Mark Heisler: Duke's Irving tops list of top 20 draft prospects

April 03, 2011|By Mark Heisler, Tribune Newspapers

In our annual salute to the NCAA tournament, here's our best guess at the first 20 players to be selected in the June NBA draft.

The debate about No. 1 will depend on who gets the pick.

1(T). Kyrie Irving, Fr., Duke: Some see Chris Paul II, more see a better Ty Lawson. I'm going with those who see greatness, even if Irving was only good in the tournament coming off his injury. If the Cavs, Raptors, Kings or Jazz (with the Nets' pick) are No. 1, it's him.

1(T). Derrick Williams, So., Arizona: Now top three, two or one. If the Wizards, who have John Wall, get the No. 1 pick, it's him. Or …

3. Enes Kanter, Fr., Kentucky: Listed at 6-10, 240, the weight looks right ... as a low estimate. If he's 6-9, the Timberwolves or Wizards could take him No. 1 as an Al Hoford-type center. At whatever height he is, Kanter got 34-13 in the 2010 Hoop Summit against Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, et al.

4. Jonas Valanciunas, Lietuvos Rytas, Lithuania: Slender at 6-11, 240, but GMs say he could be a Pau Gasol. Says a scout of Kanter and Valanciunas, "If they played college ball in the U.S., they might be 1-2."

5. Harrison Barnes, Fr., North Carolina: Not ready, but who is? Not gifted at small forward — where the athletes play — but has great feel, attacks and plays on the move. I love him, but when I miss, all I have to do is write, "Oops."

6. Jared Sullinger, Fr., Ohio State: Not coming but deserves this salute. I don't like comparisons to anomalies like Dennis Rodman or Kevin Love — but I think he's Love Child II.

7. Perry Jones, Fr., Baylor: On pure appeal since he's like a 6-11 guard. Baylor made the Elite Eight with Ekpe Udoh but didn't make the 68-team field with Jones.

8. Kemba Walker, Jr. Connecticut: Not big or a knockdown shooter but totally clutch, taking a young team through the Big East tournament and loaded West bracket.

9. Terrence Jones, Fr., Kentucky: Great-looking 6-9 athlete, but his production slipped as other Wildcats stepped up.

10. Alec Burks, So., Colorado: Major shooting-guard prospect should go higher.

11. Brandon Knight, Fr., Kentucky: Shot his way into the lottery. Not a great penetrator but he is a knockdown shooter who defends.

12. Jan Vesely, KK Partizan Belgrade, Serbia: Admirers see Andrei Kirilenko.

13. John Henson, So., North Carolina: Slender at 6-10, 220, but he has answered questions about his toughness — so far.

14. Jeremy Lamb, Fr., Connecticut: Billed as Wes Johnson but better. Surfaced so recently, it's unknown if he's coming.

15. Reggie Jackson, Jr., Boston College: Point guard is moving up. Big and athletic at 6-3, 208, he is considered third-best behind Irving and Knight.

16. Kawhi Leonard, So., San Diego State: Not a player you see often. Try Luc Richard Mbah a Moute with a Kobe Bryant handle.

17. Tyler Zeller, Jr., North Carolina: Major mover at 7-foot, 250. Filled out, got tougher and can shoot.

18. Lucas Nogueira,

Asefa Estudiantes, Spain: Closely watched 7-foot Brazilian will play in Saturday's Hoop Summit.

19. Donatas Motiejunas, Benetton Treviso, Italy: Young, skilled, basket-facing Euro-type big man is 7-foot, 215 pounds.

20. Kenneth Faried, Sr., Morehead State: An animal rebounder if he is only 6-6. Nice tab by ESPN's Chad Ford.

Then there's BYU's Jimmer Fredette. He's still a first-rounder, but scouts see him as a sharpshooting reserve, not a starting point guard.

mheisler@tribune.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.