Click here to Skip to main content
LATEST HEADLINES - NBA NEWS

David Aldridge

0514-anthony-davis-608.jpg
Aside from a need to bulk up a bit, scouts see few flaws in Kentucky's Anthony Davis.
Courtesy University of Kentucky

Dreams of Davis, other power forward prospects entice teams


Posted Jun 12 2012 10:32AM

The line starts behind Anthony Davis.

There may be questions about the talent level at point guard in the 2012 NBA Draft. There may be concerns about the paucity of small forwards in the Draft. There will be, as ever, lamenting about the lack of true center prospects in the Draft.

But there is no question who the first pick of the Draft will be -- Davis, the freshman sensation from Kentucky who led the Wildcats to the NCAA national championship and whose defensive skills have every lottery team from 1 to 14 dreaming about the possibilities of putting Davis in the home white next season. He jump-starts every team's rebuilding process and accelerates most to the point where making the playoffs becomes the expected outcome going forward.

Davis tops a list of versatile and different power forward prospects. The four position is viewed by most personnel types as the deepest in the Draft, featuring at least seven players almost certain to go in the lottery or soon afterward. And another half-dozen players could be taken late in the first round or early in the second. The arguments about prospects are nitpicking-most teams really like Kansas junior Thomas Robinson and Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger. The only questions about either will be how the teams that take them use them.


POINT GUARDS |   SHOOTING GUARDS   |  SMALL FORWARDS  |  POWER FORWARDS  |  CENTERS

A note on the rankings:

This is not a predictor of when these players will be taken. These rankings, based on discussions with dozens of NBA and college coaches, and NBA college scouts and team executives, address the question of how ready players are to play the position which they are assigned: In other words, if there was a game tonight, who would play better at that position tonight, not in three years. Players are ranked based on the position that the coaches and scouts believe is their best NBA position, and even then, there is always disagreement between teams.

"Sleepers" are players almost certain to go in the second round but who may have first-round talent or otherwise have an impact on the teams that select them if they overcome perceived shortcomings.

"Some Scouts Like" are players who are not certain to declare, but are viewed as potentially draftable if they do -- with an emphasis on "potentially."

• All measurements are the official ones available after the Chicago pre-Draft camp. Measurements for players who did not attend the pre-Draft camp are from their respective university or team.

POWER FORWARDS
Rank Name School/Team Class/Age Height Weight Likely drafted
1 Anthony Davis Kentucky Freshman 6-10 1/2 222 Consensus No. 1
2 Thomas Robinson Kansas Junior 6-8 3/4 244 High Lottery
3 Jared Sullinger Ohio State Sophomore 6-9 268 High/mid Lottery
4 Perry Jones III Baylor Sophomore 6-11 1/4 234 Mid/late Lottery
5 Terrence Jones Kentucky Sophomore 6-9 1/2 252 Mid-first
6 John Henson North Carolina Junior 6-10 1/2 216 Mid/late first
7 Arnett Moultrie Mississippi St. Junior 6-10 3/4 233 Late first
8 Royce White Iowa St. Sophomore 6-8 261 Late first
9 Andrew Nicholson St. Bonaventure Senior 6-9 1/2 234 Early second
10 Kevin Jones West Virginia Senior 6-7 1/2 251 Second round
HONORABLE MENTION: Kyle O'Quinn, 6-10, 241, Norfolk State; Miles Plumlee, 6-11 3/4, 252, Duke, Furkan Aldemir, 20, 6-10, 220, Galatasaray (Turkey), Mitchell Watt, 6-10, 225, Buffalo, Ricardo Ratliffe, 6-8, 240, Missouri; Drew Gordon, 6-8 3/4, 239, New Mexico

SLEEPER: Quincy Acy, 6-7 3/4, 224, Baylor

No such questions will plague the team that takes Davis, who swept college basketball's honors, winning the Wooden and Naismith Awards, as well as the Adolph Rupp Trophy, Associated Press, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Basketball Times Player of the Year Awards. He won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player Award after averaging 13.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.8 blocks in the tournament, numbers only slightly different from his season averages.

The 18-year-old set the NCAA, SEC and Kentucky all-time mark for blocked shots by a freshmen (186), tied the school's record for double-doubles (20) and shot 62 percent from the floor. He topped his incredible season by receiving an invitation as a finalist to the U.S. men's Olympic team.

Davis was a 6-foot-3 guard just three years ago after his sophomore season at Perspectives Charter School in Chicago. But he grew seven inches in a year, and maintained his coordination while becoming a fierce shot blocker. That combination of smarts and savvy and the competitiveness that he showed all season in Lexington took all the guesswork out of whether he was No. 1-pick worthy.

At worst, he is compared favorably with Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler. At best, the name Tim Duncan rolls off some scouts' tongues.

The only question NBA scouts have about him is whether he'll run into trouble early in his pro career with the league's bigger, stronger power forwards.

"The games that he struggled in in college -- at Indiana, where he struggled with Cody Zeller, he was in foul trouble the whole game -- and he really struggled against North Carolina," a Central Division college evaluator said. "He had the great block (to preserve a 73-72 victory in early December), but he really struggled. He struggled in games where it got physical in the post. He got in foul trouble. But, believe me, his pros outweigh his cons by about 10 to 1."

Said a Pacific Division executive: "I would offer you that I think it's going to be a minute. This is not LeBron James or Dwight Howard or a guy like that. He's clearly the best player but I don't think it's like an immediate, meteoric turnaround right away. I think it's going to take a little time ... He's still growing into his body, I believe."

At 220 pounds, Davis will find it hard to hold his position until he gets in the weight room.

"The only thing that we would really be talking to the kid about is to focus on his body from the time we drafted him until October 1," the Central Division evaluator said. "He's got to be able to come in as the No. 1 pick and guard starting fours, not backups. You're guarding starting fours, one night it's Dirk Nowitzki, the next night it's David Lee, the next night it's [Pau] Gasol."

But it's hard to find anyone who views any of these questions as anything other than nitpicking.

"His body's going to get better just because the Good Lord's going to make it better" with age, an Atlantic Division executive said. "His offense got better at the end of the year and he was able to show he could score. His basketball IQ is very, very high, and maybe it's because he was playing a different position a few years ago and saw the game as a guard ... the body's going to get better. Nature's going to take care of it, plus he's going to be lifting."

Davis' restraint while at Kentucky also won over many NBA scouts. On a Kentucky team that will likely again have five first-round picks this year, Davis didn't try to dominate on offense. He was content playing to his strengths on defense to help the Wildcats win, even though his offense was more developed than he showed.

"I went to one of Kentucky's practices early in the year, and he made elbow shots in practice," another Pacific executive said. "And I'm told the same thing ... that he can actually step up and take a shot, with a shooting form. And for a kid who grew up late I don't have any doubt he can shoot it."

Said a Southwest Division scout: "He's got good mechanics. That part of his game may show even more. Dominating right out of the gate, he'll have flashes. In terms of the consistency, he's going to take a minute. But he's got the tools. And he's got the mindset, too."

It won't take long for the next power forward to join Davis shaking Commissioner David Stern's hand. Kansas' Robinson got a slight nod among personnel types over Ohio State's Sullinger, but the difference is tiny. Either could go in the top five, depending on who's doing the picking and what they need.

"Robinson's next," said a veteran Western Conference scout whose team won't be picking high enough to take him. "He's probably a more aggressive player. Although Sullinger can step out and shoot the jump shot, whereas Thomas really can't. But if you're looking at the playoffs, you're looking at guys like (Memphis') Dante Cunningham, and (the Clippers') Reggie Evans, those forwards who change the game because they play so hard and they're aggressive and they can rebound. Robinson can do that."

thomas-robinson-300.jpg
The rebounding acumen of Thomas Robinson is similar to that of Horace Grant and Kenneth Faried.
Courtesy Kansas University

Robinson, whose average of 11.8 rebounds was second in the country last season to O.D. Anosike of Siena, averaged a double-double in getting the Jayhawks to the national championship game. Scouts across the board compared Robinson to Nuggets rookie big Kenneth Faried in terms of the energy and effort he brings to games -- Faried's motor is a little stronger, though his motor is stronger than just about everyone's -- while Robinson's skill level is higher.

Robinson did some posting at Kansas, but he scored most of his points off of cuts, running the floor and energy plays.

"He's not a David West type of guy," a Western Conference general manager said. "He's more a high energy guy. He could be anywhere from a Faried to a young Horace Grant. Like most young guys, he'll get in foul trouble early (on defense) and figure it out by year two or three. He's a physical specimen, now. When you look at his build, he's body beautiful."

At least early in his career, scouts believe, Robinson will have to adjust from being a go-to guy at Kansas to a contributor in the pros, as most college players have to do.

"He'd have to develop into that" go-to guy, another Western Conference GM said. "Right now I would put him more in the mold of a more energetic [Charles] Oakley type-just rebounding, active, be in every play, maybe an enforcer a little bit. Could he be a go-to guy? It would depend on the team, and expectations. Knock on wood, I think he's going to succeed because of his great desire to play."

Offensively, Robinson will need to extend his perimeter game to the foul line and elbows, scouts believe, because he won't have the length inside to consistently be effective.

"I'm not expecting him to measure out as a power forward guy," an Eastern Conference general manager said, "but there's so many small fours playing in the league. He's going to have to get a little better on his jump shot, but his jump shot isn't horrible. It's not broken. But he's going to have to work on that. He isn't [Blake] Griffin, but this kid is gifted. He's an NBA athlete all the way."

Sullinger isn't as athletic as Robinson, but NBA scouts love what he brings to the court.

"Robinson's more athletic, so he'll always be more sexier," a Northwest Division scout said. "But Sullinger's more skilled. I like them both. I look at Sullinger and I believe he'll be able to score in the low post against guys his size -- Brandon Bass, Carlos Boozer, guys like that. The guys with length, they're going to put him in pick and pop situations, because he's a good shooter, and I think he can get even better."

Indeed, the Buckeyes' sophomore improved his 3-point percentage from 25 percent as a freshman to 40 percent last season. (Don't go nuts; he only averaged about one 3-pointer per game.) But he's going to make his bones scoring down low. Sullinger struggled in the NCAAs his freshman year with Kentucky's Josh Harrelson, but NBA scouts think he can make the adjustment.

"Everybody is wondering if he can be the next Zach Randolph," a Pacific Division executive said. "Sullinger has some of those attributes. He has soft hands. He'll pass to the right guy. He's going to work down there and try to catch it. The problem is, can he get his shot off? I know he can make the college three, but I don't know if he wants to hang his hat on that to become an NBA player. But he does have that skill."

The main concern about Sullinger is his weight. He was heavy as a freshman, weighing 292 pounds, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. But he was at 264 pounds on media day last season, the paper reported, though Ohio State lists him at 280 pounds, indicating he gained some of that weight back during the season.

Pro scouts are a little divided on what Sullinger's optimal weight should be.

"It doesn't bother me Jared being 290, because I don't think he can be any good playing at 260," a Central Division executive said. "If he can't get people off of him to shoot his jump hook, he's no good."

Said the Pacific executive: "He was a better looking player as a freshman than he was this year. But you can't carry that weight for 10 or 12 years, either, without it rearing its ugly head somewhere. Anybody who tries to slim him down more, you're going to run into the problem where he's not going to have enough heft to get his shot off."

Another Central Division evaluator noted that Sullinger missed two games early in the season, including an early-season matchup with Kansas with back spasms.

jared-sullinger-300.jpg
The playing weight of former Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger is a bit of a concern for some NBA scouts.
Getty Images

"Last year I thought the weight was an issue," the executive said. "This year I thought it was even more of an issue, because I didn't think he lost games because of it last year. Back spasms, that's the type of thing you see attached to Larry Bird at the end of his career. You don't see that kind of thing in college box scores."

But Sullinger will go high because he's filled up box scores in high school and in his two years in Columbus. His high school team finished ranked No. 1 in the country his senior season, and scouts think he'll do whatever it takes, up to and including the grunt work of taking charges or being a role player, to help his team.

"That guy's just a winner," a Northwest Division GM said. "He'll figure it out. He shoots the ball pretty well from the perimeter. He's not limited. He might be able to shoot it out to the 3-point line. I was kind of a mixed bag (on the weight). I thought he had more baby fat his first year and he toned it down. I saw him last year and he was really thinner. Then I saw him this year and he didn't have as much baby fat. You saw that he was committed to a weight program. I was really excited about that. He's been a winner his whole life."

Baylor's Perry Jones III doesn't have that kind of resume, but he does have the kind of seemingly unlimited talent that curls scouts' toes. Scouts I spoke with compared Jones to the following players: Derrick McKey, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett. If he's that good, why wouldn't you take him ahead of Davis?

Because he isn't.

Jones is immensely talented, more scouts say, but he doesn't handle the ball like McGrady and he certainly doesn't have the drive of Garnett. If he did, he sure didn't show it consistently at Baylor, which is what scares scouts. He does have unique abilities for someone his size, though, and that will assure some team will take a chance on him.

"I've seen moments where he can put the ball on the floor, shoot it over people," a Pacific Division executive said. "But who knows? I've seen everything very spotty; nothing on a consistent level. There hasn't been enough of anything to put it on him. What's going on in the brain will be very interesting to know."

Said a Northwest Division executive: "Jones played in about 60 games (at Baylor). You're a star in college. You have to have 10 out of 60 "wow" factor games, like 28 (points) and 13 (rebounds), where you say holy (bleep). Anthony Davis did it in one year with his shot blocking. Sullinger in his two years had 10. Thomas Robinson had a handful of games this year. Harrison Barnes had a few. Perry Jones had very few of those games.

"I don't think he knows how to score. When he shoots, he should pass. When he passes, he should shoot. When he jumps, he should head fake. I think he just plays because he's so gifted. People say he doesn't know how to play. I don't think that's it. He just doesn't have any feel for the game."

Jones is too talented to be a bust. The question is, will he be a star in the NBA or a contributor?

"Good wing man, but he ain't the guy," one veteran scout said. "You're drafting Perry as the guy, you obviously don't know what you're doing. He's still young and still growing into stepping up and being accounted for."

One Pacific scout was put off by Jones' -- who is 6-foot-11, by the way -- anemic 0.6 blocked shots per game.

"He hasn't shown me he can do anything except look pretty in the warmup line," the scout said. "He doesn't block shots. He's never blocked shots! Sullinger blocks more shots than him."

Jones just has games where he floats, scouts say. Against Kentucky in the NCAA South Region final, Jones was nonexistent in the first half, when Kentucky went up by 20. He came back with a strong second half to get Baylor back in the game, but the deficit was too great, and it was his Baylor teammate, Quincy Acy, who led the Bears in scoring. When Jones was asked afterward why he was so passive in the first half, he had no explanation.

"I've never seen him go after it," said a college assistant coach whose team played Baylor this season. "He's got some skills, but it depends on letting him do what he wants to do."

With all that said, however, Jones will go high in the first round. There just aren't too many players his size who can do what he can.

"The further back Perry goes in the first round, the less risk there is," an Eastern Conference executive said. "You start talking 9, 10, 11, 12, I think the risk factor can start to be worth it. I think his interviews are going to be very important. Teams are going to want to see his take on what happened."

And Jones has some strong supporters.

"Not too many guys that are 6-11 that can shoot the ball like he can, handle the ball, run and jump, do the things he can," one general manager said. "Paul George played at Fresno State, where the year after he left the coach got fired. Here's a guy scoring 16, 17 points, not really affecting winning, and not really in a tough conference. And people were questioning him, whether he had the motor."

Said a Western Conference scout: "We always look at guys who play hard, like Acy. Perry might have been hurt playing with someone like that. If Perry played on Kentucky's team in Anthony Davis' spot, does he look better? Because he doesn't have that comparison of Quincy Acy next to him."

Kentucky's Terrence Jones has gotten higher marks this season from pro scouts, getting kudos for taking fewer shots this season compared with his freshman year while improving his shooting percentage. One personnel man compared Terrence Jones favorably with Al Harrington, another athletic 4/3 man out of high school who added the 3-pointer in his pro career.

"I thought he grew up a little bit this year," one Western Conference scouting director said. "He had a decent year as a freshman. Probably made a good decision to stay after his freshman year. He showed a little maturity that wasn't there last year. When they needed him to be tough and do some things inside he was able to do it. I think he can make a team and he can make somebody's rotation. I don't think he can be a star."

Jones was rarely dominant for the Wildcats, scoring 20 or more points just four times last season. Then again, he didn't have to be.

One scouting boss pointed out that Terrence Jones slipped from leading the SEC in rebounding as a freshman to falling out of the top 10 because of the presence of Davis and fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who grabbed a few boards themselves. Jones, the director said, shouldn't be penalized for that.

But he remains "a little bit of an enigma," as two GMs said independently of one another.

"I don't know what he's doing from a value or a stock standpoint, but you could get him all over the board depending on who you ask," one of them said. "His postseason workouts and interviews are going to be important. I'd want to know what his reasoning is behind moderately inconsistent play. Some disappearing games -- what was the impetus beyond that?"

Offensively, Terrence Jones will have to show pro scouts he can find points at the next level. He has to work both on his perimeter and post games.

"I don't like the jump shot at all," one Eastern Conference GM said. "But I do like the body ... he's all left handed. He has no right hand at all. His shot is broken. But if he plays hard all the time, with that body, he'll create problems with that body."

Said a Western Conference GM: "Will he be able to stretch the floor and be like Lamar Odom, or will he be a strictly inside guy? He can handle the ball, he can rebound. The consistency will be key. He can disappear in games because he's unselfish. But I don't hold that against him because he played with so many good players. They can't all score every night."

North Carolina's John Henson won't likely be a significant scorer, either. But his ability to block shots and rebound make him a near-lock to go sometime in the first half of the first round.

The junior forward was the two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year, earned ACC first team conference honors and finished second in Carolina history in career blocked shots with 279, just behind Brendan Haywood's 304. He set the school's record for blocked shots per game in his three seasons, at 2.56.

"The one thing that always seems to translate is rebounding," a Western Conference GM said. "If you can rebound in college you usually can rebound in the NBA. He always could rebound. He always could rebound and block shots. He's not a high motor guy. He's one of those guys where the game comes easy to him. He's not to the point where he's lazy but he's not to the point of Faried. He does it in spurts."

arnett-moultrie-300.jpg
Scouts wouldn't be surpised to see the solid-if-not-flashy Arnett Moultrie as an NBA starter someday.
Courtesy Mississippi State University

Henson had at least one block in 34 of the 35 games in which he played last season, and had two blocks in 25 of those games. He was equally consistent on the boards; he only had five games with six rebounds or less.

Offensively, Henson will be a work in progress for a while in the pros. He has a jump hook he displays on occasion, and he was a consistent scorer for the Tar Heels for most of the season. But he rarely dominated. Still, most scouts think he'll provide just enough offense to be able to stay on the floor.

"He shot the ball, his shooting stroke improved facing up," one veteran scout said. "Anything he's going to give you on the offensive side of the ball will be a plus."

But Henson's body gives some scouts pause.

"The things that worry you are this is two, three years in a row, the scouting report on him has ended, 'if he gets stronger. If he gets stronger,' " one personnel man said. "This has been two years, and you start to wonder, 'is he going to get stronger?' And you wonder if the kid realizes it. He's too light to guard fours and in terms of the three, he can't put it on the floor enough to go by threes. Is he going to be dedicated enough that NBA front offices need him to be to do that? He's got to get stronger."

Another scout, though, wasn't worried, comparing Henson's body to Marcus Camby, who has never been a thick-bodied player, yet shows no signs of slowing down after 16 seasons.

"Camby's 38 and he still gets 10 rebounds a game," the scout said. "I don't think that'll be an issue (with Henson). He's never made shots, but I'm convinced he can. I don't think his shot is broken ... I think in time he'll be representative."

Mississippi State has two NBA prospects at the power forward spot, juniors Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney. But while Sidney has gotten most of the attention the last few years -- and almost always for the wrong reasons -- Moultrie is the one who will get drafted first, either late in the first round or early in the second, having completed a sterling junior season in Starkville after transferring from Texas El-Paso.

Moultrie averaged a double-double (16.4 points, 10.5 rebounds) for the Bulldogs last season, shooting 55 percent. He displayed an ability to shoot and score with his back to the basket.

"A couple of our guys think he's got first-round potential," one scouting director said. "He's got a pretty good body, fairly athletic, athletic enough to play in this league. He's one of those guys where you wouldn't be surprised if you looked up and he was a starter for somebody. But it's not a lock."

Moultrie got NBA scouts' attention with an MVP performance at the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden in November, going for 19 and 10 to lead Mississippi State to the tournament victory over then-No. 15 Arizona.

"He came onto the scene and nobody really had him and he played in New York and looked pretty good," an Eastern Conference GM said. "People will take a chance on him with his size."

But there are questions as to why the Bulldogs slumped badly down the stretch last season with three NBA prospects on their roster, including Sidney and guard Dee Bost. Mississippi State was 19-5 in early February before losing seven of its last nine games, failing to make the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round of the NIT to Massachusetts.

"They were having a really good year and then they just imploded," one scout said. "He's still 6-11 and very athletic. I don't know how bright he is, but that's not always a determining factor. Bill Belichick has a quote that goes, 'Without character and intelligence, you'll always have a ceiling.' He's a talented guy. He's pretty sexy. He can run and jump and rebound in traffic. There's moments he disappears and you wonder why."

royce-white-300.jpg
An anxiety disorder and fear of flying has some teams a bit wary of Iowa State's Royce White.
Courtesy Iowa State University

Iowa State's Royce White also has NBA scouts wondering, but for entirely different reasons. The 6-foot-8 sophomore has a serious anxiety disorder -- he's deathly afraid of flying, which would obviously present a major impediment to playing for an NBA team. White flew some last season, but took buses and got rides to other games. Those options won't be available to him in the pros.

White has spoken openly about his problems, but they're still problems.

"We think he is an excellent, skilled player, strong, great hands," said a general manager of a lottery team. "It's all that other baggage that's been thrown around that is a problem. Is he on medication? Is he bipolar? I don't know. Does he have some issues that need to be taken care of? Is it fair? But that's what happens when everyone investigates and does their homework -- these things come up. There are red flags on a guy like Royce White ... it depends on where you're picking. If you're in the late 20s and it's a first-round pick, and it's guaranteed money for two years, you have to be comfortable with his background. I'm not saying it's bad stuff in his background, but there's a lot of stuff out there."

Said a veteran scout of a playoff team that will, indeed, be picking in the 20s: "That's a big concern. What do you do, put him in a padded room? I'd be afraid drafting him. If you're talking about putting some guaranteed money into him, you've got to put some resources into him and have some things in place for him. Because he definitely has some issues."

On the court, White is undersized for a power forward, but that's not as big a deal in today's downsizing NBA as it would have been 10 years ago. Most teams still have him as a first-rounder.

"Just in terms of his game, I'd compare him to a Michael Beasley," one general manager said. "Defensively, if the guy is extremely nimble, I think it could be tough for him. But they'll have some trouble with him at the other end as well, and he can put it on the floor a little. It will depend on the teams and situations, like when Utah plays [Paul] Millsap at the three and [Derrick] Favors at the four with Al Jefferson."

St. Bonaventure hasn't produced a big man of significance to the NBA since Bob Lanier laced up his size 22s in the 1970s and early '80s. But the Bonnies are about to send another one to the league in Andrew Nicholson, an Ontario, Canada, native who led the Bonnies to their first NCAA tournament in 12 years.

andrew-nicholson-300.jpg
Andrew Nicholson consistently improved his game and helped the Bonnies thrive on the court, too.
Courtesy St. Bonaventure University

Nicholson never shot less than 56 percent from the floor in four seasons with St. Bonaventure, and earned Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors as a senior, as well as A-10 all-defensive team honors. He showed he could add something to his game as well as a senior by shooting 43 percent from 3-point range (23 of 53), almost quadrupling the number of made threes his first three seasons.

"I don't see him as a staring player or anything like that on a good team," one general manager said. "But I do think he has a chance to make a team and stay. I think you look at Ryan Anderson and hope (Nicholson) can become him. But look at [Matt] Bonner in San Antonio. There are guys who find that stretch four position and they make it pay and make a career for them."

Teams are sold on Nicholson as a player -- "everybody's had great things to say about him," said a GM whose team has looked at the 6-foot-9 forward. But he will have to show he has the game and mentality to match at the next level.

"Here's what I used to think about him, that he wasn't tough," said a college coach whose team played against St. Bonaventure last season. "He didn't like physical play. He didn't want you to touch him, or bang him. But over this last year, he got over that. He's incredibly tough, and he's skilled. I don't know if he's an NBA player, but he's a pretty good player. I don't know how tall he is. I don't know if he's 6-9. I don't know if he's one of these 6-8 guys with incredibly freaky arms. I don't know what he is. He's a hard guard. He's too skilled for big guys. He takes them away from the basket. He's not physical, but a small guy, he's really skilled enough and crafty enough to out-skill him."

West Virginia's Kevin Jones had an outstanding senior season for the Mountaineers, averaging 19.9 points and 10.4 boards. Jones and guard Truck Bryant led a young Mountaineers squad to the NCAAs, and many thought Jones should have won Big East Player of the Year honors.

A classic 'tweener, Jones would have difficulty staying in front of small forwards defensively, yet doesn't have the length to defend power forwards consistently. He is not especially athletic. But he plays extremely hard and will get someone's attention, likely in the second round.

"I don't think he's a small forward," one veteran scout said. "He's an undersized four who rebounds pretty well. He took a lot of 3-pointers and didn't make 'em (34 of 128, 26.6 percent). But he had a good year. I think he's pretty much near the ceiling."

A college coach familiar with Jones said, "you wouldn't call him a shooter, but if he's open, he can make an open shot. And he can make a clutch shot more than a normal shot."

And, he rebounds, which everybody is looking for.

Among other prospects, Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn burst upon the scene in March, when the 15th-seeded Spartans upset second-seeded Missouri in the first round of the NCAAs. O'Quinn went for 26 points and 14 rebounds in dominating the Tigers' frontcourt. O'Quinn then won MVP honors at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in March. He will likely have to play the four position in the pros.

kyle-oquinn-300.jpg
Kyle O'Quinn's play in the NCAA tournament and at the Portsmouth Invitational upped his NBA stock.
Courtesy Norfolk State University

"It's going to take a little time for him to get his go-to move, to learn the league," a Northwest Division scout said. "But in a couple of years, yeah."

Duke's Miles Plumlee will have difficulty generating offense and rebounding at the pro level, but some scouts think he might be able to stick on a roster. Missouri's Ricardo Ratliff also had a strong Portsmouth tournament, making the all-tournament team. Ratliff doesn't try to do more than he can do; his range offensively is about five feet. But he rebounds and defends and runs the floor, and will be in someone's camp. Buffalo's Mitchell Watt was the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and broke the record for blocked shots at Portsmouth.

Florida State's Xavier Gibson has been inconsistent over the years at Florida State -- one scout called him "a stripper who doesn't take his clothes off" -- but several Seminoles have made the pros in recent years, from Toney Douglas and Von Wafer to Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton. And Gibson will likely be the next.

Furkan Aldemir, a banger who does his work close to the basket, is the top European power forward prospect, a big man in the mold of fellow Turkish player Omer Asik, who has become a solid rotation player for the Bulls. And Drew Gordon led New Mexico to the NCAA's third round against Louisville, winning the Mountain West tournament MVP award.

Quincy Acy, Perry Jones's Baylor teammate, is the choice of a few scouts as a potential sleeper, despite being an undersized (6-foot-7) power forward.

"Don't be surprised if he makes a team and hangs around a while," one scouting director said. "Think of Reggie Evans. He's a competitor. He was the best competitor (Baylor) had. I wouldn't rule him out, but he's a second round pick."

Acy finished his college career strong, going for 20 points and 15 rebounds against Xavier and 22 and 8 against Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

"His skills have improved in his four years there," one scout said. "I like him as a second unit guy, coming in with energy. This kid has bounce to him, a lot of bounce. I don't know if he can run like Faried, but he can jump. Big, strong hands, too."

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

SEARCH NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
photoThe Starters: Trey's Goodbye Poem
Trey bids adieu to the NBA teams not making the Playoffs in his beat-style poetry.
photoThe Starters: Are You Not Egg-ertained?
The guys wrap up the last show of the regular season with a egg-pelting fest.
photoBlake Griffin April 15
Blake Griffin April 15
photoDaily Zap: April 15
Recap all the scores and highlights from a two-game night in the NBA.
photoBlock of the Night
Raymond Felton comes over to help with the block on Jorge Gutierrez's shot.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.