Top pro prospects were one top prep prospects

One of the benefits of my job is that I get to see a ton of high school talent on the recruiting scene. Sure most of my attention is on Wildcat prospects, but I do get to see a ton of NBA talent before they see a college court, much less an NBA court.

With the NBA Draft on the horizon, I thought I'd share some stories and anecdotes about some of the top talents in this draft.

Greg Oden: Flat out one of the five best high school players I have seen in almost a decade of doing this. I first saw him when he was a freshman playing alongside Josh McRoberts. Two years later he and his loaded Speice Indy Heat were attracting sellout crowds in Vegas high school gyms. Big, athletic and skilled.
Pro Thoughts: Safe pick. The sure thing between he and Durant.

Cory Brewer: I saw Brewer at the Nike All-American camp and he was a dunk machine. He was tall and explosive and was posterizeing kids left and right. It is sort of funny that he is now known as a defensive stopper.
Pro Thoughts: Another sure thing in my mind. Brewer will have a long, successful career.

Mike Conley: Watching Conley play alongside Oden, Daquan Cook and Eric Gordon on the Speice Indy Heat he actually got lost in the shuffle. You could tell he was a terrific athlete and had a ton of potential, but I was a bit surprised he was as good as he was so early in college. Dad was Mike Conley, the triple jumper, and arguably the best dunker in the history of celebrity dunk contests.
Pro Thoughts: Conley should be a good pro, but he looks destined to go to Atlanta or Memphis and that is sort of the kiss of death, isn't it?

Joakim Noah: The Cats made a push at him back in 2003. The funny thing is there were actually confusions about his name at the time. As he was just making a name for himself on the recruiting scene his name appeared as Joakin Noah, Joann Noah and even Noah Joann on various rosters and listings. He was very thin at the time, but very athletic. He did not have the poofy hair he sports now, instead keeping it in tight braids.
Pro Thoughts: Another player I feel will have a good career, but he'll probably be the third best of the Florida standouts.

Julian Wright: Saw a lot of Wright when the Wildcats were recruiting him. He was a very skilled, very athletic player. He was also involved in a strange recruiting. He had taken visits to Arizona, DePaul and Illinois and was still considering Kansas, but the Jayhawks appeared to have their work cut out for them. Bill Self made an in-home visit and walked away with the commitment. I got the call about the commitment while shopping with my wife and actually questioned the caller repeatedly (and quite loudly according to my embarrassed wife).
Pro Thoughts: Word is he is dropping. He has great athleticism, but haven't we seen a lot of these 6-9, athletic tweeners fail? He has all the skills to be a star, but at the same time I could see him out of the league in three years.

Spencer Hawes: I saw a ton of Spencer Hawes over the years. He went from a gangly, crew cut sporting sidekick to Jon Brockman, to one of the better post prospects in the 2006 class. I was surprised he did not have a better freshman season. The fact that he will leave Washington without a postseason appearance is a stunner.
Pro Thoughts: He's seven-foot and skilled, but I sure think he could benefit by another year in college. He should have been the best big man in the Pac-10, but wasn't the best FRESHMAN big man in the league.

Javaris Crittenton:Saw him as a sophomore at the Pangos All-American Camp and he was outstanding. He just seemed so much faster and more explosive than the bulk of the guards there. I didn't know much about him before the camp, but it was pretty obvious that he was going to be a player.

Josh McRoberts: The big man was a good, but not great player for Duke. When I saw him in high school he looked like he was going to be a sure-fire All-American. He came out of the same class as Tyler Hansbrough and looked to be every bit his equal. I think it is safe to say that "Psycho T" has had the better college career.
Pro Thoughts: Underachieving AND a Duke player? It could actually work. It worked for Shavlik Randolph. That being said, I wouldn't draft him.


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