Final Four 2012 Schedule: Top 4 NBA Draft Prospects in National Semifinals
When you sit down to watch the Final Four, you're going to be watching the four best teams college basketball has to offer.
You'll also be watching the best players college basketball has to offer, some of whom have bright futures in the NBA.
At first glance, there are maybe seven or eight different players in the Final Four this year who have the potential to become stars at the next level. But since we're talking about the Final Four, it seems appropriate to single out the four best and rank them accordingly.
They are listed below.
Oh, and make sure you don't miss these guys in action. No. 4 Louisville will play No. 1 Kentucky at 6:09 p.m. ET on Saturday, and No. 2 Ohio State will play No. 2 Kansas at 8:49 p.m. ET.
4. Jared Sullinger, PF (Ohio State)
This time last year, we were looking at Jared Sullinger as a potential top-five draft pick.
Now, not so much. Sullinger elected to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season, and instead of improving he more or less stayed the course. We now have two full seasons to judge Sullinger by, and it's apparent that he may be as good as he's going to get.
Sullinger's value is in his ability to score around the basket. He knows how to use his thick frame, and he has a variety of moves at his disposal that he can use to create open looks at the bucket. He can kiss the ball off the glass as well as any player in recent memory.
The downside is that Sullinger is a little small for a four at 6-foot-9, and he's not an elite athlete. He'll be a productive player in the NBA, but his ceiling will be limited as long as he's going up against taller, more athletic fours.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF (Kentucky)
It's a tossup whether Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be No. 3 or No. 2 on this list, and no doubt other people who venture to do a list like this one will have him at No. 2.
Before I get into the bad, I'll talk about the good. What you have to love about a guy like Kidd-Gilchrist is his that his size and athleticism make him a perfect fit to play small forward in the NBA. He can run, he can jump, he can rebound, he can get to the basket, the works.
My gripe is that you want your small forward to have an above-average perimeter game, and that's something Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't have. He has work to do with his jump shot, and you can tell that he's not used to having to create his own shot.
This stuff will all come in time. When it does, Kidd-Gilchrist will establish himself as one of the best small forwards in the game.
2. Thomas Robinson, PF (Kansas)
Why do I like Thomas Robinson more than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?
Mainly because Robinson is a more polished player, and because he's exactly the kind of player NBA teams want to have doing work around the basket. Robinson is a little on the short side at somewhere between 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-10, but he's very strong and very athletic. This is what makes him different from Jared Sullinger, as Robinson can move faster and jump higher.
Getting rebounds and buckets around the basket are easy enough for Robinson, but don't overlook his range either. It extends out beyond the three-point line, from where he shot 50 percent this season.
If you compare Robinson to the Morris twins, who came out of Kansas last year, you'll see that Robinson is the better NBA prospect. There's not a whole lot not to like about his game. He'll be a top-five draft pick without a doubt.
1. Anthony Davis, PF (Kentucky)
You're welcome to argue the placement of the first three guys on this list, but there's no arguing that Anthony Davis belongs at No. 1.
There's a few things Davis is still learning to do, but he's going to be the No. 1 overall pick based on the things he brings to the table right now. He's tall, he's long-limbed, he's super-athletic and he's got a motor that few players can match. These things made him a difference-maker on defense and on the boards in his freshman season, and these things will make him a star in the NBA.
Davis' offensive game is limited, but he's able to get buckets because of his agility and his quickness. When he develops his post game and refines his jump shot, he's going to be an elite offensive threat.
In other words, Davis is going to be the complete package in just a few short years.
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