With every new college basketball season comes new expectations on each players development towards getting to the NBA. Along with that comes players who surprise scouts and fans with their improvement. We ranked the most improved draft stock of any non freshman.
Ja Morant-Murray State
No one player has improved their draft stock through the first half of the season more than Morant. The 6’3″ 170 lb. Sophomore is averaging 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game, which is quite an improvement from his 12.7/6.5/6.3 line in his freshman campaign. His outside shooting is incredibly suspect as he is shooting 28.9% (13 for 45) from behind the 3 pt. line. He dropped 38 on Alabama without making a three and he scored 25 against Auburn, cementing himself in the first round, and has recently been receiving lottery discussion.
Jarrett Culver-Texas Tech
Culver had a solid freshman season, so it should not be a complete surprise that he has entered into the first round conversation. His freshman year consisted of 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game, and when you couple that with the 6’5″ 190 lbs. frame, he definitely had the eye of scouts. This season his line of 19.6/5.7/4.4 is a big jump, to go along with shooting 45% (18 of 40) and Texas Tech being ranked number 11 at the time of this article. If Tech continues to be a borderline top ten team, and Culver remains this efficient, he is projected to be a lock to go in the first round with lottery possibilities.
Any season in college basketball usually produces someone like the 6’8″ 225 lb. junior from Gonzaga. He was the classic will he/won’t he type of prospect after averaging 2.6 and 11.6 points his freshman and sophomore year respectively, while displaying a talent level that surpassed the production. This season the stat line has aligned with the potential, Hachimura is averaging 21.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He has shown flashes of improvement with his outside shot going from 19.2% in his sophomore season to 44.4% this season, although he is only averaging 1.6 attempts from behind the arc. He will be a lottery pick this year barring a complete collapse or injury in the second half.
Gafford’s freshman year was solid, simply put. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks in just under 23 minutes of action. This season he is up to 17.6 points, 9.3 assists, and 2.2 in 28 minutes of floor time, even more solid. Standing at 6’10” and weighing 234 lbs., he is big enough to play center in the modern NBA. He needs to improve his free throw shooting (60.8%), but that is up from the 52.8% in his freshman season. His athleticism and improved efficiency will land him in the first round in this years draft.
The Purdue Junior came into the season with doubts of his ability at the next level due to his 6’0″ 200 lb. frame, and his lack of play making ability in terms of setting us his teammates. While he has not shown he can be a capable passer, he has considerably stepped up his scoring production. With Purdue playing some tough early season opponents, Edwards is averaging 26 points, 3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists while shooting 39.8% from behind the arc. This is particularly impressive considering that he is averaging 9.8 attempts from the 3 pt. line. He has shown he can score at an elite level so far this season, and that will likely lead to him being drafted, which was not a lock at the start of the season.