Top 12 NBA Prospects in the ACC in 2013-14
Top 12 NBA Prospects in the ACC
The Atlantic Coast Conference is set to be one of the strongest conferences not only in the nation this season, but arguably one of the top college basketball conferences ever assembled in 2013-14. That's what happens when you take an already traditionally great conference and add teams like Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame.
With such strong teams and the likelihood that the ACC will land in the range of seven to nine teams in the NCAA Tournament field, it should come as little surprise that the conference is loaded with talent. After all, when you have guys like Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, and Roy Williams bringing in McDonald's All-America level talent year in and year out, you're going to have a pretty loaded group of players.
As with every other year, this year's crop of pro level talent in the ACC is a mix of first year players who are ready to explode onto the scene, up and coming sophomores, and strong upperclassmen who have been competing at a high level for the past three or four seasons. Limiting the list to just 12 players is always tough and forces us to leave out several outstanding players who could earn their way into this group as the year progresses, but when it comes to determining the most talented dozen players who project to the NBA level, these guys are the cream of the ACC crop.
12. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Despite a bit of a bumpy start to his college career in his first game against Cornell, Tyler Ennis of Syracuse still projects to be one of the best point guard prospects in this year's freshman class. The 6-foot-2 lead guard has all of the intangibles to make him a valuable commodity at the next level. Plus, as poor as his game looked against Cornell, he still wound up with eight rebounds and seven assists. Once he shakes off that first game, he'll put on display the type of savvy and maturity that has Jim Boeheim raving about him being the most ready guard he has ever recruited. He won't be on NBA radars this season, but count on him being a potential first round selection after his sophomore campaign.
11. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
As this season goes on, you should expect to begin hearing a lot more about Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant. The 6-foot-5 son of former NBA forward Harvey Grant, and nephew of Horace Grant, Jerian certainly has basketball in his blood. To further illustrate that, he's not the only member of his family on this list. Grant has the ability to play either guard position, as evidenced by the fact that last year he dished out 5.5 assists-per-game despite playing primarily off the ball. He can also knock down shots and has good athleticism, making him an enticing prospect for pro scouts.
10. Joe Harris, Virginia
While it may be a stretch for Joe Harris to find his way into the first round of next year's NBA Draft, the Virginia shooting guard most certainly has a place at the next level thanks to his solid overall game and the fact that he possesses one elite skill in his ability to knock down shots. Last season he earned first team All-ACC honors and should be in line to challenge for ACC Player of the Year honors this season as he tries to lead Virginia to a conference title. "Joey Hoops" is a fundamentally sound shooter who can fill it up, and at 6-foot-6 he has outstanding size to play the two at the next level.
9. PJ Hairston, North Carolina
If not for his offseason troubles, North Carolina guard PJ Hairston may have found himself higher on this list. As it stands, he comes into the season with character concerns, which is a big red flag for NBA scouts. At this point no one is even sure whether he'll get a chance to play this season. Still, when he does play the 6-foot-5 Hairston is one of the top scorers in the ACC, possessing range on his jump shot and at 220 pounds, the size to take the ball to the rack and score through contact. If he gets on the floor this season and puts his troubled offseason behind him, he should move up this list.
8. CJ Fair, Syracuse
One of the unfortunate truths when it comes to the NBA Draft is that more often than not, your age is going to be held against you. That's a large part of the reason why Syracuse forward CJ Fair isn't higher on most pro draft boards despite being one of the most consistently productive players in America. The 6-foot-8 senior is a smart and efficient player offensively with the ability to block shots and rebound in addition to being an explosive athlete. He has an ever improving jump shot, and last season knocked down 46.1 percent of his three point attempts. If he can improve his ball-handling and continue to expand his range, he has the makings of a very solid NBA small forward.
7. Olivier Hanlan, Boston College
One of the most exciting players in the ACC is Boston College combo guard Olivier Hanlan, a dynamic scorer who can play either the point guard spot or, thanks to his size and athleticism, the shooting guard position. At 6-foot-4 with superior athleticism and the ability to score in bunches, the obvious pro comparison would probably be Russell Westbrook. But perhaps expectations should be tempered a bit since Hanlan has a long way to go before he can be realistically compared to the NBA All-Star.
6. TJ Warren, North Carolina State
One of the most talented forwards in the ACC, North Carolina State sophomore TJ Warren is also one of the most efficient scorers in the league. The 6-foot-8 Warren was absolutely outstanding from the field in his rookie campaign, shooting 62.2 percent from the field, including hitting 51.9 percent from three point range, albeit in a very small number of attempts. The knock on Warren is that he can't shoot free throws, and at this point he's a bit of a tweener in that no one is sure if he projects to power forward or small forward at the next level.
5. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
While it's arguable that Joe Harris may be the best college shooting guard in the ACC, Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon most certainly gets the nod as the league's top pro prospect at the position. Sulaimon has adequate size for the off guard spot at 6-foot-4, and he's athletic and simply knows how to score the basketball. The Texas native can fill it up in bunches, knocking down shots from long range at a clip of 37.1 percent last season, and he's also a very good free throw shooter, meaning when he attacks the rim and draws a foul chances are he's going to get points.
4. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
Some people might complain that we've got James Michael McAdoo too high on this list, but that's primarily because an unfair amount of hype has followed the North Carolina forward since he arrived at Chapel Hill. The fact remains that the 6-foot-9 McAdoo already has an NBA-ready body, and he could go out there right now and compete for rebounds against most of the forwards at the pro level. He actually put up strong numbers as a sophomore, and even if he duplicates them he should still be a first round selection should he come out this after this season.
3. Rodney Hood, Duke
A lot of Duke fans may get up in arms upon learning that we've placed sophomore transfer Rodney Hood at only third on this list, but hey, it's still not too bad, right? Hood, a 6-foot-8 swingman, is a talented athlete who has a very solid all around game in that he can step outside and knock down long jumpers. He also possesses the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. He's got a solid mid-range game as well, making him a prototypical NBA small forward.
2. Jerami Grant, Syracuse
It seems hard to fathom that a sophomore who played relatively limited minutes last season could really be the second best pro prospect in the ACC, but NBA scouts have been drooling over the combination of size, smarts, and athleticism that Jerami Grant of Syracuse brings to the table pretty much since he set foot on the Carrier Dome floor for the first time. The 6-foot-9 Grant, the younger brother of Notre Dame's Jerian, possesses freakish athleticism, and while he's skinny right now he has the type of frame to put on muscle and play at around 225 pounds when he reaches the NBA. He's an improving shooter and a sound decision maker, and if he chooses to leave this season he could very well wind up in the lottery.
1. Jabari Parker, Duke
And in a move that will surprise absolutely no one, we've placed Duke freshman Jabari Parker at the top of the list. After all, the 6-foot-8, 225 pound swingman is already primed to be one of the top picks in this year's NBA Draft. He's a heady player to go along with being a good athlete, and he possesses a strong all-around skill set. At this point, he may even be higher on some draft boards than Andrew Wiggins due to the fact that his game is, quite frankly, more well rounded.