Where will Hawes, Turner and Young be after this season?
From left to right: Duke's Jabari Parker, Creighton's Doug McDermott, and Kentucky's James Young. (USA Today Images)
Last time we checked in on the top NBA prospects, we looked at Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart (see story).
This time, I'm going to ignore the likely top pick again in Andrew Wiggins, and highlight three more prospects that should go in the top 10. Without further ado, let's get started.
Jabari Parker, F, 6-8/235, Duke
The freshman has garnered plenty of hype so far this young season and rightfully so. But before Andrew Wiggins burst on the scene, Parker was the top high school prospect in the country. Then Wiggins came down from Canada, had amazing showings at the offseason camps and pushed Parker to the second-best high school prospect last year.
I still believe Parker is the top prospect, and I thought so before folks wigged out on Wiggins. There is just something very natural about his ability, both offensively and defensively. Instinct like his cannot be taught. Not to mention his size and strength.
Parker is 6-foot-8, 235 pounds. He has a natural handle and can score inside and out. Some will say that his athleticism isn’t on par with Wiggins, but I disagree. Parker and his Duke team have gone toe to toe with other frosh phenoms in Kansas’ Wiggins and Arizona’s Gordon.
In watching both games, Parker more than held his own. In fact, Parker became the first college player to score 20 points or more in his first seven games. Parker is receiving some of the best coaching there is at the college level with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
You can actually see Parker improving, and we are only nine games into the season. I think Parker could be the most NBA ready of the big three freshmen (Parker, Wiggins and Randle). I think whichever team wins the lottery, regardless of what they think they may “need,” should draft Parker.
And this is coming from a dyed in the wool Kentucky fan. We don’t like Dookies, but Parker is the real deal. Next tough test: Dec. 19, No. 10 Duke facing No. 18 UCLA.
James Young, G, 6-6/215, Kentucky
If it’s possible, James Young has flown under the radar nationally this season. And that’s hard to do as a McDonald’s All-American, five-star recruit playing at Kentucky. But if you watch a Kentucky game, watch for No. 1 (Insert No. 1 on the roster and No. 1 in your hearts joke here).
He’s been Kentucky’s most reliable guard, which is saying something because the other guards are also McDonald’s All-Americans. But Young is composed, isn’t afraid of the big shot or the big stage, and doesn’t take bad shots. Well, at least not often, he is a freshman.
But in his team’s big games so far this season, Young has embraced the spotlight, especially when his other guards seemed to be having off nights. You can try and coach that kind of recognition and confidence, but it’s a lot easier if the player already has owns it.
Young has a decent and improving long-range game, and he is most effective coming off the screen. If Kentucky is going to be playing in Texas Stadium during the first weekend of April, they will need Young to be that X-factor. A guy on the court that not only makes plays but also picks up the energy when needed and knock down critical shots.
At 6-foot-6, he’s a ranging guard who will provide matchup problems. He has very good speed and also has good handle. He does have 17 turnovers, but he also has 17 assists. All that stat tells me is that he’s young, but he doesn’t seem to be too careless with the ball. Next tough test: Tonight, No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 20 Baylor.
Doug McDermott, F, 6-8/225, Creighton
McDermott is likely the only senior I will profile this season. And that’s not to say there isn’t any good upper classmen in the college ranks, but as far as seniors who are lottery picks? Few and far between, and I say there’s only one: Doug McDermott.
If you were a GM and you had the 10th pick, I would run, not walk, your selection to the commissioner. McDermott is your guy. Forget the on the court stuff, which is quite impressive. This is a high quality man, a coach’s son and a four-year college player. Suffice to say: they just don’t make 'em like this anymore.
But since the game is played on the court, let’s talk about McDermott’s game. He’s an excellent shooter. Last season he averaged 55 percent from the field, 49 percent from three, and 87.5 percent from the line. McDermott’s numbers are in line with that for this season, through eight games.
He’s a 6-foot-8 shooter with an arsenal of post moves to boot. Offensively, he’s a matchup problem, since he can post up at small forward then drag the power forward outside when he’s shooting the three pointer. Overall, he is a complete player, and he has very high basketball IQ. For that, you can thank his dad and his coach at Creighton: Greg McDermott.
Granted, Doug McDermott hasn’t played some of the top teams in the country year in and year out. However, when McDermott has played top quality opponents in his previous three seasons, he has shown up. His production level didn’t drop off. And now Creighton is part of the Big East and that should provide not only some much-needed competition but also some more exposure. Next tough test: Jan. 20 vs. No. 14 Villanova.