College Basketball Stars Most Likely to Be Lottery Picks in 2014
The 2013-14 college basketball season is going to be awesome.
From the first exhibition games to the Final Four in North Texas, we will see talented individual players and ridiculously loaded teams.
Here are 10 of this year's college basketball stars who will most likely be lottery picks in next summer's NBA draft.
Seven out of the 10 prospects on this list are freshmen.
Half of these players come from two schools.
Here we go!
10. Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein is a work still in progress.
His unexciting freshman stats (8.3 PPG; 6.2 RPG; 2.1 BPG) only tell part of the story.
Because Cauley-Stein is an athletic seven-footer that can absolutely impact games with his defense.
He has good anticipation in shot-blocking. He is able to come off of his man to throw back opponents’ attempts at the rim.
Offensively, Cauley-Stein fights for the ball in traffic and successfully goes up and gets lobs and offensive rebounds.
He is more than capable of putting up a double-double in the 2013-14 season, even on this year's star-studded squad.
9. Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)
Glenn Robinson III played power forward in his freshman season in Ann Arbor.
NBA scouts are evaluating him on his natural small forward position.
GR3 is an athletic wing who runs the floor like a deer and has no trouble throwing down alley oops in half-court sets.
He crashes the offensive glass and puts back missed shots in traffic.
Robinson has spent time during the offseason developing his mid-range and beyond the arc jump shots.
He has all the physical tools to become a lockdown wing defender.
Robinson's successful transition to SF will be one of the reasons why Michigan could make a deep run in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
8. Andrew Harrison (Kentucky)
If you were creating a NBA point guard prototype, your example just might be Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison.
At 6’5” and 210 pounds, Harrison has the kind of length that provides a physical advantage over most other PGs.
He is a confident floor leader, capable of creating shots for his teammates or for himself.
He is also a powerful penetrator, who imposes his will on the game with the ball in his hand.
Contact does not deter Harrison from getting into the lane.
It will be intriguing to watch his decision making for the Wildcats.
More than ever, Harrison will be faced with balancing scoring and distributing.
There’s a better than good chance that we will see artistry and inventiveness from him during the 2013-14 season.
7. Gary Harris (Michigan State)
Michigan State’s Gary Harris had an outstanding freshman season.
His Spartans' bio states that he was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a Second-team All-Big Ten selection.
He averaged 12.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG even though he played hurt most of the 2012-13 season.
This summer, Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy ranked Harris as the No. 1 shooting guard in the nation, ahead of Louisville’s Russ Smith and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon.
DeCourcy said that Harris is:
The complete package as a college shooting guard. The 6-4 size, the cool demeanor, the sweet-as-you-please perimeter jump shot.
Actually, Harris is skilled at both knocking down jumpers and attacking the rim.
Looking ahead to this season, Harris has been selected by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster as a preseason Second Team All American.
If Harris lives up to these lofty expectations, the Spartans are likely contenders for the 2014 Final Four and he will be primed for next year’s NBA draft.
6. Aaron Gordon (Arizona)
Arizona's Aaron Gordon may be one of the most springy and freakishly athletic front court players in college basketball.
He uses his non-stop motor and crazy hops to terrorize teams, applying excruciating pressure on defense and being an alley-oop threat any time down court.
Over the last six months, Gordon proved that he is a top-tier talent.
The 6'9" combo forward was the McDonald's All American game MVP and the MVP of the Team USA U19 World Championships.
Grantland's Mark Titus called Gordon the "Pac 12's best pro prospect" and added:
If he can be even 75 percent as good as he's expected to be, Arizona fans are about to witness Derrick Williams on steroids.
Arizona's Sean Miller is opening the season with Gordon playing small forward. If that experiment works, then the Wildcats will be scary, and they will legitimately contend for the 2014 national championship in North Texas.
5. Joel Embiid (Kansas)
Kansas' Joel Embiid is not anywhere close to being an NBA-ready center.
His offensive game is emerging and his post play is still developing.
But, there may be no current college player that has a higher ceiling than the 7-footer from Cameroon.
Embiid is far more mobile and agile than most players his size.
He uses his freakish athleticism to block shots and run the floor like a wing.
The Sixer Sense's John Adair describes Embiid's NBA potential this way:
A rim protecting, athletic big man that can score inside and out is a rare commodity. Teams will be thrilled if he is still available when it’s their turn to pick. Expect Embiid to be in the discussion as a top-five pick by the time the college hoops season is over.
4. Jabari Parker (Duke)
People have talked about how great Duke's Jabari Parker is for a long time.
We are about to see how gifted this exceptional Windy City wonder is.
Though Parker will most likely play a lot of power forward for the Blue Devils, he is actually a talented wing that can score from all over the hardwood.
Parker has a surprising handle and unexpected passing skills. He goes hard to the glass on both ends of the court.
Considering Duke's lack of quality bangers, Parker very well could be a double-figure rebounder from the onset of his time in Durham.
What pulls all of these qualities together is Parker's Einstein-like hoops IQ.
3. Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart is the nation's top collegiate point guard.
If you saw Smart play last year for the Cowboys, you know that he simply takes over games on both ends of the court.
Smart is a fierce competitor who pushes the action. He does not sit back and wait for things to happen.
He creates his own production by forcefully getting to the rim.
But, Smart is just as dominant on the defensive end.
He never takes possessions off and he applies suffocating pressure on and off the ball.
NBCSports.com's Rob Dauster selected Smart as the 2014 Preseason Player of the Year.
Just one more recognition on his way to being a Top 5 pick in the 2014 draft.
2. Julius Randle (Kentucky)
Kentucky's Julius Randle is a BEAST.
At 6'9" and 250 lbs, he takes over games and dominates defenders.
His versatility allows for him to set up shop on the block or step outside to do damage facing the basket.
Very few collegiate players will be able to contain Randle on their own.
Because he has a surprising handle and exceptional passing skills, he will find ways to contribute to the Wildcats success this season.
1. Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)
Some people do not like it when incoming freshmen are given recognition before they ever step on to the collegiate hardwood for the first time.
Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, CBSSports.com's Preseason Player of the Year, should be one of the exceptions.
Wiggins is an unbelievable talent with a warrior mentality.
He combines freakish athleticism with elite-level hoops skills to take over games like few players at any level.
Because he is an explosive leaper, he launches through and over defenders on his way to the rim.
Because of KU head coach Bill Self's emphasis on defense, we may even get to see how good Wiggins can be on the defensive end too.
Before Wiggins decided to come to Kansas, the Jayhawks were going to be a young team that would have had a nice season.
With Wiggins, KU will be in the mix all the way to the Final Four.
Then, Wiggins can move on to being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.