basketball Edit

Fresh(men) faces: Future stars on display at Champions Classic

Since it's inception in 2011, the Champions Classic has become college basketball's premier early season showcase. With Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State hitting the floor each year, there have been terrific games and the average college fan has been exposed to a litany of big-time players and future NBA Lottery picks from Anthony Davis to Andrew Wiggins and many more.

Tonight's matchups between Kansas and Kentucky and Duke and Michigan State at the United Center in Chicago will once again introduce big-time talent to the college basketball world as the combined rosters include one third of 2017's top 40 ranked players.

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How he got there: Originally a member of the class of 2018, Bagley was able to enroll a year early thanks to extra coursework. He picked Duke over Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, USC and others late in the summer of 2017.

What to look for: Through two games Bagley has been ridiculous, averaging 24.5 points and 10 rebounds. He's an extreme athlete with some shooting touch from deep. Hopefully he'll be featured often against Jaren Jackson.

How he got there: The top point guard in the class of 2017, Duval had a long and drawn out recruitment. He also considered Arizona, Baylor, Kansas and Seton Hall.

What to look for: A big time athlete who lives off of dribble penetration into the paint, Duval is a playmaker and at-the-rim scorer. Like Bagley, he's off to a great start averaging a double-double of 11.5 points and 10 assists per game.

How he got there: Somewhat of a late bloomer, Jackson came on strong the summer before and during his senior season. At different times in his recruitment Georgetown (where his dad played), Maryland and Purdue were thought to be potential leaders before Tom Izzo snagged him last September.

What to look for: One of the youngest future stars hitting the floor, Jackson is the age of most current high school seniors. He has exceptional length, can face up and shoot with some range and is coming on fast as an athlete. He had 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in his college debut.

How he got there: Though he gave some attention to local schools Georgia and Georgia Tech, Carter was considered a heavy lean to the Blue Devils for the majority of his recruitment.

What to look for: While Bagley is an athletic freak, Carter gives the Duke front line some bulk and skill. He's polished with his back to the basket and has legitimate range to the three-point line. He's been good for 10 points and 6.5 rebounds per game so far this season.

How he got there: Diallo was a top 10 player in the class of 2017 before enrolling halfway through the 2016-17 season and redshirting. He picked the Cats over Kansas, Indiana and UConn.

What to look for: Maybe the most explosive wing athlete on display Tuesday night, Diallo is an explosive finisher at the hoop. He's underrated as a mid range jump shooter and has made 50 percent of his three-point attempts while averaging 17 points and three rebounds in his first two college appearances.

How he got there: Knox had one of the more drawn out and clouded in mystery recruitments in the 2017 class. Many thought he was leaning towards Duke before he picked Kentucky over the Blue Devils, North Carolina and Florida State.

What to look for: A combo forward with length and athleticism, Knox fancies himself a jump shooter and transition finisher. He's at his best on the glass and using his versatility to create mismatches. He's not shot the ball well through his first two games but has been productive averaging 11.5 points and seven rebounds per contest.

How he got there: A native of Los Angeles who attended multiple high schools, many thought Preston would end up back home at USC before he chose Kansas in the early signing period.

What to look for: Preston has an NBA body and athleticism and the ability to really put the ball on the floor for a big man. When he's not settling for jump shots, he is a load from 15 feet and in. Preston will be making his season debut against Kentucky after missing the Jayhawks first game for disciplinary reasons.

How he got there: Vanderbilt heavily considered TCU and to a lesser extent Kansas and Texas. However, his heart always seemed to be with Kentucky and once they made a strong move, it was done for the Wildcats.

What to look for: Unfortunately, Vanderbilt is out with a left foot injury for the time being.

How he got there: A native of Texas, Washington played for his father Paul Washington at Findlay Prep in Nevada. He chose the Wildcats after also visiting North Carolina and UNLV officially

What to look for: Washington is a big-time rebounder with a high running motor and great hands. He can step out and make a mid range jumper and has some young Paul Millsap to his game. He's averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

How he got there: Richards considered others like Indiana, Syracuse and UConn but he always seemed to want to end up in Lexington and there wasn't much mystery about his choice when decision day came last fall.

What to look for: Of all the big time freshmen hitting the floor at the Champions Classic, Richards may be the most raw offensively. However, he has all the tools to be a dominant shot blocker and rebounder as he adjusts to college and gets his confidence. He's averaged six points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his first two games.

How he got there: Another who was considered a heavy Duke lean for much of the recruiting process, he also seriously considered Michigan State and UCLA.

What to look for: Let's put it this way, Trent isn't going to be out there to not shoot the ball. A physical two guard, he's got a shooter's mentality and hasn't met many shots that he doesn't like. The fourth of Duke's quartet of highly ranked freshmen, he's averaged 17 points and five rebounds through two games.

How he got there: Green didn't start to lean (at least publicly) in the direction of Kentucky until very late in his recruitment. Previous to that, Syracuse had looked like his most likely destination.

What to look for: Green could remind many of former Duke star Quinn Cook. He's got personality, isn't a freak athlete like many of the others on the floor but gets things done with his smarts and competitive spirit. He's adjusting to the physicality of the college game and has averaged nine points and 2.5 assists per game so far.

How he got there: A native of Canada, Alexander actually committed to Florida as a junior. After opening things up, he ended up at Kentucky in a recruitment that moved very quickly once John Calipari got involved.

What to look for: Alexander is the X-factor of Kentucky's loaded freshman group. He's got the size to play all around the perimeter and can be an explosive playmaker and off-the-dribble scorer. He's been good for 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists so far this season.

How he got there: Garrett was somewhat unknown nationally because he didn't play for a big name or shoe sponsored summer team. Kansas saw him as a high school junior and locked him up during the summer before his senior year.

What to look for: Garrett is a jack-of-all trades who can defend and play multiple positions. He loves to get to the rim but doesn't force the action and is a versatile player who does many little things. He debuted with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of assists last week.