Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Sweet Sixteen draft prospects to keep an eye on

With the field of 68 now whittled down to just sixteen, many of the nation’s elite players find themselves back on campus watching the action, rather than being a part of it. However, while surefire future NBA draftees like Duke’s Austin Rivers and UConn’s Jeremy Lamb may be done for the season, a bounty of NBA-caliber talent has survived the tournament’s first three rounds. We’ll take a look at some of the players to keep an eye on this weekend who have NBA GMs salivating at their potential to play at the next level.

Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky

Davis was the top-rated prospect coming into the season and he has, by all accounts, exceeded the massive hype. The Chicago native is averaging fourteen points, ten rebounds, and nearly five blocks per game in just 30 minutes of floor time. He will likely be named National Player of the year, as he has emerged as the best player on the nation’s best team – quite a feat considering the Wildcats’ star-studded roster. Davis, if he decides to enter this year’s draft, is the consensus top pick and has the potential to change the fortunes of a franchise with his defensive prowess and quickly-developing offensive skill set. He has drawn comparisons to another Calipari-coached player, Marcus Camby, who went on to a productive NBA career. While the two are very similar in body style and their ability to protect the rim, Davis already appears to be more of a mid-range/perimeter threat than Camby ever was.


Perry Jones III, F, Baylor

On talent alone, Jones is right up there with Anthony Davis as one of the best pure basketball players at any level in the game today. He is capable of putting up huge scoring and rebounding numbers — as he did in the Big 12 Tournament — but is equally capable of disappearing in big games and becoming far too passive for a player with his skill set. As a draft prospect, Jones will hear his name called by Commissioner Stern as a lottery pick whenever he declares, but the question of whether he will develop into the player many scouts think he can be remains unanswered. His wiry frame and potent inside-outside game have drawn comparisons to the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, but he appears to lack the competitiveness necessary to achieve superstar status in the NBA.

Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

Arguably the second-best player on Kentucky’s roster, Terrence, like Perry Jones (no relation), has faced questions about his motivation and work ethic. After a strong start to his sophomore campaign, Jones hit a rough patch in which he failed to score in double digits in four consecutive games and appeared uncharacteristically passive and disinterested. However, he has since turned it around and is playing like the Terrence Jones of last season, when he was projected as a lottery pick had he opted to declare. His stock has certainly diminished, but not to the point where he is no longer considered an elite prospect. If he does declare after this season, Jones is projected as a late-lottery/mid-first-round pick. One issue that could potentially impact his stock, however, is his lack of a “true” NBA position. For the Wildcats, he plays a hybrid three/four, but some scouts fear he may not be quick enough to play at small forward in the League, and is not enough of an inside threat to start as a power forward.

Brad Beal, G, Florida

Beal was Billy Donovan’s prized recruit entering the season and has put together an impressive freshman season for the Gators, averaging nearly fifteen points per game. He’s listed at 6’3″, slightly undersized for an NBA two-guard, but possesses exceptional athleticism and is a deadly three-point shooter. He also rebounds well for his size (6.5 per game) and has the potential to be a solid defender. His game has drawn comparisons to that of former UConn, and current Celtics, star Ray Allen – high praise for any prospect. If he decides to come out, Beal looks to be a top-ten pick with all-star potential in the future. He may not be elite to the point where he can carry a franchise, but he certainly appears to be on track for a productive NBA career.

Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas

Robinson represents Anthony Davis’ closest competition for National Player of the Year honors, and rightfully so. The junior from DC is averaging eighteen points and twelve boards for the second-seeded Jayhawks and has been their leader all season. While Robinson’s ceiling is probably the lowest of all the prospects we’ve listed thus far, he has the highest floor. With his sturdy, 6’10” 240 pound frame, he can step in and produce for a team immediately. Some projections have him going as high as second overall in the 2012 Draft (for which it is widely assumed he will declare), while others see him as a mid-lottery pick. If Robinson is able to expand his offensive game beyond the paint, he has all-star potential; but with his current limitations he projects as a durable, longtime NBA starting power forward.

Harrison Barnes, G, North Carolina

Harrison Barnes arrived in Chapel Hill last season as the nation’s top recruit and endured a very much up-and-down season. Some nights he looked like a future NBA star, while others made scouts scratch their heads. This season, he has been much more consistent and has emerged as a leader for a dinged up North Carolina team that may face Ohio without three of its starters. As a high schooler in Ames, Iowa, Barnes drew comparisons to Kobe Bryant with his smooth jumper and highly-developed offensive game. While the similarities are there, I believe Barnes projects more closely to the Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks – a scorer who will give you 25 points a night, but doesn’t quite have that killer instinct to carry a franchise to the promised land.

C.J. Leslie, F, North Carolina State

A high school teammate of John Wall, Leslie has greatly improved from his freshman season and appears to be much more NBA-ready. He is probably the best athlete in the tournament (no offense, Mike Bruesewitz) and is usually good for a couple big-time throwdowns each game (think Hakim Warrick/JJ Hickson). He is slightly undersized for an NBA power forward, but if he develops an outside game and improves his decision making, he has lottery pick written all over him.

Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse

I’ve had the opportunity to watch Waiters play several times this season and the more I see him the more he reminds me of former Memphis standout Tyreke Evans. Everything about their game is similar, down to the TMac-esque leg kick jumpshot. Waiters is slightly shorter than Evans, but possesses the same slashing capability and uncanny ability to finish in traffic. If he opts to come out after this season, he would probably be a late first round selection, but I believe the potential for a productive NBA career is there. Waiters comes off the bench for the talented Orangemen, but has the confidence and ability necessary to succeed in the League.

Other Prospects to Watch:

John Henson, F, North Carolina

Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina

Jae Crowder, F, Marquette

Doron Lamb, G, Kentucky

Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State

William Buford, G/F, Ohio State

Cody Zeller, C, Indiana

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