This week, we decided to explore which of those 53 players — or even an unranked committed player — is likely to exert the greatest immediate impact on his team’s won/loss record in 2016-17.
We asked our national experts that question, asking them to account for the player’s fit with his program and that team’s needs based on how we can forecast their roster for that season.
Rob Harrington: I’m looking directly at Chris Lewis, our No. 100 ranked prospect. The powerful 6-8 center from Georgia is headed to Harvard, and there simply aren’t many big men like him in the Ivy League. Fans typically associate skillful shooters with the better Ivy teams, but Lewis will bring legitimate high-major size and power to the post.
Not only is he rugged, however, he’s a skilled back to the basket scorer and has proved himself time and again versus national competition. He’ll enable the Crimson to incorporate an offensive style rarely seen at that level, and physically he already possesses a college-ready body to step in and make a huge impact his freshman season.
Brian Snow: For me, the answer is Markelle Fultz. Washington has a ton of talented pieces all over the court, but without an elite point guard those pieces wouldn't have the same impact. Now that Washington has Fultz, they have all the tools to make a big run, and his replacement (had he picked another school) wouldn't have come close to his ability.
Evan Daniels: I'll go with Dennis Smith. He's got to get the ball right when he steps on campus at NC State and with his natural ability, he has a chance to not only be their best player, but also one of the best players in the ACC. He changes speeds so well, consistently gets into the paint and this past July showed improvement when it comes to running a team.
Josh Gershon: Markelle Fultz has a great opportunity right away at Washington. Lorenzo Romar used a huge 2015 recruiting class to load up the program with talent but the only piece he was missing was point guard. Fultz is going to be able to step right into Seattle and get all the minutes he can handle in what should be a really successful season for the Huskies.