1. Cody Zeller 6’11 PF/C, Indiana
[img_assist|nid=55651|title=Cody Zeller|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=381]Zeller enters his sophomore year as the most polished offensive bigman in the nation. But it’s not only the combination of size and an advanced skill-set, Zeller led Indiana as a freshman to a successful regular season in which they surprised eventual champion Kentucky and made a sweet 16 appearance. His efficiency and ability to get clean, makeable looks is illustrated by the fact that he only missed three shots per game, a rare feat for a 15 point scorer. His ability to consistently contribute on a nightly basis, along with incredible instincts, a high basketball IQ and a strong work ethic compliment his talent in a way that justifies number one overall selection. As a big man prospect, Zeller has incredible awareness of his defenders positioning on the interior, which allows him to use pump fakes and crafty footwork to convert easily at the rim. His athleticism and soft touch help him score at awkward angles, while he does a nice job of looking to gain deep post position. No seven-footer gets up and down the floor quicker than Zeller, who again consistently gets easy buckets using his baseline to baseline agility. It’s been recently reported that his weight is up to 240 and his vertical leap is at 39 inches, as his intense off-season training regimen looks to be paying off. With some added muscle and a more confident midrange jumper, Zeller could establish himself as the most reliable source of offensive production of any prospect in the country.
2. Nerlens Noel 6’11 C, Kentucky
Considered by some to be a better shot-blocker than Anthony Davis, Noel will draw a ton of comparisons to the 2012 number one overall pick. Physically, his frame is stronger and more developed, and uses his long arms, mobility and excellent anticipation to cover a ton of defensive ground. Offensively, Noel does most of his work off the ball presenting guards with a moving target towards and high above the rim. He possesses the quickness and body control to beat his man from the high post to the basket, and shows a soft touch around the cylinder. Because of his defensive dominance and offensive efficiency, Noel has number one overall upside as a team’s interior anchor. While Noel and Cody Zeller shine at opposite ends of the floor, expect the two to battle for the label of top big man in the country.
3. Shabazz Muhammad 6’5 SG, UCLA
[img_assist|nid=55652|title=Shabazz Muhammad|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=508]Usually when we refer to a "man amongst boys", we’re talking about a power forward or center. Muhammad fits this description, only as a wing. At 6’6 he has the strength to bully his way into the paint and explode at the rim. He compliments his physical play with a nice touch in the midrange, using unteachable scoring instincts to score in a number of ways from various spots on the floor. Players with his scoring ability are generally ball-dominant, however Muhammad’s feel and unselfishness allow him to succeed on and off the ball. His stats will be kept in check playing in UCLA’s methodical offense, but that shouldn’t damage his stock as a likely top five pick, with a chance to go #1.
4. James McAdoo 6’9 SF/PF, North Carolina
Minutes were tight his freshman year with four Carolina rotation players being selected in the top 17. McAdoo is the ultimate off-ball contributor, with strengths that translate in so many facets of the game. At 6’9 he’s got the strength and size of a power forward with the mobility and agility of a 3. Though not an adept shot-creator in the half court, he’s shown flashes of a midrange jumper which could help him turn the corner if made an everyday threat. Defensively his appeal is obvious, with the quickness to defend 3s and the size/strength to body up 4s. Bottom line here is that nobody in the field combines his size, mobility and athleticism. He’s the type of player who can fill up a stat sheet without recording a dribble.
5. Alex Poythress 6’8 SF, Kentucky
Poythress is a talented combo-forward whose biggest challenge will be figuring out how to maximize his strengths, which there are many. At 6’9 with a strong, mature build and a controlled low to the ground handle, Poythress can play some minutes on the wing and some on the interior. He has a promising jumper with sound mechanics, which should make his faceup game a threat and a difficult matchup for slower-footed defenders. Defensively his versatility just adds to the appeal. There’s so much to like here it’s hard to know where to start. He’s got top 10 upside as clear one and done candidate.
[img_assist|nid=55655|title=Steven Adams|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=492]6. Steven Adams 7’1 C, Pittsburgh
Spending almost his entire basketball career playing against inferior competition in New Zealand, Adams will have an adjustment process before he’s able to show consistent production for Pittsburgh. But at 7’1 with fluid mobility and a high activity rate, his raw offensive skill-set won’t hold him back from blocking shots, finishing at the rim and converting on the offensive glass. He’s proven capable of putting the ball down on the floor, which should compliment his soft midrange touch in time. There’s no doubt he’s a project, but there’s room to grow in areas that could make him big-time down the road.
7. Adonis Thomas 6’6 SF, Memphis
Thomas was bothered by a nagging ankle injury that caused him to miss half his freshman season, so returning for year #2 should boost his stock as a top prospect. A wing with elite athleticism, Thomas has lockdown defensive potential as a two-way player. Physically his game is built for NBA play. If he can improve on the perimeter and embrace typical small forward responsibilities, his strength and quickness could be too much to handle. A 4.0 student in high school and a high character kid, Thomas is a lottery package just waiting to be opened.
8. Alec Brown 7’1 C, Green Bay
Brown is an under the radar prospect out of Wisconsin, Green Bay whose appeal stems from his 7’1 size, mobility and soft touch in the post. As a sophomore he improved dramatically under the boards, while displaying a pure, natural feel on his midrange jumper. Defensively he’s active protecting the rim, where he blocked 3 shots a game in 31 minutes as a sophomore. Brown needs to add bulk to his frame and purpose to his footwork, but he’s got the tools that could make him a real attractive high and low post option in the half court.
9. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 6’6 SG, Georgia
[img_assist|nid=55654|title=Kentavious Caldwell-Pope|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=384]Caldwell-Pope is your quintessential perimeter two-guard with explosive athleticism and NBA three-point range. He lacks a conscience as a shooter, which has its ups and downs, but the ability to heat up and score in bunches is an attractive asset to have when fighting through a scoring drought. With the ability to compliment microwave offensive qualities with defensive potential, KCP’s game translates to next level play. He’s got instructional video form on his shot and should see a big jump in efficiency as a sophomore. A more consistent shooting year could make him the Terrence Ross of the 2012 draft.
10. Rudy Gobert 7’1 C, France
Whether he’s skilled or not at this point is irrelevant. He’s a lottery talent based purely on his unprecedented physical gifts, which include a 7’2 body with a 7’9 wingspan and athleticism that puts it to good use. Combine those measurements with a high motor and impressive mobility, and it’s like dressing your average center in a superhero suit. Gobert has no problems finishing at the rim, frankly because nobody can get high enough to contest. And of course shot-blocking will be his biggest asset, considering he can reach from the weakside to the strongside without jumping or being in position. Unlike countryman Alexis Ajinca, Gobert has the muscle tone and a frame that will allow him to continue to get stronger to hold position in the post and play the center position. Expect Gobert to be a fixture as a lottery prospect through 2013.
11. CJ McCollum 6’3 PG/SG, Lehigh
The red curtain opened for McCollum the night he dropped 30 on Duke in the NCAA tournament. A good athlete with combo-guard size and a suitable wingspan, McCollum can dance with the ball keeping defenders off balance. Shifty off the bounce with a quick first step and a balanced jumper off the dribble, McCollum can pull up in space or create for a teammate. He averaged almost 22 a game as a junior, and should have a brighter spotlight pointed on him in 2013. McCollum is one of the rising stars of the 2013 draft before the season is even underway.
[img_assist|nid=55656|title=Isaiah Canaan|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=437]12. Isaiah Canaan 6’1 PG, Murray State
He’s the definition of bowling ball in terms of his build: He’s tough to knock down, bounces off contact and stays low to the ground with a strong foundation. He’s quick and shifty, and combines the athleticism and strength to convert tough finishes at the rim. He led Murray State to a one-loss season, averaging 19 a game on a scorching 45% from downtown. He even drew comparisons to Tim Hardaway in his junior season from one NBA scout. His leadership, shot-making abilities and consistently strong play have scouts intrigued about his potential as an NBA point guard.
13. BJ Young 6’3 PG/SG, Arkansas
Young showed off his athletic ability and scoring instincts as a freshman, dropping 15 a game in only 25 minutes of action. Though more of a scorer than a point guard, he’s got a bounce to his step that allows him to make plays for a teammate or himself off the dribble. With good size at 6’3, long (6’7) arms and a dangerous outside stroke, his game projects to the next level as a prolific scoring combo-guard.
14. Alex Len 7’1 C, Maryland
Len didn’t play a big role in Maryland’s offense, although that’s likely to change after the departure of Terrell Stoglin. Len is a talented 7’1 center with a soft touch in the post, nose for the ball on the glass and as a shot-blocker in the paint (2.1 blocks/game in 21 minutes). He shows tremendous agility for a player his size with good leaping ability, and a sturdy frame as well. With more touches and added reps, look for Len to become the focus of attention of opposing ACC defenses.
15. Ryan Harrow 6’0 PG, Kentucky
[img_assist|nid=55657|title=Ryan Harrow|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=395]After transferring from NC State, Harrow took a year off while Marquis Teague ran the point for the Wildcats. This year it’s Harrows turn, who defies light speed with his off the chart quickness and ball-on-a-string handle. Harrow’s best attribute as a prospect is his breakdown ability. He’s practically unguardable in iso off the dribble, which leads to 4 on 3s and easy buckets if the right man is hit. The downside of Harrow is that he’s listed at 6’0, and at times goes overboard with his gift in terms of decision making and control. Expect Calipari to focus on minimizing reckless play while maximizing his strengths as a "breakdown" ball-handler.
16. Rakeem Christmas 6’9 PF, Syracuse
Christmas didn’t get many opportunities as a freshman, though drew some starts toward the end of last year for his interior defense in that back of the zone. He’s raw offensively, but uses his strength, size and athleticism to regularly finish at the rim. Fab Melo made a enormous jump from his freshman to sophomore seasons, and with him gone, Christmas will have every opportunity to do the same. With extended minutes and a more consistent role, Christmas can focus on his offensive game, which remains a work in progress. Struggling once again offensively could diminish his stock, however with such tremendous physical gifts, Christmas is a player to monitor in the Big East.
17. Tony Mitchell 2586 6’8 SF/PF, North Texas
A former top recruit, Mitchell committed to Missouri however never touched the floor due to prior academic issues. He spent his first college season at North Texas, averaging 14 and 10 despite missing a year of organized basketball. Physically he’s got it, standing 6’8 with long arms and explosive athleticism that contribute to his dominance on the glass and offensively at the rim. Though more of an off the ball threat, he showed an excellent stroke from downtown (18-41, 43.9%) which could really raise his stock. But it’s his defensive presence that puts him over the top as a prospect, as he blocked 3 shots a game playing less than 30 minutes a night. His instincts, which include not biting for pump fakes and awesome timing make him an asset on both sides of the ball. Though still raw, look for Mitchell to improve his offensive game and generate buzz as a mid-major prospect with substantial upside.
18. Otto Porter 6’8 SF, Georgetown
[img_assist|nid=55658|title=Lorenzo Brown|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=297|height=447]Porter has a wiry frame at 6’8 with long arms, but his mobility allows him play away from the basket and draw bigs further from the rim. As a freshman he was practically automatic in the midrange, seemingly knocking down every open look within 18 feet. His high basketball IQ and instincts contributed to 7 rebounds a game in 29 minutes despite lacking the strength of the opposition’s front court. Though he has plenty to work in regards to diversifying his services, Porter’s efficient play and reliability in the midrange should earn first round attention assuming he gets stronger.
19. Lorenzo Brown 6’4 PG, North Carolina State
Brown finished 2nd in the ACC in assists behind Kendall Marshall, using that quick first step and excellent size to see over the defense. His game revolves around his ability to create off the dribble, which is clearly his biggest asset. Brown improved as a three point shooter, but if he can become more of a threat pulling up he’ll keep defenses on their heels. He had knee surgery recently but is expected to miss just 6 weeks, and be back at full strength by November. With CJ Leslie (who just missed the cut) returning and a strong freshman class, look for a big year from Lorenzo Brown and the Wolfpack.
20. Ian Miller 6’3 PG, Florida State
Miller has been coming off the bench due to a guard heavy attack of upperclassmen, but the stage is set for a breakout year as the team’s lead guard. Miller entered Florida State as a point guard, but played off the ball as a reserve scorer through his first two years. Look for Miller to dominate the ball a bit more, and show off that athleticism attacking the rim and sweet outside stroke on the perimeter. He’s got the physical tools and talent to conduct electricity on the court, and could be one of the premier guards this year in the ACC.
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