The Ben Simmons hype train is in full effect after posting 11 points and 13 rebounds against McNeese State on Friday night. Simmons is the strongest candidate to be selected as the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and is #1 on the Peachtree Hoops Draft Board. While Simmons was impressive in his first college game, his performance was matched by freshman teammate Antonio Blakeney who had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Simmons lived up to the hype in his debut but there is a long season ahead. We will see if he continues to make plays like the following as the competition gets stronger:
Ben Simmons has limited opportunities to impress against other prospects prior to conference play. His first real opportunity will be against Marquette's Henry Ellenson (#17 on PTH Board) on Monday, November 23. That game comes in as the fifth best prospect game to watch over the next two weeks. Here are the top five games to mark on your calendar as the college season begins:
1. Duke versus Kentucky (Tuesday, 11/17, 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN)
This game is easily the prospect game of the season with Kentucky freshmen Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray and Duke freshman Brandon Ingram as the headliners. Labissiere had a disappointing debut but posted 26 points in his second game. Kentucky also features Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee among a typically loaded Wildcat team. Duke counters with Grayson Allen and underrated talents Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard. Ingram has impressed early and is comparable to Miami Heat rookie Justise Winslow. All NBA fans should be tuned in on Tuesday night.
2. San Diego State at Utah (Monday, 11/16, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN 2)
If you want to impress your friends with your basketball knowledge than this is the game to watch. San Diego State forward Malik Pope and Utah center Jakob Poeltl are potential lottery picks with an early opportunity to lead their teams to a big win. Both teams have some strong games in December (San Diego State also plays California on November 26) but this is a great opportunity to catch two strong prospects early in the season.
3. Kansas versus Michigan State (Tuesday, 11/17, 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN)
This is a strong game but may be a better college game than a prospect game. Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo is one of my personal favorite newcomers to the college scene and he joins sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk who has yet to show his potential at the college level. As of now, Diallo has not yet been named as eligible for Tuesday's game but there remains hope that he will be able to debut on Tuesday night. Michigan State does not have a superstar but Denzel Valentine is a diverse player with the ability to make shots and plays while playing with typical Izzo toughness. Another 10 players in this game are borderline prospects who could storm onto the scene with a good season. Again, its attraction is more about being a good college game then the level of prospects but it is certainly worth tuning in--especially if Diallo makes his debut.
4. Wisconsin at Oklahoma (Sunday, 11/29, 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2)
Wisconsin power forward Nigel Hayes somehow remains underrated after counterparts Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky are now NBA rookies. Likewise, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield is the best player in a major conference that too many fans have not seen play. Hayes and Hield are borderline lottery talents consistently rated in the second round. Watching both play in a strong match-up is a great way to wrap up Thanksgiving weekend if you are tired of football.
5. LSU versus Marquette (Monday, 11/23, 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2)
Nets fans can actually cheer on two potential lottery picks as Ben Simmons and Henry Ellenson meet at the Barclays Center. LSU also brings guard Tim Quarterman whose length and quirky ball skills have him at the end of the first round for some scouts. Ellenson is a top-10 pick according to most boards but I remain a little more skeptical. This will be a great opportunity for Ellenson to show his talents against a very strong LSU frontcourt stacked with prospects.