The NBA's top prospects, latest AP ballot (cont.)
Eric Maynor, 6-2 senior guard, VCU: "He has great savvy. If you look at the last three minutes of a game, what this guy does is incredible. He's different than Curry, because Curry is a combo guard and this kid is a straight point. I think he'll get drafted in the second round, but I don't expect to see him in the league in five years. He does a lot of things well, but he's too small and he's not dynamic enough."
Jodie Meeks, 6-4 junior guard, Kentucky: "He's really played himself into the discussion. He's a sick athlete, and he's obviously a great shooter with size. I don't know if he's definitely a first-rounder, but he's on the board."
Greg Monroe, 6-11 freshman center, Georgetown: "Oh, he's my favorite. For me, it's him or Griffin as the top picks from college. His upside is off the charts, and he's probably the most cerebral player in the draft."
Raymar Morgan, 6-8 junior forward, Michigan State: "He doesn't play hard enough for me. I don't know if they would admit it, but they coach him differently than they've coached other guys. He has a three body, but he's not a high-level rebounder, and he can't shoot a college three. So where does he play for us?"
B.J. Mullens, 7-foot freshman center, Ohio State: "Potential, potential, potential. I don't know why Thad Matta is not starting him. I'm sure somebody else would have given him a scholarship and let him play 34 minutes a game. If you don't want a guy to be one and done, then don't recruit him. He's a no brainer, probably a top five or six pick. He'll come in and get his butt kicked for a couple of years, but he's really skilled. He doesn't rebound well for someone his size, but he's a good bet long-term."
Kyle Singler, 6-8 sophomore forward, Duke: "He's an NBA player. What doesn't he do? He's versatile, he can really pass and he's tough as heck. He's not a great shooter, but he's a better rebounder and passer than he is a shooter. He's got a little more nastiness in him than people think. I've watched him guard players who are 6-4, 6-5, and I've watched him guard guys who are 6-9 and 6-10."
Dajuan Summers, 6-8 junior forward, Georgetown: "I loved him as a freshman, but I can't understand what has happened to him. He's playing tentative, with no confidence, and he's not showing his athleticism. His shot used to be decent, but now it looks ugly. It's an enigma to me, because I always liked that kid."
Jeff Teague, 6-2 sophomore guard, Wake Forest: "I'm a huge Teague guy. I would take him ahead of James Harden. He can make shots and he can pass, so he's not a one position player. Multifaceted guys get on the court more. He reminds me of Monta Ellis in that he's a little underrated in terms of his ability to set people up, but he's not a pure run-the-show point guard either."
Hasheem Thabeet, 7-3 junior center, UConn: "Of course I love his size, the way he runs, how hard he plays, the way he blocks shots, but I just can't get excited about a guy who's never going to be able to put the ball in the basket. In the NBA, they exploit your weaknesses. He won't be able to score against a 6-10, 6-11 NBA center. He can catch and score when he's open, but I don't really see much improvement in his post skills. He'll be a Mutombo type player who will probably be drafted in the top five, but he's not a star in our league."
Howard Thompkins, 6-8 freshman forward, Georgia: "He has a chance to be really good. He's kind of thick, about 6-7, has a really good feel for the game, can step out and shoot. He was a pretty hyped recruit, but they've been so bad it hasn't really translated."
Evan Turner, 6-7 sophomore guard, Ohio State: "He's impressive. If he was a better shooter he'd be a lottery pick. At 6-6, he's their best ballhandler, their best passer, their best creator. They run their whole offense through him. At his size, he can do a lot of things with the ball. I wouldn't think he'd be in the lottery, but he should be a first-round pick."
Jarvis Varnardo, 6-9 junior center, Mississippi State: "I'm not a huge fan. He still gets killed inside. He's great on the weak side, but he can't guard on the ball because he gets pushed around too much. Somebody will probably take him in the second round, but he reminds me of Solomon Jones, the kid from South Florida who's not with the Atlanta Hawks. Solomon hasn't done anything to prove he's an NBA player, and his contract is getting ready to end."
Terrence Williams, 6-6 senior forward, Louisville: "I tell you what, he's made himself some money because his first three years he was terrible. He'll never be a great shooter, but he'll make enough. His assists are up, his turnovers are down, his rebounding is off the charts, and he can guard four positions."
Chris Wright, 6-8 sophomore forward, Dayton: "He's far from ready for the NBA, but he's a great athlete. I call him a poor man's Gerald Wallace. Wallace had no idea how to put the ball in the basket until he came into the NBA, but this kid has that kind of potential."
Sam Young, 6-6 senior forward, Pittsburgh: "He'll go in the first round because he's blue collar. He's like Greg Buckner. He's not a playmaker and he's an average shooter, but he's going to will his way into games."
THIS WEEK'S AP BALLOT (Actual ranking in parentheses)
1. Oklahoma (3)
Ranked teams not on my ballot: UCLA (22), Butler (24), Texas (25)
Let me ask you a question. Do you really believe Oklahoma would have lost at Texas if Blake Griffin had played the whole game? Neither do I. So why are voters supposed to reflexively vote somebody else as the No. 1 team just because Oklahoma lost? Keep in mind this ballot was e-mailed on Monday morning, before OU lost to Kansas -- though I'm not sure that would have changed my mind, either. If Griffin were going to be out for a long time, I would have voted differently, but since it appears he's coming back soon, I felt Oklahoma should still be ranked No 1. I knew I was going to be out-voted, but do not sleep on this team next month.
Elsewhere, I continue to vote the Duke Blue Devils several spots behind where my fellow voters have voted them. You'll notice I kept my same ACC order of Wake Forest-Clemson-Duke. This was one of those cases where I took the season's head-to-head results into account. Wake and Duke split their regular season games, and Wake won at Clemson while Clemson rocked Duke by 27 in Littlejohn. You'll also notice I have a considerably higher opinion of Arizona than the rest of the voters. I'll bet they come around soon.
Finally, the rabid, orange-clad fans of Illini Nation can put their oxygen tanks away. As promised in last week's mailbag, I put Illinois back on my ballot following their one-week hiatus, thanks to their impressive win at Ohio State on Saturday. It wasn't an easy call considering their unsightly 38-33 loss at home to Penn State. (You have to be weary of a team that has now played two games in which it failed to score 40 points.) But I thought the Illini put in their best defensive performance of the season against the Buckeyes. If they bring it like that from here on out, I wouldn't be surprised to see them playing on the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Seth Davis' book, When March Went Mad: Magic, Bird and the Game That Transformed Basketball, will be published by Times Books in March, 2009. Click here to preorder a copy.