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NBA Draft: Stock Watch

Thu, 02/25/2010 - 4:35am

Rising

As the conference portion of the schedule winds down and league tournaments are set to begin,
for prospects, the importance of each game rises. Injuries are beginning to mount and attrition is starting to factor in. With March just four days away, here is a look at who has risen and fallen over the past few weeks over the college landscape:

Luke Babbitt 6-8 220 SF/PF Nevada So.

Luke BabbittLuke BabbittLuke Babbitt has been as productive as any player on the West Coast this year and some scouts feel he is the top West Coast prospect for this year's draft.

The Pac-Ten offers little competition with Quincy Pondexter, who's considered an early second rounder. Babbitt's stiffest competition comes from fellow WAC forward Paul George, or teammate Armon Johnson, both of whom have elite level athleticism.

Babbitt is all over the board among teams, but one scout recently had this to say about him, "I think he's a kid that a lot of people are sleeping on. When you get to the late lottery area, he's a guy that you have to start considering. He's a hard-nosed kid who knows how to score. I see him as a 4 and I think he's got the size and toughness to play inside."

Babbitt has been extremely productive and consistent this year averaging 21.6 ppg and 9.7 rpg. His 51% fg and 90% ft show what a tremendous shooting touch he has.

He is even heating up from outside knocking down eight 3 pointers over his past 5 games at a 44% clip. He's also over 40% from 3 on the year.

The concerns with Babbitt are mostly related to his position. Is he a 3 or a 4? Does he have the foot speed to defend on the perimeter? Is he big, strong and athletic enough to battle inside?

With the success of a number of smaller "tweener" forwards such as Eduardo Najera and Linus Kleiza in recent years, scouts appear willing to give Babbitt the benefit of the doubt.

Depending on how he finishes the year, look for Babbitt to find a spot in the mid-to-late first round on draft night.

Xavier HenryXavier Henry Xavier Henry 6-6 220 SG Kansas Fr.

After hitting a mid-season wall and starting off Big 12 play in a major funk, Xavier Henry has broken out in a major way.

His first 8 games of conference play he averaged 7.8 ppg on 29% (20-68 fg) shooting. Over the past 5, Henry is averaging 18 ppg on 53% (32-60 fg) shooting.

You could definitely say the X-Man is back to his early season form.

Scouts are particularly infatuated with his outside shooting (54-134 3p, 40%), something that is unusual to find in such a physical player.

Henry has tremendous body strength which allows him to fight for rebounds and overpower opponents around the basket.

The one real weakness scouts point to in his game is his ability to create shots off the dribble. He lacks an explosive first step to get by defenders, allowing opponents to crowd him on the perimeter.

But his catch and shoot and slashing ability, along with his potential, makes him an intriguing talent.

With a strong February, Henry has seen his stock rise from a mid-to-late first rounder to once again being projected in the late lottery.

The Jayhawks have the talent and experience to cut down the nets in Indianapolis in April. A National Championship would certainly boost the stock of Henry's as well as his teammates.


DeMarcus Cousins 6-11 280 PF/C Kentucky Fr.

DeMarcus CousinsDeMarcus CousinsDeMarcus Cousins has been the most dominant post player in the nation this year, which is amazing considering he's just a freshman. Even in this day and age of college ready recruits, freshmen bigmen are not supposed to do that.

"DC" is averaging 16.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg. His stats are particularly impressive considering he gets those numbers in limited minutes (22.4 mpg). His per 40 minutes numbers are a staggering: 28.8 ppg, 18.0 rpg.

Cousins rolls out of bed with a double double, and recently, points are becoming the harder stat line for him to ensure the double digits on. It's probably important to note that if he received more time, his per 40 minute numbers wouldn't be quite as high due to conditioning.


Despite not being a good leaper, Cousins' rebounding ability is his greatest asset. He has tremendous strength, quick reflexes, excellent hands and a huge wingspan allowing him to snatch any board in his area. He also shows a real desire and natural ability to rebound the ball.

His other great strength is his ability to finish after contact, in particular after being fouled. He adjusts quickly and is able to locate and finish around the basket extremely well.

Some have gone so far as to call him a potential #2 pick and explore the possibility of teammates (he and Wall) going 1-2 in this years draft for the first time ever.

So why isn't Cousins projected as a top 3 pick? One scout when asked about Cousins chances of going top 5 texted me this (over a week ago):

"No way. mental issues. he is on bigtime meds i hear. not athletic enough for me talent wise also.but he has been great last month..."

That same scout has since stated that he thinks Cousins will probably go "very high" in the draft, but says he wouldn't touch him in the top five for fear of off court issues. But he thinks he could easily go that high depending on what teams find in background checks and the validity of the "meds" rumor.

Coach Calipari has been outspoken about the fact that Cousins is still very immature emotionally. His body language is often extremely immature, showing frustration with teammates when they fail to get him the ball or make mistakes. He also shows an unwillingness to be coached. He has been seen tuning out Coach Cal when he gives him advice during games.

Cousins' cell phone number got out before the Mississippi State game and students bombarded him with calls and texts. At one point during the Mississippi State game Cousins made light of the situation. After converting on a dunk, he raised his hand to his ear as if talking on the phone. Cousins got the last laugh as Kentucky won the game in overtime, and just as important, he didn't get baited into any damaging conduct in response to the rowdy fans.

Cousins has had three separate incidents this year involving throwing elbows (amazingly none of which drew an ejection or suspension for a game). The first was against Louisville (Jan 2nd) as he threw an elbow at Louisville's Jared Swopshire while scrambling on the floor for a loose ball. After Kentucky's loss to South Carolina (Jan 26th), it was reported that Cousins threw "uppercuts" at a South Carolina student as the fans rushed the court. The third was (Jan 30th) against Festus Ezeli as Cousins threw a stiff forearm shiver to the chin of Ezeli. Cousins was also kicked off his Erwin high school team as a sophomore for punching an assistant coach.

Labeled a "thug" by some, Cousins' apparent mean streak is both a positive and a negative. If he can channel it, he can draw from it and use it on the floor. But it could easily derail him if he allows his temper to get the best of him in an on or off court altercation.

Whether or not Cousins can get NBA teams to look past his mental and emotional issues is probably his biggest hurdle, as he's certainly been playing like a top 3 pick on the court.

The original "DC", Derrick Coleman is best remembered for being an immensely talented player that wasted his talent. Hopefully the "New DC" will be able to fulfull his.

Evan Turner 6-7 205 SG/SF Ohio St. Jr.

Evan TurnerEvan TurnerSince returning from his back injury Turner has been nothing short of sensational. He's brought the Buckeyes back into the Big 10 title hunt with a 12-3 record. They were 3-3 in his absence.

How much has Turner been dominating? Turner is leading the Big 10 in scoring (19.5) AND rebounding (9.3) and ranks second in assists (5.3) and steals (1.9). Former Buckeye and current CBS analyst Clark Kellogg would call that a "stat sheet stuffer".

He's also made it clear that the National POY award is his to lose, as he's distanced himself from the pack in the race for that honor.

In early February against Iowa he matched his career high 32 points, which he set earlier in the season vs Purdue.

He's also shown an unselfishness that has been extremely advantageous for the team, getting others such as William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler involved in the offense.

Although Ohio State lost their rematch with Purdue, their victory over Michigan State combined with Robbie Hummel's knee injury could make the Buckeyes the team to beat in the Big 10.

Detractors, at least the ones that are left, complain that he's too ball dominant and struggles to score away from the ball. His outside shooting has been erratic and he still must improve from 3 point land (26% ft). But there's so much to love about his offensive skills, and outside shooting as they say is the easiest thing to develop (through repetition) at the next level. For someone that shows solid touch (career 70+% ft shooter, also shot 79% as a sophomore), his outside shooting should improve over time.

While it's probably unlikely that he will ultimately challenge John Wall for the #1 spot, there could be some debate that emerges as Turner is the more complete and better "player" right now.

He lacks Wall's upside and superstar athleticism, but has even more versatility, having 2-3 inches on Wall and currently is better at creating offense for others.

Most scouts feel Turner has all but locked up the #2 pick in the draft barring an injury or a late season meltdown.


Greg Monroe 6-10 240 PF Georgetown So.

Greg MonroeGreg MonroeMonroe is finally beginning to settle into the idea of being a scorer every time out having tallied 19 or more points in 7 of his last 11 games, and averaged 18 ppg and 9.5 rpg over that span.

He's so unselfish he almost needs to be reminded to look to score.

On the positive side, he has increased both his scoring and rebounding numbers by 3 from last year, however for some that's still not enough.

Is he a superstar prospect? No. But is he a player that can have a real impact at the next level as a team player? No question.

While Monroe lacks superstar potential, after the top half dozen or so "prospects", Monroe becomes an interesting option.

One NBA scout recently compared him to Lamar Odom saying, "He reminds me of Lamar, and not only his skills but the fact that he seems to be one of those guys who you expect more from, but at one point you just realize that's what they are and accept it."

He's extremely unorthodox with his style and skills but he finds ways to impact the game in numerous ways.

His ability to pass for a 6-10 player is truly special. He has some limitations without much strength and explosiveness, but his positives outweigh the negatives.

Look for Monroe to end up in the mid-lotto area (6-10) on draft night.


James Anderson 6-6 205 SG Oklahoma St. Jr.


Anderson has proven to be one of the top scoring wings in the nation. He's leads the Big 12 in scoring (22.8 ppg) and is also tied for 4th in the nation, with only Luke Harangody in front of him among High Major teams.

James AndersonJames AndersonHe has a textbook shot from outside and has shown the ability to score in a variety of ways. He can finish on the break and does a good job of scoring around the basket.

While he doesn't have elite athleticism, it is at an NBA level and should allow him to be an effective pro.

He still struggles to create offense against elite defenders off the dribble, but it's an area of his game that shows room for improvement. His ball handling should improve if he works at it.

In his past 4 games, he has risen his 3 pt shooting percentage considerably going 14 for 27 in those games. At 36%, he is finally bringing it closer to where it belongs for such a gifted outside marksman.

He has been a model of consistency putting up double digits in scoring in every game this year, and has climbed to the late lottery area on the mock draft.

While there are other prospects with more potential, his ability to come in and impact a team will be tough to pass on in the late lottery - mid first round area.

Greivis Vasquez 6-6 190 PG Maryland Sr.

Vasquez has been one of the hottest players in the country over the past few months.

After a dismal start to the year (scoring in single figures in his first four games), Vasquez has been on an incredible tear.

He's averaging 19 ppg (3rd in ACC) and 6.2 apg (leads ACC) and has become the odds on favorite to win ACC player of the year.

Vasquez has also answered the critics regarding his shooting ability lifting his 3p shooting to a career high 38%. His FT (83%) and FG (44%) #s are also impressive.

He has led Maryland to 2nd place in the ACC and in a draft devoid of point guards, grabbing a late first round spot has become a possibility. Scouts project him as a top 40 pick and on the rise.

Falling

Dexter Pittman 6-10 300 C Texas Jr.

Dexter PittmanDexter PittmanDespite playing well Wednesday against Oklahoma State (16 and 8), Pittman has really dropped off in the second half of the season.

His productivity has taken a huge hit since the beginning of the season when his game was really beginning to show signs of life.

His game has basically regressed to what it was last year, a big game here and there followed by a string of sub-par games.

His main problem is that he struggles with his conditioning and with staying on the floor for long stretches of games.

How big a fall has the Texas bigman taken? In Pittman's first 14 games of the year, he averaged 14.5 ppg. In his last 14, he has averaged 6.6 ppg.

With his size and strength, Pittman should be dominating opponents on a nightly basis. But since he isn't, he's viewed as nothing more than a long term project that will likely fall to the second round on draft night.

Ed Davis 6-9 225 PF North Carolina So.

Obviously going down with a season ending injury isn't going to help anyone's stock, but Davis had been playing well below expectations for a few weeks before the injury, so there is even more doubt about his ability to be an standout player at the next level.

With UNC likely to miss the post season, there's slim chance for Davis to make it back for any games this year.

Davis failed to emerge as a dominant college player in his sophomore year. Averaging 12.9 ppg and 9.2 rpg, Davis has scored 20 points or more in just 4 of 24 games and failed to do so in any of his final 8 games.

It is assumed that Davis will return to Chapel Hill for his junior year, but not a foregone conclusion.

He could grab a spot in the mid first round based on his potential if he decided to enter this year's draft. However, there is the question of how much the injury impacts his current stock. It's unlikely that he would still be a lottery pick, as he was once projected.

He's been moved to the top 5 for 2011, but look for him to ultimately end up a mid-to-late lottery pick in 2011, unless he's able to do what he couldn't between his freshman and sophomore years and put considerable strength on his slight frame.


Willie Warren

Willie WarrenWillie WarrenExcuse us for beating a dead horse as we've featured Warren on the falling list a number of times already, but coming down with mono is like adding insult to injury.

Unless Warren has a speedy recovery (from mono), his college career could be over.

The interesting thing is that according to sources, the Warren camp contends that he will still enter the draft and isn't concerned about his disappointing play possibly dropping him out of the first round.

The other interesting storyline is the speculation that Warren is so difficult to deal with that Coach Capel wouldn't want him back anyway.


Warren was chosen by some as preseason National Player of the Year. And he was also projected by some as a top 5 pick before the season. To think he's no longer even a first round certainty. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Luke Harangody 6-7 240 SF/PF Notre Dame Sr.

Notre Dame's ironman senior showed that he's human sustaining a bone bruise to his knee, an injury that has knocked him out of action for three games and counting. (prior to this Harangody had missed just 2 games over his college career).

The injury isn't the end of the world, since he's got a fantastic body of work, but it doesn't help in his bid to claim a spot in the late first round.

The good news is there's still time for him to get back before the season ends, but unfortunately it doesn't appear that the Irish will be appearing in the NCAA tournament, which does hurt Harangody's chances of impressing on the biggest stage and leaving a big impression on scouts.

On the year, Harangody's stats are as dominant as ever: 24 ppg and 10 rpg.

Gody has been mentioned by scouts as a player with a chance to sneak into the late first round.

He had his number retired on Wednesday night and is expected back soon, possibly against Georgetown on Saturday.


Dominique Jones 6-4 190 SG/PG South Florida Jr.

Oh what a difference a month makes. Having won back to back Big East player of the week honors in January, Jones was riding high, having led the Bulls to huge wins in conference play. He went a scoring barrage going for 26, 30, 28, 20, 21, 46, 28, and 37, averaging an amazing 29.5 ppg on 51% fg in 8 games.

Since then Jones has come back to Earth. In six games during February Jones is scoring at a high rate (18 ppg), however his efficiency has dropped considerably (35% fg).

Jones had moved up to top 20 consideration at one point, but his recent woes have dropped him to the latter part of the first round. South Florida has dropped 4-of-5 and fallen to 16-11 on the year and 6-9 in Big East play.

While he's somewhat of a tweener at 6-4 and being more of a 2-guard, his ability to make solid decisions and play the lead guard position when needed adds to his intrigue.

Scouts have been impressed with Jones go-to ability and his phenomenal January remains fresh in their minds. He could grab a spot in the late first round if he closes out the season impressively.

nbacertified
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Cousns remarks

I'm shocked that Aran would post such damaging remarks about an 19 year old kid without proof. The "on big time meds" quote is at best gossip and Aran would be better suited to questioning such a comment if indeed it was made. What proof is there that he's on big time meds? Further showing lack of professional approach he lists some falacious claim of Cousins involved in an incident at South Carolina with a student.

I would have much more respect for the site and for that matter any blog site if they showed true journalism and not just gossip that carries risk. One of these days a player/family is going to sue someone for making claims that are not true.

Maybe needs to find better sources that some idiot scout who's making such ridiculous claims, in an article that validates the player is going to be a top 3 pick.

CelticJayhawk
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"But he thinks he could

"But he thinks he could easily go that high depending on that teams find in background checks and the validity of the "meds" rumor." That statement questions the validity of the statement made by the source. But to say there is no proof on the elbow to Swoopshire's face (watch the video, you'll see it), and the forearm to the face of a Vandy player (again, watch the highlight) is completely wrong and just overall stupid. The "falicious" claim about the incident with the student is in question as well, as there really is no video proof.

But Certified, from what i understand, this is a site where posters
and column writers alike write about the pros and cons of prospects and players. Just because someone is 19, doesn't mean they are free from being criticized. Cousins is a 19 year old manchild with serious anger problems. All Aran is doing is breaking down the pros and cons of a top 5 talent. Nothing more, nothing less.

Meditated States
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He can ball

He do look like a cat who could lose his head with the money though. I would make sure I have a "real talk" convo with that dude b4 I draft him though and see where his head is at.

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But he thinks he could

I hear you on all ends. Aran and anyone else can criticize in opinion format. "I don't like the kid, I think he looks immature, etc." But saying he is on serious medication, when there is no proof is wrong. No more so than saying John Wall is a drug dealer or a criminal because he had some issue with the law last summer. Wall did, but I wouldn't make he claim that he's problematic.

Overall, there has been rumor run wild in negative form on Cousins, and I believe unfairly. He's been T'd one time this year. Scrums on the floor routinely have issues and it's not like he's consistently had near fights with players. I never said there was no proof of an elbow, but intent and what else was going on is unknown and I've seen plenty of those things from other players. If he's on my team, I love the fact that he has an edge to play physical which is a big reason why Kentucky is where they are.

Let's hope people just stick to what we see and know and not slanderous statements about medication and the like.

I'm sure he needs to mature. Many do, but I don't see evidence that he's out of control in any way.

Portugoose
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Cousins

All I can think of when I see Cousins is Derrick Coleman and Eddie Griffin. I've already seen three intentional elbows to opponents' faces and the waving of his arms at the Vanderbilt crowd and him ignoring Calipari after that to say that he's going to be a problem at the pro level.

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HMMmm

Ed Davis a mid first round pick? Good joke. I seriously doubt that. He will be a lotto pick whenever he comes out.

As far as Cousins goes, you have no proof about the meds thing. I think that was uncalled for. I think he will be a top-5 pick. Can't argue with the production. Is he a headache? Yes, but I've seen players with worse attitudes.

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