Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
There may not be another prospect in the country that has boosted his stock as much as Burke. When he arrived as a freshman, Burke was most effective creating his own offense, but with a focused offseason Burke dedicated himself to becoming a balanced point guard, and the results have been excellent. Arguably the most important player in the Big 10, Burke has led the Wolverines’ renaissance and has eased the transition for talented freshmen Glenn Robinson III, Nik Staukas, and Mitch McGary. His stats, including averaging over 7 assists per game while shooting 50% from the field, 40% from 3, and 80% from the foul line, have caused NBA scouts to take notice. It is no longer a question of whether or not Burke is a first rounder, but rather if he can crack the lottery. Ultimately, concerns about his size may drop him out of the lottery discussion, but he should definitely be in the top 20 or so.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Perhaps no player in college basketball has broken out as much as Carter-Williams, who is leading the nation in assists at 9.4 per game. Carter-Williams has surprised many as there were some who questioned if he had a true position, or thought he was more of a shooting guard. The 6’6″ Carter-Williams creates headaches for smaller defenders with his length, and has very good floor vision as well. So far at Syracuse Cater-Williams has been more facilitator than scorer, which was a skill he displayed while in high school. NBA teams will have interest in Carter-Williams, especially because he has transformed himself into a willing passer and facilitator. If he can have a big conference & NCAA tournament where he also displays some scoring punch, then Carter-Williams could solidify his stock in the lottery.
Phil Pressey, PG, Missouri
One of the quickest players in the country, when Pressey is on he can be electric, not only as a passer but as a scorer as well. While Pressey’s signature performance might have been his 19 point and 19 assist performance in an overtime loss to UCLA, he has given NBA scouts and executives more than enough highlights to show why he has a place in the NBA. While he may be too small to be an elite starter in the NBA, and a potential defensive liability, Pressey can easily be an above-average player off the bench and a great change of pace option for teams. NBA teams will be watching Missouri closely the rest of the way and they could see Pressey play himself into the first round with a strong March.
Russ Smith, PG, Louisville
Smith gives Pressey a run for his money as one of the quickest players in the country. A threat to go coast-to-coast on nearly any possession, Smith has improved as a shooter but still must show he can play PG at the NBA level. Two major concerns NBA scouts have voiced about Smith are his recklessness and inability to facilitate for others. Sometimes Smith plays too fast and can look for his own opportunities too much. Because of size concerns Smith is likely seen as a backup point guard, however, playing alongside Peyton Siva has shown how dynamic he can be offensively and some team may envision him as a Jason Terry type of guard off the bench. Due to the aforementioned concerns Smith is a borderline first rounder but should be a top-40 selection.
Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
Kabongo is serving a 23 game suspension related to improper benefits he received over the summer and is not eligible to play until February 13. While a point guard with baggage like that, who also underperformed as a freshman, would not normally warrant consideration like this, Kabongo is an exception. Athletically, Kabongo may be the best prospect on the board at the position. With a 6’7″ wingspan and high basketball IQ Kabongo should step in right away and make an impact for Texas. Once he returns from suspension, NBA GMs and scouts will likely want to see Kabongo’s development from his freshman year and whether he has improved offensively. From a defensive and passing standpoint Kabongo is already good enough as a prospect but adding the threat of an offensive game could cause his stock to rise into first round status.
Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit
Perhaps the least known prospect at the position among fans, McCallum has been attracting NBA scouts to his games since his freshman season. The son of Detroit’s head coach, McCallum displays great instincts, IQ, and athleticism. Defensively, McCallum has room to improve but has quick feet and hands and anticipates passing lanes well. If McCallum was playing on a premiere program he would likely post even better stats, but as it stands his game will translate well to the NBA. McCallum is a lock to be a second round pick should he declare for the draft this season.
Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
Canaan, considered a potential first rounder over the summer has played well this season but has not dominated like a year ago. Statistically, Canaan has improved marginally in most categories. While many in the NBA love his game, to expect Canaan to be anything more than a backup or shooter off the bench is unrealistic. With his thick frame, and his lack of the elite quickness required to cover the top point guards in the NBA, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Canaan chosen late in round 2.