March is possibly the best time of year to find out which college basketball players are going to be the next stars of the NBA.
With the NCAA tournament known as Madness, this is the perfect time to see the players who could soon be turning pro. Remember, you can find out odds for NCAA basketball games here.
Jabari Smith – The Auburn Tigers
The NBA 2022 draft in June will see 58 picks for the pro teams, and Jabari Smith is high among the list of players who should be chosen quickly. In fact, some experts think that Smith will be the very first pick of the draft, which would see him join the Orlando Magic.
Smith’s numbers this last year have been hugely impressive, and that’s one of the reasons why the Tigers that represent Auburn University are among the hot favorites to win the NCAA championship. He became the highest-ranked player to ever sign up at Auburn and has shown his skill in college basketball often enough to suggest that he would be a terrific first pick for the Orlando team.
E.J. Liddell – The Ohio State Buckeyes
Another one of the best college players in the last year, E.J. Liddell was 2018 and 2019’s Illinoi Mr. Basketball before joining Ohio as a four-star recruit. His freshman year saw him average 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds off the bench, together with an impressive 29 blocks that put him second in the Buckeye team.
His career-high of 34 points came in January this year, meaning that he’s in good form for March, with Ohio State expected to reach the Elite Eight stage. It’s worth remembering that Liddell made himself available for the 2021 NBA draft before going back to the Buckeyes to play his junior season. So, he may now feel ready to make the big step to pro basketball.
Chet Holmgren – The Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are considered favorites to win the NCAA tournament in 2022, with odds of +400 on them winning the trophy. Chet Holmgren is one of the main reasons for this, and he’s been listed as the number one pick for the draft, by some experts, for a while.
His incredible figures show a scoring rate of over 74% from inside the arc and a respectable 46.6% from outside it. Holmgren has shown that he has the ability to change games in a number of different ways, while he’s also learned to deal with rival crowds chanting at him that he’s over-rated.
Kofi Cockburn – Illinois Fighting Illini
There is a very good chance that college basketball fans across the country want to talk about Kofi Cockburn once March Madness ends. The Jamaican-born center was a four-star recruit for Illinois and has a huge impact on those games where doesn’t run into foul problems.
7-foot tall and physically imposing, Cockburn has appeared to be close to joining the NBA in the past, so 2022 could be when it finally happens. He recently scored 27 points as Illinois beat Michigan 93-85, leading to his coach Brad Underwood calling him “truly great”.
Trevion Williams – The Purdue Boilermakers
Another tall center who has taken college basketball by storm, Trevion Williams has helped the Boilermakers reach the stage of being among the favorites. This would be the first time that the Purdue team has won an NCAA Championship, and if they manage it Williams is likely to be their star player.
His massive haul of points for the Boilermakers has seen him set records. No player in more than 50 years had managed to get more than 35 points and 20 rebounds in a game, until Williams achieved it.
Max Abmas – The Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
His performance in the 2021 version of March Madness introduced Max Abmas to a lot more basketball fans. He was a big part of the eye-catching performances put together by the Golden Eagles last year, with 25 points or more in each of the first three games.
Abmas is another of the players who appeared ready to join the NBA in 2021, but who went back to his college team for another season. He’s been in great scoring form and helped his team get third seed for the Summit League Tournament this year.
Paolo Banchero – The Duke Blue Devils
Look out for Paolo Banchero’s name in the 2022 NBA Draft too. Since joining the Blue Devils as a five-star recruit, he’s easily been one of the best players in college basketball. In fact, Banchero scored 22 points on his debut for the Blue Devils.
Interestingly, he also recently made his virtual debut, on the NBA 2K22 video game. This made him the first NCAA player to get added to this game series since 2009. Banchero is one of the reasons that the Duke University team is among the favorites to win March Madness this year.