Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve Preview

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh 12pm ESPN2

Finally, a chance for Pittsburgh to prove they are a better team than they are getting credit for. Pittsburgh has flown under the radar all season, but looks like a top 15 team to me. The are actually favored in this game against the Bearcats, who are coming off a close loss at home to New Mexico. The Bearcats will have trouble with Pittsburgh physical and deep interior - led by the much improved Talib Zanna. Joining Zanna down low are JJ Moore (their second best inside player), Steven Adams (Cincinnati may play too fast for him to play a lot of minutes), and Dante Taylor (despised by Pitt fans, but isn't too shabby as a backup big). Its a deep frontline even with Khem Birch transferring last year and Malcolm Gilbert leaving this week.

Zanna is one of the most underrated players in the country and his play so far should've been enough for analysis to consider him for one of the 3 All-American teams. But without a lot of big games yet, nobody is biting on Zanna's breakout year yet. He's had hot starts before, but this year is different. His game has evolved greatly on the offensive end.

Pittsburgh is back to its ways of tough defense and rebounding. The addition of James Robinson can't be understated either. He is replacing Ashton Gibbs who was a great scorer, but a terrible defender in his senior year. Robinson is a Dematha product and a winner at heart. He has excellent poise and suffocating defense. His impact has not only been felt at Pitt, but at Dematha as well - as Dematha is off to a 4-3 start to their season. That is more loses than Robinson had his entire career.

Michigan State at Minnesota 2pm ESPN2

Ahhh, Big Ten play. This is the best part of New Year's Eve. Its the sign of matchups like this happening almost every day. Two tough defensive teams going at it. The most intriguing battle here is Brandon Dawson against Rodney Williams, both of whom will get a lot of run at the 4 position. Neither are particularly skilled, but both stick to their strengths. For Dawson, it is being a terror on the offensive glass. For Williams, it is all about his defense and delivering timely highlight dunks. How will Dawson fare against a better athlete than him? And how will Williams match Dawson's energy and strength? The senior SHOULD have the advantage, but we will see. Also, the Andre Hollins watch is on. He is in Big Ten play now - can he keep up his impressive play?

St. Joseph's at Drexel 4pm

Classic Philly battle. Not full of any big prospects, but should be a close and intense matchup to entertain you between 4pm-6pm.

Gonzaga at Oklahoma State 6pm ESPN2

Gonzaga has had well documented problems this year keeping explosive guards in front of them. Marcus Smart is a explosive guard who knows how to score. He has cooled off a bit after a lightning hot start to the season and this is a chance for him to keep his name on the forefront of scouts minds. Another big matchup here is how LeBryan Nash handles Elias Harris' defense. Actually, this is a REALLY interesting battle. Nash isn't going to be able to bully Harris or blow by him easily. How will Nash adjust? Nash won't be expected to score all over him, but will he at least recognize this and play smart? Last year he struggled with forcing things. This year he has been better, but that is because he hasn't faced anyone like Harris. Harris, by the way, has played himself back into NBA Draft conversations. Oklahoma State is the favorite in this game - but I'll take the underdogs in a close one.

Nevada at Oregon 7pm Pac-12 Network

The Washington Huskies are the reason Deonte Burton and Nate Wolters both originally got put on the map. Last year Burton dropped 31 points on them and followed it up with a 29 point performance this season. Beating up on the likes of Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy on the defensive end isn't as impressive as the name makes it seem. Regardless, Burton is an intriguing player despite being prematurely thrust into draft conversations.  I think he has made strides since last season.

Oregon also has some prospects I want to get added looks at - Damyean Dotson, Tony Woods, Arsalan Kazemi, and Dominic Artis. Dotson has the greatest potential of the bunch.

North Texas at Middle Tennessee State 8pm ESPNU

I've written about Tony Mitchell quite a few times, including the other day. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anthony Bennett vs James Michael McAdoo

Thoughts on UNC-UNLV

- The big story was obviously McAdoo vs Bennett, two potential lottery picks. Bennett had more rebounds and points than McAdoo, but McAdoo and North Carolina got the win. Bennett finished with 15 points (6-16) and 13 rebounds while McAdoo had 13 points (5-13) and 9 board.

- Neither player scored efficiently and the same thing can be blamed for each player - neither has a post game. For McAdoo it is because he struggles with physical defense, settles for fadeaways even with established position, and rushes a lot of shots. But it all comes down to his lack of strength. He can't maintain his post position which gets him off balanced - resulting in quick shots and turnovers.

For Bennett, it is more about preference. He prefers to be a jump shooter. Nobody is pushing Bennett around when he sets his mind to being tough. But he doesn't fight inside for post position. He is more than happy to give up inside and play outside when someone decides to get physical. Because of this though, Bennett's post game is non-existent. He's been floating outside since his high school days and his post game remains underdeveloped. He lacks any moves with his back to the basket. He lacks a way to get easy baskets using his size.

- Defensively, I was impressed with James Michael McAdoo. He took on the challenge of guarding Bennett and slowed him down - especially early. Bennett struggled with UNC's length inside. On the outside, McAdoo did a great job defending set screen plays that were designed to get Bennett good looks. McAdoo moves his feet very well and is an excellent help defender in space. 

Bennett on the other hand, was matched up with the offensively challenged Desmond Hubert whenever possible. Its a good thing too because McAdoo could have been more of a factor in pick and rolls with Bennett on him. Instead, McAdoo saw a lot of Quintrell Thomas - a perfect kryptonite. Thomas is an ultra-physical undersized power forward. He kept McAdoo from getting comfortable much of the night. Most of McAdoo's field goals ended up coming after Bennett or Mike Moser got switched on him. Moser struggled defensively as well and fouled out in 12 minutes because of it.

- McAdoo has obviously not adapted well to being "the guy" on UNC. When he wasn't the focus of the offense last year, he played his role very well. This year, Brice Johnson has taken over that role and has done an excellent job. He is very immature physical, but plays the game without fear inside. His offensive game is much like McAdoo's - he does his best work using his athleticism for putbacks or quick moves and has a nice short turnaround jumper in the post. He has been very efficient as defenses have keyed in on McAdoo. If the tables were turned, you can bet McAdoo's numbers would look a lot better. Its a much tougher game when you are expected to be a post threat.

- Bennett did get his highlight plays in. He had two thunderous dunks and had another full court drive that resulted in him crossing up McAdoo to get to the rim. There is no doubt that he can do things few other guys his size can and Dave Rice allows him to take advantage of it by allowing him to bring the ball up the court of rebounds. UNLV runs a perfect offense for him. Moser took advantage of the same freedoms last year. Getting down to it though, Bennett can't live off transition opportunities and jumpshots in the NBA with his atrocious defense. His defense will never be good, but his post game has room to develop. If not, he'll just be another Brandon Bass. 

- In comparing the two lottery prospects, I think James Michael McAdoo has the most to work with. He is taller, is a lot better defender, moves his feet very well, is quicker and more explosive at the rim, and understands the game of basketball better. Bennett is more of the physical specimen which gives him the edge in college. Bennett is also the better jump shooter and more dynamic with the ball. But he is a terrible defender and has little room to grow in that area. He also lacks the same kind of feel McAdoo has - another thing that is tough to learn. McAdoo on the otherhand is being held back mainly by his lack of strength. That is something that can be fixed. Its not like McAdoo has the frame of John Henson or Brice Johnson. The other big advantage Bennett has on McAdoo is the shooting. Again, another thing that can be vastly improved upon. No, McAdoo won't ever be a better shooter than Bennett, but he can turn into a reliable one. 

Things change and it is early, but Bennett does have a higher floor than McAdoo. McAdoo could be a flat out bust. Bennett at least has a floor of a Brandon Bass type. But his ceiling seems overrated. McAdoo's may be too, but I want to give him the rest of ACC play to see how he adjusts. Its too soon to get down on McAdoo just as it was too soon to anoint him a top 5 pick last season.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tony Mitchell Begins Sun Belt Play After Quiet OOC

Tony Mitchell and North Texas went up against the class of the Sun Belt, Western Kentucky, in a rematch against last year's Sun Belt Championship game. Mitchell has a strong history against WKU, having scored a combined 39 points on only 6 missed shots, in his two games against the Hilltoppers last season. This game did not go as well for Mitchell.

North Texas got down early in the first half and trailed at halftime 37-26. Mitchell and North Texas rallied to begin the 2nd half and brought the game within a bucket before Mitchell picked up his fourth foul with 10:17 remaining. The Mean Green didn't fold with their star on the bench. Mitchell didn't return until the 4:29 mark and when he did, it was still a one possession game. Down the stretch, North Texas was unable to make any shots - the sole field goal coming on a Mitchell 3-pter. But Mitchell was hardly involved in the offense all game.

Mitchell finished with 7 points as Western Kentucky devised a gameplan to stop him. They fronted him in the post and used a sagging zone defense to deny post entry passes. As I discussed before, it is difficult to run an offense through Mitchell when he is the center of attention because he isn't a good passer. He turned the ball over twice on forced passes tonight. So while you'd like to see Mitchell more involved in the offense, its hard given his skillset. He lacks any post moves, is uncomfortable on the perimeter, and struggles to make plays for his teammates. Mitchell scored his 7 points on that 3-pter, a 15 foot jumper, and a putback dunk. He doesn't shoot the ball like the 40% 3-pt shooter he was last year, lacking range, but his midrange jumper has potential.

Defensively is where Mitchell makes his greatest impact for the Mean Green. He is a strong post defender who uses his length and body to force tough shots in one on one defense. He does a good job trying not to foul - keeping his arms straight up and down - despite the 4 fouls he collected tonight (one was a questionable charge foul, and a few were due to being late rotating). Mitchell is also a terrific weakside shot blocker. And while he lacks the motor of an elite rebounder, he is able to pull down rebounds in traffic that few college athletes can.

His hustle is still questionable. Mitchell is always late into the frame getting back on both offense and defense. He has little sense of urgency in that regard. He did show some positive effort closing out on shooters, however.

With Mitchell, I've been waiting to see more - something to get really excited about. I expected him to be much improved in his first full year, but he's still the same player from a year ago. The new coaching isn't helping him. He hasn't shown any new skills. His shooting doesn't hold much promise even though he is gravitating outside even more for perimeter jumpers. If Mitchell dedicates himself to the post, he can be a great defender at the power forward position and learn the necessary post moves, but it is up to him which direction he wants to go.

Video Highlights of Alex Len vs Delaware State

Alex Len had a quiet game against Delaware State as Maryland had no problem dismantling the MEAC school. Len was able to get easy looks in the post, but only came away with 6 points in 17 minutes. Maryland likes to have him set down screens in order for him to establish initial position and Delaware State didn't put much effort into making it hard for Len to get position down low. Len had multiple good looks, but had a few lay-up attempts fall off of the rim.

The thing to watch in these highlights is Len's defense. You can get a better sense if you watch the complete game, but in the video below you can see a bit of his struggles. Len had four fouls, none of which prevented the opponent from still getting the bucket. He looked slow and unmotivated going after loose balls and was beaten multiple times on the offensive glass. He got a block shot, but still ended up giving up the points. And his block shot came on a play where the defender had him backed down all the way to the rim. He only recorded 2 rebounds in this game, both which fell into his lap. These are the kind of things I worry about when watching Len. Yes he has a great skillset, but the NBA needs their centers to provide toughness, defense, and rebounding.

Video Highlights of TJ Warren vs Western Michigan

Freshman forward TJ Warren has a knack for scoring the basketball and doesn't need to dominate the ball to do so. He does a great job finding holes in the middle of the defense and sneaking around the baseline to get open without the ball. Warren is one of those guys who is terrific moving without the ball - not because of his non-stop energy, but because of his awareness. Warren's skillset is perfect for his ability to get open in the mid-range area. He has quick floaters, a turnaround game, and the body strength needed to finish at the rim. All skills allow him to quickly find a weakness in the defense and then quickly shoot the ball as the defense closes in on him. Warren also runs the court well and displays great body control.

He has came off the bench in most games and has accepted him role. He has shown versatility, scoring both inside and out, while logging minutes at both forward positions. Warren is one of the smoothest scorers in the country, but doesn't get the attention he deserves because he isn't flashy with the ball. Once he gets the ball, he has already done most of the work to get himself in position to score. Its just a matter of using his array of shots and quick release to get the ball in the hoop from there. He has a really smooth stroke and can hit the three, but oddly enough is shooting below 50% from the foul line.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Top 20 Duos In College Basketball

1. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo - I'd consider both guys within the top 10 of canidates for the Wooden award. When put together, they form the best duo in college basketball. Oladipo has finally gotten his due, but still has avoided talks of National Player of the Year. He is one of the most efficient offensive players in the country, and of course, we all know about his defense. He defines what college basketball is all about and plays for a top 5 team. He is one of the ten best collegiate players in the nation.

2. Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers - Without Bowers and Pressey, Missouri would be a team without an identity. With them, they are currently the 7th best team in the country. Pressey may have the best understanding of how to run a team in the country. Bowers has shown great improvement from past years and has given the Tigers that post threat they needed last year.

3. Peyton Siva and Russ Smith - Speaking of identity - for a Pitino team, its all about guard play. Smith and Siva are upperclassmen who know what Pitino wants. They have combined to force 5.3 turnovers per game with aggressive defense and are just as aggressive on offense. They are the head to Louisville's top 5 team and its a head that is nearly impossible to throw off their game.

4. Otto Porter and Greg Whittington - Perhaps a little high? Or maybe not. Porter and Whittington turn an otherwise boring Georgetown system team into a team that can be dynamic. They give them looks that no other team in the country can replicate with their length on defense and their creativeness on offense. Any time when you have two 6-8 guys that can play on the wing defensively and are your best creators on offense, you are going to be a big threat moving forward. The duo makes this Georgetown team more dynamic than past teams.

5. Isaiah Canaan and Ed Daniel - I've got to have the Murray State seniors' in the top 5 of this list because they define what this list is all about. Canaan put Murray State on the map last year and now Ed Daniel has stepped up to be a legitimate compliment to him. Canaan handles the scoring and creating, while Daniel does the little things - including setting excellent screens for the star of the team. While Canaan is their offense, Daniel is their anchor and heart on defense.  When watching the Racers, its those two and then "everyone else".

6. Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft - Another duo with a offense/defense pairing, this one is unique as it is the guard who provides the defense. Ohio State is deep in talent, but it is only Thomas and Craft who have the experience and clearly defined roles at this point. Craft is the leader and the defender. Thomas makes up for Craft's lack of scoring ability by being one of the most dangerous offensive threats in college basketball. Quite a complimentary pair.

7. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway - The second best backcourt in the nation according to these rankings, this attack is spearheaded by one of the favorites to win the Wooden Award. While Russ Smith and Siva get it done with aggressive defense and transition offense, this duo is better at scoring in the halfcourt setting. But the thing about them is how well-rounded they are. They can score inside and out, in the halfcourt or transition, and look for their own shot just as much as they can create for others. The true definition of balance.

8. Marcus Smart and LeBryan Nash - We will see if Oklahoma State's thin team can handle their next two games against Gonzaga and Kansas State, but for now, they remain in the top 25. LeBryan Nash changed the direction of the Cowboys future last year by deciding to take his talents to Stillwater. This year, Smart followed suit, but he ended up changing the culture as well. Smart's leadership and playmaking for this team can't be understated. With him running things on the perimeter, Nash has moved his game more inside and accepted his role down low. Together they give OKST an identity on a team infused with role players.

9. Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley - We saw just how good San Diego State was this week at the Diamond Head Classic. They play super hard and bigger than their size. That is a direct result of Jamaal Franklin. Chase Tapley also helps out on the boards from the wing, but he provides SDSU with a much more consistent and stable leader to rely upon. Together, their demeanors work well. We saw Franklin struggled offensively this week and Tapley stepped up and showed he is one of the most unheralded players in the nation. His outside shooting is key with Franklin struggling from deep.

10. Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin - In terms of potential, this group is obviously number one. And I think they will end up being a better duo than they are ranked when the season is over. But for now, it is tough to put them any higher.

11. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry - Duke is the number one team in the country and Plumlee is a contender for player of the year heading into ACC play. Plumlee is the standout, but Duke still embodies more of a team philosphy than most, so they finish outside of the top 10 on the list. Any of their 5 starters can step up on any given night, but Plumlee and Curry are the veteran leaders. Plumlee is a big presence inside while Curry is their most dynamic weapon at guard - for now.

12. Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown - This duo has been flying under the radar, just missing getting the big win against Louisville to put them on the map. They have plenty of chances coming up in the Missouri Valley Conference, including a game on January 2nd pitting McDermott vs Carmichael. You can't get a much better post matchup than that. Brown is no slouch either - he plays under control and is a great shooter who is always ready to pull the trigger. This duo may be the best inside-out threat in America.

13. Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland - Syracuse has a lot of good players but I think MCW and Southerland give them a chance to be "really good" as a team. Carter-Williams is great at breaking down defense and Southerland is always around the perimeter to captilize on open looks. Without James, they lack a pure shooter to take advantage of MCW's abilities. And without MCW, Syracuse lacks much of all in the halfcourt offense.

14. Jeff Withey and Travis Releford - I know, Ben McLemore deserves Releford's spot. And its true. Really this Kansas doesn't belong on this list at all because they are a TEAM. But their identity as a team is tough defense and experience and this tandem defines that the most. McLemore is their most talented player and their key to advancing far in the tournament, but these vets embody Jayhawk hoops. If this was a list of trios, they would be top 3.

15. Alex Len and Dez Wells - Maryland is a team just waiting to crack the top 25 after reeling off 10 straight wins following the opening night loss to Kentucky. But they have yet to be tested since and will have to wait until ACC play to do so. Turgeon set up a weak OOC schedule not knowing that Dez Wells has been eligible and he has proven to be the missing piece. Len's improvement combined with the addition of Wells has been the equivalent of adding to big name FAs in the NBA.

16. CJ McCollum and Gabe Knutson - At 24.9 ppg and 17.4 ppg respectively, this duo is the highest scoring duo in college basketball. They probably should be ranked higher, but lack any notable wins this year. But we saw what they can do last year against Duke. McCollum gets all the credit, yet Knutson is a huge part of their success with his saavy post game and good touch from inside of 15 feet.

17. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright - UConn may not be very relevent this year, but they still possess one of the most offensively potent backcourts in the nation. Both are creative, aggressive combo guards who play off the hot hand. When Napier is on, he can take over. Same for Boatright. Together, they are capable of knocking off quite a few top 25 teams.

18. Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams - This is the highest scoring tandem among the BCS conferences and they both happen to be freshmen. Shabazz missed the first few games because of injury and the NCAA, and came back slowly. People questioned how the two high scoring freshman would fit together and it seems they actually mesh ok. Adams has been able to take pressure of Shabazz and allowed him to focus on scoring off offensive rebounds and hustle plays. Shabazz doesn't need to dominant the ball to score so having Adams works well. Now they just need to find a way to bring it on defense - both have looked slow and out of shape so far, but Shabazz is turning it around.

19. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs - The second highest scoring duo in BCS leagues also hails from California and feautures two veteran guards. Crabbe gets the attention as a possible NBA player and does a great job of moving around off the ball. Cobbs is more of a dominator of the ball, running the pick and roll well and scoring well inside for a sub 6 footer. He lacks the potential Crabbe has, but is one of the best guards nobody talks about.

20. Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright - These two have been working on establishing themselves in the Big East for years and now are one of the better teams in the conference. They play with a lot of confidence and swagger and get after it on defense. They bring energy and toughness from the guard positions and both are more than capable of scoring as well.

Other Notable Duos from Mid/Low-Major Schools:

Tyler Haws/Brandon Davies
Nate Wolters/Jordan Dykstra
De'Mon Brooks/Jake Cohen
Devon Saddler/Jamelle Hagins
Ray McCallum/Nick Minnerath
Frantz Massenat/Damien Lee
Tyreek Duren/Roman Galloway
Khalif Wyatt/Scootie Randall

Diamond Head Classic Recap

Over the Christmas break, the college basketball schedule was carried by the 8 team field out in Hawaii. Arizona highlighted the field and ended up taking home the trophy, but not before the battled San Diego State in a heated championship match. The Miami Hurricanes also were in the field.

Jamaal Franklin - I zeroed in on Franklin on defense during the tournament and came away impressed. He brings great intensity to that end of the floor and takes on the challenge of locking down the oppositions best player. Franklin is a tough competitor with good anticipation skills. He is always thinking out there on defense and attempting to read what the offense is doing in order to get an edge. Since he was on the opposition's best player most of the time, he had to run through a lot of screens and he looked for the best routes to take around them. He can get caught up in screens as he isn't the biggest guy, but he does have good strength for his frame. He looks like a cornerback on defense the way he stays on his toes and he actually hoped to go to the University of Florida as a wide receiver. It is obvious he has a football background. One concern is he has probably already done plenty of weight training throughout his career  and still lacks a impressive frame. There may not be much room for him to grow physically.

Offensively, Franklin has an old man's game and uses ball fakes and hesitations to his advantage. He plays with the referees in mind, always trying to draw a foul. He can also take his man into the post, where he is solid as long as he remembers to keep his pivot foot in place. He's a streaky shooter with improving form, but is having a bad year from behind the arc. He forces up a lot of bad outside shots. Franklin also is able to get all the way to the rim with explosive dunks thanks to his quick first step and shiftiness. His ability to get to the basket comes at a cost though - Franklin will turn it over a lot as well. The turnovers comes from his high, long dribbles and his lack of control going to the rim. He seems to get called for at least one charge a game.

Franklin was a problem child growing up and has learned to channel that energy on the basketball court. He still shows maturity issues at times - he picked up a DUI and flipped off fans last year. After a freshman season stuck behind Kawhi Leonard, he actually considered leaving SDSU for the draft. Instead, he learned for Leonard's work ethic and has transformed himself into a tireless worker.

Solomon Hill - Hill took away MVP honors for the event, showing an impressive all around game. He really stepped up in Arizona's lone close game against San Diego State and scored 21 big points. Him and Franklin battled much of the game.

Solomon Hill's improvement has been impressive over his stay at Arizona. His ball handling is now an apparent strength and at times he looks like a point forward on the court. With Arizona's freshman bigs coming in, he's become a pure perimeter player. He can weave his way through defenders, but he is slow at changing directions and is best when he just puts his head down and gets to the rim. His versatility in the post and on the perimeter make him a matchup nightmare in college. His jumper is also solid but he doesn't rely on it.

For Arizona's freshman, none of them look ready for the NBA Draft. But I'd say they came to the right place in order to prep for it. Arizona's staff has helped guys like Hill, Derrick Williams, and Kevin Parrom make big jumps. These guys just haven't gotten better at what they do - they all added skills they didn't have before. Ashley, Jarrett, and Tarczewski all have NBA potential and should be able to maximize their draft stock as a Wildcat.

For Miami, they were disappointing simply because Reggie Johnson was unable to play and Durand Scott suffered an ankle injury early on against Arizona. It slowed him down noticeably in the final two games and caused him to shoot a poor percentage. Scott and Miami were in line for a potential statement week in Hawaii, but instead came away with more doubters and more excuses.

Legit excuses, but excuses nonetheless. Their short bench has proven to be a major factor already with their injuries. First against Florida Gulf Coast without Scott and now in Hawaii. They have looked great when everyone has been healthy, but when one guy goes down, they are prone to losing to anyone. There is no doubt in my mind this is a NCAA tournament team that could make a Sweet 16 run, but they need to get there first. The pressure is on them as ACC play starts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Brief Overview of the Most Pure Shooting Wings A Playoff Team can Snag

Teams are always in need of shooters. For playoff teams, they can be the last piece of the puzzle. The draft is one way they can find these players. By the time these playoff teams are on the clock, sweet shooters like CJ McCollom and Ben McLemore will be long gone. But there are other guys that are worth a look from the end of the first round and on down. Here is a brief look at some notable guys:

The best shooting wing a playoff team can grab is Reggie Bullock. He's a great defender and has deep range. He does all the little things for UNC. Even with the Heels struggling and him being able to step up as a creator, Bullock still possesses great role playing qualities. He won't ever be a creator or great off the dribble, but he is a smart offensive player and passes the ball well.

If you want a more dynamic guy who can shoot, go for Brandon Paul. He's an athletic combo guard who has stepped up big time so far in his senior season. He likes to shoot 3s, but is capable for getting to the rim as well. He can play some point guard and has shown good leadership abilities, but is more of a scorer off the bench type. His effort on defense is solid.

Caldwell-Pope is another option if he chooses to come out. Like Bullock, he has ideal size and a sweet stroke and plays with energy on defense. Unlike Bullock, he takes a lot of bad shots and makes quite a few mental errors. He is really good shooting off the bounce though moving either way - he isnt creative, but has a nice first step that is enough to get good separation for his jumper. He also can explode to the rim at times, although that is mainly just to keep defenses honest.

Of the three, I like Bullock the best.

It might be better to wait for the second round to grab a shooting wing, depending on who declares. Crabbe, Kilpatrick, Wilcox, Deshaun Thomas and McDermott all are shooters and happen to be juniors.

Kilpatrick is the oldest of the group and also the most likely to declare. He may be the least of the pure shooters, but also possesses the ability to get to the basket thanks to his strength. He's only an average athlete, but plays tough. He might be the best of the group - certainly the most well-rounded.

Wilcox is built like Reggie Bullock. Tall, somewhat lanky, spot up shooter. He projects as a pure spot up shooter in the NBA. His defense has the potential to be solid enough for him to stick.

Crabbe is an interesting player who does his best work moving without the ball. He's more explosive and quick than he looks based off his smallish stature. He doesn't just settle for 3-pt shots. He finds a lot of ways to score including out in transition, off mid-range curls, and cuts to the basket. His defense at the next level is suspect.

McDermott is the old ball of the group - I wanted to exclude stretch PFs from the list. In college McDermott is neither a stretch forward or a small forward, he actually spends most of his time in the post. And he is very good at getting position, drawing fouls, and finishing through contact. His energy on the court goes unmatched. I'm projecting him as a small forward though because he would get bullied down low in the NBA. He can provide great shooting while also being a threat to put it on the floor and use his craftiness. Defense will always be tough for him, but you cant fault his energy. A big part of defense for wings has to do with chasing players around the court and going through screens so McDermott will at least be able to prove how active he is on D.

DeShaun is a big time scorer who can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court and in any situation. When he is hot, he is on fire. He is completely unrattled by a defender's hand directly in his face. Thomas  can be a blackhole at times, but has gotten better at passing the ball this season. He also is able to take defenders in the post and score from there. Defensively, Thomas is a big time tweener who projects to be a poor defender at the next level. The energy or physical gifts just aren't there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

ACC Conference Preview


Shane Larkin
Quinn Cook
Lorenzo Brown
Ian Miller
Erick Green
Marcus Paige

The ACC is famous for their point guard play, but this year may lack a first rounder. Lorenzo Brown has the best shot and conference play will be important for him. He will be more experienced than most of the ACC point guards and will be expected to lead NC State to a high finish in ACC play. Anything less than second place will be a disappointment.

Erick Green is the leading scorer in the country and ACC play won't stop him. He's a very talented offensive player and deserves second round looks in the draft. He is very quick and has tight handles, allowing him to play with defenders. He does a great job in the pick and roll, able to turn the corner or hit the long jumper. He is a scorer first, but is able to find teammates on kick outs. He can go left or right and his go to move may be a left handed drive finished with a soft, right-handed floater. He's a controlled driver and finishes well at the rim. In transition, he is deadly because of his speed and ability to avoid defenders. He shows good leadership and encourages teammates, but also coaches them up and expects a lot out of them.


PJ Hairston
Seth Curry
Rodney Purvis
Dexter Strickland
Durand Scott

Durand Scott has been one of my favorite players to watch this year. Despite other higher profiled players, I think either Durand Scott or Erick Green is the best guard in the ACC. Durand Scott is a tough competitor and a great defender. He has no problem breaking down defenses and finishing with creative layups. He also has added a 3-pt shot to his arsenal. The majority of Scott's shots are tough and he is actually a better shooter off the dribble and unbalanced than he is spotting up. He has done a fine job fitting in with Shane Larkin and picking his spots within the offensive flow. He isn't a guy who moves great off the ball and creates easy scoring opportunities for himself, but he is so talented in the sense that he doesn't need easy ways to score. Miami is best in the halfcourt when Larkin and Scott can breakdown defenses.

In terms of scoring, Seth Curry is right up there with Scott and Green, but isn't as athletic or as much of a playmaker. This year he has stepped up and shown the world that he is creative off the bounce and can create his own offense. I think he's always had it in him, but between trying to play point guard and sharing the ball with Austin Rivers, this is his first chance to focus on scoring the ball.

PJ Hairston is actually the best per minute scoring shooting guard in the ACC, but is only averaging 18 minutes per game. And rightfully so. He can shoot you out of a game just as well as he can shoot you into a game. He has followed up his freshman year by continuing to be a streaky scorer who settles for jumpshots. Hairston looked like he could be a nice threat heading to the rim out of college, but he tries to get to the rim and the explosion isn't prominent.

Defensively, Dexter Strickland and Rodney Purvis both get after it. Strickland's draft stock hasn't been helped this year, as he doesn't look fully recovered from his torn ACL injury. He has done a good job setting up teammates and acting as a point guard when needed. Yet his potential as a NBA point guard looks dim. With lost athleticism, Strickland is taking more jumpers inside the arc and has done a so-so job of converting. He gets nice elevation on his jumper to get shots off, but his form isn't pretty.

On the other end, the way Rodney Purvis has came on as a freshman with great defense is impressive. He also runs the court very well, leaking out in transition like a wide receiver. Offensively, he can hit the jumper and get by defenders with a nice first step. He has a floater that he can utilize as well.


Rasheed Sulaimon
Reggie Bullock
TJ Warren
Milton Jennings
Okaro White

Sulaimon is a shooting guard, but plays a lot of small forward in Duke's offense. The UNC/Duke games are always interesting for a multitude of reasons, but as a draft enthusiast, Im looking forward to see how Sulaimon fares against the older Bullock.

Milton Jennings has improved his jumper and looks comfortable out on the perimeter in his senior year. It seems like he has been around forever. He actually is pretty smooth shooting off the dribble, but his strength holds him back from being much of a force. He struggles to get where he wants to on the court and still gets pushed around.


CJ Leslie
Ryan Kelly
James Michael McAdoo
Kenny Kadji

All four of these power forwards are face up types and generally avoid contact, but they are all very different. Kelly has the best basketball IQ and a complete skillset, but is an awful rebounding big. CJ Leslie is the most physically talented, but lacks any sense of the game. James Michael McAdoo has a great feel AND athleticism, but has been extremely soft and turnover prone. And Kadji flashes some guard skills, but will be 25 by draft night!

Leslie vs McAdoo will be must watch games and could help McAdoo's stock. He will get a chance to show he can hang with an athlete like Leslie, while being the much smarter player. UNC better have someone step up at the center position though, or else McAdoo may be getting abused by Richard Howell all night instead.


Alex Len
Mason Plumlee
Richard Howell
Reggie Johnson

All four of these guys could end up getting draft this year and all are heading into conference play with their heads held high. Plumlee has injected himself into player of the year conversations, Len has been talked about as a top 5 pick, Howell has been NCSU's best player, and Johnson has lost weight and been impressive in the early going. Now with conference play, each will have a chance to prove themselves.

Len vs Plumlee will be huge - but what about Howell going up against them? Howell has the ability to shut either of them done and bully them. Howell has the most to gain heading into conference play. For Alex Len, he has the most to lose. He improved a lot over the offseason, but he still has only had one good game against NBA caliber big men - and they were playing in their first ever college game! He will be expected to continue to produce consistently against the ACC and that is no sure thing.

Top Ten Defenders

1. Michael Snaer
2. Reggie Bullock
3. Richard Howell
4. Durand Scott
5. Mason Plumlee
6. Dez White
7. Ian Miller
8. Rasheed Sulaimon
9. Reggie Johnson
10. Dexter Strickland

Top Ten Shooters

1. Scott Wood
2. Seth Curry
3. Erick Green
4. Reggie Bullock
5. Ryan Kelly
6. CJ Harris
7. PJ Hairston
8. Quinn Cook
9. Marcus Paige
10. Shane Larkin

All Freshman Team

Marcus Paige
Rodney Purvis
Rasheed Sulaimon
TJ Warren
Charles Mitchell

Seth Allen
Justin Anderson
Marcus Georges-Hunt
Robert Carter
Joel James (Over Brice Johnson because I think James is more ready for ACC play)

Top 25 NBA Prospects (young players with limited playing time omitted)

1. James Michael McAdoo
2. Rasheed Sulaimon
3. Alex Len
4. Mason Plumlee
5. Richard Howell
6. TJ Warren
7. Dez Wells
8. Michael Snaer
9. Lorenzo Brown
10. CJ Leslie
11. Marcus Paige
12. Rodney Purvis
13. Durand Scott
14. Erick Green
15. Joel James
16. Reggie Johnson
17. Ryan Kelly
18. PJ Hairston
19. Seth Curry
20. Kenny Kadji
21. Ian Miller
22. Travis McKie
23. Milton Jennings
24. Daniel Miller
25. Dexter Strickland

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Shabazz, MCW, and "ABeast" - Plus Today's Games to Watch

Anthony Bennett had another good game against Canisus - he scored 21 points. His jumper has been looking excellent and effortless from 3-pt range. He set screens for teammates in order to get himself open. And in transition, Bennett shined once again - showing the body control of a guard on the break. He had one possession where he brought the ball up the court in transition and stopped on a dime at the free throw line to avoid the charge; hitting a mid-range jumper in the process. The way Bennett moves in the opencourt is the most impressive thing about him.

As for his defense, he did a terrible job of attempting to play help defense. He helped too far off his man, while not actually providing any help defense, and left his man open for wide open 3s. Going into this game, Jordan Heath's career high in 3-pt attempts was 4. He had 4 within the first ten minutes of last night's game and finished with 10 attempts on the night. That was the result of Bennett's lack of feel and urgency on the defensive end.

Shabazz Muhammad had 27 points in 26 minutes against Fresno State. He also had 7 rebounds - all on the offensive end. Its amazing how much better he is on the glass when there is a chance to get two points out of it. Muhammad has proven he has a strong desire to score and will do whatever it takes to make sure he gets his points. Now that he has lost 13 pounds in the last few weeks, we are seeing just how much of an impact he can have on the offensive glass. Its definitely his biggest strength.

Muhammad has gotten comparisons to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist because of his willingness to do whatever it takes to win. I see it more as he is willing to do whatever it takes to score. Kidd-Gilchrist is a guy who can help his team win in a lot more ways. I still haven't been impressed by Muhammad's defense and he doesn't have the playmaking ability of MGK. He will, however, score a lot more points. They are different players.

If I had to compare Muhammad to a NBA player, it would be Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse cleaned up on the glass in college, played tough, wasn't especially quick laterally, and lacked much of a floor game. Stackhouse was able to develop a good jumper and Muhammad has already started to show improvement with his shot. He should end up as a reliable shooting threat.

As for Muhammad's worth, it depends a lot of the team. Remember when Muhammad came back from injury and Jordan Adams wasn't expected to be as much of a factor anymore? Well it turns out, Muhammad actually needs that kind of player. He needs to play in a backcourt with players who can create their own shot and make plays. Muhammad can be a big scorer in the NBA, but he will thrive off of others. You don't want him playing next to a Demar Derozan. You want him focused on working off of the ball and finding a way to get the ball in the hoop. He isn't going to make plays for teammates, but he won't turn the ball over either. He doesn't need the ball to be effective.

In the lottery Toronto and Charlotte would be bad fits because they are already building around wings that aren't big offensive threats.

Yesterday Michael Carter-Williams showed some of the things Ive been concerned about all year and they lost to Temple. This is why I've been saying lets wait until Big East play. I've had a lot of people ask me why I've been so down on MCW and I feel somewhat vindicated after yesterday. Im not overreacting to one bad game here, everyone else has been overreacting to a string of solid games against a very weak schedule. His flaws have been on display all year.

Carter-Williams is very good in transition and has been able to get into the paint and make the simple pass this year. He has racked up a lot of assists and can see over defenses, but its ridiculous to compare his passing ability to Rubio's or Kendall Marshall's. Those guys have an out of this world knowledge of the game and the ability to see things before they happen. Carter-Williams has a good feel for the game, but is nowhere near the point guard either of them are.

Syracuse did much of their damage in transition play as they have all year. Carter-Williams himself is the key in this, as he is great at forcing turnovers and getting out on the break. His long strides and ability to change directions with good body control are key factors. He also does a good job finding ways to get the ball to teammates.

In the halfcourt, Carter-Williams has been very aggressive. Against San Diego State, Carter-Williams relied on his quick first step and a floater to get his points. He didn't go all the way to the rim against them. After that, Cuse has been playing cupcakes whose centers barely rival MCW in length and he has been able to get into the painted area. He still struggled finishing with contact and that was especially evident yesterday against Temple - their toughest opponent since SDSU.

Carter-Williams relies on his terrific first step to create offense in the halfcourt at this point. He has a good feel for the pick and roll game, but is too turnover prone to run it consistent. He has a loose dribble and combined with his height, struggles in the traffic an on ball screen creates. Its also true when he drives into the lane - that combined with his lack of strength is a big concern.

Syracuse's defense has been able to put their players in position to get overrated by NBA scouts. From Hakim Warrick, Jonny Flynn, Donte Greene, Dion Waiters, Wesley Johnson - these guys have all been major disappointments once they've gotten into the NBA. Carter-Williams is making like Waiters on defense this year - showing good anticipation skills and gambling for a lot of steals. He's a huge threat in this area, but how does it translate?

Carter-Williams will have a sizable learning curve to make up for on defense when he gets to the NBA and his predecessors aren't positive examples of success. He does have great tools on this end of the floor, but it doesn't automatically make him a great defender.

All in all, there can't be a more overrated player in the country right now from a NBA Draft perspective. This is a kid who also has character concerns and that came before the shoplifting incident. He is competitive and has a love for the game which is a positive. Yes he was willing to sit on the bench for a full season and didn't transfer despite contemplating it, but why would he transfer? He would have had to sit out a whole season and he knew that he would be starter this year at Cuse. Its hardly a reason to applaud him.

Carter-Williams wasn't even looked at as a point guard until late in his high school career, and even up until this year, has always been considering a combo guard. He has made great strides in learning the point guard position but still has a long way to go. His potential is definitely worth a first round pick this season but the "best point guard prospect in the country" talk needs to stop.

*With the upcoming week lacking in quantity of games, I'll be spreading out more thoughts throughout the week on yesterday's games.*

Games to Watch Today:

St. Mary's at Northern Iowa 2pm
Kennesaw State at Pittsburgh 5pm ESPN3
Indiana State vs San Diego State 5pm ESPNU
Colorado State vs Virginia Tech 11:30pm CBSSN
Arizona vs Miami 11:30pm ESPN2

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday's Big Games and a Recap of Last Night 12/22/12

South Florida played a thrilling triple overtime game against Bowling Green, allowing for an extensive look at sophomore guard Anthony Collins. Victor Rudd also had a huge game for the Bulls, coming up clutch in multiple occasions.

There is no way Anthony Collins is 6 feet and he doesn't have great length. What he does have is a great understanding of how to use his size. He gets really low when dribbling the ball, shrinking to about 4 feet. Last night, he was able to get inside of the zone and keep defenders behind him using his body. He doesnt look to get all the way to the hoop, just enough to create a good look for a teammate or for his own teardrop. Collins' preference is to find a teammate though, as he's a classic pass first point guard who knows how to lead a team and defend. He looks to push the ball when the opportunity is there but knows when to slow down and set the offense. He's a small point guard coaches love and trust, one of those scrappy southern point guards in the mold of Squeaky Johnson and Walker Russell Jr. Both players have been able to get some run in the NBA even though they aren't necessarily NBA quality because coaches trust them and enjoy having them during practices.

Jarnell Stokes had an average game against Western Carolina, scoring 12 points. He was out-muscled in the paint by Tawaski King, but eventually got him in foul trouble. Tennessee's offense has been terrible and Stokes hasn't been able to be much of an inside-out threat. He's had 1 multiple assist game in his last 9 contests.

Alex Len did what he was supposed to do against an undersized Stony Brook team. Maryland was able to dump in into the post to him, and without a double team, he went to work. They made it a point to feature him at the beginning of both halves although they got away from him in the final ten minutes of the game. Dez Wells was impressive yet again. He's a big talent.

Baylor vs BYU

- Brandon Davies was tough inside, but struggled getting his shot off against an NBA sized frontcourt. Too often he tried to fadeaway from them instead of going into their body. Davies has a solid post game with counter moves, and shows good patience in using them.

- Isaiah Austin got called for the biggest phantom call of the year, costing him his 6th block in the game. I think there is a misconception that Austin is soft - he doesn't shy away from contact, he just can't withstand it. He is willing to mix it up on the glass and on defense. The problem is that his shoulders don't appear to welcome much weight in the future.

- I really like Cory Jefferson's motor. I was surprised he wasn't asked to cover Davies the majority of the game. Jefferson is a beast on the boards and moves really well. Not only is he capable of moving well - he does. He runs full speed from point A to point B at all times. Whether it is to set a screen, grab a rebound, rotation on defense - Jefferson is always in a hurry to get there.

- Tyler Haws is very fun to watch. He has a great BBIQ and does a great job of getting open. He reminds me of a wing version of Matt Bouldin, but is certainly a one of a kind player.

Temple vs Syracuse 12pm ESPN2

Syracuse has been playing nothing but cupcakes this month so this Temple team could provide a test. They have some big guards - their smallest rotational guard is 6'2'' - that can actually have a somewhat fair shot against Michael Carter-Williams. MCW has been playing against teams where he is longer than the oppositions center so that is refreshing. Along with Alex Len, Carter-Williams has the most to prove when conference play starts. Everyone has already jumped on his and Len's bandwagon already, but both have played only 1 or 2 legitimate games. If they sustain their level of performance through conference play, I may be ready to give them more credit.

Murray State at Dayton 12pm CBSSN

This is a big game for Dayton as they are coming off of a heartbreaking loss against Illinois State. It should be a good one against Isaiah Canaan and company. Canaan has been very good again this season and Im still very much intrigued by how his scoring will translate in the NBA. I don't expect him to ever start at point guard, but he could have a nice career scoring as a poor man's Jason Terry. As for Ed Daniel, he is the closest thing you will get to Kenneth Faried in this draft. He impressed in the summer playing with big time college players and has parlayed that into a excellent senior season so far.

American at Georgetown 12pm ESPN3

McNeese State at North Carolina 12pm ESPNU

USC at Georgia 1:30pm

Interesting to note: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has tallied at least 9 rebounds in each of his last 3 games. Its good to see him playing hard through this nightmare of a season. I've never doubted Caldwell-Pope's energy. but the old adage "work smart, not hard" could apply to the sophomore shooting guard. He makes a lot of freshman mistakes. Another note - their second leading scorer averages 7.2 point per game. Ew. USC isn't much better and is led by Eric Wise's 10.6 ppg. Dewayne Dedmon is the Trojan to watch though. USC does a terrible job getting him touches on offense, but his defense and rebounding has been solid. He's 7 feet tall so he's in the running to get drafted in the second round this year.

Texas at Michigan State 2pm ESPN2

Texas beat up on North Carolina inside this week, now they are back to trying not to get beaten up themselves. Michigan State is far from UNC inside with Nix, Payne, and Dawson controlling the glass. Keith Appling needs to get back on track in this game. He has failed to score in double digits his last 3 games vs Division 1 opponents.

LSU at Marquette 2pm ESPNU

Florida State vs Charlotte 2pm CBSSN

Arizona State at Texas Tech 2pm

South Dakota State at New Mexico 2:30pm

Nate Wolters was hurt the last time they played a ranked team and this his last chance to pull off a big upset in his regular season career. The Jackrabbits start conference play after this one. Wolters has still been nursing his injury, but has gotten plenty of rest on SDSU's bus trip across the country to Albuquerque. Kendall Williams is a good point guard in his own right so this should be a good matchup.

Austin Peay at Illinois State 3pm

St. Mary's at Northern Iowa 3pm

St. Bonaventure at North Carolina St 3pm ESPN3

Wright State at Cincinnati 4pm

Kansas at Ohio State 4pm CBS

The biggest game of the day surprisingly has Ohio State favored by 5.5 points in Vegas. The Buckeyes have homecourt, but Kansas is the better team. Kevin Young and Travis Releford both are smart defenders who are up for the task of slowing down Deshaun Thomas. Nobody will stop Thomas, but they can make him have to hit tough shots. The key matchup in this one is at point guard play. Elijah Johnson has been getting by strictly as a guy bringing the ball up the court - not someone creating offense. Kansas is going to need him to be more of a point guard today and facing Aaron Craft, it won't be easy. If Ohio State manages to win this game - it will be because Craft got the better of Johnson.

Marshall at Kentucky 4pm

Missouri vs Illinois 6pm ESPN2

If Missouri wins this game, their advantage inside will be the reason. Laurence Bowers has been great this season, showing a much more mature offensive game then in previous seasons. He has worked his way into the draft conversation as a second round pick. Oriakhi, Pressey, and Paul are others to watch.

San Diego State vs San Francisco 6pm ESPNU

Bucknell at Princeton 7pm

Davidson at Drexel 8pm

Florida vs Kansas State 8pm ESPN2

Western Kentucky vs Louisville 8:30pm ESPNU

Canisius at UNLV 10pm

Arizona vs East Tennessee State 10:30pm ESPNU

Fresno State at UCLA 11pm Pac-12N

Miami (FL) at Hawaii 12:30am ESPNU

Friday, December 21, 2012

Recap from Last Night and Tonight's Games to Watch 12/21/12

Last night was a disappointing night for 57 NBA scouts who flocked to Denton, Texas to see CJ McCollom and Tony Mitchell to battle. McCollom did not play as he is recovering from a mild ankle injury and Tony Mitchell didn't start for "disciplinary reasons". There is no better way to piss off scouts than to be forced to start the game on the bench for doing something stupid. Especially a game as big as this. Mitchell scored 22 points and grabbed boards but this season has done anything but solidify himself as a lottery pick. He looks like a potential draft day free faller.

Arkansas found them in a tight game against Robert Morris, which they pulled out 79-74. BJ Young was able to score off the bounce when the Razorbacks needed him. Young also turned it over multiple times on lazy passes inside and showed little urgency in getting back on defense to make up for his mistakes. His shot continues to struggles as well, especially at the line where his slingshot form isn't doing him any favors. For a guy who plans to make a living as a slasher, a sub 70% FT shooting is a problem. Below are highlights:

I also went back and looked at the Cincinnati-Xavier game. Semaj Christon is a definite first round talent and has lots of room to grow. Right now he relies on his explosive, long strides off the dribble to get into the lane and score. He has a nice floater game and is able to rise above the defense and get it off. He has elite physical attributes for a point guard and does a nice job staying under control in the lane. His decision making and point guard skills need work, but show potential. Christon definitely needs to work on his shot - both off the dribble and spotting up. Its the main thing holding him back from being dominant in college.

The star of the night was Mason Plumlee, who was the only Duke player who didn't appear tired on the second night of a back to back. He had 21 points and 15 rebounds - the majority of which came in the first half when the game still in question.

Game of the Night: BYU at Baylor 9pm ESPN2

Coming off the the news that Jabari Parker will not be spending his next year in Provo, the BYU basketball team must move on to face Baylor. Depending on what Baylor team they get, they could potentially get the win. Tyler Haws has been one of the biggest pleasant surprises in the nation and it will be interesting to see how he fares against Baylor's athletic perimeter. Senior Brandon Davies is having a great year himself and has the task of playing well against Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin. Meanwhile Isaiah Austin has only made 1 free throw in his last 5 games, but is coming off two straight 10+ rebound games. Austin has to consistently show he will play tough inside this year, even with his strength limitations, if he wants to be projected as anything more than a stretch big man.

Other games to keep an eye on:

Florida Atlantic at Indiana 7pm ESPN2 - Victor Oladipo is clearly their best upperclassmen prospect on the team, but who is second? Cases can be made for Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, and Will Sheehey. Watford would have been the easy answer just a year ago, but his efficiency has FG% has fallen for the third straight year. He hasn't gotten much better over his time in Bloomington and looks like a skinny PF. He got bullied inside against Butler. My pick of the three? Will Sheehey.

Bowling Green at South Florida 7pm - Anthony Collins is the name to watch here. The sophomore point guard looked great two weeks ago against Marcus Smart, but has only played one time since so Im eager to check him out again. He's a true point guard who can be a pest defensively. Is he just off to a hot start or is he legit? Big East play will certainly answer that question.

Longwood at Virginia Commonwealth 7:30pm - VCU is always exciting to watch and while they don't have any surefire NBA prospects, Treveon Graham has made great strides in his sophomore year. He is a power wing who can drive to the basket and hit the outside shot. He has gone from a reserve to top scorer on a team that likely is top 25 in the country. It feels weird question a VCU player's defense, but the biggest concern with him may be whether he can defend wings in the NBA. He's a combo forward at this point. Also keep an eye on Michael Kessens, the leading freshman rebounder in the nation at 10.3 boards per contest.

USC Upstate at Tennessee State 8pm - This Tennessee State team continues to play awful basketball, getting demolished by Middle Tennessee State last game. Covington's lack of perimeter skills have been exposed playing next to incapable guards. Maybe a game against USC Upstate is competition they can actually hang with.

Northern Arizona at Colorado 8:30pm - After getting major praise from media pundits before the Kansas game, Spencer Dinwiddie now has scored 5 points and tallied 2 assists in his last 2 games. Hes shooting 1-8 from the floor and has 7 turnovers. He suffered an injury in the game against Kansas (but came back) and it could have affected him against Fresno, but its an ugly line either way. Andre Roberson still is by far the best prospect on this team and has started to play better as of late. He has hit 4 of his last 5 threes and has grabbed at least 11 boards in each of his last 6 games.

Buffalo vs Washington State 10:30pm - Always need to have a late game and this one pits two very different power forwards against each other. Watch the matchup between Brock Motum and Javon McCrea inside. Motum has 5 straight games where he's scored at least 23 points. He's not as pure of a shooter as other stretch forwards like Eric Murphy, but has more variety in his scoring arsenal.

Also I'll try to get highlight videos from Alex Len's and Jarnell Stokes' games tonight.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Trevor Releford's 17 points vs Texas Tech

Trevor Releford has bumped his 3-pt% from a poor 27% over his first two season to 42% to begin his junior year. If he keeps his shooting up, he has enough talent to get 2nd round looks. 

Isaiah Canaan's 18 Points vs Arkansas St (Video)

12/20/12 Games to Watch and a Recap of Last NIght

I didn't get a chance to recap the North Carolina State/Stanford game yesterday, so I'll do it now since it was a notable game.

Lorenzo Brown was the "good" Lorenzo Brown that we saw last year. He finally got the better of another good guard - Chasson Randle being the victim. Brown did a great job finding the hot hand early on - finding Scott Wood in position to hit 5 3-pters in the first half. After Wood cooled down, Brown looked for his own offense in the second half and finished with 24 points on 15 shots.

Brown did a nice job pushing the ball in transition. His craftiness with the ball allowed him to navigate through traffic at a controlled pace, using his size to help shield the ball, and hit an array of floaters in the lane. He also showed the Eurostep a couple of times. The eurostep, his size, his craftiness, and his touch help make him a very good scorer inside when he is aggressive.

Brown is not the only NC State player who uses to floater to score in bunches - all three of Rodney Purvis's field goals came off floaters and TJ Warren has a very good floor game as well. Purvis was key in the first half before Brown took over and was able to blow by Stanford's slowish guards at ease. I cant think of another team that uses the floater as well as the Wolfpack.

Inside, CJ Leslie really struggled in the first half. He was bullied by Dwight Powell (who scored 15 first half points) and completely out of sync offensively. He airballed a long fadeaway, turned it over on a lazy pass, and took multiple bad shots on out of control drives. In the second half, some of his wild plays started to actually fall for Leslie and he finished with 16 points. Still, its been the same story with Leslie for years. He has awful offensive possessions and then shows the flash of the spectacular. The bottom line is he doesn't have anything reliable on the offensive end. His jumper is inconsistent and his awkward, out of control drives are more style over substance. He is the next Andray Blatche.

Meanwhile, Richard Howell continues to impress. He was always the garbage man for Leslie, but has taken over - for now at least - as the Pack's leading scorer. He is still mainly a garbage man, but he's terrific at his role. Howell is so tough inside finishing through contact, has good footwork, and surprisingly quick moves to the bucket. Unlike Leslie, he has efficient ways to score. On top of that, he's a better rebounder and worlds better defensively. He's certainly the better player at this stage and Leslie's "prospect" label is wearing off. When this season is over, I wouldn't be surprised to see Howell be selected OVER Leslie in the draft.

In last night's action, there was a good chance to see three first round power forwards in Jackie Carmichael, James Michael McAdoo, and Anthony Bennett.

Carmichael was huge in a slight upset at Dayton. He does a great job moving his feet on both sides of the ball and being active. He is a big guy, but moves lightly on his feet and is surprisingly explosive. He draws charges and guards the pick and roll with expertise. Offensively, he does a great job sealing off defenders on his back, has patience in the post, and has great footwork. He has soft touch around the rim and can step out and hit the jumper. With his skillset and BBIQ, Im not sure he is even capable of a bad game. He had 25 points and 14 rebounds last night.

Illinois State actually almost lost the game even though they were up 7 with under two minutes left. In a puzzling move, Illinois State called a timeout while up 4 points with under a minute to play. At the time there was 4 seconds left in the shot clock, but Carmichael had the ball in post and looked capable of getting a good shot. Instead, the timeout was called by the coach and the turned it over try to get the ball inbounds. If you call a timeout in that situation, you better have a great inbound play in mind. That play was a possible 4 point swing and gave Dayton a chance for a game winner in the final seconds. Illinois State got lucky to hold on.

For UNLV and Anthony Bennett, they had a date with Northern Iowa and looked great early. Anthony Bennett dominated on offense early - hitting a couple of threes and looking like a guard in transition. Its amazing how well he plays in transition at his size. He had a play where he grabbed a rebound, brought it up with the defense already set, yet still was able to take it all the way into the lane for a lay-up. He made it look easy.

And while Bennett had some jaw dropping plays, he didn't take advantage of Northern Iowa's size inside. His points came on jumpers and off the dribble. The problem with Bennett is he doesn't handle physical play much. He can out-muscle guys, but when the defense pushes back, he backs down. It happened last game against UTEP and UNI followed the same plan. Bennett was quiet in the second half mainly because he couldn't get good post position.

And defensively, Bennett played terrible post defense and allowed smaller UNI players to rebound over him. His help defense has been a problem this year, but he did have 3 solid blocks in attempt to block the rim.

From the surface, this looked like another Bennett statement game and he really did have some impressive stretches - specifically in the first half. But there are still things that hold him back from being an ideal top 5 selection.

James Michael McAdoo struggled again and the North Carolina Tar Heels ended up losing to Texas. Texas was too physical for UNC and were able to hit shots from outside. Like Jackie Carmichael, McAdoo has good footwork, explodes quickly, and a good feel for the game. Unlike Carmichael, McAdoo plays soft, rushes decisions, and takes low percentage shots. McAdoo was pushed around all game and unable to mix it up inside against the Longhorns bigs. McAdoo has a nice ceiling, but he won't reach it if he doesn't show more toughness and strength. Hes making the game harder on himself.

Games to Watch Tonight

Lehigh at North Texas 8pm

The big game on tonight's schedule is North Texas vs Lehigh which tips at 8pm. By last count I saw, 54 NBA scouts had requested credentials to tonights game - easily the most scouts congregating for a single game (no tournament) this year. All the buzz is about Tony Mitchell and CJ McCollom, two low-major players who have a shot at being selected in this years lottery.

Another reason all the attention will be in Denton tonight is because there aren't many other good games. Duke, Michigan, UCF, Memphis, and Arkansas all play and are worth checking out, but none of the games offer much to see. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recap from Last Night and 12/19/12 Game Preview

In the early games yesterday, there were two top 10 teams squaring off against mid-major programs. It appeared Kansas had the tougher task, facing a good Richmond squad but they blew them out with no problem. It was Winthrop though, that gave Ohio State trouble - and it was a close game up until the final 5 minutes.

Deshaun Thomas was streaky and at one point missed 9 shots in a row. Midway through the second half he got hot and as soon as his long jumper went in, I knew Ohio State was going to start to get a little cushion. Thomas hit 4 jumpers in a row and also a fifth bucket on a tough move inside. The good thing - or bad thing - about Thomas is he never loses confidence in his jumper. After his 9 straight misses, his first make was on a quick contested shot from a step inside the arc - his favorite spot on the floor. His shot selection would make even good players in the country inefficient which is what makes his 48% shooting on the season so impressive.

Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott can make a great pair, especially on defense where they may be the best defending backcourt in the country. On offense. neither of them turn the ball over but neither provides much outside shooting. It is interesting to see that Scott is the main playmaker when they are both in. Craft has not taken the necessary step forward this year in that development.

Ohio State has a lot of depth on the perimeter and no seniors. With Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross playing well, it makes me wonder if they can go another season of coming off the bench. Even with Thomas starting at PF, the Buckeyes have a crowded backcourt with Lenzelle Smith, Aaron Craft, and Sam Thompson starting.

Of their 4 highly touted sophomores - Ross, Amir Williams, Thompson, and Scott - none get over 24 minutes a game. It doesn't seem right that they will have to continue to see limited playing time in their junior years if Craft and Thomas stay.

Anyway, this Ohio State team has looked overrated despite all their talent this season. They've come out flat on multiple occasions and have a big test Saturday against Kansas. The Jayhawks have been polar opposites of the Buckeyes - blowing out opponents and thriving off great defense. Ohio State is going to have to defend the 3-pt line better than they did tonight. I think Kansas has the edge even without homecourt in the game, but Ohio State may be able to pull off the win if they win the matchup at point guard. Aaron Craft should be able to give Elijah Johnson a hard time.

In a developing story - this Miami Hurricanes team is pretty good. They are definitely a top 4 ACC team this year and could be as high as #2. They haven't lost since the early season matchup against Florida Golf Coast which was without Durand Scott. Since then, they seem to get better every game as Larkin and Scott learn to play together.

They are tied for the team lead in scoring, but since Durand Scott has been back, he's been their go-to guy. And he should be. He's been great this year at picking his spots and not forcing things. He is a beast physically at getting to the hoop and is a creative finisher. I also have been very impressed with his defense in the early goings. The biggest development may be his 3-pt shot - Scott had pretty much abandoned it the past year for good reason, but is slowing bringing it back. He is 4-6 in his last two games and hit two really tough baskets from behind the arc tonight against Central Florida. The rotation on his shot looks good and he has always been a solid free throw shooter so maybe there is some reason to believe in his range.

Inside Miami has been led by Reggie Johnson, who "slimmed" down a bit over the summer. He may not look any smaller, but he is certainly in better condition. He is able to play extended minutes with high activity. His effort has been great this year and he's been a factor on both sides of the ball. He even is showing touch from outside. What makes Johnson great is how light he is on his feet. But his effort has also been impressive - last night for example, Miami was up nearly 20 with under 2 minutes left yet he was still running the court and diving for loose balls.

Arizona had no problem getting past Oral Roberts and it was good seeing Angelo Chol getting some run in the blowout. Chol looked like a promising player last season, but with three heralded freshman bigs coming in this year, there is just no room for him on the court. And it really sucks for him - he plays really hard and by all accounts is a hard worker. He is active on the glass, moves well, and has nice touch from 15 feet out. Unfortunately, Chol won't be able to play regularly for at least another year, perhaps more.

I flipped back between to night cappers, watching both James Ennis take on UCLA and Allen Crabbe play UC Santa Barbara. UCLA looked good early on, finally showing intensity on defense. They covered the perimeter really well and denied passing lanes. Their intensity faded though and when it did, UCLA's lack of a frontline was exposed by Dan Jennings. Jennings had a career game on his way to 27 points. James Ennis also played well. He showed a flawed jumper yet hit 3-6 from deep. He also was able to drive the lane and show off his explosiveness at the rim. He is able to hang in the air and finish with contact well.

For UCLA, Shabazz Muhammad did a good job defensively. This is a notable improvement. Offensively, he missed 3 dunks but finished with 21 points. He scored in a variety of ways - off steals, in transition, with his leaner in the lane, off offensive rebounds, and from behind the arc. He leaves a lot to be desired from a skill standpoint but manages to get it done.

In the other late game of note, Allen Crabbe finished with 12 points on another poor shooting performance (4-12 from the field). He's not as dynamic as other top scorers in the country but is outstanding moving without the ball. He is a great shooter, but does not settle for the jumpshot. He does a nice job finding soft spots in the defense in the paint for easy jumpers as well as curling around screens. He also does a good job getting out in transition. He does a nice job gathering himself and handling contact in the paint, but his lack of explosion and creativity hurt him.

Games to Watch Today:

Detroit at Alcorn State 3pm (Ray McCallum)
Xavier vs Cincinnati 7pm ESPN2 (Semaj Christon and Sean Kilpatrick)
Illinois State at Dayton 7pm (Jackie Carmichael)
South Dakota State at Belmont 8pm (Nate Wolters)
North Carolina at Texas 9pm ESPN2 (Reggie Bullock, James Michael McAdoo, plus others)
Northern Iowa at UNLV 10pm (Anthony Bennett, Khem Birch)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12/18/12 Games To Watch

Richmond at Kansas 7pm ESPN2

Richmond has been playing good ball this season and has Derrick Williams down low - who is an absolute load. How will Jeff Withey and company fare against his physicality? Ben McLemore has scored at least 17 points in his last three games, besting his scoring average each time. Travis Relaford has been the best perimeter defender for Kansas and has created many easy baskets. And he is also much improved at the free throw line this year. He was the Jayhawks glue guy last year and has turned into a major player this year. Kevin Young has done a nice job taking over as the new glue guy. Elijah Johnson has scored over 8 points twice in his last 6 games and has actually taken less shots this year than the previous season.

Stanford at North Carolina State 9pm ESPN2

North Carolina State gets their first test since the edged out UCONN early in the month. TJ Warren has taken over the scoring lead for the Wolfpack, with Richard Howell surprisingly the #2 guy. Both have been ultra efficient. For Lorenzo Brown, he will have another tough matchup against a point guard - this time seeing Chasson Randle. He's already been bested by Marcus Smart, Shabazz Napier, and Trey Burke this year. Randle doesn't get much exposure on the West Coast, but he's a big time player. He played great in Puerto Rico and is now looking to get back on track on a national stage.

Oral Roberts at Arizona 9pm Pac-12 Network

After an emotional victory over Florida that saw their upperclassmen step up, Arizona looks to continue their winning ways against Oral Roberts. Nick Johnson has been their best player early on - leading the team in assists and points while managing less turnovers and better efficiency than Mark Lyons. Lyons change of teams and positions has gotten off to a shaky start. Also look out for Oral Roberts' Warren Niles, a senior who is averaging 21 points per game. He has scored 21 in each of his last three contests and has been deadly from three.

UC Santa Barbara at California 11pm Pac-12 Network

For the night owls, there are two good games over on the west coast. I'm really looking forward to seeing  sophomore Alan Williams who has appeared to be an absolute beast this season. He's 25-40 from the field over his last 3 games, including a 29 point performance in a win over Santa Clara. He also rebounds the ball well and seems pretty nimble for a 6-7 240 pounder. He will need to stay out of foul trouble against Cal - something he has been unable to do. He has acrued at least 4 fouls in 6 of his 7 games against D1 opponents. For Cal, they look to end their 3 game losing streak. Allen Crabbe was 6-26 against Creighton but has been otherwise pretty solid this season.

Long Beach State at UCLA 11pm Pac-12 Network

This game offers two physical and athletic small forwards going against each other. James Ennis is the senior and could very well get the better of freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Long Beach State is battle tested and ready to pull off an upset after losing to North Carolina, Syracuse, Arizona, and Ohio State already.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2013 NBA Mock Draft

New 2013 NBA Mock. I didn't factor in any international players into the second round because I haven't studied many of them yet. Plus, I'd like to put in as many collegiate players as possible into the mocks. Team needs are loosely taken into account - moreso near the top of the draft.

Players leaving/staying were made at my own discretion and are purely speculation.

1. Charlotte Bobcats - FR Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky

The first overall pick is up for grabs. Honestly - try doing a mock draft right now. Each pick in the top 5 you question yourself if the player is worth that high of a selection. At this point, nobody has earned much. Goodwin has outstanding physical gifts and a knack for scoring and getting to the line. The Bobcats will need a scoring wing to pair with MGK if they ever want to win.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers - FR Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Noel has been a mixed bag this year. If you had Anthony Davis level expectations you would be disappointed. If you were like me and had a lot of questions with his game - you should be seeing some reasons to be optimistic. Noel isn't as smart or as tough as Davis on defense, but is still making tons of plays and rebounding the ball. He has shown good energy and better body language than he did in high school. Offensively, he is raw but sports a positive assist to turnover ratio. He can get to the rim but needs to finish stronger and more under control.

3. Toronto Raptors - FR Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

Bennett has been dominant his freshman season thus far and will take on a even bigger role with Moser out. He does a good job setting screens and getting open off of them - showing a nice mid-range and deep jumper. He can also face up and get to the rim where he finishes with authority. He shows a post game but needs to get better at utilizing his big frame. Defensively you can say the same thing - he projects as just a solid defender - but has been a great rebounder.

Toronto is ready to end the Bargnani era and Bennett would spell the end of that. Bennett would fit well in their pick and roll offense and give them a different look from it than what Valanciunas presents. Also, Toronto wouldn't mind having a Canadian on their roster - and would hope to add another one the following year (Wiggins).

4. Washington Wizards - SO Cody Zeller, F/C, Indiana

Zeller has been great this year for #1 Indiana, but that has not lifted the concerns about his length and explosiveness. Zeller can look very average at times in the post when he can't create separation. He struggles to get his own shot and finish near the hoop. Zeller's outstanding skill level, footwork, and energy still make him a nice prospect - just not an elite one.

5. Phoenix Suns - 1992 Rudy Gobert, C, Cholet

Gobert just recently announced that he would like to play in the NBA next year. He's a project but has the size and athleticism to turn out to be a good one.

6. Sacramento Kings - FR Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Smart is one of my favorite players in this draft and a leader who can step in and turn the culture of a team around. He possesses natural leadership skills, great athleticism and size, and a advanced understanding of how to change speeds. Smart is a stat stuffer who helps out in all areas of the game and has the ability to be either a great scorer or facilitator at the point guard spot.

7. New Orleans Hornets - FR Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA

Muhammad has struggled early on and needs to turn it up soon. He had an injury and missed practice so its understandable, but as the season goes on that excuse will go away. And the UCLA excuse doesnt work for me - it was much more evident it was the system that was holding back Westbrook and Holiday. For Muhammad its his lack of ball handling skills and ability to create separation. He has to work very hard for each bucket and relies too much on his strength and energy. Defensively, he looks slow and out of shape.

8. Detroit Pistons - SO Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Porter has been great for Georgetown and his most impressive revelation for his stock so far has been his shooting ability. His high IQ, defense, passing skills, and toughness were known - but his silky smooth jumper from the mid-range area has now started progressing into a solid 3-pt shot. For a guy with average explosiveness for a lottery wing, his ability to knock down the jumper is crucial for his offensive success.

9. Orlando Magic - SO Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

Carter-Williams is the most dynamic player on the board at this point and offers a lot to be excited about. He also offers a lot of questions. Is he mature and a good enough leader to run the point? Can he get into the paint and finish with contact? How will he defend outside of the 2-3 zone? Will he fare better than the last couple of Syracuse players? His height is helping mask a lot of his weaknesses at this point. I still like him though and as Syracuse plays tougher opponents the answers to these questions will become more clear. The one concern I dont have that most actually do is his shooting - he has always had a good touch and its starting to come along the past few games.

10. Houston Rockets - FR Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

The hype on Glenn Robinson III hasn't gotten rolling yet with him stuck next to two ball dominant guards. And perhaps that is best for him - like the rest of the SFs in this draft, GRIII isn't a guy who wants to be "the guy". He's perfectly content playing his role - knocking down jumpers, rebounding, and playing defense. The thing is, he has been incredibly efficient doing it so far as a freshman on one of the best teams in the nation. You can easily carve out a long NBA career doing what he is done so far.

11. Philadelphia 76ers - FR Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

McLemore has already stepped into the main scoring role for the Jayhawks and he hasn't even started hitting threes yet. McLemore does a great job getting open for shots off screens and sneaks in for backdoor alley-oop plays every now and then to show off his athleticism. He has the size, athleticism, and the shooting ability for the shooting guard position. He is kind of like Bradley Beal last year in the sense that it is tough to go wrong with him. His floor seems like a solid starter and he offer the potential to be one of the better shooting guards in the game. He could end up going in the top 5.

12. Portland Trailblazers - SR CJ McCollum, G, Lehigh

CJ McCollum has lived up to his senior hype in the scoring column - already going off for 30+ points a couple of times. He gets good separation for his jumpshot with his crossover and has silky smooth body control when going up for his shot. McCollum is a great shooter and projects as instant offense off the bench at the next level. He isn't the athlete that Portland's Damian Lillard is and it prevents him from being the playmaker Lillard is. I don't think McCollum will make the full transition to point guard, but will be able to run it off the bench. He is a student of the game and a very hard worker.

13. Dallas Mavericks - FR Alex Poythress, F, Kentucky

With his near 70% field goal shooting and 0.6/3 assist to turnover ratio, its clear just looking at the stats that Poythress is much more of a power forward right now. Poythress is able to defend multiple positions well which is a big part of his appeal and if you can defend the perimeter like he can then there is hope that he can make the transition on offense. Even if he doesn't, Poythress has enough size to be a combo forward in the NBA and the attitude and work ethic that will keep him in the league. He's not a top 5 pick though. I don't see it in his skillset and its definitely not his type of mentality. He went to Kentucky so he didn't have to be "the guy" - Poythress prefers to be a role player.

14. Los Angeles Lakers (to Phoenix) - SO James Michael McAdoo, PF, North Carolina

Everyone is well aware of McAdoo's struggles this year in his new role. The biggest problem with him has been his strength. He is getting pushed around inside, has been unable to get under control, and it is causing a lot of turnovers. He isn't the physical presence North Carolina needs him to be. He still shows good upside on offense thanks to his ability to move without the ball, his quickness, and his soft touch. If he gets stronger, I also think he will be able to start showing a forming post game. Defensively he is smart and is able to draw charges with his quick feet, but doesn't prove to be much of a threat. And he gets pushed around on the glass.

15. Indiana Pacers - SO Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

Trey Burke has followed up his impressive freshman season with another one so far - leading Michigan to an undefeated record. Burke has drawn comparisons to a poor man's Chris Paul and its accurate. He is a balanced point guard, able to both distribute and score. He has a high BBIQ and takes the team and the game on his shoulders. He understands Michigan's complex offense so well. He can overdribble at times and does need to be more of a factor on defense. The only thing holding him back from a top ten selection is his athleticism. And averaging a combined 4.7 rebounds/blocks/and steals brings up some concerns among stat junkies.

16. Milwaukee Bucks - SO Alex Len, C, Maryland

The hype around Alex Len right now reminds me of the Kosta Koufos hype when he first got to Ohio State. Legit seven footer with offensive skills, blocks shots, can hit the jumper and score with his back to the basket. Its an intriguing set of skills for sure, but the most important factor for centers in today's NBA is defense. That is how you get on the court. Len is a good shot blocker (he is more explosive than Koufos), but lacks an understanding and commitment on the defensive end. Besides Kentucky, Maryland hasn't played in any big games so Len is still living off the hype from his first game. But come ACC play he will have to earn the top 5 billing analysts are placing on him.

17. Boston Celtics - SO Tony Mitchell, F, North Texas

I just wrote about Mitchell and this part of the draft would be a good spot for him. His production hasn't been the best up to this point. He might be the best athlete in the draft, but seems to have false beliefs that he is a small forward. If he commits to power forward, he can be very good. Its a high risk/high reward situation in the lottery. It this spot, it would be all reward.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves (to Phoenix) - SR Mason Plumlee, F/C, Duke

Wrote this recently - "There is part of me that wants to rank Plumlee lower, but its tough with the season he is having. He very well could be National Player of the Year this season and his stock should start soaring. It won't surprise me if he ends up in the lottery. I don't want to split hairs though with his ranking - my main point is if I were a GM, I'd spend my top 20 pick somewhere else. I'd much rather take Jeff Withey outside the top 20 then spend a top 20 pick on Mason. Nothing against him, he's having a great season, I just question how it all translates to the next level. His offense is a lot of face up looks, but he can't shoot. He relies on the drive, but its going to be hard to keep NBA defenses honest if he can't consistent hit the 15 footer. And his post game is still based on his athleticism. And he doesn't even establish deep post position enough to take advantage of it."

19. Utah Jazz - JR Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit

McCallum is an underrated prospect. CJ McCollum gets all the hype because of his scoring, but all Ray McCallum has done this season is prove he can suddenly switch from a point guard to shot hunter to provide his team with much needed scoring. He isn't as good at it as McCollum but McCallum also isn't a combo guard. He is a pure point who has proven he knows how to lead a team and create shots for his teammates. McCallum looks like a sure bet to be at least a top backup point guard, but could easily turn into a solid starter.

20. Denver Nuggets - SR Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

Withey is leading a suffocating Kansas defense. I wrote this recently -

"The second best senior? It sounds weird, but Withey has an elite ability to affect games on the defensive end that should make him a good player in the pros. He moves so fluidly for a 7 footer and gets off the court quickly. He has been Kansas's best player so far, even becoming more of a threat on offense. Kansas can't get much penetration so Withey has been a key factor on offense - being relied upon as a part of their inside/out game. He has shown quick moves in the post and has been more aggressive this season. Withey isn't the most talented senior, but he might be the surest bet to walk onto a NBA team and contribute right away."

21, Golden State Warriors (to Utah) - SR Jackie Carmichael, PF, Illinois State

Jackie Carmichael has been a huge revelation to me this year. He has a prototypical body for a four man and is more explosive than he looks. He's actually extremely nimble on his feet and does a great job defending pick and rolls on the perimeter. He plays the game offensively like a 10 year NBA vet - setting good screens, showing great patience in the post, hitting from mid-range, and cleaning the offensive boards. He is a good passer and has a post game. At this point, it wouldn't be crazy to call him the most NBA ready power foward in the draft.

22. Brooklyn Nets - JR Andre Roberson, PF, Colorado

Roberson has looked bad this year trying to show his perimeter skills and that is taking away all the attention from what he can do. He is still posting great rebounding numbers and generating a ton of blocks and steals. He isn't a small foward, but would that have even been the best fit for him? He can be a poor man's Marion off the bench.

23. Chicago Bulls - JR Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville

Dieng has been out the last month with a broken wrist and he has been missed - not only for his great defense, but for his offense. Dieng is a big help facilitating the offense from the post and had flipped his turnover ratio upside down from previous years. He should be back in the next couple of weeks.

24. Atlanta Hawks - SO BJ Young, SG, Arkansas

Young has proven to be one of the better one on one players in college basketball when it comes to getting to the rim. He has excellent body control and footwork on his way to the rim and is able to manipulate his way through defenders and hang in the air to finish with contact. While his ability to get to the basket and finish is elite, his shooting has taken a step back this year and he isn't getting a chance to show his ability to run the point guard in Arkansas' 3 guard offense.

25. Memphis Grizzlies (to Minnesota) - JR Reggie Bullock, G/F, North Carolina

With North Carolina struggling, it is easy to sour on their top prospects and place the blame on them. And you can knock Bullock for his aggressiveness - only getting to the line 1.4 times a game. But that isnt his game and isnt what he will be expected to do in the NBA. He cant carry UNC, but in terms of doing the little things, he continues to show elite qualities of a role player. His 3-pt shot is hitting at an all time high, as he's making 43% from behind the arc, and it looks great coming out of his hand. His assists and steals are also up. He could be an immediate contributor to a playoff team.

26. Miami Heat (to Cleveland) - SO LeBryan Nash, SF, Oklahoma State

LeBryan Nash is an interesting player. He struggled last year trying to show off his perimeter skills and has made it a point this year to play more inside and get to the free throw line. He's getting to the line nearly 2.5 times per game more than his freshman year. Operating inside of 18 feet, he has looked nearly unstoppable and has shown a variety of different ways to hurt the opposition. He has also shown solid court vision but his A/TO is hurt by his propensity to force things and take bad shots. Defensively, Nash has a reputation as a stopper but struggles to keep quicker perimeter players in front of him. He might be stuck in between positions like an Al Thornton type but if he blossoms, he could be the next Caron Butler.

27. Los Angeles Clippers - JR Victor Oladipo, G/F, Indiana

Oladipo has been arguably Indiana's best player this season while turning himself into some kind of folk hero. His defense is something that can't be captured in a scouting report - nor can his energy. He has Tony Allen-type defense skills. And his defense has turned into quick offense for him, enabling him to get out on the break for big thunderous dunks while showcasing his elite athleticism. He is shooting a ridiculous 65% from the field this year - up from just 47% the year before. I predicted a breakout year from Oladipo, but the season he is having is something special.

28. New York Knicks - JR Patric Young, F/C, Florida

After two subpar years, Patric Young has started to show some signs of life this season - upping his rebound totals and finally blocking some shots. Still, he needed a early season benching to jumpstart him and after last night's game, it looks like he could be starting to get too comfortable again. He has a NBA body and moves his feet well defensively, so he should at least be a solid big off the bench in the league. I highly doubt at this point he will ever become anything more.

29. San Antonio Spurs - 1994 Dario Saric, F, Cibona Zagreb

Saric's season is just getting underway.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder - JR Mike Moser, F, UNLV

Mike Moser got off to a shaky start this year before getting hurt. It was an adjustment for him to get used to playing with Anthony Bennett and when he comes back this time, he will also have to adjust to playing with Khem Birch. Bennett has taken over as the star of the Rebels and Birch will play center, so Moser will have a chance to focus on playing the perimeter.

31. Charlotte Bobcats (to Oklahoma City) - JR CJ Leslie, PF, North Carolina State

Leslie continues to be a mixed bag for the Wolfpack, looking like a guy who will never grow to "get it". This is his junior year and at this time, he should be dominating competition with his athleticism alone. Yet that hasn't been the case as NC State has been a disappointment and Leslie is stuck in neutral. He still lacks any reliable way to score on offense and doesn't play smart defense. And he has failed to provide any kind of leadership on a NC State team begging for a leader - he instead plays more like a freshman than Purvis, Lewis, or Warren.

32. Cleveland Cavaliers - SR Elijah Johnson, PG, Kansas

I was so busy trying to point out Elijah Johnson's weaknesses over the summer - saying he won't be able to be "the guy", he isn't aggressive, he doesnt get to the rim - to recognize his strengths and what he can bring to a team. Elijah Johnson is a shot maker and also has a great physical profile on defense. He is excellent off the catch and shoot once he gets his feet get set. I still question his ability to take advantage of his defensive attributes, as he has never shown good awareness. But this season that hasn't been as apparent with him guarding the oppositions point guard more. His main trouble was defending off ball and understanding how to see "ball" and "man" at all times. Johnson really needs to get to the line more though - 1.4 times a game won't cut it. He's perfectly capable.

33. Toronto Raptors - JR Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State

Franklin is a guy who coaches will love one second and hate the next. He tries to do everything on offense even though he is limited by his ball handling abilities. He turns it over a lot and takes a lot of bad shots. But he also works very hard, rebounds like a big man, and can score in bunches. He is a highlight reel finisher and is a streaky outside shooter. Right now, he needs to get his 3-pt% back up because that will need to be a big part of his game in the NBA. Being a 23% 3-pt shooter will have him averaging 20ppg in the D-League real quick.

34. Washington Wizards - SR Michael Snaer, SG, Florida State
35. Phoenix Suns - SR Brandon Paul, G, Illinois
36. Sacramento Kings - SR Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota
37. New Orleans Hornets (to Philadelphia) - JR Phil Pressey, PG, Missouri
38. Detroit Pistons - JR Tim Hardaway Jr, SG, Michigan
39. Orlando Magic (to Cleveland) - SO Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
40. Houston Rockets - SO Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
41. Philadelphia 76ers - JR Deshaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
42. Portland Trailblazers (to Denver) - SR Richard Howell, PF, North Carolina State
43. Dallas Mavericks - SR Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
44. Los Angeles Lakers - SR Erick Green, G, Virginia Tech
45, Indiana Pacers - JR Aaron Craft, PG, Ohio State
46. Milwaukee Bucks - SR James Ennis, SF, Long Beach State
47. Boston Celtics (to Portland) - JR CJ Wilcox, SG, Washington
48. Minnesota Timberwolves (to Portland) - SO Rakeem Christmas, F/C, Syracuse
49. Utah Jazz - JR Russ Smith, G, Louisville
50. Denver Nuggets (to Phoenix) - JR CJ Fair, F, Syracuse
51, Golden State Warriors (to Orlando) - SR Robert Covington, F, Tennessee State
52. Brooklyn Nets (to Minnesota) - JR Sean Kilpatrick, SG, Cincinnati
53. Chicago Bulls - JR Lorenzo Brown, PG, North Carolina State
54. Atlanta Hawks - SO Ryan Harrow, PG, Kentucky
55. Memphis Grizzlies - SR Ryan Kelly, PF, Duke
56. Miami Heat - SR Lawrence Bowers, PF, Missouri
57. Los Angeles Clippers (to Detroit) - SR Jamelle Hagins, F/C, Delaware
58. New York Knicks (to Washington) - SR Kenny Boynton, G, Florida
59. San Antonio Spurs - SR Trevor Mbawke, PF, Minnesota
60. Oklahoma City Thunder (to Minnesota) - SR Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona

Top Undrafted:

Durant Scott
DeWayne Dedmon
Elias Harris
Jack Cooley
Amath M'Baye
Reggie Johnson
Mike Muscala
Gregory Echenique
Brock Motum
Kenny Kadji