Top NBA Draft Prospects in the ACC (Part One: #1-#5)
#6: Jared Dudley
6-7, SF/PF, Senior, Boston College
But for now there are more questions than clear answers regarding his NBA future. And it isn't always Dudley's fault - part of the problem is the system and size of BCs team. With so many teams starting 3-guards, a player like Dudley who is 6'7 and weighed around 240 pounds last year had a clear size advantage at the Small Forward spot. His size, as well as his aggressive and physical style of play, allows him to post-up smaller defenders and score the majority of his points from inside the paint. Is it successful? Absolutely. Will he be able to play the same way in NBA? Most likely not. Without being a Corliss Williamson-type player, it's impossible to imagine that a 6'7 Small Forward can find a niche in the NBA operating mostly inside the paint.
If Jared Dudley wants to be considered a serious NBA Draft prospect, he has to show more perimeter skills in this upcoming season. For now he is a consistent mid-range shooter and can also hit spot-up 3-pointers on a decent percentage (35% last season), but on a low number of attempts (under one make per game). He has a high release point on his jumper, but probably isn't ready yet to shoot consistently from the NBA 3-point line, particularly when off-balance. He also rarely beats his opponent off the dribble, mostly because of his lack of quickness and average ball-handling skills. He also has problems on the defensive end he is not quick enough chasing opposing players through screens or staying in front of them in man to man. He usually works hard on both ends of the floor and rarely takes plays off, but he clearly isn't athletic enough in defending the perimeter, and just like on the offensive end, he looks much more comfortable when operating closer to the basket.
It would be a surprise to see Al Skinner changing Dudley's role on offense, after it worked so well over the last few years. So we can expect to again see him destroying smaller and/or weaker defenders and operating mostly around the rim. In this case, a good showing at pre-draft camps and private workouts, where he will have a chance to demonstrate his legit perimeter game, will be crucial for him. The news out of BC this offseason says that Dudley has lost close to 20 pounds, which is an interesting development to follow.
#7: J.R. Reynolds
6-3, PG/SG, Senior, Virginia
Most people will probably be surprised to find the less heralded member of Virginias terrific backcourt, J.R. Reynolds, over his counterpart Sean Singletary. But from evaluating a great deal of footage of the two operating together last year, what we learned made it impossible for us to do otherwise.
Reynolds is more than just a slashing threat, though, as he has the talent and scoring instincts to put the ball in the net from almost anywhere on the floor. Possessing terrific ball-handling skills, he has no problem creating shots for himself from the perimeter. If the lane is a bit too crowded, he is very fond of pulling up off the dribble for a mid-range jumper, whether its from just inside the paint, from the baseline, or anywhere around the 3-point arc, even going glass at times. At times hell show a very pretty one-handed floater that he uses effectively to compliment the shiftiness of his movements and the way he gets defenders off balance.
As a shooter, Reynolds can be deadly when given an opportunity to really heat up. Playing mostly off the ball for Virginia, he is terrific at coming off screens and firing away with little to no hesitation with his feet set or off a short set-up dribble. Reynolds has deep range on his jumper and a very quick, pretty stroke. With that said, he has a tendency to abuse it far too often, as him and his counterpart Sean Singletary are often expected to shoulder their teams entire scoring load. Reynolds can hit tough shots with a hand in his face, but hes extremely streaky. He shows concerning shot-selection at times and is not the best decision maker youll find, overpenetrating in the paint, running into brick walls and turning the ball over far too often.
Playing next to arguably the top point guard in the conference, hell have to prove to scouts and GMs over the next 8 months that he has an NBA position every opportunity that he has. As mentioned, his ball-handling is very solid, and his court vision not bad at all. He does not seem to be a selfish player, as its not rare to see him put his teammates in a position to score.
Defensively is another story altogether, although he does have fairly quick hands and feet. He has a tendency to give up on plays at times and conserve his energy more for the offensive end. Combo guards in the NBA are expected to be able to guard both 1s and 2s in the league, which means this is yet another area hell be tested at repeatedly both over his college career as well as private individual workouts or camps
Watching him play and to a lesser extent looking at his near identical numbers, its hard not to be reminded at times of the player Randy Foye was going into his senior year, although hes not quite as explosive. Reynolds has his work cut out for himself to make the NCAA tournament, but if his team gets hot, it wouldnt be a shock to see his stock take off as well, possibly into the first round. Most people dont even know his name at this point, but weve got a hunch that hes a name to keep an eye on.
#8: Sean Singletary
5-11, PG, Junior, Virginia
Were talking about an extremely instinctive basketball player, a guy that was definitely born to play the game. Starting with his physical attributes; hes an outstanding athlete, particularly in the open floor, where he is nearly impossible to stay in front of. Hes lightning quick and changes directions in the blink of an eye, possessing superb body control to maneuver his way around the paint with pretty spin-moves and nifty floaters. His crossover is deadly, as is his footwork, and he loves to use this combination to explode into the paint coming from the left or right, create contact, hang in the air and either draw the foul and/or finish with the utmost creativity. The thing that might be the most distinctive about his style of play is the fact that hes constantly looking to attack defenses and make things happen.
On the other end of the ball, Singletary is quite solid, taking pride in staying in front of his man and displaying pesky hands in the passing lanes and extremely quick feet on man to man. His size will be an issue at the next level, but at the ACC level, it doesnt seem to bother him that much.
From the perimeter, Singletary is very solid pulling up off the dribble for mid-range jumpers. He gets his shot off in the toughest of situations, elevating high off the floor, and has the touch and instincts to just throw the ball in the bottom of the net at end-of-shot-clock situations. Once he is pulled farther away from the basket, though, his consistency wavers, as he has average shooting mechanics; including a deliberate release and a tendency to flail his body around and kill any chance of having a consistent release point. As an outside shooter, he has plenty of room to continue to improve, although he will knock down shots at a nice clip when he starts heating up.
As a point guard, Singletarys decision making is often lacking and he is definitely too turnover prone for his position. Virginias offense forces him to go one on one almost every other possession, and we often see Singletary over-dribbling, running into brick walls, and taking tough, contested off-balance shots. Its not that he lacks playmaking skills, he actually has excellent court vision and is superb at creating shots for others, but he just doesnt always seem to use it, particularly in tough, grind it out half-court sets.
Part of this has to do with the quality of his teammates, but part of it might have to do with how banged up hes been over the past two years. He had plenty of nagging little injuries last season and this summer went in to have hip surgery. For someone who is already on the small side at a skinny 5-11 at best, thats a bit of a concern.
If Singletary can help his team make the NCAA tournament (an absolute must), he should be in an interesting predicament next May. Early on this draft has the making of yet another weak class of point guards, so its not out of the question that he works himself solidly into the first round or possibly the top-20. His potential is a bit limited by his lack of size, though.
#9: Gavin Grant
6-8, SG/SF, Junior, NC State
Were talking about a player with excellent tools to get the job done. He has good size, an excellent frame, a nice wingspan, and solid athleticism. Being a pretty quick player, hes very hard to stop once he gets an initial step on his defender. Although hes not incredibly explosive on his initial move, he is able to overpower his way into the lane with a terrific 2nd and 3rd step. Like most New York City guards, Grant is a very talented ball-handler, being able to create his own shot going either left or right and having the toughness and aggressiveness to continue to attack the basket strong time after time. He finishes with purpose around the hoop, showing nice creativity and using the glass well when given the opportunity to do so.
As an outside shooter is where Grant struggled the most as a sophomore, which made him a really poor fit in Herb Sendeks Princeton-type Offense. His shooting mechanics looked very poor, showing a slow and deliberate release and little to no elevation on his jumper. He also rarely would show signs of a capable mid-range game, being a bit one-dimensional in the fact that he either settled for a low percentage shot with his feet set or took the ball strong to the hoop with a full head of steam. There are some question marks about just how committed Grant is to making everyone around him better, as he is a bit too stubborn with the way he forces the issue at times, and appears to have fairly average court vision in terms of creating shots for others.
Defensively, Grant has nice tools, but hes yet to show a consistent commitment in terms of his intensity and awareness to stay in front of his man.
This season could go many different ways for NC State, but they will regardless need Grant at his absolute best. He has an opportunity to be one of the top scorers in the conference if he lives up to his potential, and therefore a real chance to really up his draft stock in the process.
#10: Mike Jones
6-5, Shooting Guard, Senior, Maryland
6-5, SG, Senior, Maryland
The Massachusetts native possesses all of the traits that NBA teams look for in a shooting specialist. He seemingly always finds the open areas of the floor to spot up at, and once he has the ball, gets it off in a hurry with picture perfect form. Jones is quite possibly the countrys most dangerous shooter when he is on. His range extends to 25 or 26 feet, where he has absolutely no problem launching from. The 2003 McDonalds All America Three Point Contest Champion has the ability to quickly knock in 4 or 5 three pointers in a short period of time, giving one the idea that he has the potential to eventually become a terrific weapon off the bench in the NBA one day. His shooting prowess does not end there however, as he is also virtually automatic from the free throw line, making 89.8% of his attempts last season.
Physically, Jones is just about everything you could ask for in a shooting guard. He combines solid size with a nice wingspan and good lateral quickness. To top it off, the Terrapin guard is incredibly explosive, and is a constant threat to dunk on opposing players in the open court.
These superior physical traits are also the same thing that frustrates fans, college coaches, and NBA scouts alike. Jones does not ever seem to use his athletic talents, instead choosing to settle for primarily outside jump shots every time he touches the ball. He does not even look to take the ball to the basket, so its only imaginable how good he could actually be if he put it all together.
There are many holes in Mikes game, however. To start things off, he is a bad decision maker, and is incredibly turnover prone. This could be attributed to his marginal ball handling skills, or the fact that he has basically turned himself into a one dimensional player on the court. As we mentioned before, Jones doesnt really do much off the dribble, rarely displaying a pull-up jumper or taking the ball all the way to the rim. Those deficiencies explain why the talented guard does not see the free throw line often, only getting approximately 1.5 attempts per game.
Defensively, it is incredibly frustrating watching Jones. He has all of the tools to be a good defender, but does not put any of them to use. The senior wing constantly lost focus last year, and clearly did not display consistent effort on the defensive end of the floor. We will see this year whether or not Mike chooses to put all his tools to use and can become a quality defender in the ACC.
As far as the NBA is concerned, Mike Jones can be in the NBA if Mike Jones wants to be in the NBA. The only thing holding him back is himself, and his desire, or lack thereof. It will be interesting to see if Jones finally puts it all together his senior year and gives himself a legitimate shot of being drafted, but if we look at how the last three years went, wed say the odds are against that happening. On the other hand, he can easily carve himself a niche if he can heat up in just a couple of workouts or one of the pre-draft camps, as its rare to find an athlete of his nature who can stroke the ball the way he can.