10. Perry Jones, Quincy Miller & Deuce Bello, Baylor University
In his first year in Waco, Perry Jones averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on 55 percent shooting for the Bears. And while he would have been a top-5 lock in this June’s NBA Draft, his return gives Scott Drew and company a loaded and talented young core for this season. That’s because along with the 6-11 center roaming the paint on both sides of the court, Baylor will also see major additions in their incoming freshman class with Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello. Look for the Bears to be one of the most exciting teams to watch in college basketball this season.
9. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
Jeff Teague went from looking like a bust to one of the best young point guards in the game within one series at the end of last season. After Kirk Hinrich got hurt, Teague started all six games in the Conference Semifinals against MVP Derrick Rose and the defensive-minded Bulls, averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 assists a night. It was Teague’s first real look at extended action, and after such a strong showing on the biggest stage, he is clearly poised for big things. The Hawks need to shake things up if they want to break through their ceiling, and Teague is the one that will take them there.
8. Shaquille Johnson, Milton High School
When your name is Shaquille Johnson, you have to be pretty good at basketball. But no one could have predicted this. The 6-4 senior from Milton (Ga.) High School, who has committed to Auburn, looks like he’s following in the footsteps of Chris Porter with the hops he displays every time he hits the hardwood. As one of the most prolific dunkers in Georgia high school history, he added to his legendary status in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 dunk contest this August. While some scouts are still not sold on Johnson – a guy who was the first player off the bench as a junior last season – trust us that he will raise his stock in the Class of 2012 by the end of the year.
7. Thomas Robinson, University of Kansas
While potentially a bit undersized for the power forward position in the NBA, Thomas Robinson makes up for it with length, athleticism and heart. The 6-9 junior scores and rebounds the ball at a high rate (7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while only averaging 14.6 minutes behind the Morris Twins last season), and is a fierce competitor – two things that translate well to the League. After an early exit from the NCAA Tournament, and a spot on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, there is no doubt that Robinson is motivated to push Kansas out of its postseason slump and become the face of the Jayhawks in Lawrence.
6. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Raptors fans have to be optimistic and excited heading in to this year after the emergence of DeMar DeRozan. With a solid young core now in place, DeRozan is ready to become the face of the franchise in Toronto. On the season, the second-year wing averaged 17.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, bumping up those averages to 23.1 and 4.9 in the month of April. Whether or not he becomes the next Vince Carter is still yet to been seen, but his potential seems to have no limits.