Freshmen have been excluded from these previews, as we'd like to wait and see what they have to offer on the NCAA circuit before we come to any long-term conclusions.
-Top 20 NBA Prospects in the Big Ten
-Top 15 NBA Prospects in the Big 12
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-10, Part One
#1 Tyler Honeycutt
#2 Derrick Williams
#3 Malcolm Lee
#4 Klay Thompson
#5 Isaiah Thomas
#6 Abdul Gaddy, 6-3, Sophomore, Point Guard, Washington
18.2 minutes, 3.9 points, 2.3 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 42% FG, 56% FT, 15% 3P
The youngest player in college basketball last season, Abdul Gaddy was considered by most high school recruiting services as the second best freshman point guard prospect in the 2009 class.
Besides his pedigree and obvious youth, it's very difficult to find too many positive things to say about Gaddy's first year in college, as he struggled in every facet of the game and ended up ranking as the least productive prospect in all of college basketball, by a fairly large margin.
From a physical standpoint, Gaddy's best attributes revolve around his good size at 6-3 and well-developed frame. He's not particularly quick or explosive, though, even if he does have a certain type of smoothness to his game, showing good body control, changing speeds nicely, and generally operating at a very unique pace.
Offensively, Gaddy is the type of player who needs the ball in his hands quite a bit to be successful, being an old-school ball-dominant type point guard, who is also somewhat of a reluctant scorer. He has very good court vision and a solid feel for the game for a player his age, looking very unselfish finding teammates in drive and dish situations, and always being willing to make the extra pass in the half-court offense, sometimes overly so. Gaddy looked far too passive at times last season, which made his team fairly easy to guard in the half-court, but his ability to find the open man with pinpoint accuracy is a skill that could come in very handy down the road if he develops the rest of his game.
As a shot-creator, Gaddy struggled badly last season. His average first step hampers his slashing ability considerably going up against good defenders, resulting in him coughing the ball up on 33% of his possessions, second worst amongst all NCAA prospects last season. Gaddy has some nice runners and floaters he can utilize in the 8-10 foot area, but he must do a better job of getting all the way to the rim and finishing stronger at the basket, as he rarely got to the free throw line last year. He must also learn how to operate more efficiently and assertively with fewer dribbles than he was accustomed to in high school, something that was painfully obvious at times last season.
When forced to operate off the ball, Gaddy is just a marginal shooter at this stage, converting on 21 of his 67 jumpers last season (31%), including 3/20 from beyond the arc. He also shot 56% from the free throw line. That makes it difficult to play him alongside the extremely undersized Isaiah Thomas in the same backcourt, as he's also a very ball-dominant point guard who does not shoot the ball very well. Considering Gaddy's other limitations, this is something he must work extremely hard on if he's to reach his full potential.
Defensively, Gaddy has some potential with his solid size, good frame and nice timing, but he looked overmatched at times last season going up against players 2-5 years older than him. His average lateral quickness, coupled with his lack of experience made him a target for opposing teams to go at at times, making him fairly foul prone on a per-minute basis, one of the reasons he only played 18 minutes per game. He appeared to lack some toughness on this end of the floor as well, not really fighting through screens and allowing older and more physically mature players to push him around at times, which is something he must work on.
As an NBA prospect, players in Gaddy's mold are not quite as en vogue these days as they were in the pastas the likes of Chris Duhon, Marcus Williams (UConn) and others have found out recently. Most teams prefer to have a jet of a point guard running the show for them, especially if they are below-average shooters, so Gaddy has his work cut out for him in terms of improving his jump-shot and showing that he can defend his position effectively, as his margin for error is not all that large. Luckily for him, time is on his side, as he's still only 18 years old.
#7 Reggie Moore, 6-2, Sophomore, Point Guard, Washington State
12.7 points, 4.2 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 1.4 steals, 42% FG, 79% FT, 32% 3P
Having profiled Moore fairly late in the season with a comprehensive scouting report, we've elected to wait and see what type of progress he's made with a fresh perspective in a few months, rather than rehashing many of the same comments made last year based off his 2009-2010 game footage.
#8 Jeremy Green, 6-4, Junior, Shooting Guard, Stanford
16.6 Points, 3.8 Rebounds, 0.8 Assists, 1.3 Turnovers, 40.2% FG, 28.1% 3FG, 81.5% FT
Texas native Jeremy Green stepped up his game in a big way as a sophomore for Stanford. The highly aggressive, perimeter-oriented guard garnered All-Pac-10 Second Team honors after being selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team the year before. Though Stanford struggled in a down year in the Pac-10, Green was a bright spot, increasing his scoring output by nearly ten points while taking as many three-pointers as any player in the country. With do-everything forward Landry Fields gone, Green should see even more touches next season, and if he improves his efficiency, could be one of the more productive scorers on the west coast and earn some NBA interest as well.
One of the biggest challenges Green faces in catching the attention of NBA scouts is his lack of size. Standing just 6'4, Green is undersized for the two spot, and doesn't have great length or athleticism to compensate. More sudden than quick, Green's athleticism is in some ways reminiscent of that of Juan Dixon. A bit on the skinny side and not terribly explosive either, Green has good speed, but won't wow anyone with highlight reel plays at the basket or on the defensive end.
Despite his physical shortcomings, there are definitely some things to like about Green's offensive repertoire. An ultra-aggressive scorer, Green is capable of going off on any given night, as evidenced by his 30-point outburst against UCLA last season. He is extremely reliant on his ability to score from the perimeter, with nearly 85% of his total attempts being comprised of jump shots according to Synergy Sports Technology and half of his total field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. He can score both off the catch and off the dribble and receives a considerable amount of his touches working off the ball. A competent shooter moving off of screens, he is at his best shooting off the dribble, despite being substantially more efficient shooting when driving left than when driving right.
Green's success off the bounce stems from his extremely quick release. His form is highlighted by a high release point and even though he short-arms some shots with a hand in his face periodically, his compact mechanics make him a threat to pull up at any time. Though Green made just 36.8% of his jumpers last season and needs to continue to work on his consistency, he showed marked improvement in his midrange game from his freshman season and shot an adjusted field goal percentage of 49.1%, indicating how many threes he attempted and the degree of difficulty in his repertoire.
Though Green is never shy about pulling the trigger from 20 or more feet, he does put the ball on the floor to attack the rim on occasion on occasion, usually exploiting situations when his defender opts to trail him as he moves through Stanford's offense. Green isn't super explosive, but has a fairly quick first step and manages to create enough space for his pull up jumper with quick dribble moves. He isn't terribly dynamic or flashy off the dribble, but he's a good enough ball-handler to take advantage of what he's given. He doesn't turn the ball over at a high rate mostly because of how often he settles for jumpers, but doesn't prove to be a terribly productive passer either looking almost exclusively for his own offense.
His ability to finish and defend at the next level are two areas of concern in projecting him to the next level. Though he doesn't attack the basket too frequently, the results aren't great when he does, as his lack of great leaping ability and strength limit his consistency at the rim. He does bring some energy to the defensive end, but is often a step slow closing out and gives up the corner too easily against quicker guards.
Jeremy Green burst onto the scene last season, and while his team struggled, he showed that he can produce on the high-major level, despite only being a sophomore. If he can improve the consistency of his jump shot and become a bit craftier when attacking the rim, his scoring ability could catch his some NBA attention. While he is by no means a lock to be drafted and has a lot to prove to compensate for his lack of physical tools, Green still has two seasons to work with, a scorer's mentality, and a golden opportunity to showcase his individual talents in the Pac-10 next season. Green is certainly a player we'll need to check in on again before he becomes draft-eligible. We'll have to make sure and see whether the brief suspension he received in last year's pre-season stemming from a domestic violence incident was simply a blip on the radar, though.
#9 Reeves Nelson, 6-8, Sophomore, Power Forward, UCLA
11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, .4 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 65% FG, 52% FT
Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson will look to help UCLA rebound from an abysmal 2009-2010 season in which the Bruins finished with a 13-17 record and missed the postseason for the first time since coach Ben Howland's first season at UCLA in 2003-2004. After a solid freshman season as one of the team's lone bright spots, Nelson will need to continue to develop his game to help the Bruins improve and to get himself on the radar of NBA scouts.
From a physical standpoint, Nelson is far from the ideal NBA power forward prospect. He's a bit undersized at 6'8, and his strong, bulky frame could use some tightening up. He does have quick feet and a decent first step for a guy his size, but he's primarily a below-the-rim player with limited elevation and explosiveness.
On the offensive end, Nelson combines a nice blend of power and a knack of how to finish around the rim, which contributed to him shooting an outstanding 64.7% from the field last season. His strong body and aggressive mentality help him to get position around the basket, and his scoring instincts enable him to finish, despite his lack of physical tools. He's comfortable playing with his back to the basket and can also face up and put the ball on the floor and finish with either hand going either direction. Nelson has to potential to be a force offensively around the basket at the college level, but this success may not translate well against longer, more athletic, defenders in the NBA.
Nelson's shooting is an area where he could use quite a bit of work. He shot a very poor 52% from the free throw line as a freshman, and he didn't show any flashes of being able to knock down a mid-range jump shot, with most all of his field goal attempts coming in the basket area. Developing a reliable jump shot from about fifteen feet would help him tremendously to become a more well-rounded offensive threat.
Defensively, Nelson displays good energy and intensity, as he's clearly an extremely tough player, and plays for an excellent defensive coach in Ben Howland, but he may lack the physical attributes needed to have great success defending at the NBA level. Tightening up his body may help some, but his lack of length and lateral quickness will certainly be an issue. Nelson's rebounding numbers were solid last season but not spectacular (9.9 rebounds per forty minutes pace adjusted). Really focusing on attacking the glass would give him another area to hang his hat on.
Overall, Nelson still has quite a bit of work to do before having his name come up in draft discussions. His toughness, aggressiveness and scoring instincts around the basket give him a base to build on, but he'll probably need to develop a mid-range jump shot and work on improving his body and athleticism to become a realistic NBA prospect. Fortunately, he still has three seasons remaining at UCLA to shore up his weaknesses and work on his game.
#10 DeAngelo Casto, 6'8, Power Forward, Junior, Washington State
10.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 2.2 turnovers, 49.8% FG, 59.0% FT
DeAngelo Casto is coming off a breakout sophomore season for the Washington State Cougars where he nearly doubled his minutes and led the team in blocks and rebounds. The undersized but highly agile big man also expanded his scoring game last year, though still has much work to do.
Offensively, Casto is a fairly limited player from a skills standpoint, though he has a developing game in a few areas. Seeing most of his possessions with his back to the basket at this level, Casto shows flashes of good footwork and instincts in the post, being capable of turning off either shoulder and having a good looking right-handed hook shot in his arsenal. Although he looks fairly comfortable operating in the post, Casto unfortunately is not a very effective or efficient player in this regard, and his issues would likely become much more apparent projecting to the next level as well.
While Casto is a very good athlete overall, possessing very high levels of mobility and coordination, he isn't outstanding with lower body explosiveness or reactiveness operating around the rim, and when combined with his height, he struggles to power up and finish through contact in traffic. Even when open, he often has to bend down to gather his strength in order to dunk the ball, something he rarely does except when wide open, while his lack of height certainly doesn't help matters.
In regards to his finesse post game, despite showing good touch and a decent array of moves, his accuracy as he gets outside five feet of the basket is not very good, and he lacks a high degree of polish in this area. Despite seeing the majority of his possessions in this vein at Washington State, it'd be tough to see him playing a similar role in the NBA without substantial improvement.
Off the ball, Casto is good at getting open on cuts to the basket and crashing the offensive glass, but his lack of ability to power up in the lane leads to him being an underwhelming finisher, especially when contested. He also is rarely utilized on pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops, not showing much of anything in terms of a mid-range jumper, something he will surely need to develop projecting to the next level.
Defensively, Casto blocked shots at a decent rate this past season while staying out of foul trouble, showing great timing in the lane combined with excellent length and the ability to cover a lot of ground on rotations due to his mobility. Casto is perhaps most impressive in this regard when operating against perimeter players on switches, doing a great job of staying with them down the lane only to swat the ball away when the shot goes up. Not tested frequently in pick-and-roll and isolation situations on the perimeter, Casto regardless shows very good potential in this regard, which is a good sign since it will be crucial for him to play power forward in the pros.
Defending the post, Casto is more of a mixed bag, on one hand showing a nice fundamental base and the ability to use his length to alter shots, but on the other lacking a bit in consistent physicality, showing a tendency to give up on plays, and being prone to being shot over by larger opponents at just 6'8. More consistently using his fundamental base and developing a stronger base to hold better position and body up the opposition better should help him noticeably in this area. On the defensive glass, Casto does a good but not great job, and will probably need to be more aggressive in this area down the road, as undersized bigs who don't excel on the glass aren't in abundance in the NBA.
Looking forward, the 20-year-old junior is an intriguing prospect with room for growth in multiple areas, but his height and underwhelming offensive skill set will certainly make things difficult for him down the road. Developing a mid-range jumper, maximizing his lower body strength, and continuing to expand on his defensive and rebounding abilities should be among his priorities, while his young age and two years remaining in college should give him plenty of time to do so.