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OPINION -If you’re like me, then your spring break was a montage of nonstop, high-octane college basketball tournament action, combined with re-runs of “The Office” during downtime.
But now that the bulk of the excitement is whittling away (I finished all 121 episodes on my parents’ DVR-recorder) and we grow ever closer to cutting down the nets, it would be worthwhile to look back at some of the stars who put butts on the seats and will continue to do so after leaving college.
1. John Wall, G, Kentucky
There is a reason why the consensus of every online mock draft has this player as their number one choice in next June’s draft—Wall can handle the ball, make unimaginable passes to teammates down-low seem routine, and most importantly, he can dance.
Unfortunately the Wildcats couldn’t dance past the Elite Eight, perhaps ending Wall’s hyped-up, one-year college career with a disappointing loss.
If Wall is to succeed at the next level, his shooting percentage will surely have to improve, specifically from the 32.5 percent he put up this year from beyond the arc.
Still, should the NBA’s Nets (soon to play in Brooklyn) land the number one pick, they would be hard-pressed to pass up the opportunity to have this guy distribute the rock on their team for years to come.
2. Evan Turner, G, Ohio State
No player in college basketball has a more complete game than Turner’s.
The 6-foot-7 junior showed he can play point guard or be a swingman. He has all the makings of a prototypical-Tracy McGrady-type player who thrives in the isolation set.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a dire need for a wing player who can penetrate opposing defenses and take the focus away from their post players. Turner is a perfect fit for that role should they land him at the no. 2 spot.
3. Derrick Favors, F, Georgia Tech
This super freshman may have the highest ceiling of the lot.
Favors may not be as high (figuratively speaking) on radars as the others, but at 6-foot-10 and 246 pounds, his physical prowess speaks for itself. He can score, rebound, block and generate steals.
The only knock on him may be his passing skills, but should he turn pro he would only be two years removed from a sterling senior year at high school. There is plenty of time to grow with whichever team selects this superb talent.
4. DeMarcus Cousins, F, Kentucky
What Favors is to the big man with finesse mold, Cousins is to a dominating post presence who possesses the footwork to outmaneuver opponents down low.
At 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds, fans can immediately draw parallels to current Memphis Grizzlies all-star Zach Randolph. He will single-handedly man the offensive boards against anyone with the gall to contest his skills.
Cousins also has a dedicated drive to win, evident in his constant effort to the finish in his team’s upset loss to West Virginia in the Elite Eight.
After the Wildcats came up short, Cousins wore his emotions visibly on his face, perhaps impressing scouts with his determination amidst a failing attempt at the win.
5. Al-Farouq Aminu, F, Wake Forest
Al-Farouq Aminu is probably the biggest wild-card in the lottery.
His performance in the tournament certainly boosted his stock when he helped his team to a first-round thumping of Texas.
However, there are questions about whether he has the ability to crash with the big boys in the pros. At a mere 6-foot-9, Aminu will need to grow a couple of inches to compete down low.
He has not demonstrated any sort of propensity to shooting from deep thus far in college and will need to improve that if he does not want to be limited to playing within 5 feet of the rim.
Because of this, Aminu could be selected anywhere in the draft from 5-14, depending on how much faith a team places in his developmental potential.
One thing that is certain—any of these players has a good chance to shine in the pros.
What about Colorado? Does Boulder not house some future NBA talent?
Freshman guard Alec Burks drives past Husker defense during a game on Jan. 27. Burks led CU in scoring for the third game in a row with 21 points. The Buffs defeated rival Nebraska in Coors Events Center 72-60. (CU Independent file/Molly Maher)
Freshman guard Alec Burks was recently named Big 12 Freshman of the Year. His play style has been compared to Eddie Jones, a former NBA all-star shooting guard who could defend as well as tickle the twine with jump-shot after jump-shot.
If Burks were to enter the 2011 draft, his lottery prospects would depend on the demand at his position.
Golden State’s fast-break, guard-play style would be a nice fit, but they already possess a stable of youngsters who have to play with the ball in their hands.
One potential destination for Burks would be the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings lack a proficient guard to play alongside rookie-of-the-year candidate Tyreke Evans. They could combine Burks and Evans into an offense that would mirror a two point-guard setup, which is becoming more and more popular in the pro game these days.
Another potential pro among the Buffs ranks is junior guard Cory Higgins, although his potential future as a pro is a bit more diluted.
After clearing out guards in recent transactions, the Utah Jazz depth chart could conceivably offer Higgins an opportunity to earn a spot to play on their depleted roster.
The Charlotte Bobcats, under new owner Michael Jordan, could be another potential suitor for Higgins’ services.
Although Charlotte already drafted Gerald Henderson in the lottery of the 2009 draft to back up Stephen Jackson, a new owner might mean a revised mission statement and an overhaul to the team.
Junior guard Cory Higgins drives toward the basket during a game against Iowa State on Feb. 27 in the Coors Events Center. Higgins had a game high 33 points and went 12-15 from the floor. The Buffs beat the Cyclones 75-72. (CU Independent file/Phil McMichael)
Also not to delve too deeply into nepotism, it wouldn’t necessarily hurt matters that Higgins’ father currently serves as the general manager of the club.
Of course this is all mere speculation at the present.
Predicting next year’s draft order is a bit like predicting whether Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch will be shutting down again next week.
One thing that is certain is that another year of having these two fabulous players on campus will certainly help to woo more NBA scouts into paying winter visits to Boulder for a change.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Gino Figlio at Gino.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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