Draft stock watch: Scouts weigh in on top prospects after tournament
Anthony Davis is a surefire No. 1 pick after the NCAA tournament showing
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's performance may have put him in line for No. 2 pick
Marquis Teague impressed; Harrison Barnes hasn't lived up to expectations
Now that the NCAA tournament is over, now that the final buzzer has sounded and the confetti has ceased to fall, the real work begins. That's the case for NBA scouts, at least, who in the coming months will make order out of the madness that just ensued. They'll tirelessly dissect each college prospect's strengths and weaknesses, determining which warrant selection in the June 28 draft.
Much remains to be sorted out, but plenty has also become clear. Two scouts spoke with SI.com to offer their thoughts on college basketball's marquee event. Here are their comprehensive takes on the top prospects, breakout performers and early-entry declarations.
Anthony Davis, F
6-foot-10, 220 pounds
Davis' box score from Monday's title game says it all: He can dominate while hardly scoring. Kentucky's freshman sensation tallied 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals while shooting just 1-of-10 from the floor (six points), capping what has been one of the most remarkable first-year campaigns in college basketball history.
He won the Naismith Award after leading the nation in blocks (186), Player Efficiency Rating (35.1) and win shares (11.9). He notched 21 double-doubles, including nine in his final 13 contests. Though his offense is still developing, he's drawn comparisons to the great Bill Russell for his vaunted defensive presence.
An already surefire lock to go No. 1 in the draft, Davis has upped the ante. He's no longer just a touted prospect; he's a potential once-in-a-generation talent.
"He's the clear-cut No. 1 guy," one scout said. "In my opinion, he's the only player who's a potential franchise difference-maker."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F
6-7, 232 pounds
While Davis was the cornerstone of precocious Kentucky's championship, Kidd-Gilchrist was the engine that made the team go. His defensive versatility -- he can guard positions one through four -- bolstered the nation's top field-goal-percentage defense (37.4), and his proficiency in the open court fueled the Wildcats' tournament run. In five of six victories, Kentucky scored at least 20 points in transition.
"He attacks the rim and finishes," a scout said. "He's one of the best transition players in the country."
But does Kidd-Gilchrist deserve No. 2 consideration? Seemingly far-fetched at the beginning of the season, it's become a distinct possibility. His efficiency on the perimeter needs to improve for a wing (he shot just 25.5 percent from three-point range), but given his intangibles, don't expect MKG to fall any lower than No. 5.
"I don't think he's ever going to turn into LeBron James because he's not that gifted," the other scout said, "but he does enough of everything really, really well. His effort is always so striking. His competitive edge keeps him in that top four or five category."
Thomas Robinson, F
6-10, 237 pounds
Monday night's outcome may have weighed heaviest on Robinson, who was seen walking off the court teary-eyed after Kansas' 67-59 loss. He was the Jayhawks' emotional leader all season, and seemingly willed the team to victory on more than one occasion. Kansas opponents shot less than 25 percent in the second half of tournament games, thanks primarily to Robinson.
"He brings so much energy and leadership, diving for loose balls and all that," a scout said. "He's a little bit undersized, but the intangibles help make up for that."
Teams would also like to see him develop an outside game, something he showed flashes of during the season (he was 7-of-14 on three-pointers). But his production, including an NCAA-best 463 total rebounds, leaves little to doubt. He's a near-lock to be a top-five pick and could possibly go as high as No. 2.
"We know he's not 6-10, which is what the program says," the other scout said. "If he were 6-10 or 6-11, he would unquestionably be the second pick. And he still may be. But size will be a question."
Andre Drummond, C
6-10, 270 pounds
Drummond's underwhelming freshman campaign reached a new low in the NCAA tournament, as he fouled out in the closing seconds of the Huskies' first-round loss to Iowa State. It ended a night in which he totaled just two points and three rebounds, and closed a disappointing season in which he averaged just 10.2 points.
His size and athleticism can't be ignored, but neither can his obvious shortcomings. Lacking a polished offensive repertoire and a developed defensive presence, he could go anywhere from second to 10th -- a classic high-risk, high-reward-type pick.
"If you draft him and he fails, you look like a fool," one scout said. "But if you don't draft him and he excels, you look like a fool. It's a tough call."
Echoed the other scout: "He's the type of guy who is probably going get a GM fired for either drafting him or passing on him. The NBA is starving for guys with his physical tools, but he is a major project and years away from really being able to help a team."
Harrison Barnes, F
6-8, 215 pounds
Sophomore, North Carolina
Kendall Marshall's wrist injury did more than just derail UNC's tournament chances; it dealt a sizable blow to Barnes' draft stock. The Tar Heels' headliner was unable to generate offense in Marshall's absence. In games against Ohio and Kansas (the two that Marshall missed), Barnes shot 8-of-30 (26.6 percent) overall and 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) from long distance.
It's part of a larger trend. Dating to his freshman year, Barnes has bordered on ineffective without Marshall in the lineup. The chart below illustrates his career production in games that Marshall played at least 25 minutes (top) and those that he didn't (bottom).
|Harrison Barnes' Production|
|Barnes' career stats when Kendall Marshall played at least 25 minutes (top) and didn't (bottom)|
Barnes remains a lottery pick, but, according to the scouts who spoke to SI.com, he's fallen out of the top three. And after his lackluster March, the player once rated No. 2 in Rivals' 2010 rankings has many NBA evaluators questioning his potential.
"He's going to be a legitimate NBA scorer, but he's a catch-and-shoot guy," one scout said. "He needs to play with a really good point guard so he can get free looks."
Added the other scout: "I think his lack of creativity and ability to create his own shot were exposed. He's going to be a solid player at the next level, but I think he has limited upside."
Perry Jones III, F
6-11, 235 pounds
In a season marred by inconsistency, alternating between briefs stints of greatness and long stretches of frustration, Jones was typically hit-or-miss in the NCAA tournament. He showed promise against Xavier, scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, but was unimpressive against South Dakota State and Colorado, combining for nine points while going 4-of-14. He has immense upside, but he's notoriously streaky. That worries NBA teams.
"He may be the most talented player in the draft," a scout said. "He's just not consistent. You're concerned about his motor, but not his abilities."
Here's the bigger issue: Blessed with pro-ready size, speed and athleticism, Jones has yet to take over a game. Whether that's a result of his deferential personality or Baylor's system, it's troubling -- and it may cause his stock to fall into the latter half of the lottery.
"He might put up some numbers, but you never walk out of the arena going, 'Man, he really dominated,' " a scout said. "He's probably in that six-to-12 range."
Jared Sullinger, F
6-9, 265 pounds
Sophomore, Ohio State
Unlike with Drummond and Jones, there's not much mystery surrounding Sullinger's pro potential. He's arguably the most polished prospect in the low post, and his bullish strength makes him a rebounding force. But his size and athleticism leave something to be desired. They're concerns that emerged against Kansas in the Final Four.
Facing constant pressure from 7-foot center Jeff Withey, Sullinger scored only 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting as the Buckeyes surrendered a nine-point halftime lead. He'll still likely go in the top 10, but his inability to score against taller interior competition could cause him to slip on draft day. It's even spurred some evaluators to consider his outside ability.
"I think that some of the hesitations that scouts had before were magnified just because we did see his struggles versus size and length," a scout said. "He was exposed at this level, let alone at the NBA level."
Said the other scout: "He's going to have to step away from the basket. At one point in his career -- I don't know when -- I think he'll be able to step to the three-point line and make some shots. He's not going to take 500 a year, but I think he may take 100 or 120."
Bradley Beal, G
6-3, 207 pounds
Widely regarded as a lottery pick entering the tournament, Beal vaulted himself into top-five consideration after a stellar four-game showing. He averaged 15.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and three assists during Florida's run to the Elite Eight, all while shooting 60.5 percent. Above all, he showcased versatility that's scarce among this year's guard crop.
"He has a good-looking stroke," a scout said. "He's played himself up into that three-to-seven range."
After yielding the spotlight to teammates Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Patric Young at the beginning of the year, Beal came into his own by the end. That's reflected in his numbers: He upped his scoring average from 13.9 at the start of the season to 15.8 points since Jan. 28, and cut his turnovers from 2.3 to 1.9 per game.
"I think he just improved throughout the season," the other scout said. "We notice things like that."
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