Duke’s first-year stars burst onto the scene last week with dominant performances in the team’s opener against Kentucky. R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish eached scored 20-plus points—with Barrett dropping 33 on the Wildcats. There’s a lot of reasons to be excited for the Blue Devil trio, but they aren’t the only players to keep an eye on this season.
Here are some of the college stars who could be household names come March.
Gonzaga’s Japanese import has been a long-term project for Mark Few’s coaching staff. The uber-athletic 6-8 combo forward arrived in Spokane as a raw talent in 2016. The team used his freshman season as a pseudo-redshirt year to not only refine his skills and and court awareness, but also help him assimilate to life in the U.S. The Toyama-native admits his English was poor in his first year, but credits time with his teammates and listening to rap music with helping him learn the language quickly.
The Zags’ patience appears to have paid off. Hachimura garnered the attention of NBA scouts with his impressive sophomore campaign. He averaged nearly 12 points per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field. Hachimura played even better this summer for the Japanese national team—posting at least 24 points in three of the squad’s four World Cup qualifying matchups.
If his 33-point performance in Gonzaga’s season opener is any indication, Hachimura is going to be a tough cover for teams all season.