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Under-the-Radar NBA Prospects

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 25, 2013

Under-the-Radar NBA Prospects

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    It's no secret that the current pool of prospects at the college level lacks standout NBA talent.

    At this time last year, we already knew Anthony Davis was locked in for that No. 1 overall pick. We even had a good feel for who would round out the lottery, though in no particular order.

    But this year, no prospect's future is clearly laid out. There isn't a clear-cut No. 1 or even a solidified group of green-room invitees.

    There's bound to be a few under-the-radar prospects who have the game and potential to make a surprise run up the board.

Alex Len, Maryland, C, 7'1''

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    Ceiling: No. 1 overall

    Basement: Late lottery

     

    Alex Len may not be under the national radar, but few have mentioned his name as a potential No. 1 overall pick.

    They should start.

    At 7'1'' with long arms and a developing offensive skill set, Len's upside is on par with all of the current No. 1 overall candidates. 

    His direct competitor is 6'11'' Cody Zeller, who at the moment is more polished and advanced as a scorer. But Len is a more intimidating defensive presence and does a better job cleaning up the glass. He's taller, stronger and more explosive than Zeller, which makes you wonder who will be better once they both hit their respective strides.

    Len's usage rate isn't what it should be, which has negatively affected his statistics. But when he's given the ball in the post with space to operate, there isn't a player at the collegiate level who has the physical tools to contain him.

    Offensively he's capable of facing the rim and attacking off the bounce. He possesses the agility to spin, shake and elude awaiting defenders. Developing a mid-range jumper to help diversify his offensive skill set would likely ease some of the concerns of those who believe he's too raw.

    He's one of the few prospects to have solidified a position in the lottery. Len's ceiling is high enough that it could allow him to leapfrog others who have triggered hesitation in NBA scouts.

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga, C, 7'0''

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    Ceiling: Late lottery to mid-first round

    Basement: Late first round to early second round

     

    If you're unaware of the guy on Gonzaga who looks like a Hanson brother or Ug Lee from Nickelodeon's Salute Your Shorts, it's because he sat out last season knowing that playing time would be minimal behind Robert Sacre, who currently plays for the Lakers.

    Now a junior, Olynyk has taken over the West Coast Conference while earning all sorts of individual attention. Scouts have been enthralled by his size and skill set. At 7'0'', he's capable of playing inside and out with touch on the perimeter and scoring instincts in the paint.

    While most big men rely on a go-to move, particularly a jump-hook, Olynyk has shown the ability to adjust and react using countermoves to get better looks.

    He's averaging 25 points a game over Gonzaga's last five contests, and scouts have recognized the abilities and skills.

    Look for Olynyk to take advantage of the weak field and make a push into the mid-first round after being irrelevant just two months ago.

Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, SF, 6'6''

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    Ceiling: Late lottery

    Basement: Mid-to-late first round

     

    Glenn Robinson III is an NBA talent with a spot somewhere in the first round—it's just a matter of whether it's this year or next.

    He's No. 3 in Michigan's offensive pecking order, so his scoring numbers aren't overwhelming and neither is his overall presence.

    But if you've watched Michigan on a consistent basis, you'll notice Robinson making a few NBA-level plays in every game.

    He's got the build, size and athleticism of a wing, similar to his father who went No. 1 overall in 1994. Robinson has tremendous off-the-ball scoring tools, including a spot-up three-point shot (41 percent) and the ability to finish with flexibility and authority.

    Robinson isn't NBA-ready, but he's got the potential to be something special down the road. Teams which are unimpressed with the current pool of talent might go with a guy they see blossoming years from now.

    Returning as a sophomore would be best for his development, but leaving early and using "potential" as his selling point may not be a bad idea in a down year.

Andre Hollins, Minnesota, PG, 6'1''

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    Ceiling: Late lottery

    Basement: Second round

     

    Andre Hollins had a promising freshman year, and he's followed through on that promise as a sophomore.

    He's been outstanding for Minnesota and looks every bit the part of an NBA-caliber guard. Though his first instinct is to score, he's doing his best to balance his own offense with making plays for teammates.

    Hollins scored 41 in a game against Memphis earlier this year, which was sure to alert scouts looking for any signs of potential NBA prospects. His ability to create separation as a perimeter scorer and get into the paint as a facilitator are skills coveted at the next level.

    He'll have to decide whether he's better off leaving in 2013—when there's expected to be a deep crop of point guards but shallow talent overall—or waiting another year and being viewed as a seasoned college player who may have turned the corner.

T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, SF, 6'8''

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    Ceiling: Late lottery

    Basement: Mid-to-late first round

     

    Coming off the bench for one of the most potent offenses in the country, T.J. Warren hasn't generated the attention that potential lottery prospects deserve.

    Warren averages double digits, and he has displayed an ability to score from anywhere on the floor. His scoring instincts have allowed him to step right in and contribute.

    For a broad-shouldered 6'8'' forward, Warren is light on his feet with deceptive agility. He's incredibly versatile offensively—Warren can score off one foot, spot up, take defenders off the dribble and attack the rim.

    He can score from anywhere on the court and is a threat offensively without the ball.

    Warren doesn't project as a volume scorer or rebounder; he's a multidimensional presence who can fit into any lineup. With NC State projected to lose four starters after the year, Warren might be best served returning with a chance to play in the spotlight.

Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, SG/SF, 6'5''

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    Ceiling: Mid-to-late first round

    Basement: Mid-second round

     

    Jamaal Franklin has planted himself on the NBA radar for the long run.

    It doesn't take a veteran scout to realize what Franklin brings to the table. He'd get drafted with even marginal NBA skills thanks to his unparalleled length and athleticism for a wing.

    Franklin is 6'5'' and yet is second in the Mountain West in rebounding at 9.6 per game. His activity level is nonstop, as he uses his long arms and ridiculous hops to play above the rim.

    His jumper has been erratic, which often is the case for many college players. He'll get drafted somewhere between the mid-first round and mid-second round, but if he ever tightens up his perimeter game, lottery-value production wouldn't be out of the question.

    Between his gradual improvement at San Diego State and an athleticism built for the NBA game, Franklin is a prospect to watch in June.

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