NCAA Tournament 2011: 15 College Players Who Could Be Studs in the NBA

Eric CaspersonCorrespondent IIMarch 19, 2011

NCAA Tournament 2011: 15 College Players Who Could Be Studs in the NBA

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    College basketball fans are not the only ones watching March Madness this year.

    NBA teams are scouting players in the Tournament to see if they are good enough to be drafted and play in the NBA.

    While some players may be great in college, the NBA is a different game. The NBA is bigger, stronger and quicker than college ball. Some great college players are just not fit and prepared for the grueling NBA grind.

    The same is true for the opposite side. Role players in college can turn into solid starters in the NBA. NBA scouts continue to look more at potential and raw skills rather than experience and where the player is in their career on draft day.

    The class of 2011 is a little weaker than some of the previous draft classes, but there is still potential for a lot of good players to be born out of this class.

    Here are 15 players that could turn out to be studs down the road.

15. Rick Jackson

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    Rick Jackson, at 6'9", has the ideal height for an NBA PF. If he was to gain another 10 pounds of muscle, he would have the ideal figure.

    Jackson lost weight coming into his senior season, but will need to put some more muscle back on in order to battle with the PF at the next level.

    Jackson averaged a double-double in the Big East at Syracuse. The Big East may be the most physical and dominant conference in the country. Averaging over 10 rebounds a night in that conference means you are doing something right.

    Jackson would have to work on his post game and his mid-range shooting if he wanted to improve and become a star at the next level.

    He has the physical tools to be a solid defender and enforcer in the lane on defense.

14. Keith Benson

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    Keith Benson may be one big man that rises up draft boards after the Tournament and draft workouts are over.

    Benson has the size (6'11") to play as a big PF or a C at the next level.

    However, he will need to gain at least 20 or 30 pounds if he wants to contribute and play.

    Right now, he is too weak.

    Everything about his game shows that he can play at the next level. Benson has good touch around the basket and back to about 12 feet. He is very athletic for his height.

    His potential has definitely not been reached yet. He has shown he can improve quickly.

    In his first year at Oakland, Benson averaged five points and three rebounds. This season he put up 18 and 10.

13. Josh Selby

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    Josh Selby was one of this year's more impressive freshmen.

    After his nine game suspension to start the season, he averaged 12 points a game until he suffered a foot injury mid season.

    After the injury, Selby was never the same. He has struggled down the stretch, playing limited minutes.

    Selby has the potential to be a great NBA guard. At 6'3" he would most likely have to play PG at the next level.

    He would have to improve his ball handling, as well as game and time management as a PG.

    As a freshman, the ceiling has yet to be determined for Selby.

12. Kris Joseph

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    Kris Joseph is another incredibly raw player.

    He has plenty of potential and much room for improvement.

    Joseph may be one of the most athletic players in this year's draft. His athletic abilities gives him the ability to lock down on the defensive side and to separate from defenders on the offense side of the ball.

    In order to become a star, Joseph will have to improve his ball handling and management skills. He too often gets out of control with the ball. He averaged over two turnovers a game this season.

    Because Joseph is still raw, those numbers can improve and NBA teams will look very high on this kid's overall potential.

11. JaJuan Johnson

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    JaJuan Johnson is one of the most dominant players in college basketball.

    His 20.4 points per game was good enough for top 20 in the country.

    Johnson, like most on this list so far, has great size, but would need to bulk up for the NBA.

    He would also have to work on his offense and his range outside 10 feet.

    Johnson is another athletic big man who has shown he can finish at the college level. With some extra weight, he should be able to play a big role on a NBA team.

10. Trey Thompkins

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    Trey Thompkins is one of the more NBA-ready prospects on this list.

    He has the size and the build of an NBA PF already. At 6'10" and weighing almost 250 pounds, Thompkins can step right into the NBA and make an immediate contribution.

    The potential is limited for Thompkins because he is not as athletic as the other big men on this list.

    However, his skill set right now is good enough for the NBA.

    He has great moves in the post, along with the ability to move outside and make 15-17 foot jumpers consistently.

9. Kemba Walker

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    Kemba Walker is a player that everyone knows about by now. He is definitely in the running for being named college basketball's player of the year.

    In only three seasons at UConn, Walker achieved more than most players do in four seasons.

    Walker was top five in the country in scoring by putting up over 23 points per game.

    Walker single handily leads his UConn team a lot of time. It was his performances in the Big East Tournament that led to the Huskies winning the Title.

    Walker will be an explosive PG in the NBA with the ability to score the basketball.

8. the Morris Brothers

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    Since these two are twins, I decided to put the two on the same slide.

    Marcus and Markieff Morris are "twins" on the basketball court as well.

    They are both roughly about the same size and weight. Marcus has the ability to play the three or the four, while Markieff is more of a post player.

    The leaders of the one of the best teams in the country combine to average over 30 points and 15 rebounds for the Jayhawks.

    Look for the twins to be on Utah and Phoenix's draft radars. Both teams have two first round picks. Wouldn't that be something? 

7. Alec Burks

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    Every player on this list so far made the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

    Alec Burks and Colorado were snubbed on Selection Sunday however.

    Despite the team's disappointing end, Burks has an incredibly bright future in the NBA.

    Burks has an explosive offensive game, including an ability to finish plays through traffic.

    Burks is still very young as he is only 19-years old.

    He is a young project that could reap benefits for whichever team drafts him.

6. Brandon Knight

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    Brandon Knight, the super freshman from Kentucky, showed us why he was the top recruit out of High School.

    Knight is a big PG who has the ability to create shots for himself and others.

    He has the ability to take a game over and lead the team to victory.

    He also has the ability to facilitate the game and make other players around him better.

    Knight's style of game would fit perfectly on a "run n' gun" team like Philadelphia.

5. Harrison Barnes

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    Harrison Barnes is a streaky player out of UNC.

    He has shown throughout this year though that he is ready for the pros.

    Barnes averaged 15 points for a North Carolina team that surprised many this year.

    The Tar Heels were 12-5 at one point this season. They are currently 27-7, thanks in large part to the continued improvement of their freshman phenom.

    Barnes, with his seven-foot wing span, reminds me of a Tayshaun Prince or a Luol Deng in the NBA.

4. Jared Sullinger

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    Jared Sullinger opened many eyes right out of the gate this season.

    The super freshman averaged over 17 and 10 for the No. 1 team in the nation.

    Sullinger played big when it mattered most this season. He had two 20 point games in the Big-10 Tournament, including a 15 point 11 rebound performance in the Championship game.

    Sullinger has the size to be a force down low at the next level.

    At 285 pounds, he will have the ability to back down big men on the block, even in the NBA.

3. Kyrie Irving

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    Kyrie Irving was supposed to have an incredible freshman season at Duke.

    However, he was limited to only eight regular season games.

    In those eight games though, he did not disappoint.

    Irving was as-advertised, averaging over 17 points and almost five assists.

    The only knock on Irving could be his durability now. Having not played a lot of games at the college level, experience could be a key factor in his draft stock as well.

2. Perry Jones

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    It seems like all these slides have been freshmen. Well, now six of them have been.

    Perry Jones was labeled as the possible No. 1 pick in the draft during this season.

    However, with Baylor not being in the Tournament, teams will not get the chance to see Jones play against the best competition.

    Jones has drawn comparisons to a young Tracy McGrady. At 6'11", he is an over-sized SF who can create many mismatches.

    His all-around game should make him an immediate star in the NBA.

1. Derrick Williams

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    Derrick Williams or Perry Jones will be the No. 1 pick in the draft this year.

    They are both great NBA ready prospects.

    Williams is a 6'9" combo forward who has great offensive skills.

    He will be a little undersized if he plays the four in the NBA. If he plays SF, he will have an incredible advantage over most small forwards with his size and athleticism.

    If he is to play SF, he will need to improve his jump shot and his range. With improved range, Williams will be the head of the 2011 Draft Class.