TOP OF THE TOWN – What am I missing? I’ve been watching or involved in college basketball for so long there are cobwebs raining down on my head. I think, or at least I thought I knew something about the players that play the game. Apparently not. Most mock NBA draft lists for this year’s selection of the best players in the land that will be held June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn have Washington’s two freshman, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, both six-foot-nine, going in the first round. McDaniels appears to be the top choice between the two, although I did find one mock draft that had Stewart being picked ahead of him. I disagree. Stewart started the season on fire and dominated inside the paint. Then the bruising Stewart was found out and teams routinely doubled and tripled teamed him and took away what was the Huskies best, and at the time, only scoring option. Once opposing teams figured out Stewart, who rarely took a medium jumper or moved outside near the 3-point line, he became just another guy and the Huskies, 11-4 at one point, slumped to 13-16 (3-13 and in the cellar of the Pac-12) with two regular season games left his coming week at Arizona and Arizona State. I’m not blaming Stewart on the Huskies swoon, but for me a top draft pick would figure out what he needed to do to produce on the offensive end (take his game to the top of the key or in the short corners?). But he didn’t and the Huskies, who also were severely hurt by the ineligible academically of point guard Quade Green, fell apart. Stewart also repeatedly committed stupid fouls and turnovers. I try to picture him in the NBA where he will be confronted with guys bigger, quicker and more talented than him and wonder where a team would play him. In order to succeed at that level he’s going to have an effective mid-range shot, the occasional three, and he’s going to have to be quick enough and handle it well enough to play on the perimeter. NBA scouts must believe he can do all that, but I don’t see it. At best, for me, Stewart is a NBA bench-warmer.  McDaniels has the talent you see in the NBA. I don’t doubt that. But he has two major weaknesses. Well, maybe it’s one bunched into two or three. McDaniels is very immature. He would have to mature quickly to compete in the NBA or else he will get swallowed whole. Two, he is not physically strong enough to play against some of the most physically aggressive people who are not playing in the NFL. He’s going to get whacked around in the league and most be able to withstand it, and I don’t see that. His inability to drive into crowded space and retain his dribble is  also dubious. I don’t know how many times I have seen him confronted by a defender and have his dribble stolen. How’s that going to play in the NBA? But I must be wrong or mock drafts wouldn’t have him taken as high as 11th in the first round. Bottom line is I have seen numerous players around the country, including in the Pac-12, that are as good as McDaniels and Stewart. I like Washington State senior Jeff Pollard, for example, and when it comes to freshman you can’t go wrong with  Pollard teammate, 6-5 Noah Williams. In fact, the Cougars are loaded. CJ Elleby, a 6-6 sophomore and the team’s leading scorer is listed on some mock drafts as going in the first round, and 6-3 Isaac Bonton is a load, too. I really like 6-9 Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin. He’s smooth and a good passer. One mock draft had Seton Hall’s Myles Powell at No. 68 and Markus Howard of Marquette at No. 70. Man, I like them both and feel they should be a lot higher on draft boards. Powell gets hounded by double teams every game, and Howard, too, and they still produce.  Powell is averaging 21.5 points for the Pirates and Howard 27.6 for the Golden Eagles. Oh well, what I think doesn’t count.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.

e’s smo