The No. 2 seed Kentucky Wildcats are less than 24 hours away from their first NCAA Tournament game. There are 64 teams that will be vying for the 2019 National Championship trophy.
What comes with these 64 teams is a ton of talented basketball players. There are conference Players of the Year, Naismith Trophy Finalists, All-Americans, and future NBA draft picks.
John Gasaway of ESPN took on the task of ranking the top 10 players in this year’s tournament. Here’s what he came up with:
.@JohnGasaway ranks the top players in this year's 2019 NCAA tournament pic.twitter.com/KS8FZ7mKWf— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 20, 2019
PJ Washington comes in at No. 8 on Gasaway’s list. The Duke Blue Devils are the only team with two players in the top 10. And Ja Morant is the only player that’s not on a team with a No. 5 seed or higher.
Zion Williamson is the Player of the Year in college basketball, so it makes sense he’d be number one on this list. He’s also likely going to be drafted first in the NBA Draft. Add in RJ Barrett at number six and it’s easy to see why Duke is the number one overall seed. Barrett is probably a little underrated, too. This doesn’t even account for future lottery pick Cameron Reddish or future first-round pick Tre Jones.
Ja Morant plays for the Murray State Racers, a No. 12 seed, and will be a top-five pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He’s an absolute stud, the kind of talent you hate to see in March. The Racers might not win a single game in this tournament, as their opponent has the number seven ranked player on this list, but Morant gives them a chance.
Brandon Clarke has been a force in the post for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, while Cassius Winston has single-handedly propelled the Michigan State Spartans to the number one overall two seed.
We all know Grant Williams, the SEC Player of the Year. Yes, he’s supremely talented, but he’d be number one on a list that ranked the best floppers in college basketball. As mentioned above, Markus Howard will face off in the best one-on-one matchup in the first round. Howard can absolutely fill it up and watching him going basket for basket with Morant will be fun.
Ethan Happ is back for his 17th NCAA Tournament appearance. He’s helped lead the Wisconsin Badgers all season long. And Wildcats fans know Tremont Waters well, as he has dominated the SEC two years in a row now. The pesky point guard can score at will and he’s a nightmare in the passing lanes.
And, of course, we have to talk about PJ. He has improved tremendously from year one to year two in Lexington. Coming back to school turned out to be the best decision he could have made. He’s slowly become the best three-point shooter, percentage wise, on the team, and he can dominate the paint.
We’ve heard news that PJ’s been in a walking boot since Sunday, but it appears he will play this weekend. This is a reminder of just how important he is to this team and how much we should cherish him before he heads to the NBA.
There’s never an easy route to win a championship, but it certainly helps having one of the best players in the country manning the frontline.