Syracuse vs UConn: Future NBA Studs to Watch in Big East Battle
When the No. 2 Syracuse Orange take on the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies on Saturday night, it will have major implications for both teams. Syracuse is trying to maintain its status as a prospective No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, while UConn is just trying to make the big dance.
Not surprisingly, both teams have several big-time players who figure to have great futures in the NBA. Those players will be focused solely on the task at hand on Saturday, but it's difficult for viewers to watch the game without imagining some of those star players tearing it up in the NBA one day.
Here are three future NBA studs to keep an eye on when the Orange and Huskies lock horns.
Which player will have the best NBA career?
With the departure of Kemba Walker to the NBA, it was obvious that Jeremy Lamb would have to be the go-to guy for the Huskies this season. While UConn has underperformed, Lamb certainly hasn't as he has grown by leaps and bounds in his sophomore season.
Lamb has improved across the board particularly as a scorer as he leads the team with a touch under 18 points per contest. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he's making 48 percent of his shots from the field despite attempting plenty of threes.
Lamb is a bit of a tweener at 6'5" and 180 lbs., but if he puts on a little bit of weight in the next year, he can develop into a dynamite shooting guard in the NBA. Lamb already has a ton of skill, plus he gained valuable big-game experience in the NCAA Tournament last season. Lamb is one of the most skilled players in the nation, and NBA scouts are sure to be enamored with him whenever he decides to declare.
Syracuse's sophomore center Fab Melo has gone through a tumultuous season to this point, but there is no question that he is an immense talent. The skilled big man was suspended for a few games due to academic reasons, but he has since returned and contributed on both ends of the floor. The 7-footer's offensive game still needs some refining as he is averaging only 7.7 points per game, but he is already a defensive force on the interior with more than three swats per contest.
Melo is a raw prospect right now, but he often shows flashes of brilliance and has the ability to become a defensive stopper in the NBA. Right now he reminds me a bit of former UConn stud center Hasheem Thabeet. While Thabeet obviously didn't develop into a competent NBA player, Melo is a bit more fluid and seems as though he can become more complete than the one-dimensional Thabeet.
Freshman center Andre Drummond came to Connecticut this season amid much fanfare, and he certainly hasn't disappointed. At 6'10" and 270 lbs., Drummond is a wide load in the paint who is almost impossible to man up. His game will continue to be refined as he gains experience, but it's already apparent that he has a very bright future. How he fares on Saturday night against a defensive stopper like Melo will say a lot about his development to this point.
While Drummond plays a lot, he hasn't been fully unleashed as a freshman, so we have yet to see the extent of what he can truly do. Drummond already has an NBA body, and he figures to grow into it even more in the coming years. Provided Drummond continues to improve at the rate he already has, he can be an elite NBA center one day.
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