Conference Stock Watch: Top Prospects in the Big East

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterNovember 23, 2012

Conference Stock Watch: Top Prospects in the Big East

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    The Big East has some exciting NBA prospects, some of which we're seeing for the very first time. And though it's only been four or five games for most, first impressions go a long way.

    There's also a fair share of upperclassmen looking to turn the corner in their development and attract NBA attention.

    The following are the most notable prospects in the Big East who've either struggled, excelled or flat-lined over the first few weeks of the season. 

     

    All statistics accurate as of Nov. 22, 2012.

Steven Adams, Pittsburgh

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    If the flashes he has shown turn into a steady stream of productivity, Steven Adams could be a star.

    He's got explosiveness for a seven-footer you just don't normally see. At one point against Delaware, Adams caught a pass in the open floor, took a dribble and launched his body at the rim in a fashion reminiscent of a Blake Griffin poster. It was as good looking of a missed dunk as you'll ever see.

    He has knocked down mid-range jumpers as a pick-and-pop target and drive-and-dish recipient, while finishing high above the rim over outstretched defenders.

    He's still unsure how to generate his own offense, but when the opportunity is there, he's capable of converting.

    Ignore the stats and note the positives. He's a lottery prospect either this year or the next, depending on whether he leaves using potential as his selling point or chooses to develop over time.

    He's one of the most promising two-way prospects in the country, regardless of his college numbers.

Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

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    Michael Carter-Williams is that rare breed of combo whose strengths translate at both guard positions.

    His quick first step has allowed him to penetrate the defense at will, while his length, passing and touch make him a multidimensional threat in the lane.

    Despite sharing the ball with Brandon Triche, Carter-Williams is fifth in the country in assists, at eight per game. His ability to create offense, whether it be for himself or a teammate, has made the Orange incredibly difficult to defend on the perimeter.

    As an NBA prospect, Carter-Williams could make a legitimate case to handle the ball on a permanent basis. He's got unique physical tools, with a scoring guard's skill set and a point guard's mentality.

    His stock should continue to rise.

Otto Porter, Georgetown

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    Otto Porter looked good against UCLA and Indiana, showing off his versatile offense skill set in the half court and transition.

    He's making plays as a passer and finisher, using his high basketball IQ to continuously make wise decisions. Porter has nailed five of his seven three-point attempts and is converting on nearly half of his two-point opportunities (12-for-25). He takes what he can make and defers on what he can't.

    The 6'8'' sophomore is earning a reputation as a highly efficient Jack-of-all-trades prospect and was the difference-maker in a strong win over the Bruins.

    His back-to-back standout performances were seen live by dozens of NBA scouts on hand at the Barclays Center. The arrow is pointing up.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse

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    Syracuse has only played three games, two of which were against ridiculously inferior opponents, so the stats don't tell the story.

    C.J. Fair looked sharp against San Diego State, going for 17 points and 10 rebounds, flashing those combo-forward tools that have put him on the radar.

    He's finding easier ways to get himself points, whether it's attacking the rim from the perimeter or knocking down spot-up three-pointers.

    There are a ton of offensive weapons on Syracuse, so he's unlikely to score big consistently throughout the year.

    Using the dribble to create offense will be what catapults him into first round.

Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

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    Most guards learn to play first and shoot later. Sean Kilpatrick came to Cincinnati as a shooter, and now he's a player.

    He entered his junior year appearing stronger in his shoulders and arms and now looks the part of a natural NBA shooting guard.

    Kilpatrick is averaging seven fewer minutes a game (due to blowouts) but is taking over two more shots, illustrating the strides he's made as a shot-creator. In 27 minutes he's scoring 19.5 points a night, shooting 44 percent from downtown and 53 percent from the floor.

    A borderline NBA prospect to start the year, Kilpatrick has entered the conversation after strengthening his body and expanding his arsenal. His stock is on the rise.

Jack Cooley, Notre Dame

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    If you could measure a player's activity rate, Jack Cooley's would be as high as anyone's.

    In 28 minutes a night, he's averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds and is only missing 3.6 shots per game. Cooley embraces contact, a good sign for a transition process that requires interior players to stay physical.

    Cooley has clearly established an identity for himself as a bruiser down low, so teams in the market for one will know where to look.

    With Cooley, the idea isn't to expand his game—it's to take what he's good at and perfect it.

    Specialty rebounding tends to translate.

Gorgui Dieng, Louisville

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    Gorgui Dieng's interior effectiveness remains constant. He's finishing at the rim on one side and protecting it on the other.

    But he hasn't shown any developments with regard to diversifying his offensive services. In 35 minutes against Northern Iowa, he attempted five shots and two free throws.

    He's 6'11'' and 245 pounds. Usually the bigger you are, the more visible you become. Dieng will need to look more aggressive on offense or at least show signs that there is room for growth.

    He's still arguably the conference's most feared shot-blocker and will ultimately enter the draft with "rim protector" on his resume.

Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse

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    Rakeem Christmas entered college as a 6'9'', explosive athlete with little to offer offensively except catching and dunking.

    One year later, not much has changed.

    To his credit, he's an above-average finisher at the rim and has displayed on more than one occasion the ability to finish with either hand. But he's still overly limited, generating none of his own offense and rarely leaving the paint.

    Pay attention to what Christmas does with his touches over the next few months, because each one will count a little more deeper into his college career.

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

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    Shabazz Napier has been an offensive lightning rod for the Huskies, averaging 21 points over his first five games.

    It's notable because of his glaring inconsistencies as a sophomore, which prevented five-game hot streaks from extending any further.

    Napier is playing with confidence after being given the green light from his new coach, Kevin Ollie. As long as he's knocking down shots, Napier has value as an NBA prospect because of his ability to score, handle the ball and defend the perimeter.

    He'll remain a borderline second-round prospect who would really benefit from consistent production as a junior.

Peyton Siva, Louisville

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    Peyton Siva isn't doing anything to boost his value, despite averaging seven assists through four games.

    Based on his speed and quickness, he should be held to a high standard as a distributor and facilitator.

    It's his individual offense that is not up to NBA-par.

    He's shooting just 28 percent from the floor to start the year and hasn't looked to make any improvements scoring the ball. Successful pro guards under six feet tall usually get by because of their ability to make shots. Siva hasn't averaged double-figure scoring numbers once in his career.

    If it doesn't suddenly click for him offensively, the NBA could be a distant possibility.