Biggest Risers and Fallers of Notable NBA Prospects in College Basketball

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2020

Biggest Risers and Fallers of Notable NBA Prospects in College Basketball

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    Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

    As most college basketball fans and analysts are focused on determining their pick to win the national championship, another section of viewers are watching from an NBA draft lens.

    And over the last four months, perceptions of some top prospects have changed dramatically.

    To determine a player's stock, we're comparing his draft slot in mock drafts. While the fluctuating NBA standings can have an impact on a player's projected slot—team needs are fluid and diverse—top prospects will generally remain high in mocks.

    For this comparison, we're using the preseason and most recent first-round mock drafts from B/R draft expert Jonathan Wasserman.

Stock Up: Isaac Okoro, Auburn SF/PF

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Preseason draft slot: 11

    Current projection: 4

    While other players have enjoyed a more dramatic rise, Isaac Okoro climbing into a top-five slot is impressive.

    The major appeal for Auburn's star freshman is his defensive versatility; he'll guard just about every position with his elite athleticism. Okoro is averaging a block and a steal per game thanks to his excellent instincts and awareness.

    Okoro is a work in progress as a shooter, managing a 66.4 percent mark at the free-throw line and a 27.1 three-point clip. But if he makes progress as he ages, he'll be a great NBA player.

Stock Down: Isaiah Stewart, Washington C

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Preseason draft slot: 6

    Current projection: 28

    Production isn't the issue for Isaiah Stewart. As a freshman, he's collected 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.

    The concern, according to Wasserman, is a lack of scoring versatility, defensive range and athleticism. Stewart is connecting on 42.0 percent of two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.com, and just 22.2 percent of his 18 three-point attempts.

    Stewart is still an interesting prospect and likely to declare for the NBA draft, but his ceiling isn't as high as anticipated.

Stock Up: Devin Vassell, Florida State SF

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    Lee Luther Jr./Associated Press

    Preseason draft slot: Not listed

    Current projection: 14

    The modern NBA loves three-and-D players, and Devin Vassell is one of the best prospects in that category.

    After holding a 10-minute rotation role as a freshman at Florida State, he's earned a starting job in 2019-20. He is averaging 12.9 points with a 42.7 three-point clip while providing 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.

    Vassell will have the opportunity to keep rising in March as the Seminoles play in the NCAA tournament. 

Stock Down: Scottie Lewis, Florida SG

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    Michael Owens/Associated Press

    Preseason draft slot: 13

    Current projection: Not listed

    Pegged as a lottery pick in the preseason, Scottie Lewis has dropped substantially because of a rough year as a shooter.

    Through 26 games, the freshman is just 41.6 percent from the floor with a 34.6 clip beyond the arc. Although he's started to hit threes more consistently during SEC play, Lewis is only occasionally reaching the 10-point mark despite averaging 28 minutes.

    Lewis' defensive excellence will keep him on the first-round radar, but his offensive game needs to develop.

Stock Up: Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State PG

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    Matthew Putney/Associated Press

    Preseason draft slot: 29

    Current projection: 5

    Unfortunately for Tyrese Haliburton, he suffered a season-ending left wrist fracture in early February. Good thing he soared from a borderline first-rounder to a potential top-five pick before the injury happened.

    The sophomore guard averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 22 appearances. Despite a unique release, Haliburton shot 41.9 percent from three-point range. He's a sensational defender who finds ways to produce as a scorer and passer.

    As long as his recovery goes as planned, Haliburton will be strongly considered for teams with top-10 picks. 

Stock Down: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova PF

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Preseason draft slot: 7

    Current projection: Not listed

    Jeremiah Robinson-Earl isn't an overwhelming athlete and still isn't a great shooter. Add those negatives together, and the freshman is soundly a fringe first-rounder.

    Robinson-Earl is averaging 10.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while playing more than 30 minutes per night. His positioning on both sides of the floor is consistently good, and his 82.1 free-throw percentage suggests he can increase his range.

    Perhaps a return to Villanova in 2020-21 would put Robinson-Earl back in the lottery discussion.

Stock Up: Saddiq Bey, Villanova SF

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Preseason draft slot: Not listed

    Current projection: 15

    Saddiq Bey is an intriguing player because of his well-rounded skill set.

    Listed at 6'8" and 216 pounds, his size is ideal for a wing prospect. Bey matches the three-and-D mold yet provides a little extra offensive value. He holds a scorching 46.3 three-point percentage while dishing 2.5 assists per game.

    If Bey continues to perform well defensivelyespecially if Villanova makes a decent run in the NCAA tourneyhis NBA draft decision might not be a difficult one.

Stock Down: Cole Anthony, North Carolina PG

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Preseason draft slot: 1

    Current projection: 9

    This is not a panic alert. Cole Anthony could end up in the top five of the 2020 draft.

    But North Carolina's dreadful season has complicated his evaluation. Anthony can contribute at a high level in a variety of ways, yet he's shooting 36.4 percent with a 31.8 three-point mark and barely has more assists (59) than turnovers (57).

    Yes, he attracts more defensive attention than perhaps anyone else in the country. At some point, however, the offensive inefficiency cannot be pinned exclusively on surrounding talent.

    NBA teams face the challenge of weighing Anthony's production and upside with his disappointing year.

               

    Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com or Sports Reference, unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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