Pass/Fail Grades for Top College Basketball Players' 2015 NBA Draft Declarations
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA draft has come and gone, and as always, a handful of players made decisions that left coaches and analysts scratching their heads.
“There are guys coming out this year that I can’t believe,” Michigan State’s Tom Izzo said. “I'm thinking about coming out. I’d have just as good of a chance of getting drafted as some of these guys.”
Sadly, Izzo is probably correct.
But that doesn’t mean every decision was a poor one.
Twenty-four of the 30 players projected by DraftExpress to go in the first round of this June’s draft are underclassmen, and 14 of them are freshmen (including Emmanuel Mudiay, who spent last season overseas instead of attending college). It’s hard to knock a guy for capitalizing on the money that’s guaranteed to first-round picks.
It’s the players who have no shot at being first-round selections who seem to be making strange decisions by entering the draft. Yet even some of those situations are understandable.
Here’s a list of some of the most notable early entrants in this year’s draft, with an analysis on each along with comments from NBA scouts.
Cliff Alexander, PF, Kansas: Pass
No highly touted freshman was a bigger bust than Cliff Alexander, who never gained enough trust from Jayhawks coach Bill Self to play quality minutes. Alexander averaged just 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game before being suspended for the final eight games for potential NCAA violations involving an agent.
The No. 3-ranked player in the class of 2014 by ESPN.com still has the interest of NBA scouts, most of whom peg him as a late first-rounder. Alexander was pretty much forced to enter the draft, as the NCAA could’ve deemed him permanently ineligible. The case was never finalized.
Scout’s take: He’s undersized and restricted on offense on what he can do. He’s got a good motor and can rebound. But at 6’8”, where are you going to play him? What position does he merit?
Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia: Fail
Justin Anderson was one of the most improved players in all of college basketball, as his scoring average rose from 7.8 points per game as a sophomore to 12.2 points as a junior in 2014-15. He’s one of the key reasons the Cavaliers won a second consecutive ACC title.
A finger injury sidelined Anderson for eight games late in the season. He returned for the conference tournament but was scoreless in two games. He had just eight points in a round-of-32 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament. A 6’6” guard, Anderson is still regarded as a first-rounder.
Scout’s take: He’s one that could’ve improved his stock by staying. I don’t think his stock is high enough, especially since he struggled with injuries down the stretch. He could’ve improved his stock considerably with another summer of work.
Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky: Pass
Devin Booker averaged 10.0 points off the bench and shot 41.1 percent from three-point range as a freshman. Even though he played just 21.1 minutes per game, NBA scouts apparently saw enough to peg the 6’6” standout as a surefire first-round pick in this summer’s draft.
Nearly half (141 of 287) of Booker’s shot attempts were from beyond the arc. His size and ball-handling ability make him a tough matchup on the perimeter. Another year at Kentucky would’ve benefited Booker greatly, but first-round money is too tempting to pass up.
Scout’s take: Booker needs to go because he’s a guy that, under more scrutiny, could possibly hurt himself more than he helps himself. It seems like there’s going to be a little bit less talent at Kentucky next year. That would expose more what he can’t do instead of highlighting the things that he’s good at.
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky: Pass
After battling consistency issues during his first two seasons, admittedly because of often-lackluster effort, Willie Cauley-Stein took his game to a new level as a junior and was rewarded with first-team All-American accolades by The Associated Press. The 7’0” center averaged career highs in points (8.9) and rebounds (6.4) per game while significantly improving his performance from the foul line. Cauley-Stein made 61.7 percent of his free throws compared to the 48.2 percent he made as a sophomore.
Even though he struggled offensively at times—Cauley-Stein scored in double figures in just two of his final 14 games—the Olathe, Kansas, native was always a force on the defensive end. His ability to guard all five positions made him arguably the top defender in all of college basketball and is the main reason NBA scouts are so smitten with his potential at the next level.
Scout’s take: When he wants to play, he’s tremendous. He can block shots and run the floor and score around the basket. One knock is that people think he’s a little bit squirrely, a different type of kid. But there are a lot of those guys in the NBA. I think he competes. He wasn’t a big-time scorer at Kentucky, but he can score. I think he has all the tools. He could be special.
Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin: Pass
The Badgers small forward took his game to another level in the postseason and likely made himself a ton of money because of it.
Sam Dekker averaged 19.3 points in six NCAA tournament games and got his team to the Final Four for the second straight season. He scored 16 points in a semifinal win over previously unbeaten Kentucky but could muster only 12 in a title game loss to Duke. Still, the 6’9” Dekker made it clear that he has star potential that was often difficult to detect in Bo Ryan’s structured system.
Scout’s take: He has a chance to be a lottery pick. He’s going to show out well in workouts. He seems to be a guy who shows out better in big situations. You saw it last summer at the LeBron camp and also in this year’s NCAA tournament when Bo Ryan let him go a little bit. You saw what he’s capable of doing. Him staying another year in a tight system wouldn’t do him any justice.
Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville: Pass
Montrezl Harrell’s decision to return for his junior season in 2014-15 paid off in a huge way, as he averaged 15.7 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game for a Louisville squad that made the Elite Eight.
At 6’8” and 240 pounds, Harrell is a load to handle in the paint, not just because of his size and freakish athleticism but also because he plays with so much energy and passion. Look for the power forward to be selected in the mid-to-late first round.
Scout’s take: It was time for him to leave Louisville. Period. He’s ready.
Andrew and Aaron Harrison, PG/SG, Kentucky: Pass
The twin brothers were projected as NBA lottery picks when they entered college two years ago. Now each of them is simply hoping to get drafted. Of course, Kentucky wouldn’t have advanced to back-to-back Final Fours without the Harrison twins. It was a handful of three-pointers from Aaron Harrison in the waning seconds that helped Kentucky get by Michigan and Wisconsin en route to the 2014 title game. This year it was Andrew who came up huge down the stretch in an Elite Eight overtime win against Notre Dame.
Even though neither will be a first-rounder, it’s not difficult to understand why the Harrison brothers are ready to move on. The pressure of playing at Kentucky can be taxing, and the scrutiny of the twins has been particularly intense. Other than winning a national championship, there simply isn’t much more for them to accomplish. And their draft stocks won’t improve much, if at all, with another year of school.
Scout’s take: They are what they are. In their second year, whatever you didn’t like about them didn’t necessarily improve. They seemed to be the players they were the year before. Why not try to go out and earn some money? Maybe a different system or simply the pro game itself will be a better fit for them and their growth. If not, they can go overseas and make some good money. They did a lot of good things for Kentucky under a lot of heavy scrutiny. It was probably just time to move on.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona: Pass
Widely hailed for his freakish athleticism and leaping ability, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 boards per game as a sophomore for Pac-12 champion Arizona, which fell to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight.
Hollis-Jefferson’s offensive game is far from polished and may never be. But his quickness and length make him an excellent defender, and he’s tough to spot in the open court. Most mock drafts have the 6’7” Hollis-Jefferson going in the first round.
Scout’s take: I’m not sure that another year would’ve done much. It all comes down to whether you think he would’ve improved his shooting over another year. If he comes out and starts hitting corner threes at 38 percent, then he could really improve his stock. But if not, and he’s not even hitting the corner three or the elbow jumper at an improved rate, you’re basically getting the same player. That’s kind of what we saw this year. He was basically the same player. You’re waiting for that arc to trend upward. He had a whole entire year to improve on it, and there was little improvement. He’s a guy that was hardly trending up after a year. So now it’s time to see what the pros and the D-League can do for him.
R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State: Fail
R.J. Hunter made one of the biggest shots of the 2015 NCAA tournament when he swished a 25-foot three-pointer in the waning seconds to beat No. 3 seed Baylor in the round of 64. The basket earned him national attention, partly because his father, Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, fell off his chair while celebrating the moment. (Ron Hunter had torn his Achilles the previous week.)
Still, even though he averaged 19.7 points on the season and scored more than 1,800 points in his three-year career, the 2014-15 campaign was frustrating at times for R.J. Hunter—mainly because he’s a three-point specialist who connected on just 30.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Scout’s take: I think he should’ve stayed another year and gotten stronger. We were just starting see his potential. But with his shooting percentages and his consistency throughout the season—obviously he was a media darling—but there’s a difference between tantalizing and delivering. He was closer to tantalizing. Him leaving tells me that either the program wasn’t going to be as strong next year or that he’s not all that confident he’s going to improve significantly enough to improve his draft stock.
Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky: Pass
The 7'0", 255-pound Dakari Johnson is a potential first-rounder who often got lost in a sea of Kentucky big men. He played just 16.3 minutes per game and averaged only 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. He saw only eight minutes of action against both Notre Dame (in the Elite Eight) and Wisconsin (Final Four) and went scoreless in both contests.
A bruiser who knows how to use his wide frame for offensive rebounds and easy putbacks, Johnson probably wouldn’t have benefited much from coming back. There’s a chance he could go in the first round, but it would be late.
Scout’s take: He is what he is. He’s still really young. His decision is fine. He’s going to improve at the same rate in the pros as he would’ve in another year at Kentucky.
Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona: Pass
For the most part, Stanley Johnson lived up to the enormous hype that preceded his arrival at Arizona. He led the Wildcats in scoring as a freshman with 13.8 points a game and was a key reason Sean Miller’s squad won the Pac-12 and advanced to the Elite Eight for the second straight year. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds a game and shot a respectable 37.5 percent from three-point range.
The air of braggadocio with which Johnson plays can be both helpful and hurtful at times, but overall, NBA executives prefer players with confidence and swagger. An explosive wing, Johnson is generally regarded as the top small forward in this year’s class along with Duke’s Justise Winslow.
Scout’s take: A lot of people are comparing him to Justise Winslow, simply because they’re the top two prospects in the draft at that position. Johnson is a little more polished on the perimeter than Winslow, but Winslow may be a little tougher. He’s still learning how to play hard. He’s a little better out on the perimeter than Winslow, whereas Winslow is more effective closer in. He’s got a better handle, but he might not always play as hard. I think he and Winslow are both top-10 picks.
Tyus Jones, PG, Duke: Pass
The Blue Devils point guard ended the season by scoring 23 points in Duke’s victory over Wisconsin in the NCAA title game, a performance that earned him Most Outstanding Player honors at the Final Four. After that, what’s left to accomplish?
Tyus Jones proved during his one season in Durham that he’s capable of doing it all offensively, whether it’s scoring (11.8 points per game) or dishing to an open teammate (5.8 assists). His defense needs work, and he’s a bit undersized at 6’1”, but that hasn’t been a detriment thus far.
Scout’s take: He’s a guy that absolutely had to enter because his stock is never going to be any higher.
Trevor Lacey, SG, North Carolina State: Fail
Trevor Lacey began his career at Alabama but transferred to North Carolina State following his freshman season. Lacey clearly made the most of his redshirt year in 2013-14, because he was on fire for most of this season, when he sparked the Wolfpack to the Sweet 16 by averaging a team-high 15.7 points along with 3.5 assists per game.
Still, Lacey’s decision to enter the draft is a bit puzzling. He has no chance of being selected in the first round, and had he returned, Lacey would’ve been a part of one of college basketball’s top backcourts along with Cat Barber.
Scout’s take: I think he may have had age concerns, because he transferred after a year at Alabama, so he was basically going to be a senior even though he was going to be a junior eligibility-wise. He could’ve gone either way. He showed enough talent where I could see him getting picked mid-to-late second round, or he’d be a great steal for someone if he goes undrafted. You can develop him into a point guard. He shows enough tools and savvy. There’s something there.
Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA: Pass
The 6’9” Kevon Looney was one of the country’s top freshmen for most of his lone season at UCLA before fizzling down the stretch, when he reached double figures just once in his final five games.
Still, Looney’s 2014-15 totals (11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game) would be considered solid for any player, let alone a freshman. A likely lottery pick, Looney may have as much upside as any player in this year’s draft.
Scout’s take: People are talking about him a lot. He can shoot out away from the basket. His mechanics are really good, and when defenders charge at him, he can head-fake and get to the rim really well for a guy his size. He’s not an exceptional athlete and has really high hips, which can make him look a bit awkward. But he hustles his tail off and is able to produce by simply outworking people sometimes. His 7'3" wingspan makes him tough defensively. There is plenty to like.
Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky: Fail
Trey Lyles—the 10th-ranked player in the class of 2014 by 247Sports—was solid but rarely spectacular during his lone season for the Wildcats. The sophomore small forward averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, but it’s hard for anyone to stand out when surrounded by so many NBA-caliber players.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said before the season that Lyles was good enough to be the No. 1 pick in this summer’s draft. That’s not going to happen. But the 6’10” Lyles, who may have played out of position at times in Lexington, is still a surefire first-rounder and a potential lottery pick.
Scout’s take: I like Trey. But the more I watch him, the more I feel like, if he’d gone back for one more year and been given a starring role, he could’ve been more of a key guy. He could’ve had a Karl-Anthony Towns role if he’d gone back and solidified himself as a top-five to -seven pick. Right now he’s probably at the back end of the lottery. Is it a poor decision to enter the draft? No. Could he have helped his stock significantly with another year? Yes.
Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, PFs, LSU: Pass
It says a lot about the state of LSU basketball that Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin left school months before the arrival of No. 1 overall recruit Ben Simmons and high-profile guard Antonio Blakeney. Even though many would’ve pegged the Tigers as a Top 15-caliber team, Martin and Mickey were clearly not interested in another year of underachieving in Baton Rouge. Heck, Mickey is leaving despite being projected as a late-second-round pick.
Both players have traits that pique the interest of NBA scouts. That’s especially the case with Martin, a 6’10” forward who averaged a team-high 16.9 points along with 9.2 rebounds per game. Mickey scored 15.5 points a game while leading LSU in boards (9.8) and blocks (3.6). Mickey is listed at 6’8”, but it’s believed that he’s closer to 6’7”, which is among the main reasons he’s projected as a second-rounder.
Scout’s take: It doesn’t seem like they have any confidence that they were going to develop any further at LSU. They are through with LSU. There was no reason for them to come back. They made good decisions to see how their game translates at the next level with coaches who know how to use them more effectively.
Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke: Pass
Tabbed as the likely No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft before he ever played a college game, Jahlil Okafor did nothing during his lone season at Duke to squelch enthusiasm about his professional future. An old-school, back-to-the-basket post player, Okafor’s offensive skill set in the paint made him unstoppable at times while he led the Blue Devils to the NCAA title. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while shooting 66.4 percent from the field.
Even though Okafor lost the Associated Press National Player of the Year battle to Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, he and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns are still widely considered the top two prospects in this summer’s draft.
Scout’s take: I think he’ll go No. 1. You put him in an open floor and take away the double-team—he’s going to be downright scary. His hands and the way he passes out of the post are some of the things that impress me the most. It’s kind of like Shaq when he was at LSU versus Shaq when he got to the pros. They didn’t double-team him. They couldn’t.
Okafor could be the same way. You put him in an open floor and isolate him to a two-man or a three-man game and put him on the block and just allow him to get space and position. I think he could be unbelievable. He’s so skilled. He’s a lot more mature as a player than most guys at that age. He also played against better competition than Towns. The ACC was much better than the SEC, so we’ve seen Okafor excel against the very best.
Kelly Oubre Jr., SF, Kansas: Pass
If the Jayhawks wing is drafted in the lottery, it will be based on his potential—not his performance at Kansas. Kelly Oubre Jr. could hardly get off the bench during the first month of the season before becoming a key contributor near the end of nonconference play. He certainly had some good spurts, including one stretch when he reached double figures in seven of eight games. But Oubre faded down the stretch for a Kansas squad that lost to Wichita State in the round of 32.
Oubre’s length and outside shooting touch make him an enticing prospect. And he’s not afraid to attack the paint. While another year at Kansas would’ve benefited him greatly, it’s not difficult to understand Oubre’s decision to cash in while his name is hot.
Scout’s take: He’s one of the biggest enigmas in the draft. You don’t know what he’s going to end up being. You don’t know who he is as a person or as a worker. You don’t know what he’s going to bring day-to-day or on game day. If the answers to all of those questions are negative, then it’s probably good he entered the draft before that stuff gets exposed. Someone is going to take a chance on him in the lottery. Could he slide to No. 21 or No. 22? For sure. But I’m not sure if another year would’ve changed that. I’m not sure he’d come back and show us something that we already haven’t seen.
Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State: Pass
Cameron Payne may have been the most underrated basketball player in the country in 2014-15. He averaged 20.2 points and 6.0 assists per game for a squad that went 29-6 overall and 16-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. He shot 45.6 percent from the field, an impressive stat considering he attempted 15.3 field goals per game.
Many scouts and pundits have pegged the 6’2” Payne as one of the sleepers in this year’s draft. He’s expected to be a first-round pick.
Scout’s take: I think Cameron Payne has a chance to be really good if he gets stronger. He’s got the lower-body strength. But if he gets the upper-body strength, he could really be good. He could be like the kid Elfrid Payton but a better shooter.
Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas: Pass
He may not have received the same hype and exposure as his foes at Kentucky, but Bobby Portis was one of the top post players in college basketball in 2014-15. The 6’11” sophomore averaged 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 53.6 percent from the field.
Arkansas made its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008 thanks to Portis, who has a bit of an unorthodox shot, although that hardly seems to affect his efficiency. Most draft boards have him pegged as a mid-to-late first-rounder.
Scout’s take: You never saw the year-over-year improvement with him. Considering his improvement basically flatlined, in that case, it’s worth seeing what he can do in an NBA developmental program. Not pointing any fingers at Arkansas, but he shows enough tools and talent where you want to see what he can do in a different program, a different system.
Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville: Fail
Rick Pitino knew Terry Rozier would get better in 2014-15, but the Hall of Fame coach probably didn’t envision his star guard averaging 17.1 points per game, more than a 10-point increase from the previous season. Rozier (along with forward Harrell) is the main reason the undermanned Cardinals overachieved in the postseason by reaching the Elite Eight.
The 6’1” Rozier makes use of his quickness and athleticism to beat opposing defenders off the dribble, and his energy and fire helped him average 5.6 rebounds per contest. Still, Rozier is projected as a second-rounder. Another year at Louisville would’ve done him some good.
Scout’s take: I think he made a poor decision. He needs another year of running the point. He’s a physical specimen, but he’s not truly a basketball player yet. He’s not a scorer, and he’s not a point guard. He’s a physical, talented guy who works hard and is a good kid. He averaged a lot of points, but a lot of that was just him being more athletic than his man. Getting away from college as a 6’2” shooting guard, I’m not sure that he’s going to be able to get away with as much. I’ve heard people compare him to Dwyane Wade, but his wingspan is four inches shorter and he’s three inches smaller than Wade. And he doesn’t have the touch around the basket that Wade has. I wanted to see more of him in college.
D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Ohio State: Pass
No player in college basketball was as big of a surprise in 2014-15 as D'Angelo Russell, who blossomed into the nation’s top point guard as a freshman. It’s not that people didn’t expect big things from Russell, a McDonald’s All-American who was ranked No. 13 in the class of 2014 by ESPN.com. At 6’4” and 180 pounds, Russell possess size and length that are ideal for the NBA. Still, the speed with which he rose to dominance caught some people (perhaps even his coaches) off guard.
Russell set team highs in points (19.3) and rebounds (5.6) per game, and he ranked second in assists (5.1).
Scout’s take: He’s ready right now. He’s strong. I hear people say he can’t beat people off the dribble. I’ve seen him beat people off the dribble. He’s got a great feel for the game. There’s no question he was the best point guard in college basketball last year. I can’t see him slipping out of the top five, if not the top three.
J.P. Tokoto, SG, North Carolina: Fail
Perhaps no underclassman in this year’s draft made a more head-scratching decision by leaving early than J.P. Tokoto, who may not get drafted at all. That’s not to say that Tokoto is a poor player. Far from it, actually. The stat-sheet-filler averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game for a Tar Heels squad that reached the Sweet 16.
North Carolina, though, may open the 2015-16 campaign as the No. 1-ranked squad in America. Common sense would assume Tokoto would want to remain in Chapel Hill and be a part of something special. Instead, he made what appears to be an ill-advised decision.
Scout’s take: It’s ridiculous he’s leaving. I’ve heard he didn’t think he was developing there, but if he was that upset, he should’ve just gotten his degree this summer and transferred.
Karl-Anthony Towns, PF/C, Kentucky: Pass
Towns was underwhelming during nonconference play, but a strong second half and a stellar postseason thrust him into the mix for the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft. While Duke’s Okafor may be a bit more polished, some NBA executives believe Towns has a bigger upside.
At 6’11” and 250 pounds, Towns has incredible mobility and athleticism for someone inside. Even though he needs to increase his lower-body strength, he’s a power player down low who fights for offensive rebounds and putbacks and rarely has his shot blocked. But he can also handle the ball away from the paint and is a threat to score from just about anywhere. Towns’ upbeat attitude, leadership and maturity will leave an impression on the NBA coaches and general managers who interview him.
Scout’s take: Okafor may be more ready to make an immediate impact in the NBA, but Towns might have the bigger upside. There’s a chance he could go No. 1. It just depends on who has the pick. Towns grew up as a perimeter-oriented power forward, so he can handle the ball away from the basket and get tough and muscle up down low. Defensively, he’s big and strong enough to guard a center and versatile enough to guard all types of power forwards. Personality-wise, he’s the kind of guy you want to be an ambassador for your team. It’s just an added bonus for an already-great prospect. People look at the Kentucky guys, see they only played 18 to 20 minutes and say, "What’s he going to do if he played 25 or 32 minutes? How much more productive is he going to be?"
Myles Turner, PF, Texas: Pass
The No. 6-ranked player in the class of 2014 by 247Sports had a disappointing freshman season, as he was unable to crack the starting lineup for a Texas squad that grossly underachieved. Granted, Turner was still named Big 12 Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. But his numbers could’ve been much higher. Turner just never seemed to fit in with the team or the system. That’s not to say there’s not plenty still to like about the 7-footer.
Turner has an excellent outside shooting touch for a player of his size and is an exceptional shot-blocker. It’s understandable how an NBA team could fall in love with him because of his potential.
Scout’s take: As a tall guy that is a shot-blocker and shows a good jump shot, it was a good decision to enter the draft. I don’t see how his stock would’ve improved much in the next year. There may have been a bigger risk that it would’ve fallen. Stretch bigs that can defend are enough of a commodity that it was worth committing to the draft.
Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV: Pass
At 6’6” and 210 pounds, Rashad Vaughn has the ideal measurements for an NBA shooting guard. The tools are there, too, as Vaughn averaged 17.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a freshman at UNLV. He shot 43.9 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three-point range.
Although some will say he’s not ready for the NBA and needs more seasoning, Vaughn was pegged as a one-and-done before he ever set foot on UNLV’s campus. His departure is hardly a shock to the Runnin’ Rebels staff.
Scout’s take: In some ways, I think he’s doing himself a little bit of a disservice, but I also think he’ll show out well in workouts. I think that, had he done another year, he would’ve been able to work on his body and his game and strengthen his knee. He would’ve been able to prove why he was such a hot prospect entering school. On the other side, UNLV is a program where there’s a concern about their ability to develop players when you look at Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch and all the other talent that has underachieved. It just hasn’t been a great platform for jump-starting your career. Rashad Vaughn and his people feel like he’ll make more improvement in the pros, even if he’s not playing, than he will in one more year at UNLV.
Justise Winslow, SF, Duke: Pass
Not many players elevated their draft stocks in the NCAA tournament as much as Justise Winslow, who averaged 16.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in his final five games to lead Duke to the NCAA title. Winslow, who averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 boards on the season, was generally regarded as the top defensive small forward in all of college basketball. At 6’6” and 225 pounds, his bulk and strength can be intimidating to opposing ball-handlers, and offensively he’s able to drive to the hoop and score through contact. Winslow also shot 41.8 percent from three-point range.
He’s the son of Ricky Winslow, a member of Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma fraternity who had a lengthy career overseas.
Scout’s take: Winslow is one tough SOB. He plays with s--t in his blood. There wasn’t a better perimeter defender in America this season. I thought he was Duke’s best player the last month of the season. He’s a top-10 guy, maybe top five. He’s not an elite shooter, although he’s certainly not bad. And he needs to get a little bit better at improvising with the ball in his hands. Still, there’s not a lot there not to like.