The 2020-21 college basketball season will tip off Nov. 25 in the aftermath of a canceled March Madness. While many of the major early season tournaments will be held in a Disney World bubble and schools will begin to host games on their campuses over holiday breaks, there are a handful of must-watch players who could drive their teams to successful seasons.
Among the most important players are from another one-and-done freshman class, following in the footsteps of Zion Williamson — the 2019 No. 1 pick in the NBA draft — and Anthony Edwards — the potential No. 1 pick in November’s draft.
Although some players chose different paths than the college-to-NBA route — Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga opted to sign with the G League instead of going to the NCAA — there are plenty of program-lifting players ready to break out.
Here’s a look at the five most intriguing freshmen college basketball players who could be the next NBA stars.
Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
A favorite to go No. 1 in the 2020 NBA draft, Cunningham chose to play for the Cowboys even though they’re banned from the 2021 NCAA tournament by an NCAA Committee on Infractions decision in May. The 6-foot-7 combo guard can score, pass and, most notably, defend. Expect the Cowboys to be a Big 12 regular-season title contender with Cunningham leading the way.
Evan Mobley, Southern California
The 7-footer will be explosive and versatile for coach Andy Enfield’s Trojans, posing a threat on the low block with finesse moves and a dunking machine in transition. USC will need Mobley to be as dominant as he is advertised to be a contender in a crowded Pac-12, having lost a majority of its scoring from 2019-20.
B.J. Boston, Kentucky
Boston is an athletic wing who will be the latest of coach John Calipari’s freshmen superstars to drive a March Madness run. Boston, a 6-6 scoring guard, can shoot well from the perimeter and finish well against contact near the rim. He played for Sierra Canyon (Calif.) in high school, a team with the sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
Suggs should make an immediate splash for the ‘Zags, a team expected to be in the running for preseason No. 1. He’ll fit perfectly in coach Mark Few’s system as a dynamic two-way player who can be infectious with his energy.
Caleb Love, North Carolina
Love will give coach Roy Williams a player who can spearhead a bounce-back season after last season’s off year. The point guard will be at the controls of one of Williams’ most loaded freshman classes ever, facilitating and setting the tone.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.