A Look Ahead to the 2021 NBA Draft
Former NBA scout Matt McKay shares some insight to give a sneak peek at some of the top prospects from the 2020 high school class as we look ahead toward the 2021 NBA Draft.
McKay is the owner and founder of the grassroots basketball-focused company Pro Insight. He created www.prospectiveinsight.com after a 12-year tenure working for a handful of college and NBA teams, most recently serving as a scout for the Charlotte Hornets. Since 2018, McKay and the Pro Insight team have become one of the industry’s premier outlets for quality coverage and information on the game’s up-and-coming standouts.
Even without the steady stream of re-classifications throughout this past calendar year, the high school class of 2020 has long projected to be quite formidable, both in potential star power and with overall depth. Standouts like Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jonathan Kuminga, and Jalen Green have already become household names, and they headline a group of prospects that project as possible future NBA franchise cornerstones. Below, we’ll introduce what may ultimately wind up becoming just a fraction of the pros from this year’s graduating high school class. Let’s get right to it. Here’s a look at 15 projected 2021 first-round draftees from the 2020 high school class (in alphabetical order):
6’8” / 225 lbs. / 7’2” WS / Big / 18.9
High School: Montverde Academy (FL)
AAU: Nightrydas Elite (FL) / Nike College: Florida State
Barnes has been the high school version of Draymond Green for the last few years. With three gold medals to his name already as part of USA Basketball’s Junior National Team, he’s the type of player that impacts winning on any team, at any level. Barnes embodies the modern frontcourt basketball player in just about every way, aside from consistent outside shooting: a positionless player that a team can run their sets through on offense while matching up 1-through-5 on the defensive end. He’s incredibly versatile on both sides of the ball with a mature feel for the game well beyond his years. His top-notch length, skill level, basketball IQ, and motor should alone allow him to stick in the league for a long time.
By the numbers: Barnes boasted a 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio throughout the 2019 Nike EYBL season with Nightrydas Elite.
Brandon Boston, Jr.
6’6” / 180 lbs. / 6’10.25” WS / Wing / 18.7
High School: Sierra Canyon School (CA)
AAU: AOT (GA) / Nike
Boston is one of the most talented natural scorers in the country. He’ll be a guy from day one at Kentucky that can go out and manufacture offense on command, either for himself or others. A high-level playmaker with excellent positional size and versatility, Boston is comfortable playing on or off the ball. He’s also an elite ball-handler and space-creator for someone his size and it’s hard to imagine many defenders staying in front of him in the SEC. He does a commendable job on the glass for someone with such a slender frame, as well. If he continues to naturally fill out and develop, Boston projects as someone with NBA all-star potential.
By the numbers: Boston shot an otherworldly 14-20 (70%) from deep at the 2018 Peach Jam for AOT, where he was named the Co-Underclassmen of the Session.
Greg Brown III
6’8” / 200 lbs. / 6’10” WS / Forward / 18.9
High School: Vandegrift HS (TX)
AAU: Texas Titans (TX) / Nike
Claiming Brown checks the “physical tools” box would be a large understatement. The hometown hero is a freak-of-nature type of vertical athlete that appears to be playing on a trampoline at times. He’s a major lob threat, both in transition and as a slipper/roller out of pick-and-rolls in the halfcourt. His face-up game and perimeter skillset is still in the development stage (like 99% of most 18-year-olds), but once everything clicks and Brown gains some inevitable functional strength — watch out — as he will look to become the latest top-10 pick out of Austin in the past few years, following Mo Bamba (2018), and Jaxon Hayes (2019).
By the numbers: During the 2016-17 season, Brown posted his first triple-double as a freshman with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and a school-record 18 blocked shots in a one-point victory over Hutto High School.
6’4.5” / 215 lbs. / 6’9” WS / Guard / 18.6
High School: Mayfair HS (CA)
AAU: Vegas Elite (NV) / Nike
College: Arizona State
Christopher is a dynamo capable of playing in spurts at any perimeter position. His physicality, powerful athleticism, fearlessness, and confidence are separators for him. He’s turned into a scary transition finisher and is always a threat to put someone on a poster, even in the halfcourt setting. Christopher has become an effective playmaker and loves getting downhill — he projects as someone that will live at the free-throw line due to his propensity to draw contact in the paint. If the last name ‘Christopher’ sounds familiar in the Pac-12, it’s because his oldest brother Patrick played for Cal prior to a stint in the NBA. “Jaygup” will now join his other brother, Caleb, at ASU in what should be an entertaining six months of hoops in Tempe.
By the numbers: Christopher is known by most of his 750K Instagram followers for his offensive flair and fashion sense, but he’s also an impressive positional rebounder and stat sheet stuffer… he put up 11.2 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 1.7 blocks during his senior season at Mayfair.
6’11.5” / 210 lbs. / 7’4” WS / Big / 17.9
High School: Lausanne Collegiate School (TN)
AAU: Expressions Elite (MA) / Nike College: Memphis