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Stock Watch

Mon, 02/17/2014 - 7:57pm

Rising

TJ Warren 6-7 220 SF NC State So.

TJ WarrenTJ WarrenWarren has been one of the most prolific scorers in the nation all season, but his efficiency and outside shot have really improved in recent weeks. He's climbed into the first round of the 2014 mock. The NC State wing has averaged 26.4 ppg on 58.4% FG over his last 5 games, with the Wolfpack going 4-1 in those contests. Perhaps the most encouraging sign is his shooting 10-18 (55.9%) from 3PT range over that span.

While not the fleetest of foot or explosive of athletes, Warren scores many of his baskets through desire and by outworking his opponents. His determination is one of his greatest assets.

His scoring inside the arc is well regarded, but if he can establish himself as more of a long-range threat it would enhance his offensive game considerably. Still, an improved body has made him an efficient, go-to scorer. Defense is still a bit of a concern, though the NBA values scoring SFs and Warren is showing signs that his game will translate.

Semaj Christon 6-3 190 PG Xavier So.

Christon is an athletic PG who has matured quite a bit in his second season of college ball. At this point, he has increased his field goal percentage to close to 50% and he has reduced his turnovers significantly. The other notable attribute is his ability to get to the basket, which in turn leads to many trips to the FT line.

In Big East play Christon has really come into his own, averaging 19.4 ppg on 55% FG/75% FT through 11 games. His shooting is still something that he needs to gain consistency with, though he has shown additional accuracy from long range. He has moved back into the top 20 and in a PG loaded draft, appears to be a likely first rounder at this point.

Melvin Ejim 6-6 220 SF/PF Iowa St. Sr.

When names like Durant and Beasley are thrown around with a single game Big 12 performance, you have to be doing something right. Ejim joined the aforementioned duo in getting at least 35/15 in a conference game with his Big 12 record 48 point and 18-rebound performance against Texas Christian. Even though he struggled in his next game against West Virginia, he is averaging 19.1 PPG and 8.7 rpg on the year.

Ejim is putting together a memorable senior season, with him being mentioned in conversations about the All-Big 12 First Team. Vastly improved as an outside shooter and always aggressive on the boards, he brings toughness and experience to the table. Teams are looking for competitors, unafraid to go at the competition in practice. Though he's a tweener, Ejim is looking like he could fit that role as a 2nd round pick and he has moved into the 2014 Mock Draft.

Bobby Portis 6-10 240 PF Arkansas Fr.

Getting talent to stay in-state is huge for colleges and Portis was a massive grab for Arkansas. The 6-10 PF was seen as an almost unanimous Top 25 recruit by most scouting services and he is delivering on those expectations for the Razorbacks.

Portis is leading his team in scoring and rebounding, with a monstBobby PortisBobby Portiser output last week against Alabama. His 35 point (14-17 FG, 1-2 3PT, 6-6 FT) 9 rebound performance in the win has to make Razorback fans excited about his future. If he can add some strength and gain some fluidity over the next season or two, scouts are sure to begin taking notice of him as a potential first rounder.

Caris LeVert 6-6 185 SG Michigan So.

Young even for a sophomore, LeVert has made major strides and shown great versatility in his expanded role in his second season. While he literally grew during the off-season, he has also become an outside threat and is much more aggressive and confident off the dribble drive.

He sometimes shows flashes of being a combo guard, which at his size is quite a valuable commodity. Coach John Beilein considers the breakout sophomore the team's top defender. Coming into Michigan as an unknown commodity, it's pretty impressive how quickly he has developed. LeVert could end up having a similar 3 year career at Michian as Tim Hardaway Jr. and may end up being taken in the same draft range. He is also showing signs of maybe having a similar impact once he hits the NBA, as well.

Juwan Staten 6-1 190 PG West Virginia Jr.

Another player who's been featured before in the Stock Watch, Staten is leading the Big 12 in scoring during conference play and has really elevated his play in his junior season. He is a blur getting into the paint and is great at driving and dishing or drawing contact.

He rarely takes 3-pointers, Staten is still a much better jump shooter than last season and has clearly worked on expanding his range. West Virginia has been an incredibly competitive team in a tough Big 12 conference, with Staten being the catalyst. With tough play and great conditioning, NBA people are definitely starting to take notice.

Falling

Marcus Smart 6-4 225 PG Oklahoma St. So.

Marcus SmartMarcus SmartUnless you have been living under a rock over the past 2 weeks, you probably are aware that Marcus Smart had an altercation with a fan in OSU's game at Texas Tech. Despite the fan admitting he went too, the consensus is that Smart pushing him was just not the right judgment call. He has been suspended for 3 games, which is a tough blow for an already struggling team.

How much affect this isolated incident will have on his draft stock is probably minimal. Nonetheless, it doesn't help. He already had a minor blow-up after a rough game against West Virginia a few weeks before and was gaining a reputation for flopping, which is a definite pet peeve of hardcore fans.

More concerning than the outburst and suspension is the belief that Smart has been acting out over the past few weeks, not handling frustration with much control or decorum. What happens when he begins to struggle for his future pro team? Will he melt down or lash out? Or will he learn from this episode and learn to better manage his emotions and frustration?

Smart has fallen into the mid lottery from being mentioned by some as a possible top overall pick early in the season. His outside shooting remains very inconsistent, and despite being a tremendous leader and showing flashes as a floor general, his overall playmaking ability needs work. The bottom line is that Smart is a fiery competitor and is seen as bringing more of a positive attitude than a negative one. He'll need to finish the season strong to recapture the momentum he had or slip from being the top overall point guard selected in this year's draft.

Glenn Robinson III 6-6 220 SF Michigan So.

As a freshman starter and solid contributor on the NCAA runner-up, expectations were high for Robinson's sophomore season. For whatever reason he has struggled to take that next step, especially as a go to scorer. His ball skills still leave a lot to be desired and this has led to a lack of assertiveness as a primary scorer.

Robinson III was basically a non-factor in their loss to Iowa and has been really stagnant offensively during conference play. His athleticism is rare and he has a great frame, though he really seems to be missing much of a floor game. He has been moved from the 2014 to the 2015 mock draft as it's apparent that he needs more time, and has been steadily slipping on scouts lists in recent weeks.

Chris Walker 6-10 215 PF Florida Fr.

With prototypical size for a PF along with an ability to run the floor and big time bounce, it was definitely exciting to see Walker finally gain his eligibility at Florida. Gators's coach Billy Donovan warned not to expect too much too soon. So far, that seems to be a very accurate warning. Walker has only played in 3 games and has yet to play double-digit minutes. He has converted some ally oops, but other than that has really been a non factor

Granted, Florida is a top team who appears on it's way to winning the SEC without him. What we have seen in Walker's brief minutes is a very raw player who appears to need time to work on his body and all-around game. Maybe it is just an adjustment to the college game; however many felt Walker needed more seasoning than most top recruits. And while he's an intriguing physical specimen, he looks much more like a mid second rounder than a potential lottery pick that some hyped him to be before he became eligible.

Follow Michael on Twitter @NBADraftMikeyV. Also, feel free to e-mail him at [email protected]

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