Harrison Barnes could be a top pick in 2012
The 2011 NBA draft which took place last month was generally criticized for being one of the weakest drafts in recent memory (though it would be hard-pressed for this class to be any worse than the class of 2000).
Few if any of this year’s rookie crop are expected to contribute right away, much less become future perennial All-Stars in the league.
In contrast, the 2012 NBA draft figures to have one of the most talented draft pools in years, full of impact players who could drastically turn around the fortunes of a few lucky teams. That being said, it is never too early to take a look at the top prospects that will shape the 2012 NBA draft.
Of all the prospects in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick, Davis is the most intriguing.
He is a wiry 6’10” forward/center who possesses excellent versatility thanks to an unexpected eight-inch growth spurt in between his junior and senior year of high school.
Once a 6’2” shooting guard at Chicago’s Perspectives Charter, Davis vaulted up the national rankings by displaying a fluid game at both ends of the floor. His 7’4” wingspan allows him to be an elite shot blocker on the defensive end while being the perfect alley-oop target on offense.
Davis headlines a vaunted Kentucky freshman class that could deliver head coach John Calipari the first NCAA championship of his career.
If Davis comes anywhere close to living up to his potential, look for him to be an early favorite to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft.
Perry Jones III shocked many scouts and teams alike when he decided to stay at Baylor for another year, forgoing a chance to be a top-five pick in last June's draft. By doing so, Jones III may have done himself a favor, as he was far from a finished product.
Jones III was knocked at times for lacking a killer instinct and not performing up to his potential, despite being a 6'11", 220-pound mismatch. Nevertheless, he is a rare talent with legitimate NBA-size and freakish athleticism that will translate well at the next level.
With another season under his belt, he and supremely talented freshman Quincy Miller could take Baylor further than they have ever been before.
By staying another year in Chapel Hill, Harrison Barnes may end up receiving the most hardware by the end of March.
Barnes is an early favorite to win the Naismith Award given to college basketball's top player, while the Tar Heels are the favorite to win the NCAA title with the return of Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller.
The "Black Falcon" is a prototypical small forward with a reputation for being a clutch scorer and fiery competitor. Had he decided to enter his name in last June's draft, he likely would have been the No. 1 overall pick over Duke's Kyrie Irving.
In addition to all his physical talents, Barnes is a well-spoken young man with an excellent work-ethic and extremely-high basketball IQ.
With another solid year under Coach Roy Williams and possible championship under his belt, Barnes could leap into the discussion for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft as well.
Sullinger may not possess the elite athleticism and high ceiling of potential that the other top prospects enjoy, but he is a polished scorer in the paint who knows how to squeeze the most out of his ability. He benefits tremendously from being able to position his body in order to clear space inside the paint.
In addition to his burly inside game, Sullinger is blessed with soft hands that allows him to catch tough entry passes and finish with a feathery touch around the basket.
As a freshman, he led the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16 before falling to a very talented Kentucky team. Despite the disappointing finish, Sullinger was named a First Team All-American after averaging 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds.
Since the season ended, it has been reported that he has lost "10 to 15 pounds" and could conceivably lose more. If so, the 6'10" power forward could become a quicker and more potent force at the NBA level.
The son of Boston Celtics head coach Glen "Doc" Rivers is a lights-out scorer who has unlimited three-point range out to the NBA line.
Rivers has long been considered the top high school player in the nation this past season until a late push by Chicago's Anthony Davis seemed to knock him down in some scouts' eyes.
Nevertheless, few other players possess the rare combination of swagger, confidence and NBA genes that Rivers has inherited. Rivers gained national notoriety after infamously giving himself the nickname "Sub-Zero" on Twitter, which caused a stir in basketball circles.
Despite his perceived misstep, Rivers is a supremely talented player who has proven that he is more than willing to put a team on his back in order to win games.
After one year playing for Coack K at the pressure-cooker known as Duke University, Rivers will become a national sensation who will be equally hated by fans for his brashness and loved by NBA scouts for his mental toughness and determination.
When it is all and said and done, Rivers will be one of the best freshman players in Duke history, catapulting him into the conversation as one of the top players in the draft.
The "nephew" of NBA Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo has a relentless motor and drive that belies his quiet demeanor. He was named co-MVP in the McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American games, which he did in efficient albeit unspectacular fashion.
Simply put, McAdoo is not flashy but will fill- up the stat sheet at the end of the game with his ability to grab rebounds and finish plays at the rim. Some scouts believe that he will make a similar impact as Marvin Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in 2005 and Carolina alum.
McAdoo joins a loaded North Carolina team that has the potential to win it all come March. If they do, expect McAdoo to be a big reason why and make a similar jump to the top of the NBA Lottery.
After a devastating ACL injury wiped out his entire senior season, Miller is still considered to be a lock as a lottery pick in next year's draft. Although Miller is rail-thin at 6'9" 200 pounds, he more than makes up for his lack of bulk with long arms and the ability to handle the ball like a guard.
Despite being a top prospect who could have had his pick of traditional powerhouse schools, he chose instead to join high school teammate and best friend Deuce Bello at Baylor.
Teaming with fellow top prospect Perry Jones III could turn out to be a major coup for both players, as they may finally make the leap necessary to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament.
If he finds a way to fill out his thin frame, look for Miller to be a highly sought-after player who will be a star in the NBA for years to come.
Jones is as versatile as a Swiss Army knife, able to put the ball on the floor while scoring both inside and from the perimeter. But at 6'9", 244 pounds, some scouts wonder if Jones is a bit of a tweener.
Not quite big enough to play power forward in the NBA and not athletic enough to guard players on the wing.
His play seemed to decline after a red-hot start to a freshman campaign that saw Jones and fellow blue-chip Wildcat Brandon Knight take their inexperienced team all the way to the Final Four.
Despite his perceived flaws, Jones is a unique talent that will make an impact on the next level due to his ability to score in many ways. If he can elevate his game and lead a talented freshman class deep into the NCAA tournament, Jones will be a sought after commodity come draft time.
The 6'7", 205-pound Gilchrist has long been compared to former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen, as he is a lock-down defender capable of guarding every position but center.
In addition to his prowess on the defensive end, Gilchrist is a more than capable scorer as evidenced by his 16-point, 12-rebound MVP performance in the McDonald’s All-American game.
Gilchrist is the second-most talented player after Davis in Kentucky’s heralded freshman class and will likely be a key contributor to a Wildcat team poised for post season success.
Several teams will undoubtedly be intrigued by his ability to guard elite scorers on one end while being a legitimate scoring threat at the NBA level.
Beal is a silky-smooth scorer with a deadly three-point shot which led observers to anoint him the second coming of Ray Allen. At 6'4", 180 pounds, Beal has comparable size to the Boston Celtics star and is equally adept at running around the court and coming of screens.
After a stellar career at Chaminade Prep in St.Louis where he averaged 32.4 points per game during his senior season, Beal was voted as the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2011 over the likes of Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis.
By all accounts, the Florida-signee is a humble kid and tireless worker, two traits that will help him succeed on the next level.
Beal will quickly step into the starting shooting guard role at Florida and should flourish under the watchful eye of head coach Billy Donovan, who is known for getting the most out of his players.
In the right NBA system, Beal will be a potent scorer for one lucky team.