As the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to struggle, we’d like to offer you some alternative viewing experiences. The Cavs will almost assuredly be picking at the top of the 2019 NBA Draft, and they will have a pick later in the first round, as well. So, it’ll be important to keep tabs on all of the top prospects this winter. That might be a challenge this year, as the class could have a lot of fluctuation during the season, especially outside of the top five. That can make it difficult to keep track of everyone.
But never fear — we will be here to provide your weekly watch guide to all of the top prospects. Each week, we will break out the best games of the week for NBA Draft interest, including who will be matching up and where to find the week’s top games in college basketball and Europe. For this week, we’re focused mostly on power forward prospects - there are many options for the Cavs if they want to go a new direction at the four, and a lot of the best candidates play each other this week.
Virginia vs. North Carolina - 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
Virginia: De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome; UNC: Nassir Little, Coby White, Cam Johnson
Hunter vs. Nassir Little and Cam Johnson is an interesting matchup that pits Hunter against similarly athletic three/four hybrids. While Little isn’t a very technically sound defender, and Johnson is a little slow for the position, both players should be good tests for Hunter, with Little’s high-end athleticism and Johnson’s shooting off movement and smart defensive ability. We haven’t seen much of Hunter against equal-level athletes outside of the games against Duke, so this matchup will be an interesting one.
Kentucky vs. LSU - 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Kentucky: Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington, Ashton Hagans; LSU: Naz Reid, Tremont Waters
Another battle between college fours with first-round potential, Naz Reid vs. P.J. Washington offers more of a throwback battle between two strong face-up bigs. Reid is the better handler and stronger finisher, but Washington is the better passer and shooter. Both also struggle with team defense but have shown to be capable individual defenders, so this should be a good showcase to see which prospect can get an edge.
Kansas State vs. Texas - 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2
Kansas State: Dean Wade; Texas: Jaxson Hayes, Kerwin Roach
Wade is a stretch four prospect who might drag Hayes out of the paint a bit, giving us a good look at how he’ll do defending pick-and-pops.
Duke vs. Louisville - 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Duke: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, Tre Jones, Jack White; Louisville: V.J. King
Duke game! Even though this one isn’t going to be too interesting — Louisville might be the least watchable team in the country, and they don’t match up particularly well with the Blue Devils either. This could get ugly, even though the Cardinals are ranked.
USC vs. Stanford - 11:00 p.m. EST, ESPNU
USC: Kevin Porter Jr., Nikola Rackocevic; Stanford: Kezie Okpala
Porter and Okpala won’t match up every time down the floor, but we should get a few battles between wings that are perceived as first-round talents despite inconsistent and raw performance this year. Okpala is the stronger, more powerful driving force. Porter is the more athletic handler with high level upside thanks to his shooting mechanics. Both have their weaknesses that will be countered by the other, and this will be a good challenge between players on opposite ends of the wing spectrum.
Penn State vs. Purdue - 4:00 p.m., Big Ten Network
Penn State: Josh Reaves; Purdue: Carsen Edwards
Sicking Reaves on Edwards, one of the best volume shooters in the class, is going to be a spectacle. Edwards might still get his points. But Reaves is an NBA defender, and we will get a shot to see how he is able to get shots up against real competition.
Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh - 4:30 p.m. EST, ACC Network
Virginia Tech: Nickeil Alexander-Walker; Pittsburgh: Xavier Johnson
Two combo guards with different skill sets squaring off here, as the athletic driving Johnson faces off with one of the better off-the-dribble scorers in the class. NAW should be in play for the Cavs because of his potential as a secondary creator, while Johnson looks like he’ll probably be a first-round prospect next season. One of the more underrated games of the week here.
North Carolina State vs. Duke - 6:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
Duke: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, Jack White
Watch the Duke game.
LSU vs. Georgia - 6:00 p.m. EST, SEC Network
LSU: Naz Reid, Tremont Waters; Georgia: Nick Claxton
After having to wrangle Washington and Reid Travis, Reid now gets a matchup with the athletic and fluid Claxton, who will test the limits of Reid’s athleticism.
Yale vs. Cornell - 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Yale: Miye Oni; Cornell: Matt Morgan
The Ivy League has multiple real NBA prospects this year, headlined by Oni, who is a 6’9” athletic four with on-ball skill. This will be a good chance to see him as well as Matt Morgan, an efficient volume scorer who has a future as a G-League/two-way guy.
Tennessee vs. Kentucky - 8:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
Tennessee: Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Yves Pons; Kentucky: Keldon Johnson, P.J. Washington, Ashton Hagans
Grant Williams vs. Keldon Johnson and P.J. Washington is the marquee individual matchup of the week. Given that Johnson isn’t particularly physical, seeing him have to face off with Williams and Schofield should be a good test of his finishing and driving ability.
Villanova vs. St. Johns - 5:00 p.m. EST, Fox Sports One
Villanova: Eric Paschall; St. Johns: Shamorie Ponds
Another battle of fringe first-round prospects this week. Paschall has been somewhat disappointing this year, but the real star here is Ponds, one of the better scoring guards in the draft class.