The 7 Best 2013 NBA Draft Prospects Nobody Talks About
Every year there are a few NBA prospects who don't get the national attention they deserve.
This year we have some guys that haven't played a college game all year who will be eligible and somewhat attractive to teams who think outside the box.
Others have either failed to make the NCAA tournament and therefore slipped under the radar. One prospect in particular has been one of the top players in the country, but you wouldn't know it from reading the daily headlines.
These aren't the seven best prospects in the draft; rather, they're excellent prospects who haven't been mentioned with some of the more familiar projected first-rounders.
Erick Green, Virginia Tech, 6'4", PG/SG
Despite leading the country in scoring at 25 points per game, Erick Green rarely gets mentioned with the first-round crew of prospects.
Here's why we should start getting to know him a little better.
In 32 games, Green scored at least 21 points 28 times, and he did it shooting at an excellent 47.5 percent clip.
Throughout the season, he scored in volume with consistency and efficiency. You just don't see that very often, particularly in a power-six conference with NBA-level defenders and some of the premier schools in the country.
The knock on Green is that he's not strong enough to play the 2 and lacks point guard instincts for a 1. But at 6'4" with decent length, Green should be able to play the combo guard role off the bench as a secondary ball-handler. He averaged almost four assists per game for Virginia Tech, so he has a little creativity to his dribble.
I like Green as a scorer off the bench in a limited role. He may not have the strength to defend with full-time minutes, but Green's top-notch scoring instincts and advanced offensive repertoire are just too good to pass on at a certain point.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia, 6'6", SG
There's so much to like about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as an NBA player, yet you rarely hear his name mentioned on the national stage.
Caldwell-Pope was the SEC Player of the Year. He doesn't project as an NBA All-Star, but neither does 95 percent of the field.
He averaged 18.5 points per game without anyone else in Georgia's lineup capable of creating open looks for him. Caldwell-Pope is an excellent long-range shooter and can attack the rim off the bounce.
At 6'6" with long arms and smooth, fluid athleticism, Caldwell-Pope takes the eye test and swallows it for breakfast.
Between his size and athleticism for the position, along with his shooting stroke and defensive tools, Caldwell-Pope could be used in a number of NBA rotations (particularly on a team like the Utah Jazz).
Think Wesley Matthews.
Glen Rice Jr., Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 6'5", SG
Georgia Tech dismissed Glen Rice Jr. following the 2011-12 season, so he decided to take his talents to the NBA's Development League.
He'll be eligible for the draft this summer, as he's never entered before and is more than one year removed from high school. Rice was recently named Performer of the Week after averaging 24 points per game, and his name has started to surface as a potential draft sleeper.
Rice averaged 13 points and 6.7 boards while shooting 33 percent from downtown as a sophomore. The boy can also fly. He is an excellent athlete with NBA 2-guard size at 6'5". He's got a clean handle on the ball and a promising perimeter game (38 percent from three in the D-League).
In the D-League, Rice plays with more experienced players at a tempo that simulates an NBA game.
He'll have to answer questions about his dismissal from Georgia Tech, but if he can hold his own during interviews and put together some strong workouts, Rice is a name to keep an eye on as the pre-draft process unfolds.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, 6'5", SF
Jamaal Franklin was the only player in college basketball to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He's up there with Otto Porter Jr. as the most versatile wings in the draft class.
Despite being 6'5", he finished fourth in the Mountain West in rebounding at 9.5 per game. It just illustrates his elite athleticism and ability to play above the rim.
This year, he's expanded his offensive arsenal, adding a step-back jumper in the mid-range and fall-away shot in the post. Franklin did a lot of his damage as a sophomore by making plays off the ball, but as a junior, he's become an offensive threat with the ball in his hands.
Franklin is an excellent passer (3.3 assists per game), rebounder, defender and scorer (17 points per game). He's got a flexible skill set that can slide into any rotation without disrupting the flow.
I like Franklin as a potential mid-first-round pick. Expect to hear his name mentioned often during the NBA combine.
Cory Jefferson, Baylor, 6'9", PF
Cory Jefferson was absolutely dominant in the NIT tournament.
In five games, Jefferson averaged 21.2 points on 41-of-57 (71.9 percent) shooting. He's simply too strong and too powerful, which is what had him on NBA radars in the first place.
But now, Jefferson is really working the post, demonstrating some NBA-caliber moves and creating his own shot.
He's already an elite finisher at the rim. When the ball is dumped into him, Jefferson makes sure that he hammers down the nail.
Between his ability to protect the basket, finish above the rim and generate offense in the post, Jefferson has an NBA-level game.
Ricky Ledo, Providence, 6'6", SG
Ricky Ledo was a special recruit for Providence, but he never suited up as a freshman after the NCAA ruled him ineligible.
Now Ledo is NBA-draft eligible, and some question whether he'll even bother returning to Providence.
He's a 6'6" scorer who fits the physical requirements of an NBA guard. Ledo is a tough cover off the dribble with his ability to get to the rack or pull up on the perimeter.
He projects as a scoring 2-guard at the next level.
Though he got to practice with Providence, the fact that he didn't play in any games could impact his draft stock and development. Still, Ledo has next-level tools and the talent to play in the league.
We'll find out soon whether Ledo will be declaring or not, but if he chooses to enter the draft, he'll be a name to keep an eye on.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, 6'1", PG
Isaiah Canaan's name hasn't been mentioned in a while since Murray State missed out on the NCAA tournament.
That's too bad, because Canaan was one of the best players in the country for the second consecutive year, averaging nearly 22 points and over four assists per game.
One of the reasons I like Canaan as an NBA prospect is because of his ability to shoot off the dribble, both from long-range and from mid-range.
Point guards at the next level see a ton of ball screens, which give them scoring opportunities on the perimeter. This is an area where Canaan could shine because of his ability to maximize those opportunities with a deadly stop-and-pop jumper.
Canaan can knock down shots from out to 27 feet with comfort. In three of his four years in college, Canaan has shot at least 40 percent from downtown, making at least three per game over his last two years.
He's got an NBA point guard frame with a strong lower body and the ability to absorb contact. If he can prove to teams during the summer that he can run a half-court set, he'll be an upgrade over some of the backups that are currently employed.
I've said it all year, but he looks like Raymond Felton 2.0.