The NBA draft early-entrant deadline to withdraw is at the end of May, leaving teams to speculate about what their rosters may look like in the fall.
But there are a number of key players in each class who decided against putting their names in and wanted to continue playing college basketball.
I cherry-picked five players in each class that can have a break-through season as a major contributor on their team. Here are my picks for five rising juniors to watch:
DeJon Jarreau, 6-5, G, Houston
The Cougars lose Galen Robinson Jr. and Corey Davis Jr., but the return of Jarreau and Armoni Brooks puts them in good hands. Coach Kelvin Sampson is expecting Jarreau to break through this season. He has the capabilities. Jarreau was third on the team in scoring at 8.7 a game and had a stretch in conference play last season where he scored 16 against Cincinnati, 18 at UConn and 17 against USF over a four-game period. He will be counted on to produce and defend and should deliver.
Nate Reuvers, 6-11, F, Wisconsin
Reuvers must pick up the slack left by the departure of Ethan Happ. He’s not the same player and won’t work the angles inside the way Happ did so effectively. Reuvers is a stretch four but he will have to do more than just make 3s for the Badgers. His production of 7.9 a game in 2018-19 was understandable because of his role, but for Wisconsin to continue to be in the hunt for a top-four finish next season, Reuvers will likely need to be a double-digit scorer from a variety of spots on the floor. He’s more than capable.
SEASON PREVIEW: 11 rising stars to watch in the 2019-20 season
Kimani Lawrence, 6-7, F, Arizona State
Bobby Hurley has the Sun Devils as a reliable factor in the Pac-12. One of the main reasons is the improvement of players, especially in the upper class. Well, it’s Lawrence’s turn. He was further down the food chain for the Sun Devils last season, but he’s hungry for his share now. He was pushing double figures at 8.6 a game last season, and those numbers are certainly going to climb. Expect him to be a major factor if the Sun Devils are going to be back in the NCAA tournament again.
A certified BUCKET ✅— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) April 12, 2019
Kimani Lawrence is our 2018-19 Mr. Sun Devil! pic.twitter.com/cvRQxRFaeU
Colbey Ross, 6-1, G, Pepperdine
Ross already had a breakout season but you may have missed it since the Waves weren’t a national player. His 19 points a game didn’t go unnoticed in the WCC though. Pepperdine should be one of the teams pushing Gonzaga next season, and if Pepperdine can snag a few significant early-season wins it can make a case for a bid by March. Ross scored 20 in a WCC semifinal loss to the Zags and 26 in a win over San Francisco in the quarterfinals. He can go off and will likely continue to stuff the stat sheet next season.
Naji Marshall, 6-7, F Xavier
Marshall announced he’s returning to Xavier, and that immediately means the Musketeers will be in the thick of the race for a top three finish in the Big East and an NCAA bid. Marshall is that good. He averaged 14.7 a game overall last season, but he’ll likely be pushing 20-plus throughout the season. Marshall led Xavier on a late run toward a bid before the Musketeers fell short and landed in the NIT. He scored 23 in an overtime win over Creighton, 28 in a win at Seton Hall and 31 in a win at St. John’s. He’s known locally, but next season he’ll be a national name.
MUST-WATCH PLAYERS: 5 sophomores who can make a big impact in 2019-20