NBA Scout talks ACC and Terps
Wondering who might be the top few picks in next year's NBA Draft? What about the pro potential on Maryland's roster, or that of other Atlantic Coast Conference standouts like Florida State's Al Thornton and UNC's Tyler Hansbrough – as well as the Tar Heels' crop of young stars? Well, look no further: Terp Sports Report brings you the skinny straight from the mouth of a Western Conference veteran NBA Scout.
According to the Western Conference scout, who prefers not to be identified, the ACC's top prospect this season is North Carolina freshman forward Brandan Wright.
"He would go in the lottery, and [fellow Tar Heel freshman] Wayne Ellington would probably go somewhere late in the first round," the scout says.
The fastest riser the ACC this season, however, has been Florida State senior Al Thornton. The 6-foot-8 forward (17.8 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting) has played himself into a likely top-20 pick.
"You don't like to make comparisons because it [puts pressure on] the kids, but he's got a little Dominique [Wilkins] in him," the scout said.
Maryland seniors Mike Jones and Ekene Ibekwe both have an outside shot to make it as well, he said.
"Ibekwe may be able to make it … he played well in international competition, which helps his case," he said.
Ibekwe's biggest area for improvement?
"Probably his shot. He handles the ball OK for his size. He can rebound and block shots … he could be a free agent type or if he plays well at a free agent camp, he could play himself into a second-round pick."
"He's a one-dimensional spot-up shooter, but teams are always looking for spot-up shooters," the scout said. "If he gets on a run at a camp, he could make someone's team."
The scout was also impressed with Terps freshman guard Greivas Vasquez.
"The point guard, the foreign kid, knows the game. But he's a freshman, and we don't know a lot about him right now. It depends, [assuming] he stays four years, how much he improves," he said. "That's the thing you never know."
The scout compared UNC All-American sophomore Tyler Hansbrough to "a much better Mark Madsen," but said he will not be a lottery pick regardless of when he comes out because he's not extremely athletic.
"He plays so hard that he's going to play for someone," he said, "He doesn't take any plays off."
UNC freshman point guard Tywon Lawson could stand to stick around for a few years because of his small stature and because there have been several young point guards drafted in recent years.
"He would probably go in the second round this year," the scout said. "I think his potential is great. I think he would be best served to stay two, maybe three years and work on his jumpshot. He has great athleticism."
There's unlikely to be any surprises with the top pick in this year's draft – it'll most likely be either Ohio State freshman Greg Oden or Texas freshman Kevin Durant. And though Durant has been sensational, averaging 24.5 points per game and 11.1 rebounds a game, Oden remains the favorite.
"It all depends on who had the number one pick, and if they need a small forward or if they need a center. I think both are going to be stars. [But] I think Oden probably has the best shot because he'll help you on defense and blocking shots. Kevin Durant is mostly offensive right now. He's not a very good defender. He's a great shooter for a big kid, though," the scout said.
"I don't think we're surprised to see him scoring so much, but at the same time, he's on a very young team. On a normal team he might be the second or third option, but he went somewhere where he could be the guy for one year," he said.
There has been almost nothing but positive feedback among NBA scouts toward the NBA's newly enacted age limit, which is sending the top high-school stars off to college for at least a year rather than having them continue to go straight to the league.
"I think it's a great rule. What it has done for us is, we don't go watch high school kids. It keeps us out of high school gyms and lets the high school kids focus on the things they should be focusing on. Some of us still go to the summer camps," he said.
"It also helps the college coaches. Sometimes there's a kid who plans to just go to college for one year because of the rule, and might not have as good of a year and end up staying for two or three years," he said.
Finally, our scout was asked who will be the biggest sleeper in next year's draft. He was quick to point out that, because of the massive amount of technology and manpower devoted by pro franchises to scouting, there is virtually no such thing as a sleeper anymore. But then he thought about it a minute longer. His sleeper? Keep an eye on Eastern Washington junior Rodney Stuckey.
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