The Step Back’s 2018 NBA Draft Big Board: Version 1.0


College Basketball is back on Nov. 10, and with that, we finally get a chance to start evaluating most of the players who should be candidates for a very top-heavy 2018 NBA Draft.

This year’s draft figures to be unique, in that there appear to be four players who all could have a solid case for being the No. 1 pick. DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic and Michael Porter Jr. all look like they have the profile of someone who could become a franchise player, and NBA teams will be keeping a close eye on these four throughout the year. The draft might not have the depth that last year’s class appears to have, but it’s certainly too early to tell, and we should see some diamonds emerge from the rough as the season goes on.

To prepare you for who to pay attention to as we kick off the year, Brandon Jefferson, Paul Centopani and myself have gotten together to try to hash out a rough big board, ranking prospects 1-60 to get a rough starting point of who the players that could matter in June will be. We will also offer a short scouting summary of the player, and a link to a scouting report from the Step Back’s fine draft writers.

Read More: 2017-18 Euroleague Season Preview

When the ball is tipped on Nov. 10, here is who to keep your eye on as we kick off another college basketball season.

click here." >

Luka Doncic

SG, Real Madrid

The 19-year-old Slovenian has been dominant in 2017. After taking home the EuroLeague Rising Star award, he helped Slovenia capture the EuroCup title and is currently leading Real Madrid to an impressive EuroLeague campaign. By the time the draft comes around, Doncic will be the most accomplished teenager in NBA Draft history. For more on Doncic, click here.
click here." >

Marvin Bagley

PF, Duke

Bagley might be the best two-way power forward we’ve seen in a few years. His ability to handle, finish and protect the rim should make him a very coveted big man in today’s NBA. For more on Bagley, click here.
click here." >

Michael Porter, Jr.

SF, Missouri

Porter Jr.’s title as the undisputed best prospect in the class has been put to the test in the offseason. However, the smooth 6-foot-10 wing has one of the most developed offensive games in this class. Place him in an NBA game today, and he could make a real impact. For more on Porter Jr., click here.

DeAndre Ayton

C, Arizona

Ayton’s unbelievable length and quickness should make him a prototypical NBA center. If his shooting and motor continue to pick up, he might have Joel Embiid-type impact at the college level.

Mo Bamba

C, Texas

A potential darkhorse for the No. 1 pick in 2018. Bamba combines intelligence — seriously considered attending an Ivy League school — with jaw dropping athleticism — reported 7-foot-9 wingspan. If he proves he can make an impact on both ends of the floor at Texas the sky’s the limit for him, and with his long arms there’s a chance he reaches it.

Jaren Jackson, Jr.

PF, Michigan State

The son of a former NBA journeyman, Jackson has great defensive potential and should develop into a quality slasher. He appears to be ready to thrive under Tom Izzo.

Collin Sexton

PG, Alabama

Once perceived as a shoot-first, shoot-second and shoot-third guard, Sexton finished up his senior year of high school dispelling those rumors thanks to his performances at the McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit. On arguably the most talented roster in Alabama basketball history, Sexton’s playmaking will be needed if the Crimson are to challenge for an SEC title.
click here." >

Miles Bridges

SF, Michigan State

After surprisingly withdrawing from last year’s draft, Bridges will look to solidify his scoring profile and become the top two-way wing on the board. For more on Bridges, click here.
click here." >

Robert Williams

C, Texas A&M

Williams also opted to return to Texas A&M for a second season despite being a consensus lottery pick a year ago. The long-limbed sophomore has stated a desire to develop and showcase more parts of his game ultimately led him to remaining an Aggie for another season. Critics will be tougher on Williams if he doesn’t prove that there is more to his game than blocked shots and lob dunks. For more on Williams, click here.

Wendell Carter

C, Duke

If Bagley is Duke’s flash, Carter will be the one making the team go behind him. A developing jumper and solid screen-setting means he could potentially be a bigger Al Horford-type.

Kevin Knox

PF, Kentucky

As the latest top recruit in John Calipari’s Freshmen Funhouse, there are a lot of expectations for Knox to live up to. An elite athlete with a shaky shot, Knox might not be as ready to dominate as some of Calipari’s past lead dogs. Potential is the keyword here, and his combination of size and versatility will make him highly sought after by NBA teams.

Troy Brown

SF, Oregon

A 6-foot-7 wing with decent on-ball skills who can defend multiple positions. Brown will likely command the ball for Oregon, and then project as a nice role player in the NBA.

Trevon Duvall

PG, Duke

Duvall’s game is in the mold of the modern NBA point guard (a penetrating, athletic scorer) à la Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. Duval’s long arms allow him to finish difficult plays at the rim. With the talent on the Blue Devils roster, the question is if he can find the right balance between scoring and facilitating.
click here." >

Bruce Brown

SG, Miami

Brown was a draft scout favorite last year thanks to his potential as a lead guard. Now that he’s back at Miami, he has to turn that potential into some more production for the ‘Canes. For more on Brown, click here.
click here." >

Dzanan Musa

SF, Cedevita

Musa isn’t as well-known of a name as Luka Doncic, but he is nipping at his heels as a prospect. He’s a wing that has displayed a knack for offense and the intricacies it requires to score efficiently. The 6-foot-9 Bosnian was named the Most Improved Player at 2017 Adidas Eurocamp in June. For more on Musa, click here.

Chimezie Metu


The junior big man broke out last season for the Trojans, and will now look to make his way to the NBA if he continues to produce as a rim protector.

Gary Trent, Jr.

SF, Duke

The son of Gary Trent, Trent Jr.’s game couldn’t be any more different from his father’s. The younger Trent is a capable ball handler from the wing who can make tough shots with ease. He shouldn’t have to rely on shooting over defenders and double teams as much as he did in AAU and in high school at Duke. Trent Jr. is a candidate to become a riser amongst this year’s crop of prospects.

Mitchell Robinson

PF, Western Kentucky

The five-star committed to a mid-major, and now will be out of basketball this year. How he fits in this draft class despite his whirlwind summer is going to be fascinating.

Hamidou Diallo

SG, Kentucky

Diallo was an early enrollee for the Wildcats a year ago, joining the team around January. He didn’t suit up last season, but opted to test the waters. A phenomenal athlete, Diallo intrigued some teams but he opted to return to Kentucky to get some actual game film on file. Diallo’s improvement as a shooter will be key for his draft stock.

Nick Richards

C, Kentucky

The freshman big man has a clear skill set as a dive man and rebounder. But this is a crowded frontcourt, and his long-term upside might be slightly limited.

Lonnie Walker

SG, Miami

Arguably could become the best two-way wing in this entire class. Walker combines length, athleticism and perimeter shooting better than any other guard on this big board. He suffered an injury early in preseason but is back in action now.

Mikal Bridges

SG/SF, Villanova

If Bridges can prove last year’s numbers are sustainable on a higher volume, he’ll be much higher than this in June. He looks like a solid 3-and-D prospect, but needs more production.
check out his full scouting report." >

Rodions Kurucs

SF, Barcelona

Most thought Kurucs would keep his name in last season’s draft, but the Latvian forward opted to withdraw his name at the last moment. Kurucs plays for Barcelona in Liga ACB. At 6-foot-9 he provides versatility on both ends of the court. After spending a majority of his time on Barcelona’s B-team last year there’s hope that he will see more minutes with the top team after coming back. For more on Kurucs, check out his full scouting report.

Killian Tillie

PF, Gonzaga

The Frenchman was lights out in a limited role last year, hitting 47.8 percent from the perimeter and averaging 13/10 per 40 minutes. In a starting role this season, he’ll try to prove that promise was real.

Brandon McCoy


A physically imposing big man, McCoy is going to be the focal point of a UNLV program looking to regain its footing as one of the top teams in the West. McCoy has displayed an ability to stretch the court at times and his 7-foot-2 wingspan makes him a handful in the paint on both sides of the ball. Inconsistent play and immaturity have plagued McCoy, though, and he’ll need to prove those issues are behind him.

Austin Wiley

C, Auburn

Wiley is another solid big man prospect, with rim protection capability and a raw but developing offensive skill set.

De’Anthony Melton


Another member of what should be a very good USC team, Melton is one of the top perimeter defenders in this year’s crop of prospects. Melton needs to improve as an outside shooter (28.4 percent on 3-pointers last year) to get a real look as a potential first round pick.

Justin Jackson

SF, Maryland

A nice shooting stroke and decent physical tools mean Jackson could be a useful 3-and-D wing. However, he needs to hit shots consistently and show some technical improvement to live up to the hype.

Isaac Bonga

PG, Fraport Skyliners

Positionless basketball means more prospects like Bonga coming through the ranks. A 6-foot-7 point guard with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, the German offers size and length as a playmaker. Bonga, who just turned 18, has yet to put together a stretch of great play, but the potential is screaming from him already.

Jarred Vanderbilt

PF, Kentucky

Prior to his foot injury, Vanderbilt looked like a lottery talent. However, the uncertainty surrounding his recovery and return to the floor mean he’s down here for now.

Allonzo Trier

SG, Arizona

Trier had a weird sophomore season at Arizona. He was initially suspended for the use of PEDs and then couldn’t find his footing once he did return to the court. Trier is a born scorer and has the ability to impact the game at all three levels offensively. With a once-in-a-program type of talent in DeAndre Ayton joining the Wildcats, Trier could see his life become a lot easier.

Yves Pons

SG, Tennessee

A rim-rocking, athletic wing from France, Pons is built like a tank and looks like a potentially monstrous defender. He’s still very raw, but his profile will have NBA scouts interested in June.

DeVonte Graham

PG, Kansas

A senior, Graham has played mostly off the ball alongside last season’s Naismith Player of the Year recipient, Frank Mason. This season, Graham should be able to fully showcase his abilities at the point guard position.

Billy Preston

PF, Kansas

Preston has the size and athleticism to be an intriguing open-court option at the four. However, he needs a lot of fine-tuning of his skills before he becomes a legitimate first-round prospect.
check out his full scouting report." >

Grayson Allen

SG, Duke

Allen has become the latest disciple in a long line of hated Blue Devils. His antics reached a new low last season and led to him serving a one-game suspension. In the lead up to his senior season, Allen has been a model player on and off the court. Allen’s outside shooting prowess will make him a coveted prospect next summer. For more on Allen, check out his full scouting report.

Felipe Dos Anjos

C, San Pablo

A massive 7-foot-2 big man with great mobility and signs of a decent jumper. The Brazilian looks like a solid draft-and-stash option for this year’s draft.

P.J. Washington

PF, Kentucky

Washington has been a winner at just about every level he’s played at prior to reaching Kentucky this year. An undersized power forward at 6-foot-7, Washington’s ridiculous 7-foot-3 wingspan allows him to be effective in the paint and against bigger opponents. Washington will need to show he can take advantage of mismatches and provide outside shooting in order to move up this list in the future.

Nikiel Alexander-Walker

PG, Virginia Tech

A 6-foot-5 combo guard with a solid jumper and legitimate NBA size. He struggles with physicality, but if he can add some mass to his frame and become a better decision-maker, his player archetype is a valuable one in the NBA.

Jaylen Hands


Filling the Big Baller Brand sized hole at point guard for UCLA won’t be an easy task, but Hands possesses the all-around game to give it a shot. Hands’ impressive leaping ability will make him a featured act on social media all season long. A capable facilitator and willing defender, Hands is a solid point guard prospect at worst.

Dino Radoncic

SF, Real Madrid

The Real Madrid prospect you haven’t heard of. Radoncic projects as a solid three and small-ball four who has been a good catch-and-shoot weapon and can defend three positions.

Rawle Alkins

SG, Arizona

Alkins is a big guard at a listed 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds that knows how to use his size to his advantage. Alkins had a lot of success as a slasher and driver in his freshman season at Arizona, and also showed off touch from 3-point range by connecting on 37.0 percent of his attempts. He suffered a broken foot at the end of September and will miss the first few months of this season.

Kostja Mushidi

SF, Mega Bemax

A German shooting guard with NBA length and athleticism. He needs to show some growth as a shooter and decision-maker to live up to his first round grade that many gave him last season.

Rui Hachimura

PF, Gonzaga

Hachimura did not get much time on the court last season for the Bulldogs but he showed during the FIBA U19 Tournament this summer that he has talent, averaging 20.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per game for Japan. Another undersized big at 6-foot-8, his 7-foot wingspan makes him more than serviceable in the interior.

Andrew Jones

PG, Texas

Jones showed flashes as a playmaker last season, but was pretty inconsistent. This year, he should look better by virtue of having Mo Bamba catching his lobs, and that should help him blossom as a creator.

Alize Johnnson

PF, Missouri State

After averaging a double-double (14.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game) in his junior season at Missouri State, Johnson’s name found its way onto NBA radars. A stretch-four, Johnson shot 38.8 percent from deep as a junior. He won’t face the same type of talent consistently as other names on this list, but if he can keep posting numbers like he did a season ago he will hear his name called in June.

Arnoldas Kulboka

PF, Capo D’Orlando

Kulboka might be a little undersized to play the four in the NBA, but his shooting stroke is unmatched in this class. While he needs to continue to show promise as a rebounder, his shooting is a draftable skill alone.

Ethan Happ

SF, Wisconsin

A fixture at Wisconsin, Happ has one of the most advanced post games of any big man in college basketball. Not just a scorer, Happ can also impact the game as a passer. If early reports out of Madison suggesting Happ has extended his range to the 3-point line this year are true, Happ will be a steal in the second round.

Kris Wilkes


Wilkes’ skill set is intriguing to keep an eye on. He’ll need to add significant strength to hack it at the NBA level, but he’s an interesting prospect.

Elie Okobo

PG, Pau-Orthez

The French combo guard has shown a knack for scoring at an early age. Okobo is a tough shot maker, but at just 6-foot-2 needs to become more adept at making plays for others rather than just himself if he wants to raise his status as a prospect.

Landry Shamet

SG/SF, Wichita St.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: There’s a Wichita State guard who’s incredibly efficient and is a great decision-maker and will probably lead the Shockers deep into the tournament. Shamet’s efficiency as a shooter could make him a valuable NBA prospect as well.

Jock Landale

C, St. Mary’s

Landale is a throwback to a time when big men ruled the basketball world. His efficiency in the paint has been his calling card (he shot 61.1 percent from the field as a junior) to this point of his career.

Bryant Crawford

PG, Wake Forest

With no John Collins, it’s the 6-foot-3 guard’s show at Wake. If he can demonstrate improved efficiency with his shot, Crawford could be a sleeper as a two-way point guard.

Charles Matthews

SG, Michigan

The former Kentucky player will make his debut at Michigan this year after sitting out last season following his transfer. Matthews is a smooth and wiry wing that John Beilein has had success molding into NBA-caliber talent in the past. If Matthews has become a better perimeter shooter he’s a name to watch in this class.

Shake Milton


Milton has an NBA body and a skill set that could make him a useful combo guard. He needs to show he can defend at an NBA level, however.

Vince Edwards

SF, Purdue

The Purdue senior forward has all the callings of a future 3-and-D wing, which is a position that every team can never have too many of. He’ll be thrusted more into the spotlight this season and has a chance to show he could potentially fill a bigger role.

Moritz Wagner

PF, Michigan

A 6-foot-10 stretch four who has a solid stroke and plays bigger than his size. Unfortunately, that size is probably still a problem in the NBA if he doesn’t add strength.

Bonzie Colson

SF, Notre Dame

A preseason Player of the Year candidate, Colson is the heart and soul of the Fighting Irish. A truly undersized prospect standing at only 6-foot-5, Colson uses every last inch of his 7-foot wingspan to his advantage.

Tyus Battle

SG, Syracuse

The 6-foot-6 two-guard has some NBA tools when it comes to scoring, but he’s a Syracuse guard, and has the typical defensive concerns.

Jontay Porter

C, Missouri

The younger brother of potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr., Jontay re-classified in order to join him at Missouri this season. Porter has shown flashes of being an inside-out frontcourt player while also providing rim-protection.

Tryggvi Hlinason

C, Valencia

Just your typical 7-foot tall Icelandic farm boy who picked up a basketball at 17 and made a Euroleague roster three years later. He’s still growing into his body, but his passing and rebounding make him an interesting long-term project.