Five preps expected to go in NBA Draft first round
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The end is here.
This year's NBA Draft, which takes place in New York Tuesday night, likely marks the final year high schoolers are draft eligible thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement the NBA and its union agreed on last week.
According to the new CBA, players must be 19 and one year removed from high school to be draft eligible starting in 2006.
That means no Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) center Greg Oden in the 2006 draft. And no North College Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio) guard O.J. Mayo in the 2007 draft.
It also means some highly-contested recruiting wars will ensue now that the top recruits won't have the NBA as an option.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. High schoolers still have one more year to make an impact.
Gulf Shores Academy (Houston, Texas) shooting guard Gerald Green will likely take the honor as the first prep player selected in the final prep-eligible draft. Portland, Utah, Toronto and Los Angeles are four of the teams enamored with Green, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound shooting guard whose game is similar to Tracy McGrady's.
Portland owns the No. 3 pick in the entire draft, though the Trail Blazers are said to be shopping the pick. The Lakers, meanwhile, have the 10th pick and are rumored to be trying to move up, as Green will likely be gone by the time they pick.
Although Utah, which owns the sixth pick of the draft, is interested in Green, the Jazz are in desperate need of a point guard and could bypass Green, meaning he could fall into Toronto's lap with the seventh pick.
Though Green is the most sought-after high school baller, he's not the only one expected to go in the lottery.
Chances are Seattle Prep (Seattle, Wash.) shooting guard Martell Webster won't last much longer than Green. He's projected to be a top-10 selection.
A 6-foot-7, 230-pound sharpshooter, Webster has the body and skills to make an immediate impact in the league.
Like Green, Portland, Los Angeles and Toronto are rumored to be interested in Webster. Orlando, which has the 11th pick, is also eying him but would probably have to trade up to get him.
The Lakers are also said to be extremely interested in St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.) center Andrew Bynum. If both Green and Webster are gone by the time the Lakers pick, there's a good chance Bynum could be Kobe's next sidekick.
If he doesn't end up with L.A., Bynum could slip to the second half of the first round.
No other high schooler is projected to go in the lottery, but Lanier (Jackson, Miss.) shooting guard Monta Ellis and South Kent Prep (South Kent, Conn.) power forward Andray Blatche should be first-round selections.
Though there's some speculation Ellis could go as high as No. 14 to Minnesota, he'll probably end up being selected somewhere in the 20s.
Blatche, meanwhile, could go anywhere in the second half of the opening round. Boston is said to be extremely interested in this versatile power forward, who has been referred to as a poor man's Kevin Garnett.
South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) shooting guard Louis Williams could also sneak into the first round. But at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Williams doesn't fit the mold of a typical preps-to-pro baller, let alone an NBA shooting guard. But he does have lottery-caliber skills and will be a steal if he slips to the second round.
Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.) center Amir Johnson and Skyline (Dallas, Texas) guard C.J. Miles also figure to be selected in the second round.