NBA scouts offer opinions on Jones, Sullinger, Irving and 53 others
Perry Jones is the most talented kid in the class, but he's not a franchise player
Whether he plays again this season or not, Kyrie Irving looks like a top-three pick
Texas leapfrogs Ohio State in my AP poll, and St. John's enters the fray
You think you watch a lot of games? Finch watches games in his sleep. No, really -- his DirecTV feed is piped into his eyelids.
You think you travel a lot? Puh-leeze. Finch's frequent flyer miles have frequent flyer miles. When he walks into any hotel, the bellhops shout his name, like the bartenders used to do when Norm walked into Cheers.
Finch, you see, is an NBA scout. Only, he's not just one scout, he's several scouts rolled into one, an amalgam of conversations I've had with five NBA scouts over the last week to get their assessments of 56 college players who could be available in this year's NBA draft. Since NBA scouts are not permitted to be quoted talking about underclassmen, I granted my scouts anonymity so they could be candid. Then I combined their quotes together to sound like it came from one person, an invented character named Finch.
The name Finch is the creation of my highbrow colleague Alex Wolff, who affixed it to an anonymous NBA scout whom Alex followed several years ago for a story he wrote in SI. Alex called his scout Finch because that was Scout's surname in To Kill A Mockingbird. Like I said, Alex is a lot more sophisticated than you and me. Or Finch, for that matter.
I've done this exercise for several years now, but this year it was easier to develop a consensus. That reflects Finch's general opinion that this is a weak draft with respect to both the collegians and the European imports. Most of Finch's opinions boiled down to, "Yeah, I like him OK, but he's not gonna be our franchise player." So keep that in mind as you read through these reports.
(Incidentally, my weekly AP ballot plus follows the quotes from my scouts.)
Allow me, then, to present the Book of Finch (in alphabetical order). He really, really knows what he's talking about. Just ask him.
Harrison Barnes, 6-foot-8 freshman forward, North Carolina
I finally figured him out. People have been trying to say he's Marvin Williams, but I think he's Sean Elliott. He's not a star, but he's an all-around good player. If you're expecting a franchise player, you're going to be sadly mistaken, but he can definitely help. If he came out, I'm not sure he'd be a top-five pick, but if he slipped to eight or nine people would come up with reasons why they should take him instead of why they shouldn't.
Keith Benson, 6-11 senior center, Oakland
I like him. He's good, he's skilled, he has had numbers against good teams. He's almost a 10-rebounds-a-night guy but can face up and shoot, too. He reminds me of Horace Grant because he's a pretty good offensive rebounder and can step out a little.
Alec Burks, 6-6 sophomore guard, Colorado
Whoa, can he really score. If that guy gets stronger, it's over. He's a big-time talent. Not a great shooter, but a good shooter. He has a great skill set and I love his decision making. He tries to do too much and part of that is he doesn't have a good team. He gets to the foul line a ton, and NBA guys like that. He's first round for sure, maybe even in the lottery.
Norris Cole, 6-2 senior guard, Cleveland State
He's a pretty good player. I like his command of the team, command of the game. He really tries to play the game the right way.
Kenneth Faried, 6-8 senior forward, Morehead State
He's the real thing. He's a great rebounder, has great defensive instincts. He's not a great offensive player, but in our league there are only a couple of guys per team who play with the ball.
Corey Fisher, 6-1 senior guard, Villanova
I could miss on him, but I don't see him doing much in the NBA. He plays a power game, and that's not going to fly. He's a nice college player and maybe he makes a roster, but he's not a vertical player.
Jimmer Fredette, 6-2 senior guard, BYU
There are a lot more believers in him than when the season started. I think he has converted a lot of naysayers. He can score and he's fearless. He's not Steve Kerr, because Kerr was a catch-and-shoot guy. Fredette is more like Mark Price. He may not be as quick as Price, but he's a lot stronger, and Price couldn't shoot where this kid shoots from at this stage. He doesn't have to be a real good defender, but I don't know why with his competitiveness and knowledge he can't hold his own defensively. People knocked J.J. Redick's defense, too, but he's playing for a very good team and contributing.
Austin Freeman, 6-3 senior guard, Georgetown
He doesn't play with enough physicality. With his build he should be getting six or seven rebounds a game. You think about Lawrence Moten. He was also a very good college scorer but for one reason or another it didn't happen for him. Freeman seems like the type of person you would want on your team, though, because he's a winner. I think he goes early in the second round and could sneak into the first.
Troy Gillenwater, 6-8 junior forward, New Mexico State
He's small for a power forward, but he can shoot that three and has a really good feel for the game. He has a nice build on him. They haven't won a lot, but he's been good pretty much every night. He should get into the second round.
Steven Gray, 6-5 senior guard, Gonzaga
He has not been as good as I expected. I think people wonder if -- because he's involved in so many things off the court -- maybe basketball is not a passion for him. Dude, do you really want to play in the NBA? Or are you into the piano thing and the acting?
Jordan Hamilton, 6-7 sophomore forward, Texas
He has a quick, compact release. He's not the greatest athlete in the world, but he has done a good job getting to the boards this year. I was not a fan last year, but he has evolved as a player and as a teammate. Now instead of shooting it every time, he shoots every three out of four. He couldn't guard you last year, but at least he's in the same area code now. He's like Jeff Malone the way he takes off to shoot and he's not even facing the basket.
Ben Hansbrough, 6-3 senior guard, Notre Dame
I love his tenacity, but he would have to be a point guard in the NBA. If he has to bring the ball up against good pressure he'll have trouble. The two spot in our league is a very tough one. But if Chris Quinn can play in the league, maybe this kid can make a team.
Justin Harper, 6-10 senior forward, Richmond
He's a very nice player. He's built well but has kind of a narrow frame, so maybe he's not a four in our league. He's not as good as Channing Frye, but he's that type of player.
Elias Harris, 6-8 sophomore forward, Gonzaga
He has been very disappointing. Coming off last year I thought he would take a big step and be terrific. Part of it is that he has been hurt and has to carry more of the load, but he has not played with the kind of energy that got my attention last year.
John Henson, 6-10 sophomore, North Carolina
He's like an aircraft carrier, he's so long. He gets rebounds whenever he wants. He doesn't have an offensive game, so he has to improve that, but he can finish in transition. His strength is obviously a question because he has a high center of gravity, but he's a good shot blocker despite that. I'm not sure if he's a lottery pick, but he's definitely a first-rounder if he comes out.
Tu Holloway, 6-foot junior guard, Xavier
I've seen him several times, and every possession is a dogfight. He's not afraid of anybody. His jump shot is not bad, he's a very good foul shooter and a confident ball handler. Not afraid to split the double team. He's built like a football player and he's a gamer. If there's a loose ball, it's his.
Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8 sophomore forward, UCLA
He just looks the part, doesn't he? He sometimes leaves you wanting more, but he's very skilled for his size. Yes, you wish he was tougher and more physical, but they just don't make a lot of 6-7 and 6-8 kids who can do the things he can do. If he's not in the lottery he's going to be close.
Scotty Hopson, 6-7 junior forward, Tennessee
He's all over the place. He's talented, but he worries me. Which Scotty are you going to get? He looks like an NBA wing, but too often his body language is poor and he just disappears.
Kyrie Irving, 6-2 freshman guard, Duke
Do I have any reservations if he doesn't play this year? Not even a little bit. He's that good. He'll still be a top three pick if he comes out. This is a point guards' league, it's not a centers' league anymore. He's a good athlete, not a great athlete, so he'll never be electric like John Wall or Derrick Rose, but Chris Paul is not electric in that way either.
Rick Jackson, 6-9 senior forward, Syracuse
He's a man. He gets a lot of rebounds, and you know what, he's a hell of a passer. He has had some big games against quality opponents where he catches that thing on the post and gets to the rim for dunks and and-ones. I don't know where he'll be picked, but he will be in our league.
Charles Jenkins, 6-3 senior guard, Hofstra
I like him because he can score. He's very efficient. You look at his shooting percentages, and you know he's not a pig. He's averaging 23 or 24 points and taking a regular amount of shots. It's almost to a fault because I think his team needs him to be a little more selfish. I don't think he's a first-rounder, but he's going to get some serious interest in the second round.
JaJuan Johnson, 6-10 senior center, Purdue
Some people really like him, but I just don't know how he gets his game off. I don't think his post game will transfer, so you're looking at a 6-10 jump shooter who will have a hard time guarding any positions in our league. He strikes me as a combination of Marcus Camby and Hakim Warrick. I'd say he's on the bubble for the first round. I think he makes the league, but he won't get a lot of scratch.
Perry Jones, 6-10 freshman forward, Baylor
He's the most talented kid in the class, but I don't think he's a franchise player. He doesn't have the personality for that. He's more of a blend player. He reminds me of Tim Thomas. He gets you 22 and 11, but you want him to get 36 and 17. If a team has a point guard and wants to pass on Kyrie Irving, I could see him going No. 1. He's so stinking fast it's amazing. You talk to the coaches, they say he wins all the sprints in practice against the guards. One thing you have to wonder about is he never won, not in high school, not in AAU.
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