NBA Draft 2011: Kemba Walker, 5 of the Best Big East Prospects

Chris TernateCorrespondent IIJune 15, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Kemba Walker, 5 of the Best Big East Prospects

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies handles the ball against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston,
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The University of Connecticut's Kemba Walker is shaping up to be the Big East's lone first-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

    While Walker's talent and ability are undeniable, his status as the only NBA-caliber player to come out of the Big East Conference isn't.

    Players like Providence's Marshon Brooks, Marquette's Jimmy Butler and even Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough are having their names tossed around as possible picks in the second round.

    If NBA draft history has taught us anything, it's that top five picks don't guarantee anything and that even second-round picks can blossom into All-Star talent (like Dennis Rodman and Manu Ginobili).

    Here are five top prospects coming out of the Big East who could make a splash in the NBA.

Kemba Walker (Connecticut)

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after a play against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houst
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The UConn guard and NCAA Champion won the Big East Tournament MVP as well as the title of Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCAA Basketball tournament, and he also received the Bob Cousy award.

    He's clearly ready to play in the NBA, and his remarkable speed and first step only add to his list of abilities that include some precision shooting, good rebounding (especially for his size), physicality and ability to drive to the lane.

    While he may be at somewhat of a height disadvantage at 6'1", he's got more than enough talent to compensate for whatever problems his height might pose.

    Walker is the Big East's top dog.

Jimmy Butler (Marquette)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Jimmy Butler #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles drives with the ball against John Flowers #41 of the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle O
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Marquette standout Jimmy Butler will probably be drafted in the second round, but is definitely too hard to pass up altogether.

    Butler plays some seriously tight defense and can score from a lot of spots on the floor. He rebounds well, and while some say he's not a great athlete, the guy shuffles his feet, has a good motor and runs the floor well.

    Much like his Marquette predecessor Wesley Matthews, Butler might end up being worth a lot more than people make him out to be.

Marshon Brooks (Providence)

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    PROVIDENCE, RI - DECEMBER 04:  Marshon Brooks #2 of the Providence Friars runs the offense against the Rhode Island Rams at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on December 4, 2010 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
    Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    If Kemba Walker is considered the best player coming out of the Big East this draft, Providence's Marshon Brooks isn't far behind in second. 

    Brooks is a phenomenal scorer. The guy puts up big points and can drive to the lane as well as anyone else in the draft. He's got a quick first step and some ball handling ability to match.

    Long and lanky, he grabs boards which would make him a steal for a team like the Chicago Bulls, where he could thrive as a scorer they need and a long-armed defender who could fit into their defensive-minded system.

Ben Hansbrough (Notre Dame)

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 20:  Ben Hansbrough #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish communicates with teammates in the first half against the Florida State Seminoles during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on Marc
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    While he may not have the decorated background his older brother Tyler had, Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough has skills of his own.

    A gritty defender, Hansbrough's excellent gas tank only makes him more of a menace on the defensive end.

    On the offensive end, his scoring ability and shooting, which extends beyond the arc, round him out.

    He may not be the type to explode to the rim and throw it down, but he is strong enough to keep up at both ends of the floor.

Gilbert Brown (Pittsburgh)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Gilbert Brown #5 of the Pittsburgh Panthers brings the ball up court against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters  at Madison Squa
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Pitt's Gilbert Brown has shown promise. He's got some real passing ability, and because he's unselfish, this is a real plus.

    He's a good shooter, he can hit the three-point shot when he needs to and can hit his stride in the open court. He's not particularly exceptional compared to some of the others on this list, but he could definitely come off the bench as a solid role player.