Bossi's Best: Ten who could have boosted stock in NCAA tourney
The cancellation of the NCAA Tournament cost many teams a chance to chase a title and many fans the opportunity to spend hours in front of the television. It also cost many prospects the chance to potentially elevate their status as potential NBA Draft picks.
In this week's edition of Bossi's Best, a look at 10 underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) who could have given their stock a boost with strong performances in March. What is the current feedback from NBA scouts, how could they have improved their stock and, most importantly, who could potentially replace them if they were to leave their respective programs?
2022 Rankings: Top 75
SADDIQ BEY, VILLANOVA
2019-20 season: 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: Bey is no stranger to NBA Draft boards and is already likely to be taken in the first round should he elect to come out. As far as NBA wings go, his size is solid and he's a good athlete, but he's been winning NBA execs over with his toughness and his improved ability to shoot the ball from deep. Had he led the Wildcats on a deep run he could have put himself in contention to be chosen in the latter part of the lottery.
Potential replacement: The Wildcats should have most everybody back - although freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl could test the waters - and that's important because their 2020 recruiting class currently sits empty. However, they do have high hopes for transfer guard Caleb Daniels who sat out 2019-20. Jermaine Samuels should take another step forward and they'll have to hope five-star freshman guard Bryan Antoine is ready to live up to his high school billing.
AYO DOSUNMU, ILLINOIS
2019-20 season: 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: Opinions on Dosunmu are mixed from NBA people I've spoken with. They have him anywhere from late in the first round to the middle of the second round. He's tough as nails, strong, defends and has developed into a heck of a leader. But, he's a so-so athlete by NBA standards and there are worries about his jump shot. More time to see his competitive juices could have swung some more teams in his favor.
Potential replacement: Brad Underwood and the Illini look set here if Dosunmu leaves. Trent Frazier will be back with more experience, and they have a pair of dynamic guards on the way in five-star Adam Miller and top 50 Andre Curbelo.
AARON HENRY, MICHIGAN STATE
2019-20 season: 10.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: Most likely, Henry needs to return to East Lansing. I've spoken with NBA guys who are intrigued enough to take a flier on him in the second round because they see him as a potential tough-guy defender who knows his role. Had he been able to provide consistent scoring during a deep run, though, he could have lit a fire under some scouts.
Potential replacement: Most likely Henry will be back so it won't matter, but freshman Malik Hall showed promise in spurts and could have helped carry the load. Also, the Spartans will get transfer Joey Hauser eligible next season and the idea of him alongside Henry is a good one.
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, INDIANA
2019-20 season: 13.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Bossi's analysis: Jackson-Davis isn't yet making much noise on mock drafts, but as the season went along I was fielding more and more calls for background info from the NBA. He quietly put together an impressive freshman campaign and was very steady. Who knows what a couple of double-doubles in the spotlight could have done for him.
Potential replacement: Like Henry above, I'd be surprised if Jackson-Davis isn't back, and he's not even a lock to test the waters. That's a good thing, because the Hoosiers haven't signed any bigs in 2020 and Jackson-Davis would be awfully tough for them to replace.
ZEKE NNAJI, ARIZONA
2019-20 season: 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Bossi's analysis: Arizona could lose three freshmen to the draft: Nnaji, Nico Mannion and Josh Green. All three were five-star prospects and despite outplaying them during the season, Nnaji never seems to get as much attention. For whatever reason, NBA teams are just starting to legitimately explore him as a guy to take anywhere in the 20s. He can run, he rebounds and he will go get a lob. Any additional opportunity to show how far he's come since high school would have really helped his stock.
Potential replacement: Let's assume Nnaji does leave. Then it will be up to another promising freshman, Christian Koloko, to take a big step forward. Koloko has the body and athleticism, but still needs polish. The Wildcats could likely use a grad-transfer big man to at least add some depth.
JAHMI'US RAMSEY, TEXAS TECH
2019-20 season: 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: Ramsey is very likely to enter and stay in the draft and he's going to be picked safely in the first round. He's tough, he can score, he's developed into a dangerous jump shooter and he can defend. While he slumped a little down the stretch, Ramsey was just starting to curry a lot of favor with NBA scouts. A few big games in the NCAA Tournament could have put him in discussion for the latter part of the lottery because his stock has been rising.
Potential replacement: Fellow freshman Kevin McCullar was starting to take off in the latter part of the season and while not a two guard like Ramsey, he should take a big step up next season. Also, the Red Raiders will add McDonald's All-American guard Nimari Burnett, so Chris Beard and the gang should be just fine.
JALEN SMITH, MARYLAND
2019-20 season: 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
Bossi's analysis: I'm not sure why, but it doesn't seem like there was nearly enough talk about how Smith was playing at a high level during his sophomore season. He runs, he can stretch the floor and he protects the rim. NBA types were really warming up to him and many were starting to talk about him as a Myles Turner-type and first-round pick. The Terps were poised to make a run, and his stock would have improved with each win.
Potential replacement: Should Smith leave, he'll be as hard an underclassmen to replace as there is in the country. Freshman Chol Marial is a 7-footer, but he's had a hard time staying healthy and it would be tough to count on much from junior Joshua Tomaic. Unless the Terps can find a grad transfer, it may be time to play small ball in College Park.
CASSIUS STANLEY, DUKE
2019-20 season: 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: It was a pretty safe bet that Tre Jones and Vernon Carey Jr. were always going to play well for the Blue Devils, but when they got strong play from Stanley as the third guy, they were really tough to beat. Will Stanley stay in the draft? We'll see, but he's as good an athlete as there will be available, and given that he's closer in age to a college junior than freshman (turns 21 in August), there are some questions. A strong run in the NCAA could have put Stanley on the positive side of the first-round bubble.
Potential replacement: Alex O'Connell had figured to pick up more minutes as a senior but he has decided to transfer. However, five-star freshman Wendell Moore will be back. Five-star recruits Jalen Johnson and D.J. Steward should also be capable of helping replace Stanley's production should he leave.
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, KENTUCKY
2019-20 season: 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: Quickley was named Rivals.com's most improved player in the country and won SEC Player of the Year honors. He developed into a big-time shot-maker from deep and a steadying force. He had put himself on draft boards in the second-round territory, but more opportunities to show his winning character could have moved him up.
Potential replacement: It's Kentucky, so you know John Calipari has dudes coming in if Quickley does indeed decide to leave. Stay or go, big-timers like B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke are ready to step right in and put up big numbers as perimeter scorers who can go and get theirs off the dribble.
PATRICK WILLIAMS, FLORIDA STATE
2019-20 season: 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
Bossi's analysis: The opposite of Cassius Stanley in terms of age, Williams could just as easily be a senior in high school right now, given that he won't turn 19 until August. He's a rugged and tough wing who can even play as a four in today's small-ball world. Florida State is so balanced that his numbers don't jump out, but the more teams saw him the more they told me they loved him. He'll get taken in the first round, but he could have moved comfortably into the top 20 with a big NCAA run.
Potential replacement: Not only does Florida State have five-star combo forward Scottie Barnes coming in, the Seminoles also have one of the premier JUCO players in the land in four-star small forward Sardaar Calhoun. Sophomore guard Devin Vassell is already leaving for the draft, but if Williams goes too, the Noles should still be OK.