Ranking the Top NBA Prospects in the 2013 NCAA Final Four

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterApril 4, 2013

Ranking the Top NBA Prospects in the 2013 NCAA Final Four

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    We should be in for an exciting Final Four considering the loads of NBA talent involved.

    Between Michigan, Syracuse and Louisville, we could see five to seven potential first-rounders depending on who declares.

    Some of these guys wouldn't have even been on this list if we made it three weeks ago. There's just something about the NCAA tournament that enhances standout performances.

10. James Southerland, Syracuse, 6'8", SF

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    James Southerland's postseason, starting with the Big East tournament, has landed him on NBA radars.

    His future role is already laid out for him. Southerland will be viewed as a three-point specialist at the NBA level.

    In eight postseason games dating back to March 13, Southerland has accounted for 26 three-pointers. He has infinite range, and at 6'8", his shot is difficult to contest.

    There isn't any upside here, but pro teams searching for a floor stretcher in the second round shouldn't have to look further than Southerland.

9. Russ Smith, Louisville, 6'1", SG

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    Russ Smith has scored at least 23 points in each of Louisville's NCAA tournament games. There just hasn't been a defense quick enough to contain him.

    He'll have little margin for error as an NBA prospect, though. You won't find too many pure scorers at just 6'1" in the NBA.

    But Smith has a shot because of his speed, quickness and athleticism, and in this case, lacking a conscience works in his favor. His confidence almost gives him an extra few inches. Smith is able to get shots off regardless of who's defending him.

    Smith should end up studying a guy like Lou Williams, another 6'1" guard who's made it purely as a scorer.

    Chances are if Smith gets drafted, a team will view him as a spark off the bench to provide instant offense.

8. Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF

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    There's a lot to like about Syracuse's Jerami Grant, though he's more likely a candidate for the 2014 NBA draft.

    Grant is an off-ball playmaker. He's an exceptional athlete with long arms who makes things happen without the rock in his hands.

    Whether it's tip-ins, fast breaks or backdoor alley-oops, Grant's activity level never wavers.

    He won't create for himself in the halfcourt, but he'll finish what his creative teammates start.

    Grant will be a prospect to watch next season after James Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche all leave.

7. Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10", PF

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    Mitch McGary has made quite the name for himself during the NCAA tournament.

    He went for 21 points and 14 rebounds on 10-of-11 shooting against VCU and followed that up with 25 and 14 on 12-of-17 shooting against Kansas.

    He's incredibly nimble at 6'10", flying up and down the floor while getting himself easy baskets.

    McGary uses his size and bulk to gain position down low and his soft hands and touch to convert.

    NBA teams will love how physically he plays on the interior and will view him as a guy who can get some extra points on second-chance opportunities.

    He has first-round potential whether he leaves this year or next.

6. C.J. Fair, Syracuse, 6'8", SF

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    C.J. Fair has been Syracuse's most consistent offensive player this season, averaging 14.3 points and seven boards on 47.1 percent shooting and 47.5 percent from downtown.

    Fair takes good shots and makes good shots.

    At 6'8" with quick feet and long arms, he's a tough cover facing the rim. He's improved as a shot-creator in the mid-range, getting good separation and balance on his step-back jumpers.

    Fair's three-point stroke has also come a long way. After making just seven total threes his first two years, he's 29-of-61 as a junior.

    Along with his perimeter game, Fair is also an active body on the glass and gets himself at least one or two tip-ins a game.

    If Fair stays in school, he has a chance to be a first-round pick in 2014.

5. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan, 6'6", SG

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    When Tim Hardaway Jr.'s jumper doesn't fall, he's unlikely to make an offensive impact, which is what holds him back from being a consensus top prospect.

    He's an awesome athlete with big-time ups and can finish at the rim when cutting or slashing off the ball.

    However, his role at the next level will require him to make shots from the perimeter. This year, he's raised his three-point percentage from 28 percent to 39 percent, a good sign moving forward.

    His value at the next level will hinge on his consistency. If Hardaway gets labeled as an erratic shooter, he might be about an eighth or ninth man off the bench.

    If Hardaway proves to be a reliable perimeter threat, he has all the tools required for a sixth-man position or potential starting 2-guard role down the road.

    Darren Heitner of Forbes has reported that Hardaway is likely to declare after the Final Four.

4. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville, 6'11", C

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    Gorgui Dieng was exceptionally effective against Duke, comfortably knocking down mid-range jumpers as a drive-and-dish target.

    We knew he could protect the rim and rebound the ball. At 6'11" with a massive wingspan, Dieng is a human space-eater in the paint. But his jumper could earn him some extra bucks in this upcoming NBA draft.

    He's also become much more agile over the past season, maneuvering and finishing around defenders inside.

    NBA teams will ultimately target the rim protection he offers, but his improved offensive game has made him a legitimate mid-first-round candidate.

3. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6", SF

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    Over the past few weeks, Glenn Robinson III has really looked like the prospect we've hyped him up to be.

    He's made plays on both sides of the ball, which has made Michigan the threat it is today.

    Robinson is one of the top finishing wings at the basket, but also sports a promising spot-up three-point shot that increases his purpose in a half-court set.

    Defensively, he's been active, jumping into passing lanes and deflecting passes, which leads to fast-break opportunities.

    He may not be the dominant scorer you'd expect a lottery pick to be, but Robinson's long-term potential centers on his ability to make plays off the ball. Not everyone in the lineup has to have go-to scoring tools.

    With a basketball body at 6'6", this is a guy someone might reach for knowing his upside will be easy to hit.

2. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, 6'6", PG

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    Michael Carter-Williams has stepped up his game in March, and scouts have taken notice.

    When a 6'6" point guard dissects opposing defenses, it's hard not to get excited. There aren't any guards at the college level capable of defending him straight up because of his size and length, which make it easy for him to finish in traffic.

    Now that his perimeter game is working as well, there hasn't been anyone who's come up with an answer for how to slow him down.

    Carter-Williams' ceiling will go as high as his jumper takes him, as we already know what he's capable of as a breakdown point guard. If he can start torching defenses with the pull-up dribble on a regular basis, he could be one of the toughest future covers in the NBA.

1. Trey Burke, Michigan, 6'0", PG

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    While Trey Burke makes his case for National Player of the Year, he also makes the case to be the first point guard off the board in June.

    Burke has been nothing short of spectacular throughout the past couple of weeks, guiding Michigan to the Final Four while beating down on teams like VCU, Florida and Kansas.

    He scores in volume and distributes efficiently. Nobody seems to be able to contain him off the dribble, which is the weapon he'll use once he reaches the next level.

    Burke's mid-range game is on point, and his three-ball is falling. If his size is the only thing holding him back from being a legitimate top-five option, then consider me sold on his NBA potential.

    Darren Heitner of Forbes has reported that Burke is likely to declare for the draft after the Final Four.