As we approach the magical month in which everyone’s a college hoops fan, individual performances are put under the microscope in what becomes the premiere opportunity for players to increase their stock as an NBA prospect. Let’s check out who’s made the biggest moves in the past week on the 2011 draft board.
Climbing The Board
Jordan Hamilton, Texas, SF
Hamilton’s stock couldn’t be higher – He’s taking better shots and making smarter decisions, and as a result he leads the Longhorns in scoring while shooting an impressive 47% from the floor. At 6’7 he possesses ideal size for a three at the next level, and with deep range and the ability to rebound, Hamilton will be able to help out lottery teams in need of an extra punch. The fact that his team could be ranked number one by next week only boosts his value.
Markieff Morris, Kansas, PF
Despite having a quiet game in a loss to Kansas State, Markieff Morris averaged 15.5 points on 74% shooting in his previous five. He’s displayed a nice touch around the basket while showing the ability to step out and knock down 20 footers. Shooting 8 for his last 13 from three, Morris has increased his stock by adding a new dimension to his game. He’s consistently produced over the course of the year, shooting 59% from the floor and 40% from downtown. “Efficient” is a good word to describe Markieff’s game.
Norris Cole, Cleveland State, PG
Cleveland State’s Norris Cole has exploded onto the scene, especially of late where he’s averaging 25 points and 7 assists over his last five. His 41 point, 20 rebound, 9 assist stat line he dropped on Youngstown State surely grabbed the attention of scouts, who previously questioned Cole’s true position. With performances like the one he had on Saturday, the emphasis on his questionable role at the next level shouldn’t prevent teams from drafting the prolific guard from Cleveland State.
JaJuan Johnson, Purdue, PF
Despite being named a Preseason All-American, Johnson never saw his stock reach “guaranteed first round” status. Over his last nine games however he’s made a strong case for himself, scoring over 23 points per game on 51% shooting. Johnson has diversified his game by adding a 20 foot jump shot to compliment his post game and high activity level in the paint. He also brings a shot blocking presence that should be appealing to teams lacking depth in the front court.
Renardo Sydney, Mississippi State, PF
Mississippi State’s Renardo Sydney earned the biggest slide of the week, dropping 14 spots in this week’s updated mock draft. What Sydney really needs to do is drop 14 pounds, as he finds himself getting outworked under the boards and beat down the floor.
Demetri McCamey, Illinois, PG
Illinois’s Demetri McCamey is in the midst of a rough stretch at a bad time, turning the ball over 21 times and failing to eclipse the 5 assist mark in any of his last six games. After a hot start from downtown, he’s just 8 of his last 26 from behind the arch.
Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, F
A lengthy, active forward that can guard multiple positions on the floor, UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt is having some consistency issues on the offensive side of the ball. He’s shooting just 34% in the months of January and February, including a disappointing 25% from downtown.
Tristan Thompson, Texas, PF/C
The talented freshman from Texas saw his stock fall a bit after some quiet games over his last five. At times he becomes a non-factor on the boards, and can disappear throughout stretches of a game with his limited offensive skillset. Shooting 48% from the line won’t help persuade scouts that he has a promising mid range game in the works either.
Clip of the Week: Harrison Barnes throwing down on Clemson
Top Five Freshman Guard Prospects
1. Kyrie Irving, Duke, PG
He’s played in just eight games so far, which was enough to declare him the top freshman guard, if not the top prospect in the nation. Irving plays with the perfect balance of scoring and playmaking, leaving defenders behind with a quick first step that makes him unguardable in the open floor. Most freshman point guards struggle shooting the ball, but Irving excels from the outside hitting 45% of his three point attempts. An intelligent and coachable kid, Irving will be the long-term solution for an NBA team looking for a new quarterback.
2. Brandon Knight, Kentucky, PG
At 6’4, Knight has great size for a point guard, he just has to prove he can be one at the next level. He’s got quickness and a tight handle, but seems to be more comfortable scoring then distributing. Knight has shown consistency shooting the ball, scoring in double figures in all but one game and doing so at a 46% clip from the floor. Regardless of whether he can run the point at the NBA level, his effectiveness as a scoring combo guard should be attractive to teams selecting in a forward-heavy draft.
3. Cory Joseph, Texas, PG/SG
Joseph is getting good experience as the point guard on one of the best teams in the country. Though he hasn’t been the most dynamic playmaker, he rarely turns the ball over and shoots a high percentage from the floor. After hitting the game winner on a turn around jumper with 1.4 seconds to go against UNC, Joseph showed he’s not afraid to handle the ball with the game on the line. His pedestrian numbers shouldn’t reflect on his value as an NBA prospect. With Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson projected to leave for the pros, Joseph will have the opportunity to dominate the ball and increase his role at Texas over his sophomore year.
4. Josh Selby, Kansas, PG/SG
Though he’s had a tough freshman year, Selby was asked to step in and contribute midseason after an early season suspension. Selby has struggled in his role at Kansas, but as a prospect his strength, quickness and size translate better to the pro game. His ability to create his own shot will be his biggest attribute moving forward. Comparisons to Willie Warren have begun among scouts, which isn;t a good sign. Staying another year could help him improve his efficiency and work on developing as a facilitator.
5. Ray McCallum, Detroit Mercy, PG
After passing on more prestigious schools like UCLA and Florida, McCallum decided to play for his father at Detroit Mercy where he hasn’t gotten the national exposure for a player with his potential. He’s a true point guard who sports a quick first step and the ability to hit the open man. Listed at 6’1, which would probably be accurate if was wearing high heels, McCallum averages 14 points and 5 assists per game, displaying a nice touch in the lane and illustrating advanced ball handling skills that are required for NBA point guards.
– Norris Cole joined Blake Griffin as the only college players in the last 15 years to record a 40 point 20 rebound game. Cole however hit the 40/20 mark standing just 6’2. How that’s possible I just don’t know.
– Nolan Smith lead Duke with 34 points in a comeback win over rival North Carolina. Smith will join Jimmer Fredette, Jared Sullinger and Kemba Walker in the ring to battle for the Player of the Year belt at the end of the year.
– Freshman Doran Lamb scored 20 in his first start of the season to help the Wildcats take care of Mississippi State at Rupp Arena. Lamb’s 49% 3p percentage is good for 10th in the nation.
– Since scoring 26 in St. John’s upset win over Duke on January 30th, Hardy has been averaging over 25 points per game over his last six.
– Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins knocked down a 35 footer as time expired to give the Pride an 81-78 win over Williams & Mary. Jenkins is averaging 23 a game on 42% from downtown.
– Jacob Pullen scored 38 to help Kansas State knock off Kansas just a few weeks after losing to the Jayhawks by 24.
– Jordan Taylor scored 27 for Wisconsin to help the Badgers hand Ohio State their first loss of the season.