The 2016-2017 college basketball season is underway, but the frenzy of March Madness is still months away.
The regular season can be a bit of a slog, but there are still plenty of reasons to tune in. The current crop of players includes some of the most spectacularly athletic ballers the sport has ever seen. If you happen to come across a game featuring one of these five players, put down the remote and get ready for a show.
1. Harry Giles is a Giant Who Moves Like a Guard
Photo via UK Athletics
Harry Giles is a freshman forward for Duke University. He was the consensus number one overall recruit in the 2016 class, and for good reason. Though Giles stands 6-foot-10, he moves with the grace of a player a foot shorter:
The man is ridiculously smooth for someone his size. Giles can hammer down dunks, blow by defenders and drain deep threes. That’s just not fair. Equipped with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Giles is also a shot-blocking octopus on the defensive end. But all this talent didn’t come exclusively from his genetic makeup. Giles reportedly has an excellent work ethic, as can be seen in this intense workout video:
Impressive stuff. The only concern with Giles is his health. He recently had his third knee surgery since 2013, a procedure that will keep him sidelined for another couple of weeks. But when he returns, he’s going to be hard to miss.
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2. Josh Jackson Is Already NBA-Ready
Photo via UK Athletics
Josh Jackson can fly. The 6-foot-8 freshman forward for the University of Kansas has an outrageous 41.5-inch vertical jump:
His leaping ability is off the charts, but Jackson wouldn’t be projected as a top-5 pick in next year’s NBA Draft if all he could is jump. His long strides allow him to glide through the lane in the blink of an eye, and his elite vision helps him rack up assists. Pair those attributes with a buttery set of handles and you have a player who might live up to the hype. Like Giles, Jackson’s work ethic is also an asset:
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3. De’Aaron Fox is a Blur
Kentucky freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox is a blur on the court. His lightning-like speed allows him to dust players in transition and teleport to the rim in an instant.
Consider this: Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks recently said that John Wall, a former Kentucky point guard himself, might be the fastest player in the history of the NBA. Fox thinks he’s faster than him. “I think I’m faster than John,” he recently told SEC Country. It’s hard to argue with him. No one could even come close to staying in front of him during a recent Kentucky scrimmage:
I didn’t know The Flash played basketball for UK. But what makes Fox an elite player is the fact that he supplements his speed with silky handles, a smooth jumper and a strong ability to finish at the rim. He’s also a defensive nightmare.
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“He is as good on the ball as any player I’ve seen—his hands are as quick and active as any player I’ve seen in a long time,” ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg told SEC Country. “He just takes you out. I don’t know if they keep deflections, but he’ll set a record for deflections at Kentucky. He’s got hands, great reach, terrific anticipation and instinct, and he’s got a mindset defensively to disrupt.”
Kentucky will be a very scary team with this mismatch machine at the helm.
4. Kerwin Roach Jr. is a Young Russell Westbrook
Texas hoops is on the upswing under Shaka Smart, and Kerwin Roach Jr. could play a big role in their revival. A 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, Roach has an unreal blend of explosiveness and speed. Tell me this dunk doesn’t remind you of Russell Westbrook:
Roach also won two 6A state championships in the Triple Jump while he was in high school. Oh, and he can do this:
An excellent rebounder for his position, Roach is one of the few triple-double threats in college basketball.
5. Miles Bridges Will Probably Jump Over The Backboard One Day
This season features a ton of talented freshmen. Michigan State’s Miles “Manchild” Bridges might end up being the best of them all. In his first game as a Spartan, the 6-foot-7 guard/forward dropped 21 points and 7 rebounds. Those stats could become a regular occurrence for Bridges, who possesses outrageous athletic ability. How many players do you know who can conquer the entire Vertec pole?
During a Pro-Am game last Summer, Bridges threw down a two-handed tomahawk where he elevated so high he actually hit his head on the rim:
Bridges also has a supersonic first step and great finishing ability. We’re guessing he will be a frequent feature on SportsCenter’s Top 10 this season.
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