By Jack Lev ’20
With the season beginning on Nov. 10, the buzz up and down the hallways of Staples High School is centered around the 2018 college basketball season.
Students have been investigating questions such as: will the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill take home the national championship for the second year in a row or will there be a new team whom claims the throne? Who will receive the award of Naismith Player of the Year? Are freshman phenoms such as Mohamed Bamba of Texas and Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky going to live up to the hype?
When asked which team will take home the National Championship this year, Benny Feuer ’20 was adamant that Duke will win the title. After coming off of a disappointing season where Duke was the first team to ever be ranked number one going into the year and not advance past the “sweet 16”, this program is hungry for a championship. In order to accomplish this goal of winning a national title, the Blue Devils staff dedicated themselves to recruiting top-notch incoming freshman for the 2018 season. Duke acquired seven players, four of which rank amongst the top 20 players in the country according to ESPN, including the number one player in the nation, Marvin Bagley. With the likes of Bagley and returning senior, Grayson Allen, Feuer’s prediction is certainly not unjustifiable.
Jake Thaw ’20 disagrees with Feuer’s stance. Thaw believes the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will win their second title in a row.“Coming up big in the recruiting class of 2017, they (the University of North Carolina) got Jalek Felton, a much needed young guard to help support Joel Berry,” he said. Thaw went on to state how there would be “no reason this team wouldn’t be able to contend with the fantastic freshman of Duke, Louisville, etc.” Although North Carolina lost some great players to the NBA draft this year such as Justin Jackson and big-man Kennedy Meeks, as Thaw pointed out, the school acquired Jalek Felton who ranks number 28 in the country via ESPN and number one for his position (point guard), amongst six other exceptional recruits.
Another highly debated question at Staples is who will win the award for Naismith Player of the Year? Last year, Frank Mason III of the University of Kansas received the award, but now that he is in the NBA, there will be a new winner. There is a lot of talk surrounding guys like Marvin Bagely of Duke and DeAndre Ayton of Arizona, but Sam Maged ’20 has a different thought on who will claim the award this season. “Michael Porter Jr. will win the Naismith player of the year because of his versatility; he will lead a struggling Missouri team last year to a successful season where they will finish with a winning record,” he said.
Maged seemed quite sure that the number two recruit according to 247sports, will be taking the Naismith award home this year. The 6’10” small forward is full of potential and represents a case similar to what college basketball fans witnessed in the 2015-2016 season with Ben Simmons who averaged a staggering 19.2 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game at LSU; Simmons wound up being selected number one overall in the NBA draft following his freshman year. Other players who have the potential of winning the award for the 2018 season include: Colin Sexton out of Alabama, Joel Berry II from UNC at Chapel Hill, Trevon Duval of Duke, and Jevon Carter from West Virginia.
Lastly, there’s the question of will freshman phenom such as Mohamed Bamba of Texas and Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky live up to the hype. “I think Bamba will play well but won’t live up to the hype he is getting from media entering the season, but I do think Diallo will be unreal,” Michael Loucas ’20 said.
Mohamed Bamba, although just a freshman, has already been called a “potential top ten pick in the 2018 NBA draft” and “an elite defensive presence,” by NBC Sports. Only time will tell if Bamba will rise to the occasion and surpass the pedestal he has been put on by the media or crumble under the pressure and fall.
After redshirting his freshman year, Hamidou Diallo has decided to return to Kentucky and not declare for the draft. Although Diallo didn’t play his freshman season, he was projected to be taken in the 20’s of the first round for this year’s NBA draft. Despite not playing a game for Kentucky to this point, Diallo has been called the “holy grail of guards” by SBNation, and has given hope to the fans of Kentucky. According to SBNation, Diallo has a 44.5 inch-vertical and a wingspan of 6’11,” although he is only 6’5”.
Watching the freshman talents of Marvin Bagely, Michael Porter Jr., Colin Sexton, etc. will make for an exhilarating 2018 college basketball season. And by the time it gets to March, the students at Staples will of course have their computers out doing hard work (not watching March Madness to see who will win the national championship).