Part One, Two, Three
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC:
Part One, Two, Three
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC:
Part One, Two
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 10:
Part One, Two
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East:
Part One, Two, Three
Top Returning NBA Draft Prospects in the 'Other' Conferences:
Non High-Major Conferences Part II
#6: Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-6, Junior, Shooting Guard, Memphis
A 6-6 (although listed at 6-7 by Memphis) pure wing with a nice wingspan and outstanding athletic ability, Douglas-Roberts passes the eye test and then some on first glance. He has a fantastic first step, explosive leaping ability, excellent body control, and the core strength needed to put it all together on the floor. Douglas-Roberts has a somewhat lanky frame, but he plays extremely strong with the ball, being incredibly tough to deny angles to the basket, and very aggressive and confident when it comes to creating offense for himself.
The go-to option for an Elite Eight NCAA tournament team last season whenever they needed a basket, there is no reason to believe that Douglas-Roberts wont continue to establish himself as one of the premier scoring wing players in the country as a junior. On a per minute basis, CDR as hes called was the 5th best returning scoring sophomore in the NCAA amongst all draft prospects, which is impressive considering the team he played for when you look at the talent they had on their roster. It will be interesting to see how much the arrival of another very talented ball-handler in Derrick Rose will affect him. Rose is an unselfish and very pure playmaker, but he does need the ball in his hands to be effective, just like Douglas-Roberts.
Douglas-Roberts bread and butter lies in his slashing game. He is not only an outstanding athlete, but is also an excellent ball-handler with either hand, allowing him to be almost ambidextrous with the way he creates (and finishes) his own shot, making him that much more lethal as a shot-creator. He knives his way through the lane with great purpose--featuring a terrific array of crossovers, jukes and body fakes--drawing contact and finishing extremely well at the basket, sometimes with a pretty floater, and sometimes with a highlight reel caliber dunk. Douglas-Roberts was considered a point guard prospect in high school back in Michigan, and he was one of multiple ball-handlers in Memphis up-tempo offense who could get the team into their offense. His point guard skills arent as immediately recognizable these days, though, as he appears to have a clear-cut scorers mentality.
Douglas-Roberts is a very tough player as youd expect from a Detroit-born guard, and at times Memphis will even post him up a bit to take advantage of mismatches. Hes strong and aggressive enough to carve out space for himself down there, and will even flash a little jump-hook shot to finish a play himself.
Where his toughness really comes out, though, is in his defensive ability. Douglas-Roberts has both the tools (size, length, lateral quickness) and the mentality to be a disruptive presence. He is a pesky, physical defender who sticks to his man and does not let up. He will come up with some steals and even the occasional block at times.
Despite all the positives, there are still some pretty noticeable drawbacks to Douglas Roberts game as well. The most obvious one would be his perimeter shotas he hit only 19 3-pointers last season on a 33% clip. His shot isnt broke, but the mechanics do need work, as his jumper looks different almost every time he takes one and often comes out as a push-shot. Hes not a consistent threat from behind the arc even when left wide open, and this is something that is really holding him back from being considered a top-tier draft prospect at the moment.
As much as Douglas-Roberts is a slasher, youd like to see him develop a better pull-up jumper he can utilize from mid-range when the lane is clogged. He much prefers going to his floater, which possesses range out to about 12 feet, but would be well served by adding a fluid pull-up shot he can execute off the dribble as wellwhich most NBA shooting guards have in their arsenal. According to Synergy Sports Technologys quantified stats, Douglas-Roberts goes all the way to the basket on 88% of his drives, which at times leaves him penetrating deeper into traffic than you might hope. This is fine at the Conference USA level, but wont translate as well to the NBA.
All in all, though, its hard not to get the sense from evaluating his video in depth that we might have been sleeping on Douglas-Roberts a bit over his first two years at Memphis, due to their off the radar conference slate and stable of perimeter talent. Thats going to change now going into his junior season, where we feel he could really develop into a major draft story. Hes got the talent and the physical attributes, and if the preseason predictions are any indication, could be part of a NCAA tournament Final Four run, giving him exactly the boost he needs.
#7: Reggie Williams, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, VMI
Watching him on tape, its pretty clear that hes an extremely talented player regardless of the system he plays in. He wouldnt have led the country by a huge margin by averaging 35 points per 40 minutes (on 53% shooting) if he wasnt. Williams has decent size, complimented by extremely long arms, although physically he could still stand to add some bulk to his skinny frame. Hes often the one who brings the ball up the floor for VMI, acting as the defacto point guard very often. Williams can get to the basket using either hand, although hes a natural lefty with somewhat improvable ball-handling skills. He gets to the free throw line at an excellent rate (8 attempts per game), even if his 66% averages here are nothing to boast about. He is probably a better shooter than his 32% averages from behind the arc would indicate, though, showing a quick release and deep range, but also being somewhat on the streaky side because of his poor shot-selection (which his teams style of play is largely responsible for). He also gets points in the post, from mid-range, and from everywhere else on the floor, being extremely sneaky in the way he slithers around players and knocks down tough shots. He doesnt ever knock your socks off with his athleticism, though.
Williams is an extremely smart player, highly unselfish as ridiculous as it might sound considering that he attempted a whopping 24 shots per game. His 4.4 assists per game tell the story nicely, though, as it wouldnt be a stretch to say that he has absolutely terrific court vision with the way he finds teammates creatively with bullet passes when they expect it least. Hes also a very good rebounder, aided greatly by his length and timing and the fact that he played almost a power forward type role on this end, despite being somewhat of a point guard offensively.
Defensively, hes a little bit difficult to evaluate due to the amount of zone his team plays, and the fact that they run a lot of full-court press and gamble an awful lot in the passing lanes. With that said, in the few isolated half-court possessions we were able to evaluate, he seemed a bit lackadaisical at times, not showing the greatest lateral quickness in the world.
All in all, we feel like we still need to see more of Williams before we draw any real long-term conclusions about his NBA potential, as his footage isnt as easy to come by as some other prospects, and the system he plays is pretty unconventional to say the least. You never want to rule out a 6-5 scoring machine, though, so well be sure to stay tuned.
#8: J.R. Giddens, 6-4, Shooting Guard, New Mexico, Senior
The senior guard will draw NBA interest based on his natural physical tools alone. Giddens possesses great athleticism, and the ability to create his own shot at any time. Though shorter than many NBA two guards, the senior has a well built body and can jump out of the gym.
Offensively, Giddens established himself as the go-to scorer on New Mexico last season, and showed no fear in attempting to create his own shot. He has the tools to develop a deadly mid-range game down the road, but forces too many looks off the dribble at this point. Rather than drawing contact or finding the open man when double-teamed, Giddens will often pull up and force bad shots from 10 feet out. His ability to pull up at any time would be much more effective if he showed a willingness to drive all the way to the basket and create contact on a regular basis as well. On the drive to the basket, Giddens displayed a quick first step, though his ball handling became sloppy at times, particularly with the left hand.
The talented guard relied on his three point shot at Kansas, but his accuracy with the perimeter jumper dropped significantly last season. This can be attributed to Giddens shot selection, which will need a lot of work this season. When spotting up from three or working against just one defender, he can shoot the three pointer quite effectively, but the success rate again drops significantly when he forces difficult shots. The mechanics on his shot look funny, but he releases the ball very quickly, and with the elevation needed to shoot contested jumpers at the NBA level.
The combination of quickness, length and strength give the senior guard potential on the defensive end of the ball, but the effort has yet to match the physical tools in this area. Giddens rarely exerts himself defensively, and lacks the fundamental knowledge of defensive rotations and positioning.
J.R. Giddens will be relied upon to be the go-to guy for New Mexico again this season, but this time it will be under Steve Alford, his third college coach in 5 seasons. With an improved shot selection and a focus on team play, Giddens could move his way up the draft board of many scouts. Until then, he will find himself in the second round of many mock drafts, but with great potential to move up or down depending on his final season of college basketball.
#9: Jason Thompson, 6-10, Senior, Center, Rider
Physically, there are some things to like about Thompson, but plenty that could hold him back. He has average size for an NBA center, but has great length which lets him play bigger than he is sometimes. He doesnt have great leaping ability, but makes up for it by being very quick off his feet. Thompson certainly is an active player as well, very rarely is he stagnant on the offensive end of the floor. What does hurt Thompson is his overall athletic ability. He isnt tremendously agile or quick, and while he may seem to do fine in conference play, this is against weaker and smaller competition than most other big man prospects face.
As one would expect from a player of Thompsons size in a smaller conference, he gets the majority of his touches in the post. He does a fairly good job of getting position and keeping it, but at 250 pounds, there is room on his frame to add more muscle, which would certainly help him at the next level. What is interesting to observe, is despite having a height advantage on most of his defenders, Thompson often tries relying on his speed rather than his size to score. He has a fairly quick spin move and shows decent footwork on the block. He is very aggressive going to the basket and shows nice touch around the hole, but as is common with so many college big men, he often rushes his shot, releasing before he is squared to the rim. From the tape we saw of Thompson though, it looks like most of the time he is able to take advantage of his size advantage in the post when scoring, rather than possessing an elite skill set or feel for the game.
Thompson likes to roam around on the perimeter a lot, where he will catch and shoot from time to time (even beyond the arc), or drive to the basket. Thompson has awkward form, but a quick release, and still has a lot of work to do before he can be considered any sort of a consistent threat from the outside. Against MAAC defenders, Thompson was able to drive to the basket from the perimeter and finish some shots in the lane at times. He doesnt show the quick first step or overall explosiveness that indicates he could do this against higher level competition consistently, though.
One thing that really stands out about Thompson is his hustle. He averaged just fewer than three offensive rebounds per game last year, and his aggressiveness when going to the basket translated into nearly eight free throws attempted per game last season. Factor in that he shot a respectable 72.4% from the line, and Thompson was able to do some damage against teams that consistently fouled him.
Defensively, Thompson was a stand out in the MAAC last season. He led the conference in rebounds (10.1) and blocked shots (2.2). Again, even though Thompson isnt a tremendous leaper, he is able to block and alter a lot of shots because of his length and quickness off the ground. He does a solid job fronting the post, but again could stand to add on a little more weight to prevent stronger players from backing him down. Thompson looks a bit lost at times within his teams half-court offense (his awareness here leaves something to be desired) and still needs to do a better job of closing out on shooters. Perhaps the best part of Thompsons defensive game is the same as his offensive game; he is active. Throughout the course of the game his head is on a swivel, constantly scanning the floor to see where he should position himself.
Thompson has put up stellar numbers thus far in his career, but there are always skeptics of mid-major players who produce against sometimes lesser competition. While Thompson has shown a lot of promise, his athleticism and feel for the game are major question marks. He is often too mechanical on the court and it doesnt appear that he has the physical abilities that would make him an effective power forward at the next level. Despite this though, there are still aspects of Thompsons game that will get the attention of some scouts. If he has a strong senior season, he should get the chance to test himself against tougher competition at the various pre-draft camps and tournaments.
#10: Derrick Brown, 6-7, Sophomore, PF/SF, Xavier
The biggest asset that Brown has is surely his remarkable athleticism. There are no more than five players in the collegiate game who are more athletic than him, if that. His freakish leaping ability completely translates into his play on the floor, as he dunks absolutely everything around the cup and is able to out jump virtually all of his foes, making him an absolute terror on the glass. 41 of Browns 77 field goals last season were dunks, evidence backing up just how much of a monster he is around the rim. Although he was forced to play in the pivot for virtually all of his minutes, he did show off some promise in the few times that he was able to go to work facing the basket. The red shirt sophomore displayed a first step that would be impressive for a small forward prospect, blowing by unsuspecting defenders en route to the rim. Hes able to take advantage of unbalanced defenses to get to the rim with one or two dribbles, but still hasnt shown the ability to create his own shot from the perimeter.
Equally as impressive as his athletic prowess was his ability to finish inside. Brown shot a resounding 70% from the field, with a 73% true shooting percentage, placing him atop that category of all prospects in the DraftExpress database. While the large majority of the Dayton natives shots are dunks or lay-ups, the numbers dont lie about how efficient of a player that he is when out on the floor. The fact that he showed off great hands and quick leaping ability helped in his ability to convert everything inside, and also contributed to his great efficiency rating.
Forced to play power forward and even center at times last season, Brown did not have very many opportunities to show off his perimeter game. In the limited times that he did play out on the wing, he showed off a pretty nice static jumper when left open (although with a slow and deliberate release), converting on half of the 8 three pointers he attempted last year. Derrick showed off decent ball handling skills for a power forward, but both his handle and outside shot will need improvement if he hopes to evolve into a full time combo forward. Unfortunately, the graduation of Justin Doellman and Justin Cage will leave Brown relegated to the 4 and 5 slots for yet another year, although he will be Xaviers premier frontcourt option.
Defensively, Brown is very versatile in that he is able to guard both small forwards and post players equally well. He has outstanding lateral quickness and length, which allows him to do a very nice job of staying in front of smaller players when defending out on the perimeter. Weighing 225 pounds, Brown has adequate strength to guard defenders in the post as well. His versatility on the defensive end will be a major selling point to prospective teams in the future, and makes his much more desirable as a prospect.
Brown still has a bit of a ways to go before we can project where hell be drafted, but he certainly has all of the physical tools to become an NBA player one day. It is rare that you find a player with his package of size, athleticism, and hustle play playing in the Atlantic-10. Expect a much improved year from Brown individually this year in the stats category, with much more opportunity on the offensive end. Xavier as a team should be atop the A-10 yet again, led by Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell, and Manhattan transfer C.J. Anderson, giving Brown plenty of chances to show his stuff in front of NBA personnel.