1. Harrison Barnes 6’8, 223, SF, North Carolina
Lost in the hysteria of the Tar Heels’ loss to Duke at the buzzer thanks to an Austin Rivers 3 was the performance of Barnes, who was the best player on the floor all night. No, he didn’t close the game, but the UNC forward continues to show the take-over ability that scouts have been expecting. He needs to improve his rebounding numbers, which are down this year slightly, but offensively he’s the most complete player in the country right now.
2. Anthony Davis 6’10, 220, PF, Kentucky
Hmmm, 127 blocks in 26 games? Davis draws comparisons to Marcus Camby because of his wingspan and defensive ability, but he isn’t the offensive impact player that Camby was at this stage. But he’s still a pup. Davis is slight, but he’s an impact player defensively at the NBA level right now and is by far and away the best defensive player in college basketball. His defensive timing and instincts haven’t been seen in a college prospect in years and absolutely puts Kentucky on a different level as they plan their march a national championship. If Davis stays out of foul trouble, the Wildcats are an impossible out come tournament time.
3. Andre Drummond, 6’11, 270, C, Connecticut
Drummond is struggling mightily in Big East action and the timing of this has scouts questioning if he needs more development at this level. He was shut out against Louisville then got severely outplayed by Syracuse’s front line in an 18-point loss. What I like about Drummond is his hands and footwork combined with his size. What puzzles me is his energy level and consistent ability to get outworked for position and inability to establish himself on the block.
4. John Henson, 6’11, 223, C, North Carolina
To me, there isn’t a more improved big man in the nation than Henson, whose career has morphed from defensive stopper to now a more complete post player and defender. He still needs to get stronger at his base, because on one-on-one post situations he can be moved, but he’s almost at Anthony Davis’ level from a timing perspective on blocks and rebounds. I’m most impressed with the array of post moves and ability to finish with both hands around the basket. If he can improve his FT shooting come crunch time of the season, Henson’s stock could be rising as high as anyone in the country.
5. Jared Sullinger, 6’9, 280, PF, Ohio State
Sullinger is the best pure, post up big man in the country. He often is a man among boys in a conference that is the most physical in the country. That’s what’s so incredibly impressive. Equally impressive as his polished post moves is the fact that Sullinger is a tremendous mid-range shooter and is a fit for any pick and pop point guard. I compare him to Kurt Thomas as it relates to his touch from 10-15 feet. Sullinger will never be the best athlete on the floor, or the 9th best, but he has NBA savvy and that counts for a lot.
6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , 6’7, 230, SF, Kentucky
Talent-wise, Gilchrist is right up there with the best in the nation, but there are lapses of freshman immaturity. Thankfully, these mistakes get covered up by Kentucky’s overwhelming talent on its roster. He’s a fantastic athlete with an NBA ready body physically and always fills up the stat sheet evident by his recent performance against #11 Kansas. Gilchrist can vault himself to the top of the draft if he can show he’s the best player on the floor, more often than not, come tournament time. Not an easy task on the Wildcats’ college all-star team.
7. Thomas Robinson, 6’9, 240, PF, Kansas
I always considered Robinson to have a higher ceiling than both Morris twins, who were first round picks in last year’s draft and played with Robinson last year for the Jayhawks. Robinson is a tremendous athlete with great finishing ability, but his shooting form could be extended to 18 feet in my opinion with reps and confidence. If this continues to develop he can pull bigger forwards away from the basket at the next level and be an instant rotation player on any NBA roster.
8. Arnett Moultrie, 6’10, 240, PF, Mississippi State
Perhaps no one in college basketball has the combination of motor and the physical nature to the game that Moultrie possesses. He’s ready right now physically and has the ability to dominate a game on both ends averaging a double-double while playing in the SEC. There isn’t much this player doesn’t do, and it will be interesting to see him develop more come tournament time.
9. Bradley Beal, 6’3, 220, SG, Florida
Just a freshman, Beal plays beyond his years and is the most talented shooting guard in the country. What scouts appreciate most is his ability to be a low volume/high-efficiency scorer who can also rebound very well from the backcourt position. He’s only 6’3, which is undersized in the NBA for a 2 guard, but his ability to come off screens and off cuts reminds many of a young Ray Allen. Definitely a player to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.
10. Mike Moser, 6’8, 210, PF, UNLV
Moser cracks my top 10 because he is as gifted a scorer-athlete as any player in the nation at this point. He’s flown under the radar, but having led the Running-Rebels to 22 wins to date, Moser will be a focal point should UNLV make it far in the tournament. The ex-UCLA Bruin can flat out take over a game from the stretch-4 position, a spot that every scout is looking for at the NBA level. He can shoot threes and guard the SF and PF position in an up tempo style. Keep an eye on Moser, his stock is soaring.