Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part Three (#11-15)

Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part Three (#11-15)
Oct 03, 2010, 10:14 pm
Continuing to evaluate the top returning NBA prospects in the SEC, we take a look at Arkansas' Marshawn Powell, Florida's Erik Murphy, Kentucky's Darius Miller, Florida's Vernon Macklin and South Carolina's Sam Muldrow.

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 NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part One (#1-5)
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC, Part Two (#6-10)

#1 Jeff Taylor
#2 Trey Thompkins
#3 Travis Leslie
#4 Chandler Parsons
#5 JaMychal Green
#6 Scotty Hopson
#7 Renardo Sidney
#8 John Jenkins
#9 Kenny Boynton
#10 Tony Mitchell

#11 Marshawn Powell, 6-7, Sophomore, Power Forward, Arkansas
14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.0 steals, 1.3 blocks, 50.0% FG, 21.6% 3FG, 63.4% FT

Kyle Nelson

Though Arkansas underachieved throughout the 2009-2010 season, power forward Marshawn Powell emerged as one of the SEC's best freshman, averaging 14.9 points per game on 50% shooting. Now a sophomore and no longer flying under the radar, Powell will face higher expectations while shouldering a larger role in Arkansas's struggling offense.

Powell has less than prototypical tools for an NBA prospect, as he's undersized for a power forward, standing 6'7 with just a 6'9 wingspan. He also must get stronger and add some muscle to his lean 225-pound frame. He is a good athlete, however, both explosive around the basket and quick in the open floor.

While undersized, Powell entices from a scouting perspective due to his diverse skill set. He does not have the greatest footwork and must develop some countermoves, particularly with his left hand, but he has good touch around the basket and is a hard worker in the post. Powell is both quick and nimble, capable of finessing his way into the lane and getting to loose balls around the basket. Whether or not he can be effective against bigger and more athletic players is unknown, however, and he was less than impressive in match-ups against NBA caliber frontcourts such as Kentucky and Baylor. He also needs to limit his turnovers in the post by learning how to pass the ball out of coverage.

Moving away from the basket, Powell showed the ability to take perimeter jump shots. His mechanics are inconsistent, particularly with a hand in his face, but he has a quick release and shows good range for a big man. He needs to prove to scouts that he can develop into a reliable floor spacer at the next level and improving upon the 21.6% he shot from behind the NCAA 3-point line last year is a step in the right direction.

Powell has a good first step and an array of fakes that allow him to beat his man off of the dribble. While his ball-handling abilities need work, he is well above average for a big man. He even has some advanced moves that allow him to showcase some raw, but intriguing potential as a scorer from mid-range and an inconsistent, though far more convincing, slashing game. In addition to working on his handle, Powell must also improve his balance, as far too often he lost control while slashing to the basket last season.

On the defensive end, Powell is less than impressive and collegiate big men constantly outplay him inside and outside. He has above-average lateral quickness and is able to stay in front of his man, but his overall awareness, focus, and fundamentals are severely lacking. He is also a mediocre rebounder, averaging just 5.3 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted.

As a prospect, Powell is a mixed bag despite the impressive production that he amassed last season. He will turn 21 years old as a sophomore and it is unclear how much upside he has left at this stage. If he can further develop his skill set and make a greater effort on the defensive end, however, then he should be considered a legitimate NBA prospect. Continuing to improve while playing for a rebuilding team without a proven point guard will not be easy, but Powell has much to perform better against NBA caliber big men before he convinces scouts that he can play a role as an undersized power forward at the next level.

#12 Erik Murphy, 6'10, Power Forward, Sophomore, Florida
9.1 minutes, 3.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 60% FG, 63% FT

Joseph Treutlein

Boasting very modest numbers in his freshman season due to his inability to earn a major role in Florida's rotation, Erik Murphy is still awhile away from being ready for the NBA, but the flashes of skill he does show are certainly intriguing. Unfortunately for him, with Florida's five leading scorers returning and a strong recruiting class incoming (highlighted by McDonald's All-American Center Patric Young), Murphy will have another uphill struggle battling for minutes this year.

Not a much different player from the one we profiled in high school nearly two years ago, Murphy is a highly fluid and mobile power forward with very good length and a budding skill level on the offensive end, namely in the painted area. He isn't the most explosive athlete in the world, being very much a below the rim player in the halfcourt, but he does a good job using his agility in combination with strong footwork to make a lot of rangy moves around the basket to gain separation.

Murphy currently plays primarily a garbage-type role when he gets into the game, doing the vast majority of his damage operating off cuts to the basket, rolling off high screens, or attacking the offensive glass. He shows very little elevation on all of his shots, but a high basketball IQ and motor combined with great touch allow him to frequently create high-percentage shot opportunities, which he can finish with either his left or right hand.

When he is featured with his back-to-the-basket, Murphy looks very comfortable inside, showing an accurate and rangy right-handed hook shot along with nice flashes of up-and-under moves and a tendency to create a lot of reverse lay-ups going under the rim. Most of his positioning is created by off-ball movement and securing good angles, as he still lacks great lower body strength, not being very capable of backing his man down. To his credit, he's played tougher in college than what we saw in high school, not shying from contact often and playing aggressively, but he will still need to fill out his frame to maximize the effectiveness of that style of play.

Projecting to the NBA, Murphy's finesse and power games both have some question marks, as he doesn't have a great deal of explosiveness to operate powering to the basket, while his finesse game lacks a lot of variety, and he'll definitely need to develop a better fade-away jump-shot to compensate for his lack of elevation.

Murphy also makes very strong contributions on the offensive glass, where he shows an excellent nose for the ball and a high motor, pulling down rebounds both in traffic in the lane and roaming out to the perimeter for long caroms. He also shows flashes of contributions operating out of pick-and-rolls and running the floor in transition, where his mobility and coordination allow him to finish well, but this isn't something that is featured often.

Featured even less is his jump shot, taking only 10 attempts on the year according to Synergy Sports Technology, and not shooting especially well from the free-throw line. His form is solid and this is something he utilized in high school, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him make this a more consistent staple of his game as he establishes a larger role in Florida's rotation.

Murphy's athletic tools lend themselves better to the defensive than offensive end for him, as his high level of mobility helps him greatly defending the perimeter and pick-and-rolls. He shows good fundamentals and awareness in both area to go along with solid lateral quickness, while he also utilizes his length well. In the post, Murphy likewise shows strong fundamentals, but he is very prone to being over-matched by more physical opponents, having problems holding position and not being able to alter shots much with upper body contact, frequently being forced to foul. He isn't much of a threat blocking shots from the weak-side, though to his credit he does do a good job making rotations.

Looking forward, Murphy is still very early in his development and could very well be a completely different player three years down the road, as he does show flashes of potential with both his face-up and perimeter shooting game. Continuing to get stronger physically and establishing a more critical role in Florida's rotation are the most important things for him, but the latter may need to wait another year or two the way things are looking.

#13 Darius Miller, 6'6, Junior, Small Forward, Kentucky
6.5 Points, 2.5 Rebounds, 1.5 Assists, 40.0% FG, 33.6% 3FG, 79.5%

Matt Williams

Through the first two years of his college career, Darius Miller has yet to achieve the promise that made him a top-50 recruit coming out of high school. Largely a victim of circumstance, Miller played a bit part for Kentucky as a freshman before spending last season as he could spend the rest of his seasons in Lexington, surrounded by a parade of one-and-done stars. A gifted physical specimen, Miller has some of the tools NBA scouts look for in wing prospects, and this could be his best opportunity to showcase his individual talents if Enes Kanter is out of action for any considerable amount of time.

At first glance, Miller passes the look test, and has since his days as a standout at Mason County HS. Standing 6'7, he has the size to play the three position on the NBA level, but it is his strength that makes him standout amongst his peers. Weighing in around 230 pounds, Miller has a mature frame for a college player. He shows a good first step, gets off the floor well, and has a long wingspan, proving to be a fairly complete package athletically.

Miller's offensive arsenal has been severely limited in his first two seasons in Lexington, initially because of his level of development and subsequently because of his role and the players around him. Nearly 50% of his possessions come in spot-up situations according to Synergy Sports Technology, with another significant portion coming in catch and shoot situations in transition.

Miller likes to set his feet on the left side of the floor and wait for his teammates to set him up for a jump shot. Three point attempts accounted for 60% of his total attempts last season,ranking him amongst the top 10 players in our database in three-point attempts per-field goal attempt.

Even when defenders effectively close him out, Miller's primary job in Kentucky's offense last season was to knock down the shots created by John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and exploit chances to attack the rim when defenders close him out too aggressively, and with Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague headed to Lexington in the coming years; it seems unlikely that Miller will see that change.

A passable perimeter shooter, making 34% of his 3-point attempts, Miller gets excellent elevation on his jumper, which allows him to get off shots from beyond the arc with ease as defenders close him out. Tending to lean forward slightly on many of his attempts and lacking fluidity in his release, he could still stand to smooth out his jumper and take less contested shots.

Though some 80% of his shots were jump shots, Miller showed some promise attacking the rim off the dribble on the handful of occasions that he chose to last season. A bit limited as a ball-handler, Miller's physical strength and solid first step allow him to get into the lane when he wants to, where he is adept at finishing with a floater. Moving forward, he'll need to improve his left hand to become a more complete threat when he puts the ball on the floor by adding some moves to change speed and directions to become shiftier in traffic. Those additions to his game may not have a huge bearing on his success in the NCAA, but they'll be key to his development into an NBA prospect.

Miller's ability to become more aggressive in putting the ball on the floor, less reliant on his jumper, effective at creating his own shot, and a better slasher may become more important to Kentucky's success that it has been in past seasons and is obviously essential to his pro prospects. If Enes Kanter is ruled ineligible or misses any significant amount of time, Miller is a strong candidate to be asked to step up. Whether he is able to do so remains a major question-mark.

He's played well against lesser competition in the preseason, but that doesn't promise him anything this coming year. He could just as easily continue to see limited touches as a complementary player should Kanter become eligible and Terrence Jones tap his excellent potential early on.

Defensively, Miller doesn't show fundamentals or great discipline when faked and is beaten off the dribble too frequently, but has all the tools to be a very solid defensive player. His length allows him to contest shots, and he's quick enough to deny penetration when he's focused and playing hard, but needs to learn when to give a cushion and using his strength advantage more effectively. A capable rebounder, Miller sells out too frequently when closing out on the perimeter, but on the whole, his weaknesses defensively are correctable.

This could be a breakout season for Darius Miller, or a near mirror image of last season. Kentucky's 2011 class is going to garner a lot of touches when Miller becomes a senior, meaning this season may be his last golden opportunity to gain national attention. While he needs to improve his shooting consistency, ball-handling ability, and effort level on both ends, his physical tools could allow him to be a productive player with more touches. An unknown commodity at this point as a high-usage player, Miller could be a player to keep an eye on this coming season.

#14 Vernon Macklin, 6-9, Senior, Small Forward, Florida
10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, .8 assists, 1.4 turnovers, .9 blocks, 61% FG, 59% FT

Walker Beeken

After looking like a fish out of water for two years in Georgetown's offense playing a very limited role, Vernon Macklin transferred to Florida where he sat out the 2008-2009 season, and then got a chance to earn more minutes for the Gators last season as a junior. Macklin showed improvement in a couple key areas, but still has quite a bit to prove this season to legitimize himself as candidate for the 2011 NBA Draft.

From a physical standpoint, Macklin stacks up fairly well as NBA big man prospect. Standing 6'10” with a long wingspan and a solid frame, he's added a good amount of strength since he entered college. Although not particularly fluid, he also runs the floor pretty well for a guy his size and is a decent athlete who could probably match up physically to play some at the power forward or center position at the NBA level.

While it is encouraging that Macklin raised his free throw percentage up to 59% last season after a miserable 25% as a sophomore, he still has a long way to go as a shooter. Most all of his field goal attempts last season came in the basket area, and he looked uncomfortable with the ball facing up away from the basket. Being able to knock down a 12 to 15 foot jump shot when left open would surely help to make him more of an offensive threat. At this point, however, Macklin lacks the fluidity and polish that scouts would like to see from a big man at his age.

Over one third of Macklin's offensive possessions last season came from the post up variety, where he managed to be pretty efficient, averaging 1 point per possession. His post=game is one very one dimensional though, as his go-to move is clearly to turn to his left shoulder for a right-handed jump hook from either block, regardless of what the defense gives him. It would be nice to see him develop the same jump hook with his left hand when turning to his right shoulder, as well as some counter moves depending on what the defender takes away.

One area where Macklin should focus is continuing to improve his rebounding. He averaged 8.7 rebounds per forty minutes pace adjusted last season, which was a nice jump from the 6.6 he averaged as a sophomore at Georgetown. At his size though, establishing himself as a beast on the glass would be a tremendous asset, especially because at this point, he doesn't have a skill that he does at an NBA level.

Macklin is a more intriguing prospect on the defensive end. While not a great shot-blocker or defensive rebounder, he does play with an aggressive mentality in the basket area. He also moves fairly well laterally for a guy his size, which along with his length and strength inside, gives him the potential to compete against the bigger, longer, more athletic players at the NBA level.

While Macklin does possess the size and wingspan of an NBA big man, being a 24 year old senior will no doubt have an effect on his draft stock, as scouts will assume that he is much closer to reaching his potential than other younger prospects. When you combine that his lack of production and offensive polish, Macklin's chances of hearing his name called at the 2011 NBA Draft are probably fairly slim.

#15 Sam Muldrow, 6-9, Senior, PF/C, South Carolina
20.2 minutes, 5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, .1 assists, .6 turnovers, 1.8 blocks, 57% FG, 52% FT

Jonathan Givony

Steadily progressing over his first three years of college basketball, Sam Muldrow had somewhat of a breakout season as a junior, emerging as one of the top shot-blockers in the NCAA and being named to the SEC's all-defensive team.

Standing 6-9, with an exceptional wingspan, but a fairly narrow frame, Muldrow is a very good athlete who must continue to add strength if he's to reach his full physical potential. Considering that he's already 22 years old, he has his work cut out for him.

Offensively, Muldrow is a very limited player who doesn't score at a very high rate (13.3 points per-40p) and does so inefficiently at that, converting just 47% of his 2-point attempts. He doesn't get to the free throw line much to compensate, and likes to shoot a fair amount of jumpers, of which he made just 27 of 84 (32%) attempts.

Muldrow lacks the strength to establish great position inside the paint, and doesn't possess a great deal in terms of ball-handling skills or advanced footwork at this stage. He does have decent touch around the basket, though, and South Carolina liked to isolate him on the block fairly often when he was in the game last year, and at times saw positive results in turn.

Muldrow is somewhat of a black hole, though, as he has very poor court vision and ranks amongst the ten worst passers in college basketball in terms of the amount of assists he dishes out on a per-possession basis. That was an upgrade over 2008/2009, though, where he tied for dead last in this category.

Muldrow improved his free throw shooting significantly last season (from 52% to 65%) and it's possible that he becomes a much more consistent outside shooter this upcoming season. He has solid mechanics, a high release point and a nice follow through, and was able to convert 14 3-pointers last season. Since it's highly unlikely that a NBA team would ever look to run a great deal of offense through him, it would be very beneficial for him to be able to space the floor by becoming a reliable spot-up shooter with his feet set.

On the defensive end is where Muldrow's main virtues as a prospect lie at the moment. He's the second best returning shot-blocker in college basketball, ranking just slightly below Oakland's Keith Benson in that category. He shows terrific timing with his weak-side rotations, and has the length and bounce to alter everything around the paint, making him quite valuable in that regard.

On the downside, Muldrow is an exceptionally poor defensive rebounder, one of the worst amongst NCAA big men prospects in fact. He looks very apathetic with this part of his game, rarely making an effort to box his man out and not really showing much effort going out of his area to grab loose balls. His lack of strength is clearly a factor here, but so are his average fundamentals and toughness at the same time.

If Muldrow has any chance of playing in the NBA he must improve significantly in this regard, as simply chasing weak-side blocks on every possession is not going to impress anyone once NBA talent evaluators start breaking down his film.

As a man to man defender, Muldrow similarly has a ways to go. He struggles badly when forced to defend out on the perimeter, looking very upright in his stance and being pretty easy for opponents to beat off the dribble. In the post, he lacks the lower body strength to keep stronger opponents from establishing deep position on him, which will clearly be much more of an issue in the NBA than in the NCAA.

Muldrow made noticeable strides between his sophomore and junior seasons, cutting down on his foul rate significantly and increasing the range of his jumper. He'll need to make a similar jump this season to establish himself as a legitimate draft prospect, and should be able to draw some looks based on his physical tools and shot-blocking ability. Even if he doesn't make the NBA initially, Muldrow is the type of player NBA teams will need to keep tabs on in the D-League or in Europe, depending on where he ends up.

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