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Sophomore Rankings Released

Fri, 10/03/2008 - 3:06pm


NCAA Sophomore Rankings - Class of 2011



Despite losing a slew of talented players, the cream of the 2011 (sophomore) class (Blake Griffin and James Harden) still matches up favorably with the best that the freshman class has to offer (BJ Mullens and DeMar Derozan).

 
 


Blake Griffin
 
Gone are Rose, Beasley and Mayo, as well as 7 other extremely talented members of the class who became first rounders in '08. But since this was perhaps the top class ever, the talent level remains extremely high. This class still might be the best in college basketball.

Blake Griffin's combination of strength and athleticism and package of skills is absolutely unheard of in a power forward. Aside from obliterating every opponent put in his way in the post, it is Blake's passing and ball handling ability that is so remarkable.

Griffin can break the press with his guard like ball handling ability, and his vision and passing skills allow him to make defenses pay for doubling him.

Word is that had Griffin entered the 2008 draft, he would have remained in Oklahoma as the soon to be Oklahoma City Thunder would have made him the 4th overall pick. By returning to Norman, Blake has become the prohibitive favorite to go first in the 2009 draft.

Watching James Harden compete in Dallas (adidas Nation's camp) against other collegiate players was like watching a man amongst boys. Whoever decided this guy is not athletic should tune into a few more Sun Devil games next season. Harden is a borderline freak athlete, and has a rare ability to make those around him better from the 2-guard position.

Comparing Harden to Derozan is sort of like comparing Manu Ginobili to Vince Carter. A perennial losing team might prefer the gate attraction (Carter), while a team such as San Antonio would opt for the player that gives you the best chance to win (Ginobili) every time. Harden has a Ginobili quality to his game, an underlying swagger and confidence and will to win.

 
 


James Harden
 
Most impressive in Dallas was his ability to avoid what looked like a terrible knee injury. It was the type of play that most players would have been out for months, but chalk it up to good genes as Harden stayed on the court and played through the pain. Harden is a likely top 10 pick with a good chance to crack the top 5.

Speaking of knee injuries, Austin Daye avoided what had originally been diagnosed as an ACL tear of his knee playing at the LeBron skills camp. The injury did not require surgery, however it did slow down some of his development over the summer. Regardless Daye is one of the most talented wing players in the nation.

Daye has a silky jumper and a freakishly long build, as well as ball handling and offensive skills to create for himself. Where he must show improvement is with his strength and athleticism.

Another adidas Nation's camp standout Gani Lawal might be a year away from stardom, but his physical development, which was one of the question marks for him, is extremely encouraging. He appears to have hit the weightroom hard and looks a legit 230-235 pounds.

Lawal had a few monster dunks over Kansas bigman Aldrich, and appears to have added some moves around the basket.

Aussie bigman Andrew Ogilvy is 6-foot-10 and full of muscles. He can run the floor and has nice strength inside for rebounds and although his game lacks flash, it is highly effective. He was one of the most productive freshman in the country last year (17 pts and 6.7 reb) and should look to improve on those stats.

If he was a legit 7-footer we'd be talking about a lottery pick, however likely being closer to 6-10, it's more likely he's a mid-to-late (18-25) first rounder.

When he wasn't getting dunked on by Lawal in Dallas, Cole Aldrich looked excellent. He's got an enormous wingspan (7-5) allowing him to play at the center position despite being just 6-10. He's a good athlete with a solid feel for the game, however his shot release is a little awkward.

With Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson taking their games to the next level, Aldrich is set to take over as the focal point for Kansas in the paint.

Duke's do-everything forward Kyle Singler has been asked to play inside due to the Blue Devils lack of post players. Singler has held his own despite matching up at times against bigger and stronger players. His versatility and ability to seal the cracks has made him extremely valuable to the team.

Although his foot speed is below average, his polished offensive skills make him an intriguing wing prospect who could develop into a lottery selection in the next two years. However, don't look for Coach K to let him slip away too quickly.

The injury theme continues with Patrick Patterson who missed the final 5 games of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot. While the Kentucky post player is undersized, his long arms and tremendous explosiveness make him a beast inside.

If he bounces back from the foot injury, and measures well, Patterson could get looks in the late lottery area. But if he's in fact 6-7 in shoes, it's more likely he will be seen as an undersized, Jason Maxiell type, and be taken in the late first found (20-30) range.

Iowa State forward Craig Brackens is a long athlete with excellent offensive ability and versatility. Brackens could develop into a lottery pick if his body and skills continue to develop. He's more of a long, finesse forward ala Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and if he adds some muscle it will help him battle inside.

No one used the Olympics to improve their stock more than St Mary's Patrick Mills. Mills showed once again that nothing seems to faze him. After scoring 37 points in just his fourth career college game, Mills was impressive at the international level scoring in a variety of ways against some of the top guards in the World Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

If Mills can show the ability to set the table for teammates and measures a legitimate 6-feet, he could conceivably skyrocket into the lottery ala DJ Augustin.

 
 


Anatoly Bose
 
Sleepers:

While fellow Wake Forest sophomore James Johnson gets most of the pub, point guard Jeff Teague showed great leadership and clutch play throughout his freshman season, and may have the brighter future. He could be the top point guard prospect (Ty Lawson included) in the ACC.

Like Wake's guys, Florida's sophomore duo Nick Calethes and Chandler Parsons are top 20 sophomore prospects. While Calethes is no sleeper receiving plenty of accolades after a huge freshman season, his teammate Parsons might be the better pro prospect.

Watch out for Arizona wing Jamelle Horne. He's an absolute freakish athlete who after a year learning the ropes should be ready for a breakout season.

With 2 Aussies in the top 10, let's throw in an Aussie sleeper. It's difficult to garner much attention playing at Nicholls State, but Anatoly Bose has the goods to play at the next level someday. He's a 6-6 wing with a smooth offensive game who put up a solid 10 ppg on excellent shooting from the field (near 40% from 3).

With Anthony Randolph at the same position, it was tough for Garrett Green to get much playing time as a freshman. Now, Green will get his chance. He may not erupt immediately, but look for big things from him in the next couple seasons. He's got a terrific size/athleticism combination and appears to have the desire and skill set to become a pro.

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