NBA Draft 2011: Travis Leslie and the 10 Most Athletic Prospects
When it comes to the 2011 NBA Draft, there are plenty of talented collegiate basketball players just aching for their opportunity to shine at the next level against the increased level of competition.
All of those players boast a unique set of skills.
Some can shoot lights out from anywhere on the court (here's looking at you, Jimmer). Some can play shutdown defense on anyone (Chris Singleton is the man here). Others may be some of the greatest rebounders in the history of college basketball (Kenneth Faried, anyone?).
But one thing that differentiates the so-so prospects from the cream of the crop is athleticism. The men that play in the NBA are some of the most athletic people in the world and that trait is virtually required if someone is hoping to be successful at the sport's highest level.
Now don't get me wrong. Every single player that will be drafted by each of the 30 NBA squads is a world-class athlete. But these 10 stand out more than the others.
10. Scotty Hopson (Tennessee)
I am fully convinced that Scotty Hopson only has the athletic ability he does because of the flattop. The magical powers of his haircut make him soar through the air and if he ever decided to shave his head, much like Samson, he'd lose his ability.
Hopson is a very gifted scorer for two reasons: He can drain shots from anywhere on the court and he can also slash into the lane and elevate over any defenders that happen to be in his path.
The leader of this past year's Tennessee squad, Hopson still does need to add some strength to his body, but his leaping skills and innate ability to adjust his body in the air have let him put that off for the time being.
9. Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA)
UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt can play well at either the small forward or shooting guard position, largely thanks to his great size and athleticism.
Honeycutt stands 6'8" and weighs 185 pounds, but he can still move quickly and jump high enough to elevate over six fully grown human beings en route to a thunderous finish at the rim.
One impressive part of Honeycutt's game is that he's been able to parlay these physical skills into his defense. Not too many people can say that.
8. Isaiah Thomas (Washington)
Isaiah Thomas may only be 5'9" (although various sites have him ranging from 5'8" to 5'10") but he can get up high enough to dunk. And with that, half of the people reading this are shaking their heads in amazement.
Not only can Washington's point guard jump, he can also change directions on a dime as well as anyone in the nation. Oh, and he's pretty darn fast.
Just think about the fact that he's a solid three inches shy of six feet tall and he's still going to be drafted by an NBA team. That should say it all.
7. Alec Burks (Colorado)
When Alec Burks and the Colorado Buffaloes came to Athens, Georgia, this season to take on the Bulldogs, I remember being excited to see why there was so much hype about the sophomore shooting guard.
After the game, I remember sitting back and being amazed by the physical tools that Burks had. He seemed to have monstrous size for his position and was as fast as anyone on the court.
Additionally, he could jump almost as well as a player you'll read about soon on the Georgia squad, and he had great finishing ability.
When it comes to physical skills, there is nothing that Burks lacks.
6. Josh Selby (Kansas)
There are quite a few knocks on Josh Selby's game.
He doesn't have great court vision for a point guard. He demonstrates a startlingly low level of maturity for a future NBA player. His defense, passing and ball-handling skills all need work.
But there's one thing that no one doubts when it comes to Selby. You guessed it: his athleticism.
Selby, as you can see from the embedded video, can dunk with the best of them and possesses an insane amount of lateral quickness and agility. The upside with this kid is tremendous if he can get his head screwed on straight.
5. Derrick Williams (Arizona)
A potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2011 NBA Draft, Derrick Williams has the complete toolbox.
One of the many tools contained in it is a gift for athletic endeavors. He is quite strong and able to make up for his small body at the power forward position by hanging in the air and absorbing contact with ease.
If you watched him at all during March Madness, you know what I'm talking about. Williams is a virtuoso at creating "and-one" situations and he seems to fly from everywhere to record crucial blocks for his team.
Efficiency may be his best trait, but athleticism isn't too far behind.
4. Matthew Bryan-Amaning (Washington)
The senior Englishman with the hyphenated last name has some hops to go along with his 6'10" frame.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning has the ability to play great defense because of his athletic ability, but he has yet to make good on that potential, something that is keeping him from climbing any higher on draft boards than the late portions of the second round.
He doesn't have a superb shot or set of post moves, but his speed and agility make him a premier threat in the fast break.
3. Chris Wright (Dayton)
Any time a guy is nicknamed "Top Flight," it's a good bet that he's fairly athletic.
Dayton's Chris Wright might not have a complete skill-set with the basketball yet, but he can flat-out soar. He's amazingly quick and explosive, can beat almost anyone with his lighting-fast first step and typifies the Flyers nickname that belongs to his college.
Whoever ends up playing with this guy is going to love throwing him some lob passes and watching him corral even the errant passes and jam them home through the rim.
2. Bismack Biyombo (Congo)
Bismack Biyombo, a Congolese center, has absolutely exploded onto the draft scene in recent days.
It was just a short while ago that no one had heard of him, but now Biyombo is being hailed as a potential lottery pick. That's just how the hype train works.
Biyombo displayed his ridiculous athleticism time and time again during the Nike Hoops Summit, where he recorded 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks for the first triple-double in the game's history.
Biyombo can reach as high as 9'3" without leaving his feet, but he can still jump quite well. Something tells me we'll be hearing from him for a while.
1. Travis Leslie (Georgia)
Travis Leslie is without a doubt the most athletic man entering the 2011 NBA Draft. In fact, he's the only prospect who was deemed worthy of a 10 out of 10 rating in the athleticism category by NBADraft.net.
As a student at the University of Georgia, I've had the pleasure of watching Leslie play throughout his entire collegiate career and I'm very upset that it's coming to an early close.
Leslie may not possess as many basketball skills as others in the draft, but boy can he jump. I can't even count the number of times that he's made my jaw drop.
Whether it was the posterization of DeMarcus Cousin two seasons ago or the numerous alley-oops he seems to throw down every single game, the plays that Leslie makes always belong on highlight reels.