all of the tools to guard three positions in the NBA and also cause for headaches as an outside marksman.
BIG TEN - JAREN JACKSON
Currently, Bridges is the thought to be top NBA prospect in the Big Ten. However, it says here that he is not even the best on his own team. The Michigan State star made waves last month by returning to East Lansing for his sophomore year and while Bridges’ physical tangibles are off the charts and one has to be impressed with his shooting numbers last year, Jackson has even more of argument to be selected ahead of the Flint native. Recently measuring in at 6-foot-10 and with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Jackson has hit close to 44-percent of his three-point tries during his senior summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. Jackson, who doesn’t turn 18 until September, might not be as productive as Bridges next season, but he could easily see his stock soar from April to June during workouts and measurement testings, making him a potential top-five NBA Draft selection 12 months from now.
BIG 12 - MOHAMED BAMBA
Texas landed Bamba on Thursday, but a year from now, the 7-foot center will be preparing for the NBA Draft. I made the argument in yesterday’s Rivals Views for Bamba’s candidacy as the top draft prospect in 2018. He boasts a 7-foot-9 wingspan, unbelievable agility for a guy his size, and an improving offensive skillset around the basket. While he does leave you wanting more as an offensive threat, Bamba can turn into the next Rudy Gobert on the defensive end. A highly intellectual young man that will wow NBA personnel in pre-draft interviews and with his physical measurements, there is practically no ceiling with Bamba.
PAC-12 - DEANDRE AYTON
Ayton has a good chance to be the No. 1 pick next June. A behemoth of a big man that calls the Bahamas his home, Ayton has ideal measurables, checking in last year at the Nike Hoop Summit at just under 7-feet and a 7-foot-5 ½ wingspan. He is more than happy to score the ball out to 22-feet, and that will have NBA personnel salivating over him. He does need to compete on a consistent basis, something that Arizona head coach Sean Miller has done a phenomenal job at getting his stars to do.
SEC - MICHAEL PORTER
Michael Porter, Rivals’ No. 1 prospect in the 2017 class, is in the early running to be selected first overall next June, ahead of anyone on next year’s Kentucky regardless, regardless of Hammadou Diallo’s potential return to Kentucky. The 6-foot-9 small forward is a bouncy bodied wing with a super developed skillset as he can score the ball from all three levels on the floor, is a monster on the offensive glass, and has the physical tangibles to be a versatile wing-forward defender. While he will be tasked with restarting the Missouri basketball program, Porter had a phenomenal senior season, taking his game to the next level and cementing his standing as one of the most polished high school prospects in recent years.