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Around College Basketball: Edition 2

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Another look around the college basketball ranks

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Duke at Gonzaga Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The second addition of Around College Basketball is here, and now with the season finished week three there is a lot to unpack. Teams like Duke and Gonzaga have been dominating the competition, while others like Villanova and Syracuse are struggling out of the gate. The Sixers are off to a solid start in the NBA, which means their pick won’t be at the top of the draft, but there are still many intriguing options late.

Pick Projection: 26th overall

Kings Watch: With a record of 10-8, the Sacramento Kings are projected to have the 14th pick. Since the Sixers will keep the lower between the two (top-one excluded), in this situation they will keep their pick at 26th overall.

Prospects to Watch:

Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga (PF): The beginning of the season has been kind to Hachimura’s draft stock as he has impressed in every opportunity. Coming off of a win against a Duke Blue Devils super team in the finals of the Maui Invitational, Hachimura was named tournament MVP after averaging 22 points and 6 rebounds. He even showed off some long range touch, going 3-6 from 3 in his three games played. Hachimura was the key piece to an upset over Duke because of his ability to make a difference in all aspects of the game.

The shot is still a work in progress, but he is showing the willingness to shoot and has a solid form. Forcing the most athletic player college basketball has seen in quite some time to move his feet and get enough separation to get a clean shot off isn’t an easy task. The Sixers need more athletic wings on both offense and defense, and Hachimura is proving he could fit that mold.

Carsen Edwards, Purdue (PG): Because of the trickiness of the Markelle Fultz situation, the Sixers could be in need of another point guard on the roster come next season. Carsen Edwards isn’t the prototypical point guard — his assist numbers have never been elite, but his scoring sure is. Part of the reason why he’s never been a true number one facilitator is because he’s always had to be the top option on offense. He may focus on scoring now, but at the next level, the handles he already has should translate and allow him to be much more involved with setting others up.

The fact that he can make shots like these shouldn’t hurt his draft stock either. Right now through five games Edwards is averaging 26.6 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds per game in his junior year. The Sixers need more players who can create their own shot, and Edwards could be that guy who gives the team a spark with some big shots off the bench.

P.J. Washington, Kentucky (PF/C): For the Sixers, this next draft may be all about adding depth. With a pick that will most likely not net them the next superstar, the team needs to work on becoming a deep team filled with a mix of youth and veteran leadership. Coming into the year, the University of Kentucky Wildcats were the second ranked team in the country. A blowout loss to Duke put a halt to a lot of the hype around the team but make no mistake, it is still there. A lot of that hype is due to PJ Washington deciding to return to school for another year. Through five games Washington is averaging 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Now one of the top options on the offense he is even starting to expand his shot towards the outside in order to adapt to the changing NBA. After a freshman year where Washington shot 24% from three point range, he is now shooting a much improved 62% albeit in a small sample size early in the season (5 for 8).

Washington has shown improved footwork needed to play down low and the quick twitch needed to defend outside. Coming back for his sophomore year seems like the right decision early on in the year for Washington.