NCAA: Iowa's Luka Garza tops list of players to watch in 2020-21
Former Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards and Memphis center James Wiseman were the first and second players to fly off the board in the 2020 NBA Draft.
In all, 24 players who participated in the 2019-20 college basketball season were selected in the first round, including two each from Memphis, Kentucky, Arizona, Washington, and Florida State.
Now, a new crop of talent is set to replace these college stars when the 2020-21 season kicks off on Nov. 25.
Here are the top 10 players to watch in the upcoming college basketball season, from highly touted incoming freshmen to seasoned veterans expected to lead their team on a run in the NCAA Tournament.
10. Caleb Love, freshman guard, North Carolina
UNC coach Roy Williams suffered his worst season of his 17-career in Chapel Hill, after several players succumbed to injuries, including star freshman point guard Cole Anthony.
Caleb Love, a 5-star recruit out of Missouri, is expected to replace Anthony, who was drafted 15th overall on Wednesday. The McDonald’s All-American played for Justin Tatum (Boston Celtics guard Jayson Tatum’s dad) in high school, where he averaged 26.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists as a senior.
Love has been named to the Naismith Player of the Year top 50 watch list and will be a key piece in UNC’s bounce-back season.
9. Remy Martin, senior guard, Arizona State
Arizona State senior Remy Martin is the top returning scorer in the Pac-12 and will head a Sun Devils team ranked preseason No. 18 in the AP poll.
Last year, the ASU guard guided his team to a 20-11 record and averaged 19.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.1 rebounds.
Martin will play alongside a gifted supporting cast, including senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. and 5-star freshman Joshua Christopher, Arizona State’s highest-ranked recruit since James Harden.
8. Collin Gillespie, senior guard, Villanova
No. 3 Villanova will rely heavily on top returning scorer, Collin Gillespie, who put up 15.1 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game last season.
Villanova will see its entire starting lineup return, except for Saddiq Bey, who was drafted by Detroit on Wednesday. The continuity between this season and last should help Gillespie take another step forward for Villanova in 2020.
From Jay Wright, 4 starters are locked in:— Eugene Rapay (@erapay5) November 19, 2020
5th starter still TBD, but mentioned it might change a lot. Between: Swider, Daniels, Slater.
Says maybe the best offensively may be used as 6th man
7. Corey Kispert, senior forward, Gonzaga
Gonzaga will begin the season as the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time in school history. Senior forward Corey Kispert is one reason the AP is so high on the Bulldogs.
Last year, Kispert averaged 13.9 points, shot 43.8% from three-point land and 81% from the charity stripe. He nearly went pro, but withdrew his name from the NBA draft in August.
His return will give Gonzaga an even better shot at a national title, one year after the Zags went 31-2 and likely would have received a No. 1 seed in last year’s cancelled NCAA tournament.
6. Jared Butler, junior guard, Baylor
Another player who withdrew his name from NBA draft consideration, Jared Butler will return to Baylor as the leading scorer on the second-ranked team in the country.
Butler posted 16.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per night on a 26-4 Bears team last season.
He and senior guard MaCio Teague, another NBA draft withdrawal, will make up one of the best backcourts in college basketball.
5. BJ Boston, freshman guard, Kentucky
No preseason watch list is complete without at least one hyped-up recruit headed to play for John Calipari at Kentucky.
The Wildcats lost 94% of their scoring, 98.6% of their assists, and 84.4% of their rebounding from last season, and will need the country’s No. 5 recruit, BJ Boston, to help make up for it.
Boston averaged 19.7 points and seven rebounds per game as a high school senior and is considered one of the top shooting guards in his recruiting class. His high school teammates included Dwyane Wade’s son, Zaire, and LeBron James’ son, Bronny.
4. Marcus Garrett, senior guard, Kansas
As a junior, Marcus Garrett contributed 9.2 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game for Kansas, who finished out the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.
The Jayhawks guard also averaged 1.8 steals and 4.5 deflections, which helped him earn Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Leading scorers Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike moved on to the NBA, so Garrett should see his role on offense enhanced, as well.
3. Ayo Dosunmu, junior guard, Illinois
A projected first-rounder in next year’s NBA draft, junior Ayo Dosunmu could help No. 8 Illinois make a run to the Final Four for the first time since 2005.
The 6'5" guard topped the Illini in scoring last season (16.6 ppg), and averaged 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
Dosunmu has been named to the preseason All-Big Ten team and Naismith watch list, along with teammate Kofi Cockburn, a frontcourt powerhouse.
2. Cade Cunningham, freshman guard, Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall recruit in college basketball, chose to play for Oklahoma State, a team banned from this year’s NCAA tournament for a Level I violation.
While March Madness isn’t in Cunningham’s future — unless the Cowboys win their appeal — a spot atop next year’s NBA draft board could be.
The 6'8", 220-pound point guard was the lone freshman named to the AP preseason All-American team and is the first Cowboy named to the team since Celtics guard Marcus Smart. His 0.9999 rating from 247Sports makes him the highest-rated point guard of the recruiting-rankings era.
1. Luka Garza, senior center, Iowa
Last season, Luka Garza was named a Naismith finalist and consensus first-team All-American after he nearly averaged a double-double, with 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
The senior Hawkeyes center also won the Big Ten Player of the Year award and was named the conference's preseason Player of the Year for the upcoming season.
The fifth-highest scorer in college basketball last year will look to build off his performance in hopes of leading the No. 5 Hawkeyes to their fourth Final Four in school history and first since 1980.