National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette might be the most controversial prospect in the 2011 NBA Draft.
His transcendent college game is the topic of many a debate about whether or not he can succeed in the NBA with subpar size, quickness and athleticism.
One thing is for sure: every NBA team can use a dead-eye shooter with Jimmer's ridiculous range. The ability to stretch the floor with a great shooter gives point guards room to penetrate and bigs room to post.
Jimmer is one of few players in this draft who can provide a team with that.
As June's draft approaches, some prognosticators have Jimmer slipping in the first round. As unknown prospects get more exposure, Fredette, the known commodity, has begun to slip.
But how much of this is speculation and how much of it is credible? Will be surprised at how high Jimmer goes on draft day and, in hindsight, bashfully say, "Yeah, we knew he'd go there all along."
The answers are coming, but in the meantime, here's a new mock draft of all 30 first round picks.
The Jayhawk freshman was a top-three recruit in the class of 2010, but we never really saw what he can do. We heard that he is really good, but we didn't get to see that play out.
Selby is essentially Kyrie Irving without having proven himself.
Opinions are unanimous that Selby should return to Kansas to improve his game and the perception of it, but patience is not a virtue for today's college superstar.
He's ready to take his aggressive style and NBA body to where it will eventually end up anyway.
This pick represents Selby's floor. A team could surprise by taking a risk on his as high as the 25th pick.
Purdue senior JaJuan Johnson is the virtual opposite of Josh Selby: the matured player who probably stayed in college longer than was necessary for NBA Draft success.
Johnson, at 6'10" and 221 pounds, excelled in his final season, notching 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
He is still raw and has a developing body, but he projects nicely and could rise up draft boards with strong workouts leading up to the day.
The draft stock of the 6'10" senior from Georgia is stable. Trey Thompkins is an experienced and polished big man who has put together an effective inside-outside attack.
Even though his strength is playing in the post, he possesses NBA range that will challenge defenders. He loosely mirrors the game of Jeff Green in that way.
I have written before that Thompkins, who played three years in college, is among the most experienced players in the draft, and that a lack of hype is the only thing keeping him from flirting with the lottery.
Scarcity of big men is continual in the NBA, so Thompkins could go higher based on need and scarcity.
Travis Leslie's athleticism is elite in this draft class, there is no question about that.
The questions surround a couple of his fundamental skills: shooting and ballhandling.
Leslie is an explosive dunker and strong finisher, but lacks consistency with his stroke. As a shooting guard in the NBA the threat of jumpshooting is necessary, otherwise he'll never have the opportunity to beat anyone to the basket.
Without the ability to shoot, his other strengths won't be as strong.
The 6'4", 205-pounder possesses enough strength, athleticism and potential to get his name called in the first round.
Nolan Smith is not an exciting prospect. He's not the flavor of the month. He doesn't possess explosive athleticism. He's a known commodity and his name and skills have lost their luster a bit.
Those skills, though, are advanced and stable. He is a player who may have hurt his draft stock by staying in school for another year after winning the title at Duke, but that doesn't mean he regressed.
He needs to practice his outside shot to become more consistent, but his all-around ability means that he could become a valuable player at either guard spot.
He is strong and quick to finish at the rim, yet handles and distributes like a point guard. His 6'2" size and tenacity make him an excellent defender, which is something not often said about NBA prospects.
His personal and professional maturity might be more attractive than his actual game, but that is good enough to get him into the first round.
The biggest concern for Singleton is the broken foot he suffered late in the season.
He played his Seminoles into the Sweet 16, but there is doubt that he is fully recovered from it, or ever will be.
The 6'9 small forward's defining assets are great athleticism and lockdown defense. His 3.5 combined blocks and steals show his high level of defensive effort and versatility.
Singleton's offense needs work (he's never shot better than 43 percent in a season), but he can contribute immediately to a team on defense while his offense catches up.
Check out that form on Tyler Honeycutt's jumper. Yuck. This is one of the biggest reasons why he won't go high in the first round.
Scouts are concerned that Honeycutt is kissing away the opportunity to stay at UCLA another year to improve his offensive game and jumpshooting.
It becomes a lot harder to improve at shooting while transitioning from the college game to the NBA game.
Honeycutt and Chris Singleton are similar in that they both have defensive-minded, athletic styles of play. They both have good basketball smarts and can block shots from the perimeter. They both struggle shooting the ball from the outside.
Honeycutt will go around this point because of his incredible awareness and cerebral game. Once his skills catch up, he should be a nice NBA player.
Klay Thompson was a late addition to the list of early entries, but he adds depth and offensive skill to the first round of the draft.
The junior is the antithesis of his hyper-athletic but raw colleagues. He will earn his draft position with highly-developed skills and smarts.
His dad is former No. 1 overall pick Mychal Thompson, so the son most certainly knows his way around the basketball court.
Thompson is considered one of the best shooters in the college game, which, at 6'6", is a great advantage heading into the NBA. It will be important for him to get his shot off quickly as bigger and longer players stretch to alter it.
The suspension he served for marijuana possession toward the end of the year seems like a minor blip on the radar for him and doesn't represent larger character issues. He should be a fine pick in the high teens or low twenties.
The 18-year-old Brazilian center is shooting up draft boards as more and more information and video arrives.
The 6'11", 218-pounder possesses great athletic and shot-blocking ability down low, and complements those with lots of energy.
Think a taller and skinnier Anderson Varejao or a more fluid Hasheem Thabeet.
All that needs to happen for Nogueira to become valued contributor is adding weight to his frame. He'll get pushed around at just 218 pounds, but if he bulks up, he will be make it very hard for players to score on his team.
The taller and bulkier Morris twin, Markieff is commonly thought of as the lesser player.
He is raw offensively and plays more like an interior big man than his brother does, though he is just as athletic and explosive.
His 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds on 59 percent shooting are enough to convince scouts that his offense is adequate and will continue to improve.
He has Tyrus Thomas-type potential and could emerge as a solid pro if his offense matches his defensive ability.
Nikola Mirotic, at just 20, has achieved a balanced game of a player five to 10 years his senior.
Everything you want from a big man comes easily to him, yet he plays the game like someone who is several inches shorter than he is.
The NBA especially loves his jumpshot (all the way past the three-point line), his IQ (great awareness and instincts) and his size (6'10" on the perimeter).
He doesn't have the athleticism that a lot of small forwards have, but his size and skills should make up for that.
He'll need to put on roughly 20 pounds, but upon doing so will be an imposing player on the wing that can do it all.
Though he'll be just 18 when selected in June, Harris has the smarts to play in the NBA with the more experienced.
He is said to be testing the waters to gauge his true draft stock, and might end up back in Knoxville for next season.
If he doesn't, an NBA team in the high teens will receive an unselfish forward who can play in multiple spots. He can shoot, though not well from three, and handles the ball admirably for someone who is 6'8".
Harris seems to be a power forward in a small forward's body, which is the knock on him: that he's not big enough to play power forward, but not athletic enough to play outside.
Are his skills and smarts good enough to cover the size and athletic holes he has?
The smaller and more skilled Morris brother, Marcus finds himself a few spots higher than Markieff because of his versatility and scoring.
As opposed to his brother, Marcus is comfortable on the perimeter and plays more like a guard, even though they are only separated by an inch.
Though he spends more time outside, he's still a strong rebounder who puts in a lot of effort to make plays.
His lack of explosive athleticism is masked by his ability to shoot the ball as well as he puts it on the floor to attack.
Marcus' improvement has been steady through his time at Kansas, and there's no reason to think that won't continue when he dons the NBA logo.
And here's the man of the hour. Or at least this slideshow.
Jimmer's strengths and weaknesses are well-documented, but nobody really knows where he'll go. Some think that he's a mid-lottery pick, while others think he'll be outside the lottery or top 20 altogether.
I think his placement will be dependent on the player movement ahead of him. If some go unexpectedly high, Jimmer will fall. If the projections hold, Jimmer could go near the top 10. I think he'll go somewhere in the 13-18 range.
Fredette isn't an outstanding athlete, but I was wowed by plays he made several times over the course of the year, and not just for deep shots; he frequently broke down more athletic defenders with a quick first step and deathly crossover to finish over bigger players at the rim.
To call Jimmer's athleticism a weakness probably means that you haven't watched him play at all.
As noted in the intro slide, every team needs a great shooter. He doesn't have to do much else or be explosive. He just has to have that one bankable skill.
Jimmer showed that he has that and more on the college level. What will happen to him on the pro level?
Jordan Hamilton is only a sophomore, but, unlike many underclassmen, doesn't need any more time in college to prep for the jump.
His improvement over two years at Texas was excellent. As he transitioned into a primary scoring role, Hamilton ably doubled his scoring and rebounding output without sacrificing efficiency.
He showed that he can shoot the three (38 percent), use his size to grind out dirty plays and handle the ball.
The drawbacks that characterize his game are minor, which means that he shouldn't have to spend a lot of time shoring up negatives and can focus on making his strengths even better.
The freakish athletic exploits of the 6'4" junior point guard have won me over. I talk about Reggie Jackson's improving draft status every time I do a mock. I love his game and am curious how he'll be seen in the draft.
On April 4, I had Jackson going at 18.
On April 22, I had him going at 16.
I think the explosive point guard reaches his ceiling at 15. He does a lot of things well, such as see the court, rebound and catch-and-shoot, but there are concerns about his strength and his basketball intelligence.
The latter could be a real hang up for someone who's projecting as a point guard; teams can't waste high picks on point guards who can't make the decisions necessary to run the team.
Don't get me wrong: the fact that he's reached this high in the draft is a major win for him and a testament to his ability.
The sky is his limit athletically, but he needs to improve on some of the finer points of the game and learn discipline with shot selection before he truly makes the jump.
I'll say it again: NBA teams can never accumulate too much talented size.
I don't care that Kenneth Faried played four years at Morehead State or that he's undersized to play in the post at 6'8".
The guy's motor and heart are unmatched, and his athleticism is certainly NBA-quality.
He's considered a work in progress offensively, though he scored 17.3 points on 62 percent shooting as a senior. Think of Faried as a more talented Ronny Turiaf.
If you're a lottery team looking for a safe prospect to develop slowly, don't pick Kawhi Leonard.
I say this because the 6'7" sophomore small forward from San Diego State was not a great scorer in the Mountain West Conference and never shot the ball well in spite of ridiculous athleticism and great length.
He plays hard and isn't afraid to get physical with his 225-pound frame, which will serve him well in the draft and in his career.
However, he will need to develop an outside shot because he's about to lose his ability to blow by, jump over and outmuscle other players.
The 6'6" Alec Burks has enough potential to overcome the many concerns about his developing game.
He's too thin at 195 pounds and has limited range on his three-pointer. Also, he doesn't play offense very well without the ball, which makes him easy to guard.
In spite of these things, Burks is coveted for his athleticism, length and scoring knack. He scores in many ways, but loves to slash into the lane and finish explosively.
There's debate on whether his game translates to the pro level, but it should remain intact in some form based on his athleticism and natural scoring tendencies. Think Jamal Crawford in that way.
Tristan Thompson is as can't-miss a prospect as any freshman in this draft.
Scouts love the 6'8" Thompson for his relentlessness on the offensive glass and elsewhere, plus his 7'2" wingspan.
That kind of length allows him to change shots taken by bigger players and to get his own shots off.
He can hang with bigger guards and centers alike because of his unique mix of ballhandling, athleticism, rebounding and shotblocking.
A breakout March showed that the freshman possesses the maturity to continue the improvement he made in his year at Texas, which is a quality that NBA general managers need to see from a young player whose talent demands a lottery pick.
The 18-year-old Bismack Biyombo's meteoric rise to the top 10 of this draft says two things:
One, that this draft isn't that great.
Two, that again, quality players with size are at a premium.
The fact that a team will spend a top 10 pick on a teenager that they might have never seen in person before recently speaks to that fact.
The 6'9", 243-pound forward is known for being raw and green while possessing elite rebounding and shotblocking and a ridiculous 7'7" wingspan.
There is no doubt that Terrence Jones belongs in this year's crop of one-and-done freshmen. His positional versatility and do-it-all offensive skills make him a talent that NBA teams won't easily pass up.
Some will pass, though, because of questions about Jones' maturity. He seemed to give up or shrink when he struggled around midseason. The telling factor is not that he struggled, everyone does at certain times, but that he didn't respond by adjusting or persevering.
This is a personal quality that players at this level and draft position must possess. Many of these guys have succeeded at every juncture of their basketball career, but are about to experience struggles, if only for the first time.
Jones has experienced that and will be a better player by learning from it. He needs to become more consistent with his effort to maximize his immense skillset.
He's got so much talent that no amount immaturity will keep him out of the top 10.
Though the book on the 7', 220-pound Donatas Motiejunas is thin, his skills won't be in the dark for much longer.
Aside from the fact that his 220 pounds aren't close to adequate for the rugged NBA front court, Motiejunas has few weaknesses.
Word is that he doesn't play enough to have great experience with his team in Italy and that his jumpshot is inconsistent. These are trivial in comparison to the potential strengths he has.
Nothing sticks out as superior to anything else in his game. He runs the floor, has insane court vision, scores aggressively, is smart and shoots from midrange.
I just had this thought and am fleshing out through my writing, so bear with me. Could this guy be a poor man's Kevin Durant? He has satisfactory athleticism and is rail-thin, but attacks the basket and shoots well.
Durant has a nose for scoring like nobody west of Carmelo Anthony, which Motiejunas can't rival. However, they both handle the ball well and shoot from midrange, but also get to the basket.
I don't know. I'm just trying to get my mind around a player nobody in America has seen, but will soon take the league by storm.
Note: My apologies for sandwiching two confusing European names together. I hope you can remember/differentiate between them come draft time.
Jonas Valanciunas is another highly-skilled European forward. He is the top international player on many draft boards, though I think that he'll go behind Jan Vesely and Enes Kanter.
Valanciunas breaks the mold of the lanky international forward with his toughness and experience. He's only 18, but he's played with tenacity for Lietuvos Rytas in the Lithuanian league.
At 6'10", 230 pounds, Valanciunas boasts a polished inside game, which is where he spends most of his time. He has a soft touch offensively and rebounds and blocks well when defending.
He needs to improve his perimeter game with the midrange jumper, but there's no doubt he'll develop that with time. What he has now is enough to warrant a top five to eight pick.
I've already said what I want to say about National Champion point guard Kemba Walker, so I'll just pipe it in:
You've seen the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament play by now. You know about the incredible quickness and creativity around the basket. You know about the long-range shooting. You know how Walker put a very young team on his back and showed them how to compete and get better in-season.
What you couldn't know before the Big East and NCAA tournaments is that Kemba Walker was a competitor and a winner.
The 6'1" junior and his Huskies made history by winning five games in five days from the nine seed to win the Big East, then turned around and won six more to claim an improbable National Championship. Without Walker, they don't get out of the play-in round of the Big East.
Originally projected near the bottom of the lottery, Walker has shot up because of the maturity he displayed in the NCAAs. You know what you're getting with him, but that doesn't mean he's not worth the pick here at No. 6.
At 6'11", 240 pounds, Jan Vesely has ridiculous size for a small forward.
He has ridiculous range and athleticism for a 6'11" player. He is an ideal combination of size, skill and toughness.
If you combined the desired skills of each spot on the NBA floor, you'd probably end up with something close to Vesely.
His best strengths are his jumping ability, which comes out in his ferocious dunks, and his relentless motor. He plays hard all the time and isn't afraid to play physical as many Europeans are.
NBA scouts are convinced of his maturity, which is why he's projected in the top five.
The 6'3" Brandon Knight struggled early in his freshman year before emerging late in the year. Most of his struggles are attributable to the fact that John Calipari had him out of position at the point.
In reality, Knight is better characterized as a combo guard. He has the intelligence and the handling to play the point, but he's a volume shooter and big athlete who can make his mark in the paint.
He's a good rebounder, so you don't want to send him back on defense if he could be playing his high-effort game on the offensive glass.
He does need to finish forming his game and shore up the inconsistency with his outside shooting, but the leadership and athletic potential that Knight showed in leading Kentucky to a surprise Final Four berth are a pleasant occurrence to unexpecting general managers.
The 6'10" Enes Kanter hasn't played competitively in over a year due to an improper benefits suspension at Kentucky.
It doesn't matter for this extremely polished center, who is slotted third overall despite the fact that no scouts have seen him play lately.
The only criticism of Kanter is his lack of athleticism. Otherwise, he's got the post game of a five-year veteran All-Star at a tender 18 years of age.
He handles and passes very well for a big man and can shockingly hit his jumper all the way out to the three-point line.
He will make his living in the paint where he uses a physical body to his advantage and finishes creatively.
There is concern over his ability to transition from Europe to the NBA without a college buffer, but he's expected to make the jump smoothly because of his experience and maturity from playing pro overseas.
Kyrie Irving's short 11-game college career is about the only weakness he has, and will be enough to keep him from the No. 1 pick.
Because of this, teams are uncertain what exactly he will be. Is he primed to be the next Derrick Rose, or just Aaron Brooks?
He certainly has the talent of Derrick Rose, though not the same class of athlete, and intelligence to develop as quickly.
Irving is a true point guard that has a good feel for the scoring/passing balance and excels at moving past his defender into the lane. From there, he deftly keeps his shooters and bigs in sight while maintaining a great handle on the ball. He can kick out, dump down or pull up for the short jumper.
Nobody really knows Irving's ceiling, but we do know that his floor is second overall.
You saw him play. Is there anything you can find to criticize in Derrick Williams' game?
The only gripe that can be made about the Arizona sophomore is that he's undersized to play the NBA four. That's OK because he could make a fantastic small forward with elite athleticism, intelligence, power, outside shooting and active defender.
He has the physical/mental makeup and maturity to play in the NBA right away. He won't be a No. 1 scorer on either team he gets selected by, the Cavs or Timberwolves, so he could immediately contribute offensively while defenses pay attention to primary scorers.
Defensively, he can play a position above or below his natural one, which will allow him to stay on the court longer and improve through game experience.
His career trajectory is almost vertical right now and there's likely more to come from a player with Williams' work ethic. Look for him to make an All-Star team within four years.