Five star recruits are generally players around the top 30, give or take a few spots. Rivals.com had 32 five stars in the 2019 class, 247/Sports had 28, and ESPN had 26. Recruiting is never an exact science leading to some players being overlooked and ranked in the four star status which is still considered to be an impact recruit but not necessarily one that will be heading to the NBA after their freshman season. Four freshman from the 2019 draft class were ranked as four star recruits by at least one recruiting service coming out of high school: Tyler Herro (Kentucky/Miami Heat), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan/NY Knicks), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State/LA Lakers), and Jaxson Hayes (Texas/New Orleans Pelicans). There are always players that leave school who could use another year in college but for many different reasons they elect to stay in the draft even though the most likely scenario is that they will go undrafted. For some like Herro and Hayes there is no doubt they will be drafted in the first round, it was just a question of how high they would end up going. Here are some of the names in the 2019 recruiting class that have the potential to be make a statement in their freshman year of college and turn into draft picks in 2020 after being underrated by the major recruiting services.
The Criteria: Must be ranked as a four star recruit by all three major recruiting services (247 Sports, Rivals, and ESPN)
DJ Carton (Ohio State)
Point Guard-6’2″ 190
At 6’2″ Carton is not going to jump out at you walking onto the floor, but as soon as the game gets started he makes his presence well known. Quick with the ball in his hands, he was able to get by defenders with ease at the high school level and his elite athleticism allows him to throw down some impressive dunks for his size. Carton can be a menace on the defensive side of the floor with his quickness, which should lead to plenty of steal opportunities turning into easy buckets. If he can shoot the ball effectively in college and run the offense efficiently there is a chance that teams will overlook his height and show interest in him after his freshman season. Transitioning from being mainly a scorer to looking for your teammates more often is never an easy one, but he will have to figure out how to run the offense efficiently as a scorer as well as a facilitator going forward. Due to his ability to score the ball we will also see him play off of the ball at times, but as far as the scouts are concerned, they will be looking at how he does as the lead ball handler. Ohio State is going to be a talented group next season that is expected to not only make the NCAA Tournament but possibly make a deep run and Carton could play a major role into how far they go this season.
Johnny Juzang (Kentucky)
Shooting Guard-6’6″ 214
Juzang is not an elite athlete, but he is a player that can score the ball at will, and he has a good feel for the game. Many analysts are projecting him to be a multi year player but as most fans know that is not usually the case with John Calipari recruits. He is on the lower end of the typical incoming Kentucky freshman as far as recruiting rankings go, but he has the ability to fill it up on the offensive end of the floor, and he will have the opportunity to impress scouts with Kentucky being very closely watched by all 30 NBA teams. Creating his own shot was something he did well at the high school level and while he still will get a chance to do that in college he will most likely be used as a spot up shooter more often. If he can be a knock down shooter he has the size that NBA teams look for in a shooting guard, and with his ability to create separation against less talented players, it will be interesting to see if he is able to replicate that against the increased competition. The defensive side of the floor is the biggest concern with his game, and Calipari has shown in previous years that if you cannot defend at a high level you will not get on the floor, regardless of your offensive capabilities.
Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana)
Power Forward-6’9″ 230
Jackson-Davis is a skilled forward who has solid athleticism and mobility when putting the ball on the floor, but he is not the quickest player when driving to the basket. He should be able to play inside and outside of the paint as a freshman at Indiana, and while his shot needs improvement he has shown a capability in knocking down open jumpers. On the high school school and AAU level he was able to use angles well to get to the rim or using post moves around the basket. Jackson-Davis should get a ton of opportunities for put back dunks and similar plays with his rebounding ability especially in fast break situations. He could struggle against versatile quick forwards and centers when he draws those assignments and he will need to use his shot blocking ability to make an impact on the defensive side of the floor. Jackson-Davis should be a focal point of the Indiana attack this season, and as a borderline five star recruit NBA teams are already very familiar with his game, so how well he develops the weaker parts of his skill set are going to be a large factor in how he is viewed once the season is complete. One thing to note about his background, Jackson-Davis is the son of former NBA player Dale Davis, so he has the pedigree and upbringing that can help once you are in this position.
Boogie Ellis (Memphis)
Point Guard-6’3″ 175
Often the most overlooked player in the loaded Memphis 2019 recruiting class, Ellis could be the player that brings the most excitement to the fans once the regular season gets started. He is a natural scorer of the ball with a high level of athleticism and ball handling skills that lead to highlight plays in bunches when he is on the floor. As a scorer he is most comfortable creating a shot off of the dribble or getting by a defender and finishing at the rim, but he should be able to play and contribute off of the ball at times as well. How efficient he is shooting the ball is going to play a major factor in whether or not he gets some serious NBA attention by the time the draft rolls around and with his ability to create shots with ease he can put up some big games if he shot is going down. All of the necessary physical tools are there with speed and athleticism to become a strong defender of opposing guards, and it will be interesting to see how Penny Hardaway is able to help him develop as a defender. Due to the fact that he has been such a prolific scorer with the ball in his hands, distributing to teammates is an area that will need some coaching as he transitions to playing with more talent around him than most teams in the country possess.
Cassius Stanley (Duke)
Shooting Guard-6’6″ 193
Known for his highlights on YouTube, Stanley is a high flying play maker who has the type of athleticism that will immediately make him one of the top athletes in college basketball. If you compare his highlights to his ranking by the recruiting services they do not make sense, but there is obviously more to the game than just big time dunks. His ability to shoot the ball shot is the biggest question mark in his game and a large reason of his four star ranking. If he can consistently knock down jump shots he will be a very difficult cover at Duke, but as with many players he was able to dominate at the high school level using his athleticism more than any other skill set. Stanley has the tools to be an effective player on both sides of the floor and if his game takes another step towards being a more efficient all around scorer, there is no doubt he will be heavily scouted by NBA teams. The stage of playing at Duke can be a problem for some players but Stanley played under a microscope at powerhouse Sierra Canyon, and he is the son of sports agent Jerome Stanley, who has been around for three decades so he should have a pretty good idea of what it takes to make it at the highest levels of athletics.
Jalen Wilson (Kansas)
Small Forward-6’8″ 215
Wilson is the type of player that gives a team versatility, that is being coveted now more than so than ever, with his ability to play on the wing and also spending time as a small ball four if they are looking to create mismatches. He understands the angles of the game very well which he brings to the table with a methodical mindset when he has the ball in his hands. In high school and AAU he has handled the speed on the floor despite not being the quickest player by choosing the proper cuts and moves to get his shot off. His outside shot has good mechanics and he is definitely a threat from behind the three point line which he will need to continue to improve upon as he will likely get plenty of shots sliding out to the wing on the fast break. He could struggle on the defensive side of the floor while he gets used to the college level of competition, especially with quick footed wings. Ultimately he has shown that he can create his own shot, drive to the basket, or set up for an open jumper from a pass which make him a somewhat underrated player heading into the Jayhawks season.
Lester Quinones (Memphis)
Shooting Guard-6’5″ 225
Another member of the deep Memphis recruiting class, Quinones is a deadly scorer who despite not being as highly ranked as many of his new teammates, he could put up some big offensive numbers. Known as one of the best shooters in the 2019 recruiting class with good reason, he has deep range and he should have no issues being able to knock down outside shots. Where his game gets interesting is that fact that he is not the fastest/quickest player on the floor but he has solid vertical athleticism that led to plenty of highlight dunks in high school and AAU. Often times when a player comes in known as a shooter there game can be a bit one dimensional however Quinones can spot up for a shot, create off of the dribble, or attack the basket and finish at the rim. This all around offensive skill set should allow him to be a major contributor to the Memphis offense that will employ at times five freshman. Where he could struggle is on the defensive side of the floor as many shooting guards will have more speed or a quicker first step. If he can defend well and continue to score the ball effectively like the film on his suggests he can, his stock could rise with as many NBA eyes that will be on the Tigers this season.
Malik Hall (Michigan State)
Small Forward-6’7″ 215
It should be assumed that every player on this list knows how to play the game, but some players use their athleticism and natural abilities more than they rely on the fundamentals of the game. Hall while not a bad athlete, just not elite, is an example of someone that knows how to play smart basketball to his advantage. At 6’7″ he has solid size for a wing, and his game is versatile in the fact that he can knock down a shot from the outside or put the ball on the floor and score at the basket. If he gets an outlet pass or grabs a rebound and leads the fast break he can find a lane to the basket or find an open teammate for a shot. His passing ability is one of his strengths and with the amount of talent that is on the Michigan State roster this season he will have plenty of chances to set up open looks for his teammates. Tom Izzo has always been a coach that can teach and develop players on the defensive side of the ball and we expect that Hall will be able to defend in college. Given the talent on the Spartans there will be somewhat limited opportunities to score the ball, especially with play makers Cassius Winston and Josh Langford forming the backcourt, but if Hall can show off a solid all around game while the team makes a deep run in March then he could see his stock go up.
Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech)
Shooting Guard/Small Forward-6’6″ 210
Shannon Jr. is a long and athletic wing that has good size to go with a tenacious motor that he uses to make plays all over the floor. Some players dunk with force and he would be in that category throwing down some of the hardest dunks you will see on the high school level. His offensive game mainly consisted of creating his own shot off of the dribble, which he has solid ball handling skills or driving by a defender and finishing at the rim. He is especially deadly on the fast break where he has put many defenders on posters already, and this is an area that he should have no problem making an impact from the first game. His outside shot is the biggest concern with no surefire confidence that he can be a knock down shooter as a freshman, but he will have plenty of time to become a better shooter and we have seen in the past teams will overlook that given other skills. The length he has and his motor will give him the tools to be a lock down defender on the wing, and given Chris Beard is one of the best defensive coaches in the country, he could shine on the defensive side of the floor. With Texas Tech coming off of a national championship game appearance and losing a good amount of talent, Shannon Jr. will theoretically have the chance to impress scouts.
Anton Watson (Gonzaga)
Power Forward-6’8″ 220
An elite athlete and a player that has some impressive highlight dunks, Watson can put on a show when he gets in space. He will need to improve his ability to score from outside of the paint and improve his jump shot going forward. Gonzaga has done a good job in the past of allowing players to use their strengths but also develop their weaknesses and in this case look for him to play a similar role of 2019 first round pick Brandon Clarke. He plays with a high motor and can rebound at an effective rate, as long as his skill set continues to evolve showing off some range in the process he can have his name in the 2020 draft conversation. Protecting the rim is something that he has done very well in high school and AAU, so his potential on the defensive side of the floor has him on the NBA radar as well. With the talent on the Gonzaga roster there is a good chance that Watson is around at least two seasons, but injuries to their big men is something that the Bulldogs have dealt with the past couple of seasons so he could be put into a bigger role if they are unable to stay healthy throughout the year which could ultimately help his draft stock.
Alonzo Gaffney (Ohio State)
Small Forward/Power Forward-6’9″ 198
Long and skilled is the best way to define Gaffney with his 6’9″ height, long arms, and ability to make plays. He can do it all on the offensive end whether it is creating a shot, driving to the basket, or spotting up for a jumper. Although he was able to score inside on the high school level that will become much more difficult in college when you consider his frame. For his size his ball handling is impressive and it allows him to lead the fast break after pulling down a rebound making for a quick transition to the other side of the floor. Put back dunks and lobs to Gaffney should be a regular on the menu for Ohio State this season and there will not be many players that can defend against him in this area. He will need add weight and a lot of it over the next however many years he plays in college, but a team looking at his game as a whole will be assuming he can add weight at the next level rather than overlooking a player simply because of that fact. On the defensive side of the floor Gaffney can be dominant using his length to block shots which he should be able to do with ease, especially on the break. He runs the floor and move laterally for his size better than many of his counterparts and that along with his overall skill set as well as his length will have the eyes of many scouts in his freshman season with the Buckeyes.
Greg Gantt (Providence)
Small Forward-6’8″ 205
Gantt is a player that we considered one of the most under recruited and under ranked players in the class of 2019. As far as physical make up he has the tools with good size at 6’8″ to go with guard skills on the wing. He is just as comfortable creating a shot off of the dribble as he is spotting up for a jump shot, or leading the break off of a rebound. He can legitimately play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward depending on the look that Providence chooses to go with, and this versatility should earn him minutes as a freshman. Since he will be playing on the wing his shooting is the biggest factor to his overall draft stock and with solid shot mechanics there is no reason to think that he will not be able to knock down jumpers from the outside during the season. Being able to defend multiple positions is a plus in his favor and while he will need some coaching up on defense, Gantt has a chance to become a go-to type of defender on the college level. How he is used in the Providence offense will definitely play a role in how he is viewed by NBA teams going forward. The best guess based on his abilities is that he will be a play maker from the wing who can also clean up misses around the basket, and often times leading the fast break with the ball in his hands. Providing his outside shot is efficient there are not many weaknesses to his game which when coupled with his physical gifts and size, make for a prototypical wing draft prospect. Gantt is currently being sidelined by an Achilles injury and he had surgery on a ligament in his thumb that ended his season early as a senior in high school so getting back to full health and staying that way is his focus heading into the season.
Max Agbonkpolo (Southern California)
Point Guard/Small Forward-6’8″ 190
It is not very often that you see a legitimate point guard at the high school level with the size that Agbonkpolo has at 6’9″, but that was the role he played while at Mater Dei in California. How often he will be in that same role at the college level is yet to be seen, but the fact that he has the kind of versatility to play multiple positions means he will have a ton of opportunity to earn minutes from Andy Enfield. USC as a whole has a lot of talent which will have NBA scouts watching the team closely, giving him a chance to prove that he should have been ranked higher coming out of high school. How he is used at Southern Cal. will play a big role in how he is viewed by teams with the preseason expectation being that he will play on the wing off of the ball and at times will be the primary ball handler. If he can score efficiently while also being a distributor in the chances he gets to handle the ball then his defense will be a major focus of his draft stock. Not the most likely one and done candidate but his size and skill set line up with what many teams are looking for in a wing that can play as well as defend multiple positions.
Kai Jones (Texas)
Power Forward/Center-6’11” 212
An elite jumper, Jones has been impressive on the high school and AAU level with his ability to effect the game due to his athletic ability. On the offensive end of the floor he has the agility and mobility of a wing to go with the length and height of a post player. This makes him especially dangerous in the open court on fast breaks where he can use his speed to beat players down the floor and throw down a big dunk on the other end. His shooting consistency will need to improve, however his shot mechanics are solid and he has knocked shots extending out to the three point line. His height had been listed at 6’9″ or 6’10” throughout his senior season, but Texas officially listed him at 6’11” entering this year which is something to note. Jones needs to some add some bulk to deal with stronger players if he does not want to get pushed around down low, and there are times when he has the ball in his hands and he goes far too fast down the court without any real plan in mind. As a defender he could shine this season using his length and vertical leaping ability to block shots, something that he does on fast break opportunities as well as anyone in the recruiting class. If he can make better decisions as a ball handler and slow down to a point, as well as add some weight to go with protecting the rim at a high level, the Longhorns could have another big go one and down that was not highly regarded by the recruiting services.
Donovan Williams (Texas)
Shooting Guard-6’6″ 180
Williams can flat out score the ball, something that he is not afraid to let his opponents know while on the court. His confidence is a major asset in his game that allows him to take and make some difficult shots both creating it his own off of the dribble or in a catch and shoot scenario. He has the ability to handle the ball on the break getting the basket or setting up teammates, but his focus throughout high school and AAU was scoring the ball first and foremost. Players who can score the ball at a high rate but are considered somewhat undersized are often overlooked by the recruiting services, and we would put Williams in that category. His motor and defensive play are the biggest question marks heading into the season, and should he be able to show well in those areas of his game, his stock will rise. Ultimately it will come down to his play making and scoring which is what most scouts will be in attendance to see, and he should be very capable of putting up some big games as a freshman as long as he receives the minutes to do so.
Tristian Enaruna (Kansas)
Small Forward-6’9″ 205
Enaruna is an athletic wing that has good size to go with the skills to play on the perimeter at the next level. He is the type of player that coaches are looking for with less emphasis on what position you fit into and more on the skill set that you bring to the table. The small forward can do a little bit of everything from creating a shot off of the dribble, to spotting up for a jumper, or making a move to get by a defender and finish at the rim. He needs to add weight to his thin frame and his play on the defensive side of the floor will need some work, although he does block shots well for a player who primarily is going to be used on the wing. If he can shoot the ball from the outside at an efficient rate there is a chance he could see his stock get into the range that might have him thinking about leaving after his freshman season. There is going to be plenty of talent at his position this season for Kansas so he could have his opportunities limited if the players around him show better in the first half of the season, or he could easily be the player that jumps to the front of the pack and receives the largest workload for the Jayhawks.
Toumani Camara (Georgia)
Small Forward-6’8″ 220
Camara saw his stock rise significantly in the last year or so after some impressive performances in his biggest games. Originally from Belgium, he is a part of a loaded 2019 class for Georgia including potential 2020 number one overall pick Anthony Edwards, which has him somewhat overlooked heading into his freshman season. His height is officially listed by Georgia at 6’8″, an inch or two above his listing by recruiting services and that helps his case due to his versatility being one of the main assets that scouts will be paying close attention to this season. He might be asked to play inside at times but he should spend the majority of his time playing on the wing where he can make plays with the ball in his hands whether that is shooting the ball or driving to the basket. His vertical leaping abilities are high level and he is a candidate to put a defender on a poster whenever he gets to the rim. The biggest improvement in his game that needs to be made will be his outside shooting, and he has improved and shown he can knock those down at the high school level, however college is a different animal when it comes to the players defending you. Due to the fact that he is not going to the go to scorer for the Bulldogs he can make a big impact if he uses his athleticism and size/length to play shut down defense from the wing.