Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East, Part Two (#6-10)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East, Part Two (#6-10)
Oct 08, 2010, 10:13 am
Continuing to evaluate the top returning NBA prospects in the Big East, we take a look at West Virginia's Kevin Jones, Georgetown's Chris Wright, St. John's D.J. Kennedy, Louisville's Terrence Jennings, and Marquette's Darius Johnson-Odom.

Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA circuit before we come to any long-term conclusions.

-Top 20 NBA Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big 12
-Top 10 NBA Prospects in the Pac-10
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the SEC

Top NBA Prospects in the Big East, Part One (#1-5)

#1 Kemba Walker
#2 Mouphtaou Yarou
#3 Kris Joseph
#4 Maalik Wayns
#5 Alex Oriakhi

#6 Kevin Jones, 6'9, Junior, Power Forward, West Virginia
13.5 Points, 7.2 Rebounds, 1.1 Assistants, 1.1 Turnovers, 52.1% FG, 40.4% 3FG, 66.1% FT

Having profiled Jones fairly late in the season with a comprehensive scouting report, we've elected to wait and see what type of progress he's made with a fresh perspective in a few months, rather than rehashing many of the same comments made last year based off his 2009-2010 game footage.

#7 Chris Wright, 6'1, Point Guard, Senior, Georgetown
15.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 47% FG, 78% FT, 34% 3PT

Joseph Treutlein

The third leading scorer on a very successful Hoyas team, Chris Wright is returning to school as a senior after steadily improving his game in each of his first three years on campus. Now he will look to make a case for himself in the NBA draft, where his attacking style and aggressive defense will be his strongest selling points.

Standing 6'1 with a very well built frame and very good athleticism, Wright has great physical tools for a point guard and he's not shy about putting those tools to use, constantly throwing his body around on both ends of the floor and playing the game with a tenacious motor. He has a quick first step, the agility to change directions off the dribble, great upper body strength, and a pretty good vertical as well.

On the offensive end, Wright actually does most of his damage in transition, having very good end-to-end speed with the ball and creating a lot of opportunities to push the ball with his work on the defensive end. He shows great body control in the lane and has no problem drawing or finishing through contact, while he also shows the vision to dish the ball off when his lane closes.

In the halfcourt, Wright unsurprisingly gets most of his offense spotting up or making cuts off the ball in Georgetown's Princeton Offense, something that plays well to his scoring strengths. In the lane, he shows a very nice right-handed floater to complement his ability to get to the free-throw line, though he does have trouble finishing over weakside help when going all the way to the rim at times.

Attacking the basket out of isolations, Wright isn't as strong as when someone else is setting him up, not being the type of player to consistently create in one-on-one situations. While he will incorporate occasional spin moves or make subtle changes of direction with the ball in the lane, he mostly relies on his strong first step getting separation from his man.

Wright complements his attacking game with a pretty good three-point shot, being excellent from range when open but struggling heavily when contested. He has a smooth motion with a high and quick release, and he even shows nice flashes pulling up off the dribble when he gets necessary space, but he shows major problems when he has a hand in his face with his accuracy falling off considerably.

As a point guard is where Wright has the most question marks projecting to the NBA, though not because he's inadequate at the college level. Wright actually does a good job in his role at Georgetown, not being a selfish player, displaying good court vision and passing ability, and finding a good balance of scoring and passing in Georgetown's offensive system, but unfortunately their Princeton Offense takes the ball out of his hands frequently and many times his role is closer to a shooting guard than point guard.

While Wright shows good court vision finding open shooters and hitting cutters in the lane, while also looking pretty proficient in the rare situations he gets to run a pick-and-roll, there are little opportunities to assess him creating for others off the dribble on drive-and-dishes, something that's partly due to the offense and partly due to his own limitations.

While there are questions about how he will adjust to a different role on the offensive end if he makes it to the NBA, the same can't be said on defense, where Wright shows excellent physical tools, fundamentals, and a non-stop motor. Physical and aggressive in isolations with great lateral quickness to go along with it, Wright projects very well on the defensive end. He brings a complete game to the table on this end of the floor as well, doing a great job fighting through screens on pick-and-rolls and being very dangerous picking pockets both in man-to-man and crashing passing lanes.

Wright is clearly an excellent college player and there aren't many questions about his physical tools either, but role will be his biggest concern projecting to the NBA as it's unseen if he can be a full-time point guard and there aren't many niche teams where his off-the-ball tendencies would seamlessly fit in. Also, players in those roles tend to be great shooters as opposed to pretty good shooters, so Wright would help himself considerably if he takes his shooting game to the next level this season, and his draft stock may depend on it, as his situation likely won't allow him to show similar strides with his floor general abilities.

#8 D.J. Kennedy, 6'6, Senior, Small Forward, St. John's
15.1 Points, 6.1 Rebounds, 3.1 Assistants, 2.5 Turnovers, 1.2 Steals, 45.0% FG, 38.3% 3FG, 75.6% FT

Having profiled Kennedy fairly late in the season with a comprehensive scouting report, we've elected to wait and see what type of progress he's made with a fresh perspective in a few months, rather than rehashing many of the same comments made last year based off his 2009-2010 game footage.

#9 Terrence Jennings, 6-10, Junior, Power Forward/Center, Louisville
5.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.7 turnovers, 0.6 steals, 1.3 blocks, 61.7% FG, 55.0% FT

Kyle Nelson

It is safe to say that Terrence Jennings has yet to live up to the massive high school hype that followed him to Louisville. As a freshman and a sophomore, he failed to prove himself as anything other than an intriguing athlete. Jennings is projected to start at center this season, following an underwhelming two year stint backing up Samardo Samuels and will have the opportunity to both earn minutes and to shoulder an expanded role.

Jennings had NBA-caliber size and athleticism before he even arrived at Louisville. Standing 6'10 with a fantastic 230-pound frame and impressive length, Jennings has the size and athleticism to play either post position at the next level.

For all of Jennings's physical and athletic gifts, however, he has made few strides on the offensive end. He played only 13.2 minutes per game as a sophomore and scored in double figures just three times on his way to a paltry 5.1 points per game.

His footwork is still extremely raw and, though he does a decent job of establishing position in the post, his basketball IQ and court awareness look well below average. His hands are not the greatest, either, and he rarely was prepared once he received the ball in the post. Instead of backing his man down and utilizing his superior strength, he settled for highly difficult off-balance shots in the lane.

At this stage, Jennings is most effective cleaning up around the rim where he can grab offensive rebounds in his immediate vicinity and finish emphatically. As a junior, Jennings must work to develop a go-to post move and improve upon his extremely limited skill set from becoming more comfortable in pick and roll possessions to learning how to pass the ball out of double teams.

Outside of the post, he continued to show flashes that suggest he can expand his skill set in the future. While he is a weak ball handler, he occasionally put the ball on the floor for solid straight line drives to the basket. His quick first step, mobility, and finishing abilities could potentially translate into an effective, though likely limited, face-up game.

Jennings also showed some potential in spot-up possessions, albeit on a very small amount of attempts. His mechanics are surprisingly good from his fluid shooting motion to his high point of release. While Jennings is better off asserting himself in the post, his ability to knock down shots is intriguing and is definitely worth monitoring.

On defense, Jennings lacks the ideal lateral quickness to guard perimeter oriented big men, but he has solid quickness and strength to defend in the post. He is not a particularly skilled positional defender, however, as he frequently loses his man and compensates by committing bad fouls. While he displays solid effort, he must work on maintaining focus and awareness in the team defense if he wants to stay on the floor next season.

Jennings is one of the best shot blocking prospects in our database, however, averaging 3.6 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season. His timing and athleticism unfortunately help him less on the defensive boards, as he struggles to consistently box out his man and grabbed just 7.8% of Lousiville's defensive rebounds.

Ultimately, few NBA players have Jennings's combination of size, strength, and athleticism, but his skill set is severely lacking. He must learn how to stay on the floor by limiting turnovers and fouls while displaying better awareness on the defensive end. He must rebound the ball better and he must work to establish a post repertoire. After all, hype does not last forever and Jennings will only remain a relevant prospect if he proves he can be just as good of a basketball player as he is an athlete.

#10 Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2, Junior, Shooting Guard, Marquette
13.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.0 turnovers, .9 steals, 46% FG, 68% FT, 47% 3P

Jonathan Givony

Grades forced Darius Johnson-Odom to spend a year in prep school and then junior college before making his NCAA debut last season for Marquette, but clearly that was worth the wait from Buzz Williams' perspective. Johnson-Odom finished as the second leading per-minute scorer on Marquette's team, and was often the one with the ball in his hands down the stretch when the Golden Eagles needed a basket.

From a physical standpoint, Johnson-Odom has pretty much everything you could look for in a guard prospect, minus a couple of inches. He sports a chiseled frame, with long arms and very good athleticism, showing a terrific first step, very nice fluidity in the lane, and the mindset to take advantage of his very good physical tools.

Johnson-Odom's biggest strength revolves around his dead-eye shooting ability, as he ranked as one of the most efficient outside shooters in all of college basketball last season, both from a volume and accuracy standpoint. He made an outstanding 47.4% of his 3-pointers last season, on over 4.5 attempts per game, and knocked down an amazing 55% of his catch and shoot jumpers, rating him in the 99th percentile of college basketball. Capable of making shots both with his feet set or off the dribble, Johnson is extremely accurate even with a hand in his face, showing NBA range on his jumper.

Far more than just a one-dimensional spot-up shooter, Johnson-Odom is also a capable shot-creator, showing strong ball-handling skills with either hand and the athleticism to get by his defender fairly effectively.

At the moment he tends to prefer pulling up off the dribble for a mid-range jumper rather than taking the ball all the way to the rim, which is one of the reasons why he's not terribly efficient inside the arc, converting worse on his 2-point attempts than on 3-pointers, oddly enough.

He needs to do a better job finishing stronger at the rim, not settling for floaters and learning the nuances of how to take the ball all the way to the basket and draw contact. The fact that he's able to dribble and finish with either hand makes him somewhat unique at the NCAA level and is something he could continue to build on over the next few years as he develops his shot-creating ability even further.

Very undersized for a shooting guard at 6-2, Johnson-Odom would be well served to improve on his playmaking ability and passing skills. Despite clearly being a shoot-first type scorer, he appears to be an unselfish guy who is willing to make the extra pass, showing a good feel for the game and sporting a positive assist to turnover ratio. With that said, he still has a ways to go in this area, as his inexperience definitely showed at times last year.

Defensively, Johnson-Odom is pretty impressive, showing the length, strength, and lateral quickness to guard up to three positions at the NCAA level. He's a very tough, pesky defender who puts great effort in on this end of the floor, using his length extremely well to contest shots on the perimeter and just being too strong and tenacious for opposing guards to post up, despite his lack of height. If he can prove to NBA decision makers that he can defend the shooting guard position without too many problems he should be in pretty good shape moving forward.

Johnson-Odom is a unique prospect on the NCAA landscape due to his very complete game, as he's capable of creating his own shot, is a phenomenal shooter, and is also an outstanding defender. If his shooting percentages were not an aberration, he looks like a very interesting prospect that will surely draw plenty more attention in the future.

Right now he's not even a very well-known player at the Big East level, but with another strong year at Marquette, you can expect that to change quickly.

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