Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Frank Mason and Devonté Graham are included on ESPN’s list of the Top 25 players in the country entering the 2016-17 college basketball season.
Jackson, a 6-foot-8 freshman shooting guard from Detroit, ranks No. 4 overall in a list compiled Thursday by ESPN Insider’s John Gasaway, while Mason, a 5-11 senior point guard from Petersburg, Va., checks in at No. 9 and Graham, a 6-2 junior combo guard from Raleigh, N.C., No. 13.
Gasaway, who spoke to The Star’s Jesse Newell on Thursday for a podcast, had this to say about Jackson.
“Perhaps it was inevitable that Jackson, a freakishly athletic, 6-foot-7 Kansas wing on a one-and-done trajectory, would be compared to Andrew Wiggins, a freakishly athletic, 6-foot-8 Jayhawk wing who went one-and-done after the 2013-14 season. Well, that’s a pretty good role model for any current freshman: Wiggins was an efficient featured scorer more or less from day one, and for his part, Jackson has been termed ‘ridiculously bright’ by Bill Self. There’s some discussion over whether the freshman is more of a wing or a two-guard, and his three-pointer is reportedly a work in progress. Still, Self says Jackson can be ‘the best freshman in the country.’ It could happen.”
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Of Mason, Gasaway wrote: “Mason has now made 74 consecutive starts at point guard for Self, and the senior is an excellent distributor who defends, makes threes and even — at 5-foot-11 —snags the occasional rebound. This summer, Mason was invited to participate in the Adidas Nations showcase, the latest indication that he’ll have every opportunity to pull an Isaiah Thomas and prove he has what’s required to stick with an NBA roster come 2017. That’s a good thing, too, because as far as Mason is concerned, baseball is out of the question.”
Gasaway was joking about Mason’s errant first pitch at last Sunday’s Royals-Twins game in Kauffman Stadium. It bounced past catcher Graham and rolled to the screen.
And of Graham, Gasaway wrote: “Occasionally, at a blue-chip program, you’ll come across a player with some eye-popping stats (such as, oh, I don’t know, a career three-point percentage of 43.4) who has never really been perceived as ‘the man.’ In the case of Graham, that perception might be about to change, particularly now that Perry Ellis is no longer available. The 6-foot-2 combo guard carries a formidable reputation as a defender and has already proven himself capable of dropping 27-point games against the likes of Oklahoma and West Virginia.”
The top three players in the country, according to Gasaway: Grayson Allen, Duke; Harry Giles, Duke and Kris Jenkins, Villanova.
Two first rounders
ESPN’s Chad Ford issued his first mock draft of the school year this week. KU’s Jackson was projected No. 3 overall and Carlton Bragg 20th.
Brandon Williams to visit for Late Night
Brandon Williams, a 6-1 junior point guard from Crespi High School in Encino, Calif., who is ranked No. 34 in the recruiting Class of 2018 by Rivals.com, will attend the Oct. 1 Late Night in the Phog on an unofficial recruiting visit, Williams tells Rivals.com. He also has Arizona and others on his early list.
Samuels names top five
Jermaine Samuels, a 6-6 senior small forward from Rivers School in Weston, Mass., who is ranked No. 49 in the recruiting Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, on Thursday reported his top five schools on Twitter. They are: KU, Indiana, Georgetown, Villanova and Duke.
Zagsblog.com reports that Samuels has visited Villanova and may visit Duke soon.
Washington may yet visit KU
P.J. Washington, a 6-7 senior forward from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., who is ranked No. 19 in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, has decided to visit Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Arizona, his dad, Paul, tells Zagsblog.com. He said his son will make his final visit to either KU, UNLV, UCLA or North Carolina State.