Breakout NBA Prospects on Top 25 College Hoops Teams

Daniel O'Brien@@DanielO_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2012

Breakout NBA Prospects on Top 25 College Hoops Teams

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    College basketball's Top 25 teams are stocked up with NBA prospects, and several of the premier schools boast freshmen who are turning heads early in 2012-13.

    The Arizona Wildcats feature a frontcourt that should climb the draft board in 2014, and Mark Gottfried has breakout talent at N.C. State.

    As these young guns excel at the college level, we'll get an entertaining preview of what they'll do as professionals.

    Here are the 12 best breakout NBA prospects on Top 25 squads.

    Eligible prospects for this article are freshmen on AP Top 25 teams.

    Statistics gathered from Draft Express and Accurate as of the morning of Dec. 15, 2012.

1. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, G

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 18

    Height: 6'6" 

    The son of former NBA star Glenn Robinson, Michigan's freshman slasher is also a willing shooter. He possesses great length and ample athleticism, and he has taken advantage of it during the first month of No. 3 Michigan's schedule. 

    Robinson is not quite ready to work on the wing at the NBA level, but the potential is there. He will likely be scooped up in the first round of the 2014 draft.

    He needs to work on creating opportunities for his teammates, but the fact that he sees more than 30 minutes per game shows how much John Beilein trusts him. His ability to score, run the floor and rebound makes him an attractive prospect.

2. Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga, C

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 19

    Height: 7'1"

    At 280 pounds, freshman Przemek Karnowski is an intimidating presence to West Coast Conference foes.

    The 19-year-old southpaw from Poland has shown flashes of prowess in the lane for Gonzaga. He uses his frame to get position and finish with authority, but he can also connect on mid-range jumpers consistently.

    He'll need to improve his agility and foot speed if he wants to move up the draft board for 2014; he's a mismatch waiting to happen against the more explosive athletes he encounters.

    We'll see if he can improve in Mark Few's system and see more than 15 minutes per game.

3. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke, G

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 18

    Height: 6'4"

    Mike Krzyzewski's latest freshman sensation Rasheed Sulaimon is a big part of a championship-caliber squad.

    Sulaimon can fill the hoop in a variety of ways, and he can also find his teammates while breaking down opponents. He's not a consistent facilitator, but Duke doesn't need him to be one all the time.

    His length and agility make him a prime prospect to play on the wing in the NBA. He'll be able to attack most guards and swingmen, and he can guard multiple positions.

    This optimistic outlook for Sulaimon is based on the assumption that he'll put on muscle over the next few years. For now, he's just trying to get Coach K some hardware this spring.

4. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, G

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    Projected Draft Class: 2013

    Age: 18

    Height: 6'4"

    Oklahoma State hasn't been a force in the Big 12 lately, but the Cowboys' 2012-13 campaign is looking bright with the addition of this multi-talented guard.

    Marcus Smart has shown he can score, dish and rebound at a high level in college. His three best games so far were against N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Tennessee.

    NBA teams will be tempted to take him high in the draft due to his court vision, smooth jump shot and defensive intensity.

    He's a good athlete, but the physical knock on him is that he doesn't have great foot speed or lateral quickness.

5. Brandon Ashley, Arizona, PF

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 18

    Height: 6'8"

    He's not a tall power forward prospect, but Arizona freshman Brandon Ashley has the length and skill of a pro forward.

    Ashley is an important role player on a Top 10 team, as Sean Miller counts on Ashley to rebound and score in the lane.

    He feasts off mostly dunks and close action near the rim, but he also possesses a nice touch off the glass and a developing jumper.

    Bulking up should be a priority for him over the next few months and into next year, as he's about 25-30 pounds shy of where he needs to be. 

6. Rodney Purvis, N.C. State, G

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 18

    Height: 6'4"

    N.C. State guard Rodney Purvis is one of the most electrifying freshmen in the country, and he's rubbing shoulders with several future NBA players in Raleigh.

    He has an extraordinary ability to beat his opponents off the bounce, and he has the potential to be a better, more athletic version of Jamal Crawford. That's how creative he is.

    It doesn't mean he's flawless. Actually, he has a long way to go consistency wise. Purvis must learn to strive for a quality shot on each possession, either for himself or his teammates.

    Keep an eye on his development throughout the 2012-13 campaign, as he'll have a hand in the Wolfpack's run through the ACC schedule and into the NCAA tourney.



7. Grant Jerrett, Arizona, PF

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 19

    Height: 6'10"

    Calling him a "breakout" prospect is probably a stretch, but Arizona freshman Grant Jerrett has shown glimpses of top-prospect talent.

    He can finish with both hands, has a baby hook and a flip shot in his arsenal, and he'll be able to step out and knock down jumpers in the NBA.

    Early in his Arizona career, he's shown a knack for taking what the defense gives him. When he does get fouled, he converts the free throws. 

    With more confidence and more playing time, he'll become a more attractive NBA prospect. By the spring of 2014, he'll be considered worth a lottery pick.

8. Anthony Bennett, UNLV, PF

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    Projected Draft Class: 2013

    Age: 19

    Height: 6'7"

    UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett wasted no time taking the West Coast by storm.

    He's already scored more than 20 points against major-conference opponents Oregon, California and Iowa State.

    Strength, athleticism and defense are all part of his game. Bennett also has a jump shot that could eventually be NBA worthy.

    He might have to adjust to the roles, tasks and expectations of NBA swingmen and forwards, because he's not incredibly tall as a forward.

9. DaJuan Coleman, Syracuse, F/C

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014 or later

    Age: 20

    Height: 6'9"

    Compared to recent Syracuse post players such as Rick Jackson, Arinze Onuaku and Fab Melo, it's no stretch to say that DaJuan Coleman is the best prospect Jim Boeheim has had in years.

    His skills allow him to shoot from mid-range and create his own shot off the dribble. Coleman's not a great back-to-the-basket finisher yet, but he can develop that given his current skills.

    Also, his wide frame is conducive to rebounding, which is important because he's not an explosive athlete.

    Coleman won't see loads of playing time this year due to Syracuse's depth, but he'll still be a substantial part of the rotation.

10. Ben McLemore, Kansas, G

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    Projected Draft Class: 2013

    Age: 19

    Height: 6'4"

    One of the prized prospects of this freshman class, Kansas freshman Ben McLemore is burning opponents on the wing and is primed to be a lottery pick in June. He's helped No. 9 Kansas jump out to a 7-1 start.

    McLemore is a talented leaper who can play above the rim, and he's ready for the pros in that area. His ball-handling and offensive polish could still use a little work, especially if an NBA team wants to count on him to generate points right away.

    The young wing has a solid jumper that he's not afraid to use, but it needs consistency if he wants to be a top-tier scorer in the NBA.

11. T.J. Warren, N.C. State, F

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 19

    Height: 6'8"

    N.C. State boasts yet another future pro in forward T.J. Warren, whose diverse scoring arsenal is tough to contain. 

    Warren can score from mid-range in transition, and he can put up floaters and runners in traffic when he needs to. Of course, when it's possible, he gets all the way to the basket and can finish with either hand.

    He's already a huge piece to the offensive puzzle, as evidenced by his 26 minutes and 13.8 points per game. Warren is posting outstanding shooting percentages from the field (67) and distance (56).

    When you score 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting against the No. 3 team in the country (Michigan), you know you're going places.

12. Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona, C

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    Projected Draft Class: 2014

    Age: 19

    Height: 7'0"

    Rounding out our trio of featured Arizona players is arguably the best one, Kaleb Tarczewski.

    The seven-footer is grabbing more rebounds (6.7) than points (6.3) this season, but don't confuse him as a mediocre offensive prospect.

    Tarczewski does a lot of things well. He has a couple strong back-to-the-basket moves and can put it off the glass from mid-to-close range. He also demonstrates great awareness and body control around the basket as he approaches a dunk or putback.

    Defensively, he can swat shots with either hand, which helps make up for his underwhelming athleticism.

    Don't expect him to fall past the lottery in 2014.


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