The June 2013 NBA Draft still is a ways away from happening, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what some current college basketball studs will look like in the pros.
With February about to hit is, it’s high time we dive into some sleeper analysis, and pick some draft gems well before NBA scouts make them household names.
Here are five NCAA basketball players that aren’t getting enough recognition right now, but could hear their name called in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft:
Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
McDermott combines an excellent basketball IQ with a scary set of post moves and overall elite offensive versatility to be one of the more talked about NBA prospects. The only problem is, he’s vastly underrated and barely projected to be a first rounder. In reality, he’s one of the purest scorers in the entire nation (23.7 ppg), and also packs a punch on the boards (7.2 per game). However, the most intriguing aspect of McDermott’s offensive game is the fact that he’s an elite three-point shooter. Coupling his inside and outside game together, one could make the argument that he’s the most efficient scorer in all of college basketball.
As great as McDermott is offensively, though, he does have his limitations as a defender, and may not have a clear position at the next level due to his size and athletic shortcomings. Some will worry if he’s another Luke Harangody or Luke Babbitt, or perhaps a cross between the two. I think it’d be a cross, and that’s actually a positive. McDermott is tougher and more effective inside offensively than bother mentioned players, yet he has better range than Harangody. Due to these facts, if McDermott can somehow prove his critics wrong about his size and athleticism concerns, he could become very valuable when the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft rolls around.
Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor
Jackson is a very athletic point guard who arguably is only battling a lack of size as a legit pro prospect. From his handle to his outside shooting, Jackson has a very well-rounded offensive game. He has shown great leadership ability and looks to be getting a handle on what it is to be a lead guard. He’s still not overly inexperienced and his size definitely can work against him, but he’s an excellent athlete that has the fundamentals nailed down, and excels across the board offensively. If he can continue to show NBA scouts that size won’t be an issue, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see his stock climb him into the first round.
Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
There’s not much I don’t love about Nate Wolters’ game as it translates to the next level. He has terrific size (6’4”) for the NBA point, while also bringing pro-type passing, dribbling, and IQ to the table. He simply has a command of his offense, and decisively picks and chooses his spots when to pull up, take his man to the hole, or get his teammates involved. While his outside jumper can be very effective, the best aspect of his offensive game is his ability to utilize cross-overs and weave through traffic to get easy buckets. And even when he’s not converting, he does an outstanding job at getting to the charity stripe and knocking down freebies (averaging over 5 makes per game for three straight years).
In addition, Wolters has displayed an ability to lead a team, play sound defense, and take his man one on one. He has a bit of a stiff release on his outside jumper and it can come and go, but otherwise there is very little to complain about him on the offensive end. He’ll need to make it into the NCAA tournament again this year to significantly raise his stock, but once there, we could see his draft stock sky-rocket if he performs well.
C.J. Leslie, F, North Carolina State
Leslie has tremendous size, athleticism and length. Add his energy and intangibles, and you’re talking about a rapidly budding NBA prospect. However, due to a shaky shot with little range and some fundamental issues in the paint, Leslie’s stock is slightly grounded still. With that said, he has a great handle for a guy his size, and his build and athletic ability allow him to freely go inside and out on the offensive end. Leslie’s main knock is his lack of a consistent jumper, as well as the idea that he may not have a true position at the next level. If he bulks up, however, he could be a hybrid four with some real potential.
Elias Harris, F, Gonzaga
Harris would normally be a candidate for that dreaded ‘tweener’ label, but he has such good athleticism and strength, that he should easily be able to switch back and forth between the NBA three and four. His game is probably more suited out on the wing, but he really has the skill-set to do anything that is asked of him. The best part about Harris, though, is that through four years of college, he’s gained tremendous experience, and has been a balanced and impressive player nearly every season. He’s not likely to develop into a superstar, but he will defend with effort, crash the boards, make the necessary pass, and offer up versatility and smart play on a nightly basis. He’s insanely under valued in the same light that Chandler Parsons was coming out of Florida, and I think he could be an excellent find at the bottom of round one if he can help Gonzaga get far in the tournament this year and get his name out there a bit more.