Now that the college basketball season is completely over, the top prospects for the upcoming NBA draft are working out religiously and watching the NBA playoffs in their spare time, hoping to get a glimpse of the teams and players they'll be paired up with next year.
For the purposes of this slideshow, I tried to arrange the top 50 prospects for the 2011 NBA Draft in an order that they would be drafted if teams picked regardless of need. While upside was taken into account, it was not completely included, which is why you'll see some players ranked lower on the big board than others that I say may be taken later.
Without further ado, read on for the top 50 prospects and the range in which they may be selected.
A relatively unheralded player for Jim Larranaga's George Mason squad, Cam Long boosted his draft stock over and over throughout the 2010-2011 season, his senior year in college. For the third-straight time he improved his overall numbers, averaging 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
Long is a very solid player all around, and he has a fantastic jump shot, but he has neither the size nor the ceiling necessary to become a star at the next level. Expect to see the guard drafted in the second half of the second round.
E'Twaun Moore has the coolest first name in the 2011 draft class, a fantastic ability to score and a great way of managing a basketball game.
In the final season of his four-year career as a Purdue Boilermaker, Moore utilized those tools and averaged 18.0 points, 3.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game, including a 38-point game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in an upset win.
Similar to Cam Long, Moore is a very solid player with a knack for scoring the ball, but he's not going to be a star in the NBA. He should also expect to go right around the middle of the second round, but don't be surprised to see him rise a little bit higher.
A Charleston Cougar for all four years of his career, Andrew Goudelock is a player that almost no one has heard of, even though he put up absolutely mind-boggling stats: 23.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game during his senior season, just one year after posting 19.4 points per contest. With an incredible three-point shot, Goudelock is going to find a niche in the NBA at the very least.
Just like the other guards before him, Goudelock doesn't have the highest ceiling and should expect to see his name called in the second half of the second round. I can absolutely see the Atlanta Hawks taking him with the No. 48 pick in the draft.
If it wasn't for VCU's magical run to the Final Four, there is no way that Jamie Skeen would be taken in the 2011 NBA Draft. But now, the versatile senior forward who averaged 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game during the regular season and 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game during the tournament will undoubtedly be playing in the NBA.
Skeen should be taken right at the middle of the second round. He's not going to be a star, but he's also going to be a fairly safe choice at this stage in the draft. If he played for a bigger school, he might go higher up, but VCU still needs to win some draft pundits over.
Another player who deserved significantly more credit than he got during the 2010-2011 season was Oakland's Keith Benson. The senior center averaged 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and was named to the second-team All-American squad despite playing for the unheralded Golden Grizzlies.
Taking the next step is going to be tough, and he'll need to improve his defense. But Benson should be taken in the middle of the second round and possesses the upside necessary to move up to the beginning portion of that round.
Big men from Florida like Joakim Noah and Al Horford are looking pretty good right now, so Vernon Macklin has that going for him. The 6'10" center doesn't put up stellar numbers—11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game during his senior season—but he's still a force in the paint.
Because he's more defensively oriented than anything else, Macklin is going to lose a bit of appeal to NBA scouts. He has the talent necessary to justify a mid second-round selection, but he may drop a little bit more than that.
Ravern Johnson averaged 17.6 points per game during his senior season, but only 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists to go along with the scoring output. Considering Johnson was a guard for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the assist numbers are slightly terrifying.
Johnson stands at 6'7", and that will definitely help his cause, but the lack of passing ability will keep him from rising that far above the halfway point of the second round. I would not be at all surprised to see him go at No. 44 to the Chicago Bulls.
The owner of the least flashy name in the 2011 draft class, Greg Smith played center for the Fresno State Bulldogs during his sophomore season and averaged 11.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Smith is a very unpolished prospect, but the sheer potential will be tantalizing to teams picking in the second round of the draft. He will most likely be going in the early 40s, but don't be surprised to see him rise into the first few picks of the second round because of the high ceiling.
As a senior for the Ohio State Buckeyes, David Lighty managed to contribute all around to the tune of 12.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He might not put up great stats, but he made countless plays in big moments during his career and was always there to help the team come together.
Lighty isn't the best talent in the draft by any stretch of the imagination, but he's a versatile player and a classic glue guy who will be invaluable on an NBA roster. Expect to see Lighty taken just before the halfway point of the draft's second round, but don't think you'll hear his name called much earlier.
The senior who calls London home was nothing short of brilliant at many points during his final season with the Washington Huskies, averaging a very respectable 15.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game thanks to his incredible athleticism and speed.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning has a ton of potential, and scouts will recognize that. There's a chance that we could see the Husky go in the very early part of the second round, but I don't think he can squeeze into the first. A selection right around No. 40 is most likely.
As a junior forward for the USC Trojans, Nikola Vucevic was an absolute beast in the paint, averaging a very solid 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. His name isn't the biggest one that will be left in the talent pool at this point, but it is quite a mouthful when you think about it.
Vucevic is another player who should be selected right around the same time as Matthew Bryan-Amaning, but he isn't going to be picked too much higher than No. 40.
A 6'9" forward from Latvia, Davis Bertans may not look like an NBA player, but just wait until you see what he can do with a basketball before you judge him. Bertans needs to add both strength and quickness, plus his defensive game needs some work, but he has a pure shot from the outside and good ball-handling ability for a forward.
With a surprising amount of athleticism and the ability to throw down some pretty hard dunks, Bertans is still a project player, but he'll tempt a lot of teams. Expect him to go in the first 10 picks of the second round, but towards the end of that tier.
The world was introduced to Justin Harper when the Richmond Spiders inspired a bit of arachnophobia in their first few opponents in the NCAA tournament. I won't be able to make that joke anymore when he's in the NBA, but this versatile forward will still be talked about.
Harper averaged 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during his final season at Richmond and should be able to parlay that success into a selection at the beginning of the second round. There's an ever-so-small chance that he sneaks into the first round.
The second UCLA Bruin who will be drafted in 2011, behind Tyler Honeycutt, Malcolm Lee averaged 13.1 points per game from the guard spot for his underachieving squad. At 6'5", Lee is pretty big for a guard, and that will help to ease the transition to the NBA.
After averaging 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during his March Madness games against Michigan State and Florida, Lee improved his draft stock to the point where he may very well be selected in the first part of the second round. That's as high as I'd expect him to go now.
The impressive freshman for the Kansas Jayhawks opened his season with a bang by scoring 21 points in his first game, against USC, delivering in the clutch by hitting the game-winning shot.
The shooting guard couldn't keep that pace up, though, and slipped a bit, averaging just 7.9 points per game this past season while showing a lack of maturity at many points during the year.
Character issues have led to a whole bunch of red flags for Selby, but the talent should keep them from deterring every NBA team. He started the season as a potential top-10 pick, but that's a thing of the past. Selby may rise into the first round, but I doubt it.
Hailing from Montenegro and currently playing for the basketball version of Real Madrid, Nikola Mirotic has a great skill set for a 6'10" forward and can shoot a jump shot as well as just about anyone in this draft not named Jimmer Fredette.
Mirotic is unknown to many casual basketball fans, but they'll have to get used to seeing him on the court soon enough. The forward will most likely be taken at the very beginning of the second round.
The definition of a matchup nightmare, Chandler Parsons was the SEC Player of the Year, and for good reason. A threat on the offensive glass, Parsons never combs his hair, handles the ball, drains three-pointers like a guard and is a great leader.
His size will be helpful when he makes the transition to the NBA, but I don't think that Parsons will be too successful. He'll be a fringe first-round selection, but should probably go slightly below that.
I've had the pleasure of watching every single game that Travis Leslie has played in during his college career, and I'm very sad that he's going to be leaving the Georgia Bulldogs. The number of times that No. 1 has used his ridiculous athleticism and made me jump and shout or simply drop my jaw cannot be counted.
Leslie could probably use another year in Athens to improve his jump shot and basketball skills, but his athleticism is undoubtedly good enough for the NBA. The high ceiling could push him into the first round, but he'll most likely be an early pick in the second.
Probably the best player in the country that no one has heard of, Norris Cole is a ridiculous scorer. He just knows how to make the ball find the bottom of the net. Cole, a guard for Cleveland State, averaged 21.7 points, 5.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game during his senior season.
I'm a pretty big fan of the guy, so I think he'll be a steal when he's drafted in the beginning of the second round. Miami could end up picking Cole at No. 31, and it would be a great selection.
Another great player on a not-so-great team, Marshon Brooks simply knows how to score. He also plays shooting guard and was the nation's second-leading scorer, behind only Jimmer Fredette. To go along with his 24.6 points per game, Brooks also averaged 2.5 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.5 steals.
Without any real weaknesses in his game, the biggest thing keeping Brooks from a lottery selection is the school he played for. He'll be another steal at the beginning of the second round.
Jeremy Tyler was bored with high-school basketball and chose to forgo his collegiate career and play abroad in Europe until this year. The 6'11" big man will now attempt a return to his home country and hopes to have a big impact in his first year.
Tyler is a very risky pick, but he has an insane amount of potential, so teams late in the first round may very well end up taking a flyer on him. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Tyler go to the Chicago Bulls at either No. 28 or No. 30.
Another big man who can shoot from outside, Jon Leuer averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during his senior season. Between him and Jordan Taylor, the Wisconsin Badgers made a lot of big shots, and the 6'10" Leuer will continue that at the next level.
Leuer may not have too high a ceiling at the professional level, but his versatility and size keep him from having too low a floor. He'll be a borderline first-round pick when the draft rolls around.
Kyle Singler possesses a very unusual skill set because there is literally nothing that he can't do on the basketball court. Singler had the spotlight taken away from him by Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving during his senior season at Duke, but he still averaged 16.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest.
I'm not entirely sure yet where Singler will fit on an NBA squad, but I also feel confident that he will find his role. Don't expect to see him last past the first round.
During Butler's magical run back to the NCAA championship game, Shelvin Mack was absolutely unstoppable. Truthfully, he was better at scoring than any player not named Kemba Walker during the season-ending tournament, especially during his 30-point game against Pittsburgh.
One of the better guards in this draft, Mack's size and passing may keep him from rising too high up the boards, but he'll surely be taken at the end of the first round. He's too big a talent to drop into the second.
In my opinion, Nolan Smith became the single-best player in college basketball as soon as Kyrie Irving was hurt and the senior had to play on the ball. Then Kemba Walker turned on the jets and carried his team to a championship, so Smith will have to settle for being the best player during the regular season.
With a ridiculous crossover, a great shot and wonderful passing skills, Smith reminded me a lot of Kobe Bryant. If teams see that, he'll obviously move way up the boards, but Smith may have to settle for being drafted in the late 20s.
During Jordan Williams' sophomore season, the 6'10" forward for the Maryland Terrapins averaged 16.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. A virtual lock for a double-double, Williams was both big and skilled, and that's usually a deadly combination.
But that said, I felt as though Williams could have used another year back at Maryland to hone his game a little more. He would've been able to rise into the lottery, but now that's not going to happen. Williams will move into the NBA after being selected in the mid-20s.
The tall, lanky forward stands 6'10", and he can still play outside just as well as he can play inside. An All-American after the 2010-2011 season, JaJuan Johnson deserved the honor thanks to his 20.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
He's an absolute matchup nightmare for any player. Oftentimes, that is true in college, but not in the pros, but Johnson should prove to be the exception to that rule. The Purdue standout has been rising higher and higher on draft boards and may work his way into the teens before it's all said and done.
A new name to many, Bismack Biyombo has taken the NBA community by storm, especially after his 12-point, 11-rebound, 10-block triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit.
With ridiculous athleticism, a 6'9" frame and a 7'7" wingspan, Biyombo may tempt someone to take him in the top 10, but he should be an early-20s pick. Biyombo will be great on defense from the get-go, but he needs a whole lot of work on offense.
If a double-double machine was created, it would look like Kenneth Faried, but probably be a little bit taller. The rebounding stud passed Tim Duncan this season for the all-time collegiate lead in rebounds, and his ability to crash the glass should carry over from the Ohio Valley Conference to the NBA.
Faried may work his way up into the lottery if he's lucky, but a selection in the late teens or early 20s is far more likely. I'm still not convinced that he can make a big enough impact to justify that high a selection, because he's nothing more than a liability on offense.
A very talented sophomore guard for the Michigan Wolverines, Darius Morris almost managed to engineer an upset of No. 1 Duke in the NCAA tournament, but fell two points shy in the end. An incredible talent, Morris averaged 15.0 points, 6.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game during his 2010-2011 campaign.
He's shot up draft boards as we've gotten closer to the big event and now looks to be safely within the first round. There is no chance Morris is selected in the lottery, but moving into the teens is possible.
In my opinion, Chris Singleton was the best defensive player in college basketball this past year. Even though he's viewed as a defensive stopper in the same vein as Ron Artest, Singleton still managed to average 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Florida State Seminoles.
Because of his defensive prowess and offensive potential, Singleton is going to be a very appealing prospect for a bunch of NBA teams. Don't be surprised when you see this guy going right around No. 20 in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Tobias Harris managed to average 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game from the power forward spot during his freshman season for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Despite his status as a freshman, Harris was not afraid to step up in the big moments, and his game is sound across the board. He only got better as the season progressed and didn't appear to be afraid of the bright lights of March Madness.
Hoping that this progression continues for the Volunteer, NBA teams drafting around No. 20 are going to be taking long, hard looks at Harris. It's unlikely, though, that he'll move up much higher than that.
The sophomore guard and forward for the Texas Longhorns was the team's best player over the course of the 2010-2011 season. Jordan Hamilton ended up averaging 18.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and consistently used his 6'7" frame quite well throughout the year, including during the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament.
Hamilton is too talented to slip out of the teens, but he doesn't have quite enough potential to move up into the lottery portion of the first round.
Klay Thompson is making the right decision by leaving behind Washington State for far greener pastures, one of the few players that I would say that about. He stands at 6'6", but still plays guard and was the leading scorer for his team. Thompson averaged 21.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game during his junior season.
However, questions exist about his character and his quickness, the former because of a citation for marijuana possession and the latter because he's simply not that fast. Thompson could squeeze his way into the lottery, but it'll be close.
With talent and a sweet name to boot, Tyler Honeycutt is ready to make the jump to the NBA. The UCLA forward was a good all-around player, putting up 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during his sophomore season.
One of the better prospects to come out of UCLA in recent years, Honeycutt probably won't work his way into the lottery, but he won't fall out of the top 20 either. He's going to be a good player and maybe a very good one, but he's not polished enough yet for me to think of him as a great player.
The do-everything forward for the upstart San Diego State Aztecs managed to lead his team in both points and rebounds this season, with 15.5 and 10.6, respectively. He plays quite well when his head is in the game and often shows brief flashes of potential, but fails to put it together many times.
To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Kawhi Leonard, and I think he's going to go down as one of the bigger busts of this year's draft class. Leonard may manage to move up into the early teens and will most likely be a lottery pick, but I'm not that sure he deserves it.
The best player on the Georgia Bulldogs roster during the 2010-2011 college basketball season, Trey Thompkins can do it all: shoot threes, pull down rebounds, pull off incredible post moves and pass the ball effectively.
The only problems I have with Thompkins are that he often seems unmotivated and disinterested and really isn't that athletic. The positives here outweigh the negatives, though.
Thompkins' draft stock has fluctuated wildly throughout the year. I've seen him called a sure-fire top-10 pick at the beginning of the year and a second rounder later on. Now, Thompkins looks like a fringe top-10 pick once more.
Supposedly the worse of the two Morris twins, Markieff is still an incredibly talented player who should be very successful at the professional level. Markieff averaged 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a forward for Kansas and should immediately post similar stats in the NBA.
Markieff doesn't have quite as high an upside as his brother, but he has a lower floor and is a more solid player across the board. While Marcus is almost guaranteed to be selected in the lottery, Markieff's status is still up in the air. I tend to think he will be selected in the first 14 picks, thus becoming part of the first pair of twins to be selected in the lottery portion of the same NBA draft.
Jimmer Fredette has the scoring prowess to be the next superstar in the NBA, but questions abound about the rest of his game. Does he play defense? Is he quick enough to create his own shot at the next level? The list of questions goes on and on, and no one is quite sure whether he'll be a star, a bust or a role player.
Jimmer's media darling status will boost his draft stock significantly, and he could go as high as the top five, depending on how the ping-pong balls fall. He won't slip out of the lottery, though, and I would guess that he ends up with the Utah Jazz.
The 18-year-old center still has a bit of work to do before he's entirely ready to play in the NBA, but a lot of teams would love to add Jonas Valanciunas' skills to their system and look on with pride as he progresses. Already 6'11", the Lithuanian doesn't appear to be done growing yet and shows a lot of potential.
No international pick is ever safe, which makes them quite hard to predict. Valanciunas could go as high as the top five, but he could also drop out of the lottery. I expect him to go right around No. 10.
The more talented of the two twins on the Kansas Jayhawks squad, Marcus Morris is a 6'9" forward who seems to be able to beat up on anyone in the low post. He proved that time and time again throughout both the regular season and the postseason, averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
He's not as much of a sure thing as Markieff, but he has a very high ceiling. Marcus looks to be a certain top-10 pick in the upcoming draft, but he's not going to rise too much higher than that. Whoever selects him will be subscribing to the best-player-available philosophy.
Tristan Thompson is a great player inside the paint, but as soon as he steps outside the colored area, problems arise, mostly having to do with his lack of shooting ability. Thompson simply can't shoot thanks to his awkward-looking, inconsistent, high release. Even when no one guarded him, he had problems. This was quite evident in his 49-percent shooting from the foul line.
The forward averaged 13.1 points, 1.3 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game during his most recent season. He's quite athletic, though, and possesses boatloads of potential, so Thompson may be drafted as high as the top five, but he will more likely go around No. 10.
If you want a more detailed view of my thoughts on Kemba Walker, go ahead and take a look at the following article: NBA Draft 2011: 10 Bold Predictions for Kemba Walker and his Career as a Pro.
I think the guard is going to be quite excellent in the NBA, and he may go as high as the top five. Regardless, Walker is undoubtedly a lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
Formerly calling the Czech Republic home, Jan Vesely is now ready to take his talents across the Atlantic Ocean to the world's premier basketball league. Vesely is a 6'11" small forward, so he's not exactly lacking in the size department. Moreover, he's very athletic and not just a lanky, Shawn Bradley-esque big man.
No one knows exactly what to expect, though, from Vesely. He may end up being selected in the top five, and he may even fall out of the lottery. In my opinion, the former will be closer to the truth than the latter.
When the selection committee snubbed Colorado, the entire country missed out because no one really had a chance to see Alec Burks do what he does best. But I guess VCU redeemed the committee, so all is forgiven.
The sophomore guard for the Buffaloes scored 20.5 points, pulled down 6.5 rebounds per game and stands 6'6". He's got a lot going for him, and teams are starting to recognize that.
I'm more excited about Burks' potential than many other players in the draft, and while he may only be looking at a borderline top-10 selection, there's a reason that I've got him at No. 6 on this big board.
The seven-footer from Lithuania has a ton of potential, and he is fully aware of that fact. As soon as he lets his mental game catch up with his physical skills, Donatas Motiejunas has the ability to dominate no matter where he plays, much like Dirk Nowitzki.
He wouldn't be the sexiest pick in the top five of the draft, but he may turn out to be one of the best players in this year's draft class. I fully expect him to go to whichever team wins the No. 4 or No. 5 pick.
Perhaps no player in the nation improved his draft stock more at the end of the season than Brandon Knight. The talented freshman point guard for the Kentucky Wildcats may not be as good as John Wall, but his late-game magic in the NCAA tournament impressed everyone and made people realize that he's the second-best guard in this year's draft class.
Knight improved dramatically as the season went on, and teams hope that trend will continue. Don't expect him to fall out of the top five. It won't happen.
Enes Kanter was declared permanently ineligible before ever putting on the blue-and-white jersey of the University of Kentucky, but that can't take away from his potential greatness. Despite the fragility of his knees, Kanter is the best big man in the draft. The Turkish center is 6'11", strong for his size and possesses marvelous skills that he can use all over the court.
If his knees were healthy, he might go No. 1 overall, but for now, Kanter will have to settle for being the consensus No. 3 pick in the draft, behind the only two remaining prospects on this big board. There is a chance that Kanter goes No. 1 if the right team wins the lottery, though, and desperately needs a center.
The sophomore forward from Arizona was the nation's most efficient scorer, shooting well over 60 percent from the field over the course of the season. He was even in contention for the all-time three-point field-goal percentage record, but fell a bit short in the end.
Derrick Williams then took the nation by storm in the first few rounds of the NCAA tournament, as he seemed to be in on each-and-every big play at the end of games. He couldn't carry the Wildcats to a title, but he did go from relatively unheralded college prospect to highly-coveted NBA prospect in just two seasons.
Williams is either going to go at No. 1 or No. 2 depending on who wins the lottery. But in my opinion, he should be drafted second regardless of the situation.
Before a toe injury derailed his freshman season, Kyrie Irving showed a complete skill set during his brief tenure as the Duke Blue Devils' starting point guard. Then the toe troubles started, and he was forced to miss the bulk of the regular season and all of the ACC tournament.
Irving was able to return for March Madness and led his team in scoring during Duke's first game, thus eliminating any concern over his injury and readiness. The point guard continued his strong play throughout the postseason and has reascended to the top of many draft boards.
No player has the potential to be a bigger star. For that reason, Irving should be the No. 1 pick no matter whose ping-pong ball comes out first. For a complete explanation, read the following article: NBA Draft 2011: Why Kyrie Irving Should be the No. 1 Overall Pick.