NBA Draft 2011: 10 NCAA Players Who Could Win Rookie of the Year

Lake CruiseAnalyst IJune 16, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: 10 NCAA Players Who Could Win Rookie of the Year

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils calls a play in the second half while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in C
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Depending on which teams draft them, former NCAA players like Nolan Smith could make a Michael Phelps-sized splash in the NBA's talent pool.  Trust me—things could go swimmingly for some of the rookies coming into the NBA from this crop of college players. 

    This year's talent pool is well above average in my estimation and professional teams should be licking their proverbial chops.  Join me and chop it up through this slideshow for an entertaining dose of much-coveted fun.

    I present you with 10 players who have the talent to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. 

    Roll graphics, but, before you do—please, no comments about Nolan Smith being in the Illuminati.  He's calling a play in this photograph—not showing allegiance to evil. 

    Now, roll graphics, please.

10. Chris Singleton: The Human Dunking Drill

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 25:  Chris Singleton #31 of the Florida State Seminoles goes to the basket against Jamie Skeen #21 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the southwest regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on Mar
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Singleton's arms seem so long they could wrap around an old oak tree, and he uses his length for offense, defense and monster mashes—like this dunking drills video, courtesy of YouTube.

    A huge and defensive-minded small forward, Singleton is smooth from three-point range.  

    He was FSU's leader last year and if he gets with the right team and gets enough minutes, I'm projecting him to be in the talk for taking the Rookie of the Year award—largely due to his defense.

9. Marcus Morris: He's a 6'8" Former Jayhawk, Who Says He Can Score a Lot

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27:  Markieff Morris #21 and Marcus Morris #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks react during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    How do we know it's Marcus?  We don't.  They could pull a Canseco brothers in the NBA.

    Marcus could be Markieff.  According to the Morris twins, Markieff is the taller of the two.  He measured at 6'10," with the same wingspan at the NBA Combine in Chicago.

    He compared himself to Lamar Odom and LaMarcus Aldridge, which could be a bit ambitious, but we'll see.  He's a very humble young man, though, seriously. 

    I believe his brother, Marcus, will be in the running for the ROY.  But, how do we know it's Marcus if they aren't in the same room?  Please, give it a rest. 

    Here's a clip of him comparing his game to Carmelo Anthony's or Paul Pierce's.

8. Jordan Hamilton: The Native Californian Represents Vaunted Dominguez High

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    GREENSBORO, NC - DECEMBER 18:  Jordan Hamilton #3 of the Texas Longhorns against Reggie Bullock #35 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at Greensboro Coliseum on December 18, 2010 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    As a Compton, California Dominguez senior, Hamilton was thought to have the skills for the NBA.  He spent two very productive seasons at Texas before declaring for the draft.

    Hamilton led the Longhorns in scoring (18.6) last season and was one of the best bucket-getters in the Big 12.  Several players from the Big 12 will probably be drafted, and Hamilton could go before them all.

7. Alec Burks: The Best Scorer Some Boulder, Colorado Residents Have Ever Seen

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 11:  Alec Burks #10 of the Colorado Buffaloes drives with the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks during their semifinal game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 11, 2011 in Kansas City
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Burks led the Big 12—now the Big 10—in scoring (20.5).  He can shoot from deep, defend and elevate for ferocious dunks.

    Only a sophomore, he left Colorado as one of the most prolific scores the campus ever claimed as their own. 

    He used and abused a lot of Big 12 defenses, and he can do it in the NBA.

6. Derrick Williams: The Former Arizona Wildcat Could Take a Team to a Title

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats dunks the ball against the Duke Blue Devils during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The sweat flies off Williams when he dunks in a game.  After his performance against Duke, the talk began about him being a possible lottery pick in the draft.

    Cleveland could shock the world and take Williams over Kyrie Irving, or end up with both.  Minnesota has the No. 2 pick, and they could take a center.

5. JaJuan Johnson: A Superbly Talented Player Who Flies Under the Radar

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 20:  JaJuan Johnson #25 of the Purdue Boilermakers looks to pass against Ed Nixon #50 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the second half during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on Marc
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    JaJuan Johnson is a wiry strong and smooth 6'10" former Purdue post player who has seasoned NBA power forward game in the body of a young All-American baller. 

    With more moves on the low blocks than a young Tim Duncan, in my estimation, Johnson is destined for All-Star status someday in the NBA. 

    The senior All-American has a sweet 15-foot jumper, and he can sink contested shots by leaping over defenders in the lane.  He also sank 15 three-point shots last season in leading the Big Ten in scoring (20.5).  After last season, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

    Tim Duncan with more hop is how I describe Johnson's offense. 

    JaJuan is flying under the radar, but not under the rim in this draft.  No matter where he's drafted, though, he's a legitimate early candidate for best rookie.

4. Nolan Smith: The NBA Runs Through His Veins

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball upcourt while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte,
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Nolan's father—the late Derek Smith—was a very talented NBA player.  After he died in 1996, his funeral was attended by many professional players.

    Nolan was eight years old when his father died, and actually witnessed it on a cruise ship.  According to him, Smith draws inspiration from a tattoo of his father.  Nolan starred for Duke and became one of the best point guards in the nation.

    If Shaq is the Big Fundamental, Smith is the Small Fundamental.  Listed at 6'2", he'll be a combination guard in the NBA—if the coach knows what he's doing.  Smith doesn't do anything in outstanding fashion, but he does everything well on the court.

    After four years in the ACC, his game is complete.  NBA opponents had better be ready for the second coming of Mr. Smith.

3. Jimmer Fredette: Fret Not, He Has Enough NBA Talent and Works Very Hard

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 03:  Jimmer Fredette of BYU receives the 2011 Naismith Trophy Presented by AT&T from David Christopher of AT&T during the NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Program on April 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  Joining them on stage are Eric Oberman
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    At BYU, Fredette was the No. 1 scorer in Division I last season.  The Naismith Award winner for best college baller, Fredette has still heard questions surrounding his ability to drive through the lane and score.

    His savvy shooting ability on the run, though, makes him a dangerous player in NBA paints.  He'll learn how to score in the lane.  Stay in your lane if you're hating on him.

    Speaking of being hated on—in discussing Fredette, John Stockton's game comes to mind.  In my projections, if Fredette goes to Utah at No. 3, then the race for the ROY could be over. 

    With the Jazz, I believe, Fredette will get a chance to play a lot of minutes.  He could be thirsty to prove the questions people had about him wrong. 

    Becoming the next John Stockton could be on his agenda.   

2. Kemba Walker: Kemba 'Slice' Seemingly Walks Through Defenses

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Kemba Walker (R), guard for the Connecticut Huskies walks with Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees after he throws out the first pitch before the game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    By the time his rookie season ends, Kemba Walker could seriously end up seducing a defender into breaking his own ankle trying to guard him.

    I saw it almost seriously happen with the game tied and the clock running out against Pittsburgh in last season's Big East Championship game.

    Walker's dribble was so seductive that it caused the big man guarding him to tumble, in an awkward manner, to the floor.  The slow motion replay from the reverse angle really shows the defender's ankle twisting, touching the wood.

    UConn won the Big East Tournament, and the legend of Kemba "Slice" Walker was just beginning.  By the way, you heard the nickname Kemba "Slice" here first.  Shout out to Kimbo. 

    Kemba—emphasis on the a—is the real "Slice."

1. Kyrie Irving: He Could Hear His Name Mentioned Alongside Chris Paul's a Lot

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Irving led the United States team in scoring as they beat Brazil for the gold medal last summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

    He left Duke to enter the draft after an injury-plagued freshman season, but Irving is still considered to be a lottery pick by most NBA insiders.

    Scout.com listed him as the No. 2 player in the 2010 national high school class—second to Harrison Barnes.  Irving could better Barnes by being the No. 1 pick in the NBA's 2011 draft.

    Point guards have the advantage for Rookie of the Year—the way I see it.  They naturally have the ball more than any other position, and Irving could start, for example, in Cleveland.

    I could have started alongside Michael Jor ... never mind.  Keep us in mind, though, and continue to log on at this same channel for the next version of Lake's Rook Report.