This week, Sports Illustrated released an early look at the top 60 players projected to reach the 2019 NBA draft.
Not surprisingly, no Colorado Buffaloes were among the Pac-12 players predicted to reach next year's draft festivities. A total of seven Pac-12 players cracked the list, with incoming freshmen Louis King (Oregon) and Kevin Porter Jr. (USC) topping the league's selections at No. 14 and No. 18, respectively.
Like Porter, Oregon has another incoming freshman boasting NBA heritage in 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, who was listed at No. 21, while UCLA sophomore Kris Wilkes was the league's top returning player to reach the list at No. 35.
The Buffs' omission, however, doesn't mean there isn't NBA potential on CU's roster. Bear in mind similar lists the past two summers included neither Derrick White, a first round pick of San Antonio a year ago, nor George King, who was selected late in the second round by Phoenix last week.
NBA scouts typically look at the ceiling of a prospect's respective skill-set, and not the headlines that follow him out of high school and through college. That's why King was drafted and a handful of far more hyped players from Arizona — Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, and Dusan Ristic — were not.
Here is a glance at the CU prospects most likely to eventually hear their name called in the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-7 small forward has the sort of athleticism coveted at the next level. Long limbs. Explosive leaper. An ability to guard multiple positions. The potential to be an elite rebounder along with a deceptively soft outside touch. If Bey can continue to add muscle and finish consistently around the rim, look out.
Like it or not, Wright's 6-foot height always will be a question. Yet he is strong and sturdy floor general unafraid of mixing it up inside. Already a five-star prospect in terms of attitude and work ethic, continuing to improve his outside shooting touch and assist-to-turnover rate will bolster Wright's pro prospects.
Coach Tad Boyle continues to stress Walton is a work in progress. Yet if the Arvada native keeps pushing his production on the glass and defensively, 7-foot players who are light on their feet and can knock down an open shot tend to get NBA opportunities.
Honorable mention to Evan Battey, Namon Wright, and D'Shawn Schwartz. Battey hasn't played competitive basketball the past two years and is recovering from a stroke late in 2017, but his mix of size and skill is intriguing. Namon Wright boasts many of the same skills as King but hasn't yet played at an elite level in any aspect, as King did while leading the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage two years ago and ranking fifth in rebounding this past year.
Schwartz certainly didn't flash NBA potential as a freshman in 2017-18, averaging 3.4 points. But he is a long-armed 6-foot-7 with a smooth shooting touch. And remember, King averaged a whopping 5.5 minutes and 1.5 points when he was a freshman.
Reid Travis fallout
Reid Travis' departure from Stanford to join Kentucky for one season as a graduate transfer doesn't necessarily alter the balance of power at the top of the Pac-12 Conference.
It does, however, widen the window of opportunity the Colorado men's basketball team will attempt to break through during the 2018-19 season.
At the outset of summer the Pac-12 picture looks much the same as it did at the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign, with Oregon and its top-five recruiting class expected to play the role of league favorite with UCLA, USC, Arizona, and perhaps Washington and Arizona State harboring goals of catching the Ducks.
At the very least, the Buffaloes figure to jockey for the top spot behind those front-runners, if they don't crash the conference race. Stanford also figured to be a fixture in that middle pack, but without Travis the Cardinal is far less intimidating. And after Oregon, the remainder of the early Pac-12 contenders shouldn't be out of reach for the maturing Buffs. Both UCLA (Aaron Holiday, Thomas Welsh) and USC (Jordan McLaughlin, Chimezie Metu) lost their top two players, while Arizona is undergoing a complete roster overall.
The Buffs are attempting to finalize one game before releasing the 2018-19 nonconference schedule...Part of Washington's incoming recruiting class is 6-foot-7 Jamal Bey, the cousin of the Buffs' Tyler Bey...This week Cal added Matz Stockman, a graduate transfer from Minnesota who will be eligible immediately. Stockman never actually played for Minnesota, sitting out the 2017-18 season per NCAA transfer rules after joining the Golden Gophers following three years as a lightly-used backup at Louisville. Cal coach Wyking Jones formerly was an assistant at Louisville...This week USC landed a player who, in effect, is likely to be the top walk-on in the Pac-12. California prep star Drake London committed to the Trojans for football but also is expected to play basketball.