Nov 8, 2011, 2:31 PM EDT
For all the hype about one-and-done players and the impact on the college game, there aren’t that many of them. Last season there were just three taken in the first round (Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Tristan Thompson). The year before that had four, the season before that two. That’s nine in the past three years, for those scoring at home.
But the 2012 NBA Draft (in whatever form it takes) could be different. This is a very deep, very talented freshman class around the nation and a number of players could jump to the NBA after one season.
Chad Ford put together a top 10 at ESPN, and we compared that to the Draft Express 2012 mock draft (yes, it’s way too early but it’s a ranking) to come up with a list of nine guys to watch. All guys that could go in the first round next year.
Not all of these guys will make the jump, and the big board of prospects will shift as the college season starts, but these are the guys to keep an eye on. (The order is based on the DraftExpress prospect rankings, the reviews come from several sources but particularly DraftExpress.)
Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Scouts get excited when a legitimate big man prospect comes through, and that is what you have with Davis. He is 6’10”, with a 7’4” wingspan at 220 pounds. He can defend and rebound well. He needs offensive polish, but scouts think the fundamentals are there. Right now he’s the No. 1 pick if he comes out.
Andre Drummond, Connecticut: He is a real NBA center at 6’11” and weighing more than 250 pounds, plus he is wildly athletic for his size. He has the most potential of anyone in the draft, but there are questions about his passion and aggressiveness. That gives scouts pause, but if he can really tap that potential he could go to the top slot. He’s top 3 on everyone’s board right now.
Quincy Miller, Baylor: Everybody watches Baylor to see Perry Jones (with good reason), but Miller is the other forward and a balance to him. Miller is more a big (6’9”) small forward with an outside touch. He is coming off a torn ACL last year, so people will be watching to see how that impacts him.
James McAdoo, North Carolina: Very polished forward (6’8”) with a very high basketball IQ. He is likely going to be a good NBA 4 for a number of years.
Michael Gilchrist, Kentucky: A swingman/forward (6’7″) who can drive and fishish, a guy who you’ll enjoy watching because he plays with a lot of flair and energy. He’ll be all over sports center. What he needs is a jump shot to go with everything else.
Bradley Beal, Florida: He’s a two-guard who can flat out shoot — from the three, the midrange, and he can create his own shot doing it (think Eric Gordon). If he can prove he can do this consistently in college he will go in the first round because everybody needs a shooter.
Austin Rivers, Duke: He plays like a coaches son (Doc, of the Celtics) — he’s a point guard who is plays with a high IQ and does everything well. He’s not going to blow people away in workouts with his athleticism, but he is smart and steady and that can get you a long way in the NBA.
Adonis Thomas, Memphis: He’s smart and athletic, but at 6’7” he’s not really an NBA four even though that’s more his style of game. If he can develop a consistent midrange jumper and some handles, he becomes more valuable. Even with that, he’s still a likely first round guy because of his high hoops IQ.
Marquis Teague, Kentucky: He’s the younger (and most think better) brother of Jeff Teague, the PG the Hawks don’t play enough. Marquis is very fast and will have the chance to really impress scouts on a loaded Kentucky team, but like his brother he needs a more consistent jumper.
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