Connor Cagley, Big Sports Radio Basketball Writer
October 3, 2022
It's time to take a look at my national rankings for incoming freshmen. The only "negative" about these rankings for Big Ten fans is there are only 2 of the top 25 players attending Big Ten schools.
Jaden Bradley is the best floor general in the entire class. With the amount of talent he’ll have at his disposal at Alabama, he should continue to flourish in that role. It will be more difficult to score at the rim given his stature, but his strength at scoring from the mid-range and from deep will mean he’ll still likely average in the double digits as a freshman.
For Bradley to live up to his ranking he’ll need to prove it on the defensive end. This will likely determine whether he’s a one and done or if he’ll be returning as a sophomore.
Chris Livingston will likely start for the Wildcats at the small forward position. His role at Kentucky will revolve around his ability to score and – more specifically – his ability to space the floor from the three. With national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe manning the center, it’s important to get as much shooting around him as possible. Livingston has shown a willingness in the past to take as many three pointers as possible, so he fits the bill.
He has the size and athleticism to be a force on defense, but this is an area that he has not yet lived up to his potential. With Calipari’s emphasis on the defensive end of the court, he’s going to have to shore up this aspect of his game to get the minutes he’s looking for. His ability to shoot from deep is an asset, but he’ll have to feel out which shots he will be “allowed” to take within the scheme of Calipari’s offense.
Cason Wallace is one of the premier defensive prospects of all the guards in this class. He can play point guard if necessary, however he’ll likely begin the season at shooting guard. This will take pressure off of him as he gets used to the college game. On offense, he’s shown the ability to score from all three levels, though his three point shot has been an area where he’s been less consistent.
If Wallace proves to be more consistent than in the past, this ranking will likely be too low for him. The area where he’s most comfortable is transition where he can act as a secondary ball handler. It will be interesting to see how often he’s used as a back-up point guard given that Sahvir Wheeler is the only true point guard Kentucky has on their roster.
Kel’el Ware is one of the best rim protectors in the class. While his 7’0” height is impressive, it’s his wingspan that allows him to patrol the paint as effectively as he does. Offensively, he can finish as a lob threat and as a true back to basket post player. He’s also shown the ability to space the floor with his jumper. This will allow him to play alongside the other two big men on the roster, Nathan Bittle and N’Faly Dante, who operate best as post players around the basket.
It’s almost a given he’ll be a one and done. He could boost his stock the most by showing a high motor and running the floor whenever he has the opportunity. This has been an area where he’s shown growth, but it’s still his biggest weakness.
After producing a top three pick in Jabari Smith, Auburn was once again able to add one of the best post players in the class. Yohan Traore will be plugged in at either post position, depending on other personnel. It would not be surprising for him to get the majority of the minutes as a small ball center as Auburn typically likes to push the pace. This will suit Traore well as he’ll be able to take advantage of his quickness relative to most centers and his size compared to most power forwards if other teams go that route to try to guard him.
Although he’s 6’10”, he’s one of the better bigs in transition and on the glass. His game will be tested on the defensive end as he’ll likely need to stay out of foul trouble to keep Auburn competitive.