Top 10 College Basketball Players In Terms Of NBA Potential
Top 10 College Basketball Players In Terms of NBA Potential
American sports fans love lists. So, here’s an interesting one for you. I’ve ranked the top 10 college basketball players in terms of their NBA potential. I did not take into account what teams may be interested in each player, but instead ranked them based solely on what I think they can bring to the table at the next level. Using a combination of the “eye test” and statistics, I was able to, in my eyes, accurately rate each player’s potential and what their presence might mean to an NBA franchise beginning next summer. I do not think any of these standouts will return to campus next year, as all 10 of them can make immediate impacts on whatever team is able to land them in the draft.
The list contains one senior, three sophomores and six freshmen, therefore adding yet another dimension to the argument to do away with the “one-and-done” rule and let high schoolers enter the NBA straight from eighth-period algebra class. Hey, it worked out for LeBron, didn’t it? It contains some surprises, some locks and some room open for discussion and debate. I’ve paired up each player with either one or two current NBA players that I believe the college player can model his game after and end up being similar to.
Here’s who I think will be the best professional players out of the complete pool of those currently involved in the world of college basketball. You might be surprised at who I put at the top.
10. Doug McDermott (Sr., Creighton)
While questions will arise as to whether small forward or power forward will best suit McDermott in the NBA, one thing is for certain: the guy can score efficiently. He has improved each year while at Creighton, averaging 14.9 points to go with 7.2 rebounds per game as a freshman, 22.9 points and 8.2 rebounds as a sophomore, and 23.2 points to go with 7.7 rebounds as a junior. What’s most impressive is that in his last two seasons, he has averaged 14.5 field goal attempts per game shooting 57 percent, which has resulted in his efficient point production. Even more impressively, he has hit just below 50 percent of his 3-point attempts. Because of his versatility and scoring ability, he is an interesting matchup for opposing defenses.
2013-14 Season Averages: 28.5 points, 6.0 rebounds
Pro Comparison: Ryan Anderson/Mike Miller
9. Glenn Robinson III (So., Michigan)
Robinson III quickly established himself as a premier player for the Michigan Wolverines, starting all 39 games for the NCAA runner-up squad. Averaging 33.6 minutes per game, Robinson was an important piece to the puzzle, and added 11.0 points per contest on 57.2 percent shooting, while bringing in 5.4 rebounds per game. While some were surprised he didn’t declare for the 2013 NBA Draft, Robinson made it clear that he wanted to work on some parts of his game, namely his outside shooting, free throw percentage and on-ball defense. It remains a question what position he will play in the NBA. At 6-foot-6, he might be too small to play the small forward spot, which is where he has been playing at Michigan. His father, Glen “Big Dog” Robinson, was the No. 1 selection in the 1994 NBA Draft. Let’s see if NBA scouts see similar potential in Robinson III.
2013-14 Season Averages: 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds
Pro Comparison: Andre Iguodala/Trevor Ariza
8. Gary Harris (So., Michigan State)
Harris had a pretty solid freshman season under Tom Izzo. He was voted team MVP by his teammates after winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Although his statistics were not mind-blowing at 12.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, he did have one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory for the Spartans, who have had some very talented players pass through the program over the years. He is also a very efficient 2-point shooter, hitting 41 percent of his shots from outside. At 6-foot-4, Harris needs to work on ball handling and passing, as he will be undersized in the NBA at the shooting guard position. However, he has proved he has the intangibles to be a winner, and that’s something NBA scouts look at.
2013-14 Season Averages: 20.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Pro Comparison: Randy Foye/Dion Waiters
7. James Young (Fr., Kentucky)
Young has already proven to be one of the best freshmen in college basketball. This comes as no surprise as the lefty averaged 27.2 points, 16.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists as a high school senior in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Ranked the No. 6 prospect in his class by ESPNU Recruiting, Young has shown that he can have explosive ability on the offensive end. While there are some concerns about his shot selection early on since he is shooting 35.3 percent overall and 27.2 percent from 3-point range, Young will settle down and get situated into the Kentucky offense. At 6-foot-6, he fits the mold of a prototypical shooting guard at the NBA level.
2013-14 Season Averages: 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds
Pro Comparison: Brandon Jennings/Michael Redd
6. Wayne Selden (Fr., Kansas)
Ranked No. 14 on the ESPN 100, Selden impressed everyone during his senior high school year at Tilton School in New Hampshire, averaging 24.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Rated as a five-star prospect, he was a McDonald’s All-American, and Bill Self has shown that he trusts his freshman phenom as Selden leads the team in minutes-played through the first two games of the season. It’s evident that he has explosive hops and athleticism. Combined with an ability to shoot from the outside and finish at the rim, he can be an elite offensive talent at the NBA level. One part of his game he needs to work on is his free throw shooting percentage, as his style of play will allow him to get many opportunities at the line.
2013-14 Season Averages: 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds
Pro Comparison: Dwyane Wade/Rodney Stuckey
5. Joel Embiid (Fr., Kansas)
Embiid is another top prospect coming from Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks squad. A 7-footer, Embiid possesses athleticism that is very rare for his position. A true center from Cameroon, he has seen limited minutes but as the season progresses, he should develop and receive more playing time. At just 17-years-old, he needs to work on bulking up. That will come with time, but his body control and lateral movement have been impressive to watch so far. Improving his offensive and defensive low-post situations are crucial for Embiid to develop. If he does, NBA teams will fight to the death for a tall, long, athletic, defensive-minded center. Just ask Hasheem Thabeet, who went No. 2 overall in his draft while showing absolutely no offensive ability. Another important factor to note with Embiid is that he might not be done growing. At only 17-years-old, we have seen other prospects continue growing during their early college years.
2013-14 Season Averages: 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.5 blocks (15.5 minutes)
Pro Comparison: Hasheem Thabeet/Roy Hibbert
4. Marcus Smart (So., Oklahoma State)
Smart won multiple Freshman of the Year awards in 2012-13. He was also named to the first team All-American team by Sporting News and second team All-American by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. A unanimous selection as Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Smart shocked the world when he decided to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season. After averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, what more could he improve on? The two aspects of his game that he needs to focus on this year are limiting turnovers (111 a year ago), and improving his 3-point percentage (29 percent in 2012-2013). If he improves in those two areas, he might be in the running for the No. 1 selection with the next three guys. He will certainly be the first point guard taken in next year’s draft.
2013-14 Season Averages: 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists
Pro Comparison: Russell Westbrook
3. Jabari Parker (Fr., Duke)
After averaging 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.9 steals at Simeon Career Academy during his senior season, Parker established himself as one of the top recruits of this year’s class. A combo-forward with the ability to shoot the 3-pointer and the ability to drive the basket, Parker is certainly going to make an immediate impact at the NBA level. While he doesn’t have the elite athleticism that the other prospects have on this list, he makes up for it with his basketball IQ and intangibles. He needs to work on his first step and creating his own shot. Coach K will help him out with that and he will become one of the best rookies in the NBA next season.
2013-14 Season Averages: 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds
Pro Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
2. Andrew Wiggins (Fr., Kansas)
You may think I’m crazy, but I’m going to put Andrew Wiggins second on the list. Before you shatter your computer screen, let me explain. I understand all the hype surrounding the young Canadian. He is truly a physical specimen and will be great for a long time in the NBA. However, right now, Wiggins does not look like he is in NBA shape. In other words, he needs to bulk up. I can’t put him at no. 1 until I see what he looks like when he adds on 10-15 pounds of muscle and how that transforms his game. Placing Wiggins at no. 1 on the list would also mean that I think he will have an elite impact right away, which I don’t think will happen. While he has shown that he has an incredible potential offensively, how would he stack up against physical NBA shooting guards or small forwards? Right now, I’d say unfavorably. I debated putting Parker at the no. 2 spot, but I didn’t want to cause an uproar. People say Wiggins is the “next LeBron”. However, Wiggins doesn’t have the rebounding game or court vision that LeBron possessed in high school. In summary, Wiggins will be a great professional player, but will never live up to all this hype. You’ll see who I think will live up to his hype and potential.
2013-14 Season Averages: 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists
Pro Comparison: Paul George
1. Julius Randle (Fr., Kentucky)
Julius Randle is NBA ready. Anyone who believes high school players should be able to jump right to the NBA should use Randle as their poster child. He has been hands-down the best overall player in college basketball through the first week, and he will continue his dominance all season. He has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in all three games this season and his numbers sit at 24.0 points and 14.3 rebounds per contest. His physical ability to rebound and create space down low has attributed to these outstanding numbers. 15 of his 43 rebounds have been offensive rebounds, which further proves his assertiveness in the post. The reason I put Randle ahead of Wiggins and Parker is that I believe he could currently be in the starting lineup on about half of the NBA teams. He is that advanced in his progression. Every team desires a strong rebounding, defensive presence on the interior. When adding an array of post moves to the mix, the combination then becomes very rare. Randle has that combination and should be a perennial All-Star at the next level.
2013-14 Season Averages: 24.0 points, 14.3 rebounds
Pro Comparison: Zach Randolph