Most Talented NCAA Players Right Now
As the ongoing March Madness can testify, the NCAA is packed full of talent basketball players, some of whom are destined for the NBA.
So, who are the most talented players in the NCAA right now? Here, we pick out six shining stars.
Jabari Smith Jr (Auburn Tigers)
There are three players in the NCAA this season who are standout talents, each of them seemingly destined for the NBA, each of them freshmen. The first of those three is Smith Jr, the 18-year-old Auburn Tigers forward who is one of the finest shooters college basketball has seen in recent years.
Smith was a leading star for Auburn throughout the regular season as the Tigers topped the Southeastern Conference and installed themselves as a leading contender for March Madness. However, a shock second round defeat in the NCAA tournament to Miami Hurricanes, and a below-par performance from Smith saw Auburn make an early exit.
Despite the March Madness disappointment, it shouldn’t affect Smith’s NBA prospects and he is still expected to go in the top three of the draft.
Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga Bulldogs)
Second of the top three of the most talented players in the NCAA, Gonzaga center Holmgren is another freshman who has taken college basketball by storm this season – just as he was expected to do.
Gonzaga, who are the favorites according to NCAA tournament odds, were seeded first in March Madness. They are hoping to do better than last year’s final heartbreak, and Holmgren is a big part of those ambitions. The Bulldogs only lost one conference game to top the West Coast Conference, and Holmgren is averaging 14 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game.
He started March Madness like a freight train, dropping 19 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in Gonzaga’s emphatic first-round win over Georgia State Panthers, but was less impactful in the second-round win against Memphis Tigers. Regardless, Holmgren is a rare talent and the NBA beckons for the 19-year-old.
Paolo Banchero (Duke Blue Devils)
The third of the top three NCAA prospects – and therefore one of the most talented players in college basketball – is Duke forward Banchero. The 19-year-old has excelled for the Blue Devils all season, averaging 17 points per game with a field goal percentage of nearly 48 percent.
Banchero was central to the Blue Devils topping the Atlantic Coast Conference and he maintained his performances going into March Madness, scoring 17 and 19 points, and pulling down 10 and seven rebounds in Duke’s first two games to reach the Sweet 16.
Like Smith, Banchero is predicted to go high in the NBA Draft this summer and a continued strong showing in the NCAA tournament will no doubt boost his chances of going No. 1.
Jaden Ivey (Purdue Boilermakers)
The son of a former NFL player and WNBA star, no wonder Ivey has emerged as an elite NCAA basketball talent. The Purdue sophomore has been one of the most improved players this season, significantly boosting all his key stats and emerging as a leader for the Boilermakers.
The 20-year-old guard has also been one of the stars of March Madness so far, following up his 22-point game in the first-round win over Yale Bulldogs with 18 points in the second round against Texas Longhorns.
Given the expected three in front of him are two forwards and a center, Ivey is poised to be the highest drafted guard into the NBA this summer.
Keegan Murray (Iowa Hawkeyes)
Murray has been one of the most consistent performers in the NCAA all season and his talent has shone through during the regular season and so far in March Madness.
The sophomore guard has the fourth-highest points per game average (23.5) in the entire NCAA, which is even more impressive given that Iowa was in the stacked Big Ten conference.
He ended the regular season on fire with games of 26, 26, and 32 points, and carried that form into March Madness, delivering 21 points in a losing first-round effort against Richmond Spiders.
Murray’s NCAA tournament campaign may have come to an earlier-than-expected conclusion but he has proved his talent over the course of the season.
Johnny Davis (Wisconsin Badgers)
Ivey could face competition for highest-drafted guard from fellow sophomore Davis, who has transformed into one of the biggest talents in the NCAA. Handed more responsibility by the Badgers this season, Davis has gone from averaging seven points per game in his freshman year to almost 20 a game in his sophomore season.
The 20-year-old was a key reason why Wisconsin topped a competitive Big Ten Conference and he was outstanding in the Badgers’ first March Madness game, dropping 25 points in the win over Colgate Raiders.
Wisconsin’s tournament ended prematurely with a shock second round exit at the hands of Iowa State Cyclones but Davis still poured in 17 points and collected nine rebounds in a low-scoring game. Despite the early elimination, Davis has proved himself an elite NCAA talent.