Ranking College Basketball's Top Powerhouse Prospect Tandems Entering 2013-14
The 2013-14 college basketball season should be loaded with talent, which means some schools will be suiting up multiple NBA prospects.
Ranking the top prospect tandems seems like the only sensible thing to do in a situation like this.
Think of it as NBA Jam, only the college version with NBA prospects.
Two guidelines went into the rankings: Only one tandem per school and no more than two players to a tandem. That means a top prospect might get left out from some of the powerhouse programs.
10. Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, Baylor
Isaiah Austin, 7'1'', PF/C, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 29
Cory Jefferson, 6'9'', PF, Senior
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 33
Baylor has two excellent big-men prospects with very different games.
Isaiah Austin stands 7'1'' yet has the scoring repertoire of a small forward. He's got a comfortable stroke from downtown and a soft touch in the mid-range.
In the post, Austin can score over either shoulder, and given his extreme size and length, he's able to get shots off with ease.
While Austin is more of a finesse player, Cory Jefferson plays with power. He's got a strong frame and upper body he uses to punish the ball through the rim. Over the course of last season, Jefferson started working the high and low post, showing nifty footwork and shot-making ability.
These two should make Baylor tough to face up front, especially when paired together.
As prospects, both Austin and Jefferson have to do a better job of cleaning the glass and protecting the rim. But both of their offensive tools should be worthy of looks somewhere in that late first to early second-round range.
9. Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Aaron Gordon, 6'9'', PF, Freshman
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 6
Kaleb Tarczewski, 7'0'', C, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 34
Aaron Gordon is going to be a lot of fun to watch at Arizona, where he'll bring his trampoline hops and showtime athleticism.
He'll join Kaleb Tarczewski up front, who'll return with a much bigger role as a sophomore. Tarczewski is a monster inside at 7'0'' and 250 pounds. He eats a ton of space and does a nice job of rebounding his area.
With a soft touch and a good feel in the post, he's a legitimate option to feed on the block. Look for Tarczewski to score a lot of points in the paint this season, both off offensive rebounds and jump hooks down low.
Meanwhile, while Tarczewski gives Arizona an anchor inside, Gordon injects the lineup with above-the-rim electricity. Gordon is unstoppable in the open floor and a tough cover facing the rim.
If he shows signs of a perimeter game as a freshman, we could be talking about a top-five pick in June.
Gordon has been showered with God-given gifts that raise his ceiling through the roof. Between him and Tarczewksi, Arizona has one of the most intimidating and talented front lines in the country.
8. Marcus Smart and LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart, 6'4'', PG/SG, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 5
LeBryan Nash, 6'7'', SF, Junior
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 58
Marcus Smart carries LeBryan Nash into the top-10 prospect tandem rankings after establishing himself as arguably the best guard in the country.
Now a sophomore and veteran, Smart should be a candidate to take home every individual award in 2013-14.
As an NBA prospect, he'll be the guy teams target as their next franchise floor general. At 6'4'' and 225 pounds, Smart is physical, intelligent and skilled, both as a facilitator and a scorer.
Nash was considered a potential lottery prospect out of high school, but he has struggled terribly with consistency in two years at Oklahoma State.
Still, his inconsistency included flashes of NBA potential. Nash has the size of a wing and the ability to create his own shot, but his shooting remains erratic. He's shot 23.5 and 24 percent from three in back-to-back seasons.
With an improved outside stroke, Nash could boost his stock while giving Smart a trusted No. 2 to play off.
Expect only Australia's Dante Exum to challenge Smart as the first guard off the draft board in 2014. And though Nash has lost his allure as a first-rounder, he still has appeal as a value with pick with upside in Round 2.
7. Gary Harris and Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Gary Harris, 6'4'', SG, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 24
Adreian Payne, 6'10'', PF, Senior
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 30
Despite their age difference, both Gary Harris and Adreian Payne first flashed their NBA potential in 2012-13.
Harris looked like a seasoned veteran for Michigan State, playing within himself while producing consistent results as a freshman. He's a smooth athlete with a good-looking outside stroke, natural finishing instincts and strong defensive fundamentals.
Many have been waiting for Payne to break out. He finally did as a junior, when he took his offensive game to a new level.
At 6'10'' with a monster frame and scary length, Payne immediately passes the eye test as an NBA prospect. And now he's using the tools he was given to make an impact inside as a scorer and rebounder.
Late last season, Payne also started showing confidence in his spot-up three-ball.
With Harris a strong candidate to take that next step up and Payne in the process of blooming late, the Spartans have a duo that could take over the Big Ten.
Both Harris and Payne should get first-round looks, with Harris' draft ceiling dancing around the lottery divider.
6. James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
James Michael McAdoo, 6'9'', SF/PF, Junior
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 18
P.J. Hairston, 6'5'', SG, Junior
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 19
The pressure is on for both James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, two strong NBA prospects who've struggled to maximize their draft stock.
I'm not writing off either just yet. As long as Hairston stays on the court and out of trouble, this could be a dangerous upper-class duo for North Carolina.
McAdoo combines explosive athleticism and mobility with strength and 6'9'' size, allowing him to play either the 3 or the 4 based on matchups. He did a better job last year creating his own shots in the half court—just not converting them. If McAdoo improves his field-goal percentages scoring on the move and in the mid-range, he's got a great chance at reviving his fading draft stock.
Hairston, on the other hand, broke out last season, only to have his play overshadowed by legal troubles in the offseason.
He's a lights-out perimeter scorer and violent finisher at the rim. Hairtson has appeal as an offensive specialist and shot-maker if he can convince scouts the screws around his head have been tightened.
Talent-wise, this is a duo to be taken seriously. Only the mental part of the game can slow them down.
5. Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Jerami Grant, 6'8'', SF, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 14
C.J. Fair, 6'8'', SF, Senior
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 26
Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair give the Orange all sorts of versatility up front, along with length, athleticism and constant activity.
Both Grant and Fair have a great sense for the ball—they're constantly getting tips, putbacks, offensive boards or buckets off timely cuts.
Grant has loads of potential, thanks to his size, 7'2'' wingspan and all-around instincts. He produced in limited minutes as freshman, making plays as a finisher in the mid-range and as a high-flier in transition.
Fair has gradually expanded his game with each year. He now looks the part of an NBA role player. He's developing into a go-to guy for the Orange, with the ability to separate and score on the perimeter or attack his man off the bounce.
Despite losing Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland, Syracuse will be a player on the national stage with Fair and Grant leading the way.
4. Jabari Parker and Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
Jabari Parker, 6'8'', SF, Freshman
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 4
Rasheed Sulaimon, 6'4'', SG, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 32
Jabari Parker is one of the most versatile prospects in the country.
He gives Duke an immediate chance to win. He's a game-changer—the offense is likely to run through Parker as the stretch-4 who can shoot it, facilitate or work one-on-one.
Parker joins Rasheed Sulaimon, who is a situational scorer and energetic defender. Offensively, he complements what's around him as a spot-up threat and slasher from the wing.
Between Parker's advanced skill set and Suliamon's two-way presence, Duke can give opponents a tough matchup at positions 2 through 4.
With Parker expected to get top-five looks and Sulaimon's first-round potential, the Blue Devils have an NBA-prospect duo they can lean on every night.
3. Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Michigan
Glenn Robinson III, 6'6'', SF, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 10
Mitch McGary, 6'10'', PF, Sophomore
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 20
After spending a year as the fourth and fifth options for a team that reached the national championship game, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary are now two of Michigan's top three guns.
Robinson, a terrific athlete and defender, gives the Wolverines a reliable source for off-the-ball production. He can stretch the floor as a shooter or sneak backdoor for an alley-oop.
McGary provides the lineup with an active body in the paint, which is exactly what an NBA team will eventually draft him to be.
At 6'10'', he can fly up and down the floor as well as bang down low on the offensive glass.
This year, look for Robinson to become a more aggressive scorer and McGary to showcase his touch from the elbow.
With lottery upside in Robinson and solid role-playing potential in McGary, this Michigan duo scores highly in the prospect-tandem rankings.
2. Julius Randle and Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Julius Randle, 6'9'', PF, Freshman
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 2
Andrew Harrison, 6'5'', PG, Freshman
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 8
This might be the most physically overwhelming guard-forward duo in the country.
Julius Randle brings a whole new level of strength, athleticism and skill to the power forward position. He's going to give Kentucky a relentless presence down low and a deceptive scorer outside.
Andrew Harrison will command the offense, and at 6'5'' and 207 pounds, he's a mismatch for point guards at the college level.
There's a lot to like about Harrison as a prospect, from his size and strength to his advanced offensive game.
Both Harrison and Randle will be the engines powering this Kentucky lineup in 2013-14. And despite their inexperience, they should contribute plenty of Wildcat wins to match the draft buzz that's bound to hover.
1. Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins, 6'8'', SF, Freshman
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 1
Wayne Selden, 6'5'', SG, Freshman
B/R Prospect Ranking: No. 9
Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden form a bad, bad duo.
The No. 1 prospect in the country won't be alone in Kansas this season. Wiggins will suit up alongside Selden at the wing. Together, they pack the most potent punch of athleticism in the country.
Wiggins is unlike anyone we've seen in a while. His physical gifts allow him to do things on the floor that make you question the legitimacy of his highlights.
As a pro prospect, he stands 6'8'' with a 7'0'' wingspan, ideal measurements for an NBA small forward. He's got a scoring skill set in place with the ability to create and knock down shots from all different angles.
Another highly touted recruit, Selden is also ready to make an immediate impact at Kansas. With brute strength, powerful explosiveness and a dirty offensive game, Selden is going to wow scouts with his scoring and playmaking ability.
If his jumper starts falling like I know it can, he could be this year's version of Ben McLemore, whom Selden will be filling in for in Kansas' lineup.
Between Wiggins and Selden, we're talking about the likely No. 1 pick and a potential lottery selection—and both look college-ready. Together, they represent the top NBA-prospect tandem in all of college basketball.
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