Projecting NBA Future of Every Top Prospect at 2014 McDonald's All-American Game

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

Projecting NBA Future of Every Top Prospect at 2014 McDonald's All-American Game

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    On Wednesday, April 2, at the United Center in Chicago, the McDonald's All-American Game will feature a handful of future NBA players in the same building.

    If you want size, this group has a surplus of it. There's also abundant athleticism and a wealth of promising skill. Headlined by Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner and Cliff Alexander, it's a class that could make a huge impact on the Association down the road.

    In the 36-year history of the game, 71 players involved went on to become NBA All-Stars, and in the past 10 years, 12 former McDonald's All-Americans became NBA All-Stars (per AllStarNBA.es).

    These youngsters still have a couple of big steps to take before they hit the NBA hardwood, but the building blocks are there for pro success.

    We break down all the NBA prospects you should keep an eye on during this highly anticipated game.

     

    *Player measurements gathered from DraftExpress.com.

    *Included are all players who are widely projected to be drafted in the next two drafts (beginning 2015). Slide order based on overall draft value.

14. Justin Jackson, SF, Houston (North Carolina)

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    Vitals: 6'8", 189 lbs, 6'9.5" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2016

     

    Justin Jackson can fill it up impressively at the high school level, as his soft shooting touch from all ranges allows him to produce despite his slender frame.

    He's not a top-tier athlete, yet he can generate buckets off the bounce by getting into the lane and dropping floaters or short jumpers. It's a level of finesse rarely seen at that age.

    Jackson won't have the quickness to blow by people in the NBA, and he'll probably have some trouble defending. Nevertheless, his shooting ability will enable him to operate on the wing as a lengthy swingman. A stronger frame would make him that much more effective as a dribble-driver and defender.

     

    NBA Future: Starting small forward, second or third scoring option

13. Rashad Vaughn, SG, Golden Valley, Minn. (UNLV)

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6'5", 203 lbs, 6'6" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2016

     

    UNLV-bound Rashad Vaughn fulfills all the basic requirements scouts want to see in a potential NBA shooting guard.

    He has an ideal size, promising shooting skills and the ability to put the ball on the deck and penetrate. That makes him an attractive long-term prospect. Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports noted: "He's constantly in attack mode, and has shown he can get hot in a hurry when his jumper is falling."

    However, he'll need to work on some of the finer points of the game and expand his attack repertoire. Vaughn could work on spinning over his right shoulder, cutting to open spots and becoming more efficient from long range.

    His success (or lack thereof) with the Runnin' Rebels next year could dictate when he makes the jump to the NBA.

     

    NBA Future: Starting shooting guard, third or fourth scoring option

12. Justise Winslow, SF, Houston (Duke)

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    Vitals: 6'6", 218 lbs, 6'9.5" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2016

     

    The highlights show that Justise Winslow is a superb athlete with ample length to finish at the hoop over anyone. When you watch a little more game film, however, you realize that he's much more than that.

    He's sharply in tune with his teammates, serving as an alert passer and a great defender. Winslow can square people up as a one-on-one defender while also providing reliable help on that end.

    The one skill he needs to tighten up is his jump shot. His southpaw delivery is too drawn out, and he doesn't connect consistently from deep.

    His shooting ability may determine whether he stays in college more than one year. For now, we're tentatively projecting him to stay until 2015-16.

    If he can streamline his jumper, his pro outlook is rock solid.

     

    NBA Future: Starting small forward, All-NBA defensive player, second or third scoring option

11. Kevon Looney, F, Milwaukee (UCLA)

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    Andrew Nelles

    Vitals: 6'8", 209 lbs, 7'3" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2016

     

    UCLA commit Kevon Looney has tons of upside, but right now, he dominates at the high school level primarily due to his exceptional length.

    If he wants to be a combo forward or even just a power forward at the next level, he needs to do three things: bulk up, refine his handle and expand his shooting range.

    If he's able to quickly improve those areas and stand out for the Bruins next year, his stock will certainly be high enough to be a 2015 lottery pick. But if he's not able to earn a key role for the Bruins, he may opt to stay another year.

    In the long term, things look bright. He'll be able to shoot over people and eventually create his own shot effectively. But much like Andrew Wiggins, he must prove that he can be a takeover player.

     

    NBA Future: All-Star combo forward, potential primary scoring option

10. Theo Pinson, SF, Greensboro, NC (North Carolina)

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    Vitals: 6'5", 182 lbs, 6'10" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2016

     

    Theo Pinson, a dynamic, versatile weapon who can score from virtually anywhere, could be a dangerous asset by the time he reaches the NBA.

    He's comfortable taking the reins of an offense and is capable of driving left or right and scoring acrobatically. Pinson's slashing threat is made exponentially more dangerous because he can shoot from beyond the arc and rifle passes to teammates.

    The two biggest concerns surrounding his game are efficiency and strength. Can he be a reliable featured option, and can he put some muscle on his currently fragile frame?

     

    NBA Future: Starting small forward, potential primary scoring option, potential All-Star

9. Karl Towns, PF/C, Metuchen, NJ (Kentucky)

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Vitals: 7'0", 243 lbs, 7'3.5" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    When you soak in Karl Towns' size and shooting ability, you can tell he'll be a solid pick-and-pop option down the road.

    His length helps him finish deep in the post, and he can use the backboard softly or connect on a baby hook if he's not dunking. On the other end of the floor, I expect him to be competent, but not spectacular, considering he's not speedy or explosive.

    Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress explained that Towns is still in the early stages of development but could blossom into a highly productive frontcourt cog:

    His footwork is raw and he at times tends to shy away from contact at the rim—something that is not surprising considering his age—but his size, frame, length, tough and ability to operate over either shoulder give him huge potential here.

    This relative lack of athleticism is what makes me hesitant to project stardom for him.

    If he ends up being an elite skill forward like Tim Duncan or LaMarcus Aldridge, then it won't matter. But otherwise, he'll be a dependable key role player who's just beneath the top tier of the league.

     

    NBA Future: Starting PF/C, second or third scoring option

8. Tyus Jones, PG, Apple Valley, Minn. (Duke)

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6'2", 175 lbs, 6'3" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2016

     

    If you want to make a comparison to the 2014 NBA draft class, Duke commit Tyus Jones looks a lot like this year's version of Tyler Ennis.

    He's a composed, polished floor general who has good, but not great, athleticism. Jones demonstrates tremendous patience on pick-and-rolls, and he's able to really get into the teeth of the opposing defense in order to make plays for himself and others.

    As a shooter, he's capable and has a nice-looking delivery, but he doesn't exhibit the command of a serious long-range weapon. With time and repetition, however, I don't see this being a problem.

    Defensively, just based on his size and strength, I'm not sold on him yet. The NBA is whole different ballgame than high school or even college.

     

    NBA Future: Starting point guard, 12-15 PPG, 6-8 APG

7. Stanley Johnson, SF, Fullerton, Calif. (Arizona)

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    Vitals: 6'7", 226 lbs, 6'10.5" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    Stanley Johnson is the type of wing who can create confidently on the perimeter, shoot from any angle or attack the basket assertively.

    With his massive wingspan, ample strength and promising skill set, he's got the early makings of a legitimate NBA swingman. He should be able to guard multiple positions and operate as a shooting guard or small forward.

    The most encouraging thing for NBA scouts may not be his skills but rather his approach to the game. An ESPN scout (subscription required) said, "One of the more underrated aspects of Johnson is his willingness to compete."

    There are lots of things to like about Johnson, but they don't hand out small forward starting spots in the NBA too easily. He'll need to prove he can out-finesse opponents when he encounters equally gifted athletes.

     

    NBA Future: Starting small forward, second scoring option

6. Kelly Oubre, SF, Richmond, Texas (Kansas)

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    Andrew Nelles

    Vitals: 6'7", 190 lbs, 7'1" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    Texas native Kelly Oubre, one of the most intriguing prospects in the class of 2014, has ample leaping skills to go along with a confident perimeter shooting stroke. He rises up to score emphatically at the rim and splashes triples without hesitation.

    NBA scouts and executives love players with that kind of inside-out potential. His draft-day potential is high, as is his career outlook.

    He could improve his value, though, by attacking his man more in half-court situations. From the film I've seen, mid-range creativity isn't really part of his game.

    B/R Featured Columnist Maxwell Ogden thinks his time at Kansas will quickly help him improve that deficiency: "He has a tendency to live on the perimeter, but playing under Coach Self should help him find the proper offensive balance."

    Still, the NBA always finds a place for shooters and athletes. Oubre's going to be really good in both of those areas.

     

    NBA Future: Starting small forward, second or third scoring option, potential All-Star

5. Trey Lyles, PF, Indianapolis (Kentucky)

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    Vitals: 6'9", 228 lbs, 7'0" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    Compared to most of his peers, Trey Lyles is quite polished as a shooter and scorer.

    He can face up and drive, adjusting his shot in traffic to score off glass or hit a baby hook. But more importantly, he can catch the ball with his back to the basket and use a drop step or turnaround to score.

    And most importantly, he can operate away from the post, drilling elbow jumpers and going all the way out to the high school three-point line and connecting. It's safe to say, considering his smooth shooting form, that he'll be a competent three-point threat during the prime of his NBA career.

    Athletically, he's not a jaw-dropping specimen, but there's plenty of juice to play at a high level. He'll hold his own defensively as a lateral stopper and shot-blocker.

     

    NBA Future: All-Star stretch 4, primary scoring option

4. Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, Arlington, Texas (SMU)

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    Kelly Kline/ Getty Images

    Vitals: 6'4", 188 lbs, 6'7.5" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    Listed as a point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay has the tools and potential to be a combo guard in the NBA, as he owns a 6'7.5" wingspan and ample athleticism.

    He really has a chance to deliver the complete package at the pro level, with shifty ball-handling skills and an ability to dish it or score. When he's in scoring mode, he can blow by his man and explode to the bucket among the trees or put his man on skates as he sets up a step-back jumper.

    When he's in facilitating mode, he uses his scoring threat to freeze the defense and then dump a pass to his teammate. With some seasoning at the college level and during his first couple of years in the NBA, he could become the type of guard who can dish five to eight assists per night. He must improve his decision-making first, but most guards his age struggle in that department.

    Defensively, he has enough size and quickness to excel on that end, but it's a matter of applying himself on every possession.

     

    NBA Future: Starting point guard, 18-22 PPG, 5-6 APG, multiple All-Star appearances

3. Cliff Alexander, PF, Chicago (Kansas)

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6'9", 239 lbs, 7'3" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    Chicago's "other" top prospect is an athletic power forward with a penchant for making explosive plays.

    "Cliff is such a freak athlete," Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels told Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated.

    Alexander is a high-energy weapon who moves well for a 240-pound bruiser. He can get off the floor quickly and finish over nearly anyone, making him a great candidate to thrive as a pick-and-roll target in the NBA. His mid-range and perimeter game is a long way off, however.

    In addition, his defensive instincts as a low-post stopper and rim protector are promising, because he exhibits outstanding timing and top-tier shot-blocking ability.

    Even though he sits behind guys like Jahlil Okafor on most mock drafts, his NBA career could be equally or more productive.

     

    NBA Future: Starting power forward, second scoring option, multiple All-Star appearances

2. Myles Turner, C, Bedford, Texas (Undecided)

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    Vitals: 6'10", 223 lbs, 7'2" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    Scouts love Texas product Myles Turner because he's got a nice touch on the interior and can step outside to knock down jumpers.

    His body is nowhere near ready to play at the professional level, as his slender build would get easily pushed around in the NBA. With a couple years of strength training and an extra 25-30 pounds, he could be a highly productive presence on both ends.

    Turner has a pretty good feel for the game as a youngster, always engaged in the team concept and willing to pass or score depending on what's necessary.

    If he can add some assertive pivot moves and become more powerful, he'll be a tough all-around matchup.

     

    NBA Future: Starting stretch 4 or center, second scoring option, potential All-Star

1. Jahlil Okafor, C, Chicago (Duke)

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 6'10", 277 lbs, 7'6.25" wingspan

    Projected Draft: 2015

     

    With imposing physical tools, Duke commit Jahlil Okafor is able to go over and through everybody to score. He's not an explosive athlete, but he's got the build and the game to be a true NBA center in a couple of years.

    He possesses the instincts and the desire to catch the ball deep in the post, and once he gets it, he can do damage with solid footwork and powerful moves against any defender. Okafor's repertoire isn't exceptionally advanced, but the foundation is there.

    Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News has high praise for the big fella: "He is an excellent low-post scorer, an effective passer and a massive presence around the goal defensively."

    For a 277-pound kid, he's extremely mobile, demonstrating the ability to go end to end and play hard on both sides of the ball. His length and timing allow him to protect the rim, and he has an extremely high NBA ceiling as a rim protector.

    There's a reason he's widely projected to go No. 1 overall in 2015. He could become a dominant big man for years at the next level.

     

    NBA Future: All-Star center, primary scoring option on a playoff team