Saturday, September 11, 2010

Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big East (1-5)

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. 

Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big East (6-10)

6. Chris Wright- Georgetown Senior. 6’1’’ 208 lbs
With Greg Monroe gone, Chris Wright is the new leader at Georgetown.  At 6 foot 2 and 200 pounds Wright has good size for an NBA point guard. He averaged 15 points and 4 assists as a junior in a very productive season, despite losing in the first round of the tournament in an upset to Ohio.  I don’t expect his production to drop at all during his senior year either. He will team up with Austin Freeman to form the best backcourt in the Big East, with only Syracuse and Villanova competing with them.  The only real knock against Wright is his outside shooting which will be pivotal to his long term and Georgetown’s overall success. He should have no problem making the first team all Big East, and could have a shot to sneak into the first round of the draft next year.

7. Kevin Jones- West Virginia Junior. 6’8’’ 250 lbs.
The Jones that got away from Syracuse two years ago is now the man in Morgantown. Jones fits perfect in Bob Huggins system and can do it all for a player with his size.  With Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks in the NBA, Jones will have to step up if West Virginia is going to continue their Big East success. He improved his 3-point percentage immensely from his freshman to sophomore and will need to be able to hit the 3 consistently.  He works very hard rebounding and brings a ton of energy to the game. I can see him being a great energy guy at the next level playing a Lamar Odom type role.  While he is probably a four-year player at WVU, some deep tournament runs would be huge for Jones’ NBA stock. Watch for Jones to be a top five player in the Big East this year as he is officially the big man on Morgantown’s campus. 

8. Alex Oriakhi- Connecticut Sophomore. 6’9’’ 240 lbs.          
While he didn’t have an overwhelming Freshman year, Alex Oriakhi showed flashes of why he can be an NBA player.  Having good size (6’9’’ 240 lbs) he will be playing power forward at the next level. Still very raw overall, Oriakhi still has a ton of work to put in before he can be considered a major NBA prospect. Next to Kemba Walker, Oriakhi will have to put up some big numbers this season if Uconn has any shot at the NCAA’s this year.  He is very athletic for someone with such great size and will need to continue to develop his post game and develop a few go to moves inside.  If he can develop a solid jump shot he could become a Udonis Haslem type player at the next level.

9.Dominic Cheek- Villanova Sophomore. 6'6'' 185 lbs.

Another intriguing prospect under Jay Wright- Dominic Cheek who played for the legendary Bob Hurley in high school had a very solid freshman year. He has excellent size for an NBA shooting guard and can score in a variety of ways.  He has a great jump shot and has very long arms to go with it.  He is also extremely quick in the open court for a player that is 6-6.  Despite being so tall though, Cheek is still very skinny and needs to add a ton of bulk if he wants to play at the next level.  If he can develop physically Cheek could have a long NBA career.

10. Gus Gilchrist- South Florida Junior. 6’10’’ 235 lbs.

Before getting injured last year Gilchrist averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds. He has very good size for the next level and also is very active. His skill set is fairly good for a player of his size and can even extend his jumper to the college 3-point line.  Right now Gilchrist has a ton of raw talent but still has a long way to go physically and skill wise.  Coming back strong from his injury this year is the huge question mark for him. He has a ton of potential, but playing on a bad team could ultimately hurt his draft stock in the future.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big East (11-15)

11. Dane Miller- Rutgers Sophomore. 6’6’’ 210 lbs. 

A player who has as much potential as anyone on this list, Dane Miller showed flashes of brilliance in his first year at Rutgers.  Most notable his 26 point 7-rebound performance against Providence and a 26 point 8 rebound 6-assist game against Villanova.  He was second among Big East freshman in scoring and rebounding.  Miller has all the tools to become a big time NBA player but he will need to stay focused and continue to work on his shooting.             

12. Austin Freeman- Georgetown Senior. 6’3’’ 227 lbs.
The ultimate glue guy for Georgetown could be a sleeper in next years NBA draft.  He has a superb jumper to go along with an extremely high basketball IQ. He hit almost 45% of his 3's last year. Anyone that can shoot like that can find their way into the NBA.  He is a bit undersized for the NBA and has a lack of quickness, which will ultimately hurt him in the long run. That does not mean he cannot be a solid role player in the NBA though. Freeman should be able to find his way into the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft.

13. Dion Waiters- Syracuse Freshman. 6’3’’ 215 lbs.
Scout rank: 27
Rivals rank: 29
An absolute monster of a guard, he is built like a linebacker. I see him being a Ben Gordon type of player at the next level.  Another prize recruit for Jim Boeheim, Waiters should play a big role for Syracuse this year. While it is likely that he will be the 6th man for them, he should have a very intriguing role coming off the bench for the Orange.  I have no doubts that he will put up multiple 20-point performances in his first year.  It looks like his game will translate to an NBA shooting guard. He really is going to have to improve his jump shot and 3-point shot if he is going to make it at the next level.  Waiter’s committed to Syracuse before playing a high school game and will have his cousin Scoop Jardine as a mentor during his freshman year.  Waiters had many problems in high school and was forced to transfer schools multiple times, but having his cousin along his side will be crucial to his development.  Assistant coach Rob Murphy thinks that Waiters will be the surprise of the team for the Orange this year. I think it will ultimately take two years at Syracuse before Dion officially declares for the draft, but look for Waiters to be one of the premiere prospects when the 2012 draft comes along.

14. Eniel Polynice- Seton Hall Senior. 6’5’’ 220 lbs.

A versatile guard who can do almost everything transferred this year from Ole Miss.  He averaged about 9 points and 4 assists last year, and will have to be a playmaker for Seton Hall to be competitive. He has great size for a player with such a solid skill set. He could easily make first team all Big East in his first year and with a big year for Seton Hall he will be making a lot of money for years to come.

15. Terrence Jennings- Louisville Junior. 6’10’’ 240 lbs.

Jennings is the biggest enigma on the prospect list. He was a big time recruit in high school but just hasn't put it all together in college.  He only played about 13 minutes a game last year, but with Samardo Samuels gone, Louisville will look for Jennings to have a huge year in their frontcourt.  He has great size for the NBA with long arms and very good physical potential.  His post game is all based on athleticism as he has a go to spin move when he is on the block.  It's hard to believe that a player with his physical tools has done virtually nothing at the college level and it will be interesting to see if he can finally put everything together this year. For someone that once looked like a sure fire NBA prospect, Jennings has a long way to go if he is ever going to get drafted.

Also considered: Mouphta Yarou, Brandon Triche, Roscoe Smith, Vander Blue, Rick Jackson, Jeremy Hazell, Darius Johnson-Odom, Herb Pope, Jimmy Butler, Yancy Gates