1. Fabricio De Melo- Syracuse Freshman. 7’0’’ 255 lbs.
Scout rank: 13
Rivals rank: 16
The most heralded recruit in Syracuse’s great 2010 recruiting class comes in as the number one prospect before even playing a college basketball game. The Brazilian blew up on the recruiting market last summer after a YouTube video showed a workout of him at his high school in Florida. Having only played basketball for 4 years, Melo grew up playing soccer. Once he got too big for that he switched to basketball for good. A lot like Hakeem Olajuwon, Melo was able to gain superior footwork and coordination for a 7 footer by playing soccer in Brazil as a kid. Melo already has an NBA body at 7 foot 255. Reports out of Syracuse summer camp is that he is in great shape and supposedly has lost up to 30 pounds since he committed to Syracuse last summer. He has great length as well and will be the anchor in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone this year. The Brazilian is also a good passer and has a fairly high basketball IQ despite only having played for 4 years. He should step in right away in place of Arinze Onuaku and should compete with Marquette’s Vander Blue for Big East rookie of the year. He should also be able to contend for Big East Defensive player of the year as well. If Jim Boeheim and Bernie Fine can continue to develop Melo’s post game and work on his body, there is no question he can be a lottery pick in 2011. It has been sometime since Syracuse has had a dominant center, but watch out for him to have a huge impact for the Orange next year and could vault the ‘Cuse to a top 5 team in the country by midseason.
2. Kemba Walker- Connecticut Junior. 6’1’’ 172 lbs
Entering his third year at Connecticut, Walker has had an up and down first two years. After a dismal season in which Uconn went 18-16 Walker will try to lead his team to the NCAA tournament this year. Arguably the quickest player in the country he can get into the lane at will with his lightning quick first step. Walker should compete for the title of best guard in the country this year on a Uconn team that could struggle again. He has improved his shot immensely from his Freshman year, but will need to continue to improve it if he wants to make it at the next level. At only 6’0’’ he is a bit undersized and could have trouble with bigger NBA point guards. His decision-making was also very average last year, which led to nearly 3 turnovers a game. This is a huge statement year for Walker. Is he going to continue his up and down production from his first two years? Watch for Walker to break on to the national stage this year and become a first team All America which would sneak him into the lottery come next June.
3. Maalik Wayns- Villanova Sophomore. 6’1’’ 185 lbs.
After a solid and non-spectacular freshman year Maalik Wayns could play a major role on a loaded Nova team. Because of a guard heavy team (Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds, Dominic Cheek, Corey Stokes) he only averaged 15 minutes a game and about 7 points. Wayns has a great handle to go along with world-class quickness. He has no fear taking the ball to the hoop, and is even better in transition. After some impressive performances at the Adidas Nations this summer, Wayns has really turned some scouts heads. Reports say he has added some weight and has bulked up even more. Unfortunately for Wayns he is playing behind another stud point guard in Corey Fisher. I think he could have a year like Eric Bledsoe had last year who came off the bench for Kentucky and still made the draft’s first round. Villanova should once again be a top five team in the country, but even though he may not start, Maalik has more potential than anyone on his team. He will have to improve his shooting and play making ability, but don’t be shocked if he finds his way into the lottery of next year’s NBA draft.
4. Kris Joseph- Syracuse Junior. 6’7’’ 207 lbs.
“Air Canada” steps right into Syracuse as their go to number one option. With Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins gone, Joseph will have to increase his production greatly if Syracuse has any shot at a title. During his Freshman year he struggled to contribute on a loaded Syracuse team. His sophomore year was his breakout campaign as some Syracuse fans felt he was more valuable than Wes Johnson some games. He has an unbelievable knack for getting to the hoop for someone with his size. Standing at about 6’7’’ Joseph has great size for an NBA small forward. He is very long and athletic and still needs to continue to develop his body. His shooting is another thing that could use work. Although, he continues to improve his jumper, he showed at times he could hit the 3 pointer last year, and he came up huge for Syracuse in certain games. But, he still only shot 22% from 3 on the year and will have to improve that this year. He attended the Kevin Durant camp this summer and the word is he was very impressive. With Kevin Durant even tweeting about his impressive performances. He is still fairly raw on the offensive end and the development of his jump shot will ultimately determine how far he makes it in the NBA. His overall game is based strictly on athleticism, and he will need to add a better overall skill set if he wants to succeed at the next level. Everything is in place for Joseph this year at Syracuse. He has great guards (Triche, Jardine, Waiters) and solid big men playing around him (Melo, Jackson). He should have no problem scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 rebounds a game. This Syracuse team could really surprise people this year despite their losses. Wesley Johnson has passed the torch to Kris and we will see what he does with it. The sky if the limit for him right now, if he continues his great play and leads Syracuse deep into the tournament watch for Joseph to be a top 15 pick in next years draft.
5. Corey Fisher- Villanova Senior. 6’1’’ 185
Another guard on a loaded Villanova team, Fisher at times has showed that he could be the best point guard in the country. With Scottie Reynolds finally gone, this is officially Corey Fisher’s team. Your typical New York point guard, Fisher is as strong and quick as any other guard in the country. He has a very strong body and doesn’t back down from anyone when driving to the hoop. His shooting is solid and has improved and even shot close to 40% from 3 last year. His scoring and assist production has increased every year as well. It is hard to believe that this is already his senior year, but he should have no problem leading Villanova this year. He will need to be more of a point guard this year if Villanova is going to succeed. He has never averaged four assists a game for his whole career. He will need to show scouts that he has the ability to be a distributor at the next level. On a guard heavy team, Fisher should be the go to guy this year. With Scottie Reynolds out, Fisher should be able to dominate the ball and hopefully show off his point guard abilities. If he can score 15 points and dish out 6 assists a game this year he should have no problem being a first round pick in 2011.