College, Latest News, NBA, NBA Draft / Mar 17, 2011 / 11:30 am

Top 10 NBA Prospects In The NCAA Tournament

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams (photo. University of Arizona)

Finally spring has come and March Madness is here. Top players are preparing themselves to perform at the next level – not only in their efforts to win the Big Dance, but also to prove to the NBA teams watching that they are worthy of being selected in this year’s NBA Draft. The NCAA Tournament has done wonders for players’ draft stock in the past. Guys like Stephen Curry and Gordon Hayward have proven that a good performance in the tourney can take you a long way in June. With that, here are the Top 10 NBA prospects to look out for in the NCAA Tournament.

1. Derrick Williams, Arizona
As far as potential goes, Derrick Williams is the cream of the crop. Averaging 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds on the season for Arizona, Williams is ready to contribute right now for any team on the next level. One of the strongest assets to his game is his efficiency, which most often translates to success in the pros. He uses his quickness and finesse to maneuver around defenders underneath the basket, but if he puts on a little weight, bangs more in the post and develops a consistent mid-range jumper, he’ll be relatively unguardable.

2. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Sullinger could be the most NBA ready prospect in college basketball. His frame suits his game perfectly. At 6-9 and 285 pounds, he can bang with just about any power forward in the League. His post moves are very advanced and polished, and he finishes with both hands underneath with ease. He accepts double-teams well, which has improved his ability to find shooters out of the post. Sullinger is a monster on both the defensive and offensive glass, as well as a skilled outlet passer. His lack of athletic ability is the only thing that could potentially hold him back at the next level.

3. Kyrie Irving, Duke
With the lack of true point guards in this year’s class, Irving will easily be the top point guard taken. His skill set at the point guard position is unmatched amongst other PGs in the nation. His compilation of dribble moves, speed, quickness and his ability to shoot off the dribble makes him an extremely tough cover one-on-one. He plays with a high basketball I.Q., which reflects on his ability to facilitate the rock. With the proper coaching at the next level, Irving has the tools to run the pick and roll at an elite level, almost like a Chris Paul or Deron Williams. His toughness and will to win is unmatched, down the stretch he will do whatever it takes to win a game. Any team looking for a new franchise point guard will be more than happy to have a chance at landing Irving in the Lottery.

4. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
At 6-9 and 215 pounds, and great athleticism to complement his size, Barnes will be a very productive NBA player. He has adjusted well to playing on the wing, but has a lot to learn about the position – which leaves him with an extremely high ceiling of potential. His biggest disservice to himself is playing without confidence. Although he has now found it amongst collegiate competition, at the NBA level, he could go back to playing shy and intimidated. If he can zone out his environment and focus on playing his game, he can grow to be a dangerous threat in the NBA. His discipline and work ethic will propel his development at the next level. If his potential pans out, Barnes could end up being one of the gems of this Draft.

5. Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Terrence Jones is one of the most versatile players in the country. At 6-8 and 245 pounds, he can play multiple positions on the offensive and defensive end. He is also very comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and setting up teammates. Running the floor is one of his strong points, and he finishes well in transition. He is a good pick and roll man, and often makes fellow freshman Brandon Knight more comfortable on the offensive end. His shot is unorthodox and will need improvement if he’s going to play small forward in the League. He could be a good contributor for a team that lacks size.

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  • north

    Good article but would be great if you had given comparisons to past or present NBA players. Like, Walker plays like: Ramon Sessions etc.

  • hahns

    love the analysis on jimmer. you hit the nail on the head w/ the green light issue.

  • neoy

    yeah … u know like in 2k, when you draft a player.. they have comparisons to someone in the NBA, and u also get a overall rating A,B,C,D
    would make this article much more enjoyable

  • neoy

    and of course u should have the potential ratings

  • http://dimemag.com bullet380

    Kenneth Faried at Morehead State U can go too. Dude has a serious motor. He’s averaging almost 15 boards a game. He plays D, gives you about 15-20 points (on the college level). Can’t be mad at a guy that goes all out every game like that.

  • derik

    what a weak draft class…. Jeremy Lin could be a first round pick if he was a 5th year senior

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @derik — I wouldn’t go that far.

  • Chaos

    Irving, henson and barnes needs to stay in school. While they are alll good they will benefit moreso with one more year of seasoning. Walker is a volume shooter and like burton said, seeing him as a starter in the L is a few years down the road. Sullinger should lose weight to increase his quickness.

  • JAY

    derik is listening to the media. Media said the D-Rose/Beasley draft was weak too. Wanna know who else got drafted that year?
    Mayo, Westbrook, Love, Gordon, Lopez’, Hibbert, McGee, Ibaka, George Hill and others. Even youngsters like A. Randolph, Gallinari were in that draft and they are nowhere near fulfilling their potential. 4 players from that class were on the most recent US Team that won a gold medal and there were a couple more who were invited for tryouts. A weak draft-class, indeed.

    This year’s class may not have players like Lebron, Melo, Bosh, Wade but there are a lot of guys who can and will make an impact.

  • Brown

    I have a feeling Jimmer will end up like Adam Morrison. If the only thing you can do in college is score, you’re not making it in the NBA.

    I think Irving will be the best player in this draft. Sullinger reminds me of Al Horford. Harrison Barnes has bust written all over him.

    Players drafted strictly on potential generally don’t pan out. If you haven’t found most of your game in college, you won’t find it in the NBA.

  • JDeal

    I don’t think it’s a weak draft class….It depends on how the draft lottery goes….

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Brown — I think Barnes will be good. Dropping 40 in an ACC Tournament game as a freshman is a big deal, but he’s got a lot more to his game than just scoring. I think he’ll have a (current) Grant Hill-type impact right away, putting up about 12-13 points and 4-5 boards a night while playing a smart floor game, and eventually he’ll become a high-quality starter if not a star.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Also, there are plenty of guys who were “only scorers” in college that have done major work in the NBA. Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans … scoring/shooting is an important skill set and NBA teams need guys who can do it.

  • JAY

    Cosign AB.
    Barnes will be a good player. “Current Grant Hill” is a fair comparison. It took him a while to get used to the college game but he eventually did. The same will happen to him when he makes the jump. That said, another year of college will be huge for his confidence. If he stays, he’ll likely go through all of next year beasting the ACC instead of starting out slow like he did this year. That can only make a kid like Barnes more confident in his ability. If he comes out this year, I think his learning curve will be similar to Demar Derozan’s.

  • JAY

    @AB, I wouldn’t label Tyreke Evans as “only a scorer”. He was a do-it-all player at Memphis who played point, wasn’t he?

    I think Jimmer will be like a more heady Steve Kerr with a handle. Jeff Hornacek anyone?

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @JAY — I almost didn’t include Tyreke on that list, but I figured he was known as “just a scorer” at Memphis. He averaged 17 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg and was moved to PG midseason. I always saw him as score-first, but maybe not score-only.

    But will anybody ever compare Jimmer to a non-White player? How about saying he’ll be like Mike Bibby or Boobie Gibson or somebody?

  • jerkishbehavior.com

    Barnes is already better than Demar right now offensively, demar is just more athletic. But Barnes & Henson both need to stay so UNC can win a guaranteed national title then both go off & be top 5 picks.

  • UncheckedAggression

    The first time I saw Jimmer I was drawing comparisons to Jamal Crawford. They both play rather strangely on offense but are very effective scorers. And personally I think Jimmer is more unpredictable than Crawford–he changes pace so quickly. They both get space for their jumper and can hit tough shots. Jimmer’s got better court vision than I expected but I have no idea how to compare that to Crawford’s.

  • pedro

    @Unchecked – You are only supposed to compare him to white guys.

  • JAY

    LOL @ pedro

    Re: Jimmer
    It’s a good point by AB regarding comparing Jimmer to black players. Honestly, I can’t think of a fair comparison. White or black. He’s super-duper crafty, almost like Isiah Thomas, but Zeke wasn’t a sniper from range and had ridiculous dribbles. Jimmer has a pure jump shot like Steve Kerr, but Kerr was pretty much just a shooter and didn’t have the creativity Jimmer has.

    I guess the best comparison is Steph Curry, but even then, Curry turned into a real point guard. Maybe Steph Curry as a sophomore?? That’s the best i could come up with.

  • kdeezy

    What about that kid Tristan Thompson from Texas?