Dunlap Says It’s ‘Possible’ Bobcats May Trade Down From No. 2

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Mike Dunlap will be asked to cook the dinner in Charlotte. But he won’t be allowed to shop for the groceries.

At least not at the NBA draft.

Dunlap, the former St. John’s assistant hired as the new coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, told SheridanHoops he won’t have much input on the team’s No. 2 pick in Thursday’s draft – if it uses the pick at all.

“I’m secondary,” Dunlap said in a lengthy telephone interview. “These guys (owner Michael Jordan, president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and GM Rich Cho) have been at this a long time, so if they ask me something, I answer. I don’t think (I will have) a significant amount (of input).”

Still, Dunlap allowed that Charlotte may well trade down from the second pick if it makes sense, which is starting to look like a possibility.

“I think anybody in our situation would have that on the board,” Dunlap told the Associated Press. “(Our) people are very smart up top. So options and thinking of your variables is a very smart thing to do.”

In a separate interview with SheridanHoops.com, Dunlap said there was a “possibility” that the Bobcats would trade the No. 2 pick.

“There’s that piece of other organizations calling to do deals, so it puts a degree of wait-and-see all the way up,” Dunlap said in a lengthy phone interview from Charlotte. “But you have these scripts and they have decision A, B, C, D and they’re really high-tech here. They’ve got it down.”

With Kentucky’s Anthony Davis the presumptive top overall pick of the New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte is likely to choose from among power forward Thomas Robinson of Kansas, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky, shooting guard Bradley Beal of Florida and small forward Harrison Barnes of North Carolina at No. 2.

However, the idea of taking Beal was somewhat reduced and the premise of trading the pick somewhat increased with Thursday night’s trade with the Pistons, which sent small forward Corey Maggette to Detroit for shooting guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round pick.

The Bobcats aren’t strong at many positions, but shooting guard appears set with Gerald Henderson – one of the team’s few bright spots last season – now backed up by Gordon, one of the best bench scorers in the NBA.

Even prior to the trade, Dunlap told the AP that Charlotte has “definitely reduced” the number of players it is targeting at No. 2.

One potential trading partner is the Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of picks 4 and 24. That would allow Charlotte – which finished an NBA all-time-worst 7-59 this season — to trade down to acquire an outside shooter.

“The ability to make the three is important because it allows you to play inside the 3-point line,” Dunlap told the AP. “What happens is a defense collapses and it gets crowded in there. I would say that is safe to say that we need to do that. And we need to do a better job with our spacing, too. But as far as the roster goes it’s always nice to have guys who can shoot a basketball.”

Gordon can do that, and there have been rumors that the Cavs are trying to climb above the Washington  Wizards, who have the third pick and may be targeting Beal. Any deal that allows the Bobcats to collect multiple draft picks is a good one.

Dunlap, 54, is still settling into his new job after he made the quantum leap from college assistant to NBA coach. And he didn’t jump from Kentucky, Kansas or North Carolina, either.

He jumped from a St. John’s team that finished 13-19. Dunlap coached most of the season while Steve Lavin recovered from prostate cancer surgery.

“I’m still a bit numb to it all and I think that’s a good way to be because it’s like Christmas and there’s just a jubilation within my family and then all of that,” he said. “But also I understand that there’s work to be done each day.”

Dunlap was chosen earlier this month over a group of finalists that included former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder. When Sloan removed his name from consideration, Dunlap was brought back in for a second interview.

“It’s one of one in terms of how that’s happened,” Dunlap said of the uniqueness of his hiring. “The point for me is just the gratitude. You realize you’re really lucky and then go from there as a base point.”

“Mike’s selection as the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach is a well-deserved honor,” Lavin said. “To make the unprecedented jump from college assistant to NBA head coach is testament to both Mike’s abilities as a teacher and our basketball program’s marked improvement over the past 27 months.”

Known as a master strategist and tactician, Dunlap won two national titles at Division II Metro State in Denver and also served two years as an assistant under Denver Nuggets coach George Karl.

Dunlap also served as the associate head coach at Arizona and an assistant at Oregon before joining the St. John’s staff in 2010.

“He is one of the outstanding minds in the game,” legendary former Arizona coach Lute Olson said when Dunlap was hired at St. John’s. “His strengths are in organization and on-the-floor coaching.”

Dunlap isn’t a back-slapping, gregarious personality by nature. But he is making an effort to get to know Jordan as well as his new players.

“It’s still a feeling-out process and a get-to-know-you,” Dunlap said of his relationship with Jordan, the owner who is under as much pressure as anyone to make a quality pick in this draft.

Dunlap also has a link to Bobcats guard Kemba Walker. Moe Hicks, Walker’s coach at Rice High School, is on the staff at St. John’s and Dunlap coached against Walker when the point guard was at UConn.

“For Kemba to know that I had a relationship witih someone that’s important to him is good and that we came from the same conference which is good,” Dunlap said. “That relationship and basically trying to find out common interests for them and not just go straight for the basektball is a good way of going.

“And then anytime I can get out of the building and meet them on their turf is a good thing, whether it’s a meal or whatever. And I’m setting up all that.”

Dunlap is living in a hotel next to the Charlotte arena while his wife, Mollie, and his daughter, Ellie, are in the process of relocating to Charlotte from Manhasset, NY. His daughter is still in high school.

“Sometimes I wake up and I still think I’m in New York,” Dunlap said. “I think I’ve gotta take care of my responsibilities at St. John’s like on the housing or guys transitioning in, compliance.

“It’s just a different world here. Sometimes I’m writing in my notebook and I’m writing the wrong list.”

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear  Saturdays. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

 

Zagoria: Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects at Every Position

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The countdown to the NBA draft is now inside of two weeks. Workouts are taking place at gyms all around the NBA. Promises are being made, trades are being discussed. Some players are seeing their stock rise, others are falling.

This going to be a very deep draft, especially at the big man positions, which is quite a contrast to last year when it was more or less a point guard-dominated draft.

So as we count down the days until June 28 when the big night unfolds at the Prudential Center in Newark, here’s a look at my Top 5 players at each position.

Joe Kotoch will be checking in tomorrow with Mock Draft 3.0 — this one going through both the first and second rounds. For Mock 2.0, click here.

POINT GUARDS

1. Damian Lillard, 6-2, Weber State – Lillard is widely regarded as the top point guard prospect available in this draft. He is an explosive penetrator who can get to the rim and can score in bunches, having scored 40+ in two games. Yet we never saw him against elite competition in the heat of the NCAA Tournament, so question marks remain.

2. Kendall Marshall, 6-4, North Carolina – A potential lottery pick, Marshall’s most optimistic comparison is Andre Miller. North Carolina coach Roy Williams told DraftExpress.com Marshall is the “best passer I’ve ever coached in 24 years.” Still, he must improve as a shooter and on the defensive end.

3. Marquis Teague, 6-2, Kentucky –Teague’s stock rose as Kentucky made its run to the NCAA championship, and he benefitted from playing for coach John Calipari and his one-and-done system. He’s a quick guard who can push the pace, but must still work to improve his outside shot and must mature as a person.

4. Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, Kansas – Projected to go late in the first round, the Hoboken, N.J., native is a strong, explosive guard who led his team to the NCAA championship game. He has had to answer questions during interviews with NBA clubs about his suspensions and off-court troubles at Kansas, but insists he’s matured and has grown as a person.

5. Tony Wroten, 6-6, Washington – Also projected to go late in the first round, Wroten is a long, athletic guard with a 6-9 wingspan who faces questions about whether he’s a true point or a combo guard. Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told DraftExpress.com he compares to Tyreke Evans because of his size, athleticism and ability to score.

SHOOTING GUARDS

1. Bradley Beal, 6-5, Florida – Beal is widely considered the best two guard available in the draft and should go somewhere in the Top 5. He has been compared to Ray Allen because of his ability to knock down shots, and is also a strong defender and rebounder. Still, he struggled shooting-wise for much of the season before shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc during the NCAA Tournament.

2. Dion Waiters, 6-4, Syracuse -- Waiters is projected as a shooting guard, but could also play some point in the NBA. He was instant offense off the bench for a Syracuse team that was ranked No. 1 for much of the season before falling in the Elite Eight. A strong, physical guard who can get to the rim, he is also a tough customer who had to overcome immaturity issues to fit into Jim Boeheim’s deep guard rotation.

3. Austin Rivers, 6-5, Duke – Projected as a late lottery selection, Rivers has the potential to be a better NBA player than he was in college. Duke assistant Chris Collins compared him to Monta Ellis and Jamal Crawford. He has quickness to get into the lane, can create his own shot and comes from strong bloodlines as the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

4. Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, UConn – Lamb emerged as UConn’s go-to guy after spending his freshman season as Kemba Walker’s sidekick on the Huskies’ NCAA championship team. He is a long, athletic wing who has a feathery touch, is good coming off screens and excels in transition.

5. Terrence Ross, 6-7, Washington – Projected as mid- to late-first-round pick, Ross compares to Nick Young and J.R. Smith, Romar said. He has a smooth touch from outside and went 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

SMALL FORWARDS

1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, Kentucky – The New Jersey native could go as high as No. 2 in the draft behind teammate Anthony Davis. He is already a tremendous defensive player, can finish in transition and excels at taking the ball to the hole. The question mark is his outside shot, and if that ever develops, look out. He’s also a great kid and a teammate who should be a bright spot for whoever picks him.

2. Harrison Barnes, 6-8, North Carolina – At 6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan, Barnes has great size for a wing player. He was a first-team All-American coming out of high school but didn’t quite live up to the hype in college. Still, he is a strong, powerful athlete who showed his leaping ability at the NBA Combine in Chicago and has made some big shots in his career. Should go in the top six or seven picks.

3. Moe Harkless, 6-8, St. John’s – After being named the Big East Rookie of the Year, Harkless opted to come out after his freshman year. He has been compared to Paul George, Trevor Ariza and Rudy Gay. Harkless has a natural frame for an NBA small forward and can score and rebound in bunches. Needs to work on his outside shot and continue to get stronger.

4. Quincy Miller, 6-9, Baylor -- Like Harkless, he is only 19. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Miller helped Baylor get to the Elite 8. He is still recovering from ACL surgery, but is very tough from 15 feet in and in the high post. His range extends to the 3-point line. Projects to go mid- to late-first round.

5. Royce White, 6-8, Iowa State – White is listed here as a small forward but basically played point guard and power forward at Iowa State. He led the team in all five major categories. He can play a variety of positions and should be fascinating to watch in the NBA.

POWER FORWARDS:

1. Anthony Davis, 6-10, Kentucky– What more is left to be said about the future No. 1 pick out of Kentucky? Davis has been compared to Bill Russell because of his ability to alter and change shots and dominate the paint area. A strong passer and shooter, Davis has the potential to anchor the New Orleans Hornets franchise for the next 10-15 years and could be a Hall of Famer.

2. Thomas Robinson, 6-9, Kansas – The potential No. 2 overall pick, Robinson is motivated to prove he deserves to be No. 1 and in fact got into a battle with Davis over that issue. The Big 12 Player of the Year, he has great length, athleticism and motor, but must continue to work on his shot and his post moves going forward.

3. Jared Sullinger, 6-9, Ohio State – Questions remain about his athleticism and how much he can elevate, but Sullinger still figures to go somewhere in the high lottery after testing well enough at the combine. A strong, physical player with good post moves, he is handful in the paint — in part because of his large derriere — and can also play on the perimeter, having shot 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep.

4. John Henson, 6-10, North Carolina -- A projected lottery pick, Henson may turn out to be one of those guys who has a better NBA career than a college career. He averaged 2.9 blocks last season and could be a defensive presence on the interior but still must develop his offensive game and his woeful free throw shooting (51 percent).

5. Terrence Jones, 6-9, Kentucky – Questions linger about his demeanor and body language on the floor and whether he takes plays off. But there’s no denying his talent and ability to stretch the floor with his outside shot. A combo forward who can defend multiple positions, he needs to be in the right situation in order to maximize his success in the NBA.

CENTERS:

1. Andre Drummond, 7-0, UConn – Based purely on potential, Drummond figures to be one of the top five to seven players taken. He is an athletic freak with great hands and great feet, but questions linger about his drive and desire to play the game. His free throw form is a disaster and he has a lot of work to do on his post game. He could get an NBA GM fired — or make one look like a genius.

2. Tyler Zeller, 7-0, North Carolina – Zeller is a safe pick at the center spot and figures to go somewhere midway through the first round. A four-year player at Carolina, he is an experienced player who hit the mid-range shot and excel in the pick-and-pop game. He has a nice jump hook and some nice post moves. He probably won’t be a star, but he won’t get you fired, either.

3. Meyers Leonard, 7-1, Illinois – Leonard impressed NBA decision-makers at the combine and could go somewhere in the late lottery. A long, agile big man with great feet, Leonard told DraftExpress.com he has drawn comparisons to Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler. He must still improve his post and face-up games and work on his mental toughness.

4. Fab Melo, 7-0, Syracuse – Melo failed to finish up the season at Syracuse because of academic issues, but is fascinating to NBA decision-makes because of his size and ability to defend and alter shots. He altered his body after his freshman season, losing weight and coming in much better shape. If he can continue to remain in good shape and learn the complexities of the NBA game, he could help a team in the low post.

5. Festus Ezeli, 6-11, Vanderbilt– Projected to go early in the second round, Ezeli is an athletic shot-blocker who was limited last season due to an NCAA suspension related to a secondary violation and a knee injury. Still, he’s an intriguing prospect for NBA execs.

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

Stoudemire Says There’s a ‘Great Chance’ He’ll Play in Game 4

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Speaking publicly for the first time since he battled a fire extinguisher following Monday night’s Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat, Amar’e Stoudemire said there’s a “great chance” he will play in Sunday’s Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.

“Yeah, I think there’s a great chance I’ll play Sunday night, not totally sure yet,” he told a slew of reporters here Wednesday.

Stoudemire had a surgical procedure on the left hand Tuesday and is out for Game 3 Thursday. His hand remains heavily bandaged and he is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday.

It didn’t sound as though Stoudemire issued a formal apology Wednesday to his teammates for his self-inflicting wound, but they seemed more concerned with his welfare than his contrition.

“I talked to him personally over the phone yesterday, over the text,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We had our conversation. He feels bad about what happened. He understands what was at stake, the situation. The only thing I care about is him being healthy and his hand being OK. He did it, it’s over with. I don’t really care about that as long as his hand is fine.”

Said head coach Mike Woodson: “We talked and I think he owed everybody that. He was very apologetic. He feels bad enough. Amar’e's gone through a lot this year. My job is to support him because he’s family. He’s a part of our crew, a big piece of the puzzle and I’m going to show all the love and support I can give him.”

Stoudemire never said he apologized but said he takes full responsibility for his actions.

“Absolutely,” he said. “No one else did it for me. It was all me. But again, I wasn’t expecting to hit the glass. I mean, it’s a small two inch strip of glass that’s on the fire extinguisher door. So I wasn’t looking – I really didn’t want to cut myself.  Who in the world wants to hurt themselves? You know what I mean? That wasn’t the case at all. Unfortunately it happened and I have to deal with it.”

Asked if he was embarrassed, Stoudemire said: “It’s disappointing to my teammates. I didn’t want to let them down, I know how important this game is for us, I wasn’t expecting this to be this much of a blow but it is.”

Stoudemire said he did not ball his fist and punch the glass-encased extinguisher, but rather smacked it with his the back of his hand.

“I was like, holy s-h-i-t,” he said. “When I hit my hand on the fire extinguisher door, I took a look at my hand, I was like, ‘What?’ I was sad at the moment. I was feeling bad for my teammates. Out of all the times after games when you kick over an ice cooler, a chair, you get upset, everyone gets upset, so passionate for the game. Everyone gets upset at times. Never in a million years would I think I would cut my hand the way I did. So bad timing, but I’ll be back.”

Stoudemire said he wasn’t even aware at first that he had lacerated his hand, which required treatment by paramedics and stitches on the scene in Miami.

“I didn’t know I was cut at all until Josh Harrelson told me,” he said. “Unfortunately after the games, you’re very passionate, things happen, you don’t expect to injure yourself or anything like that. But you just gotta deal with it.”

Stoudemire has only taken 16 shots in the two games and is averaging 13.5 points and six rebounds in the series. Asked if he was frustrated by his diminished role in the offense, he said he wasn’t.

“Nah, I don’t think so,” he said. “Coach [Mike] Woodson does a great job of figuring out what wins and what works for us. So my main frustration with Game 2 was the fact that we lost Game 2 and we knew how important it was to win one game on the road. So having Miami up 2-0 is tough for us to deal with because we wanted to get that win. That was mainly my reason.”

The Knicks now face the prospect of trying to slow the freight train that is LeBron James and company without Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert, who underwent surgery to repair his left ACL and meniscus Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery. They’ve also battled other injuries all season.

“We’ve been faced with adversity all year,” Stoudemire said. “I went out. Carmelo [Anthony] went out. Jeremy went out. Jared Jeffries went out. We’ve been dealing with adversity all year. It’s been a heck of a year for us. So I do feel like we have the players that are so professional, so focused on the game, we have a chance to win.”

The Knicks have already tied an NBA record with 12 straight playoff losses and could set the record with unlucky No. 13 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Still, the Knicks are 14-5 without Stoudemire this year. They went 9-4 when he missed 13 games late in the season with a bulging disk in his back. Playing power forward, Anthony averaged 30.6 points in those games.

“Hopefully,” Stoudemire said, “I can heal up fast and get ready for Game 4.”

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

Zagoria: College commitments: Top 10, Plus 6 on the Fence

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Shabazz Muhammad

Now that Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad are off the board and have chosen their colleges, only a handful of elite 2012 prospects remain uncommitted.

Here’s a look at the Top 10 prospects in the Class of 2012 and where they are going, plus six uncommitted players still available:

1. Shabazz Muhammad, G, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman — UCLA

Muhammad chose the Bruins over Kentucky and Duke, and could end up being the best wing scorer in college basketball during what is likely to be his lone year on campus before turning pro.

“Shabazz Muhammad is the No. 1 player in the country and his signing at UCLA is huge for our program,” embattled Bruins coach Ben Howland said. “I’m just so excited because he is a great kid that embodies what is needed to be an excellent student-athlete. He is an outstanding student who is a great person and is obviously a very special player. He brings so many skills to the table. He is very athletic and is a very strong and explosive player who is a very good passer and scorer and is an outstanding shooter. He will be a very special player for us.”

2. Nerlens Noel, C, Tilton NH Tilton School — KENTUCKY

Noel, who picked the ‘Cats over Georgetown and Syracuse, figures to slide in and take over the shot-blocking, center position in place of Anthony Davis, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Some believe Noel is a better shot-blocker than Davis, who led the nation this season with 4.7 blocks per game.

I’ve been blessed three times in my career to have a player that can change the game without really scoring with Marcus Camby, Anthony Davis and now Nerlens Noel,” Wildcats coach John Calipari said. “I will tell you that Nerlens, just like Anthony, is not a finished product. He’s got a lot of work to do and we have a lot of work to do to get him to where I think he’s capable of being, but he is a special player who I am ecstatic to have an opportunity to work with.”

3. Kyle Anderson, PG, Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony — UCLA

The 6-foot-9 Anderson chose the Bruins in the fall over Seton Hall, St. John’s, Florida and Georgetown and will now pair with Muhammad to form one of the most dangerous offensive combos in college basketball.

Bob Hurley Sr. called Anderson a “modern-day Magic Johnson.”

“I think he’s the most dominant player to ever play at the school,” said Hurley, a Naismith Hall of Famer. “His improvement from last year till now is unbelievable. He’s certainly the most versatile kid ever anywhere near his size that I’ve ever coached.”

4. Isaiah Austin, C, Arlington, TX Grace Prep — BAYLOR

The 7-foot Austin will be a welcome addition in Waco with Perry Jones III likely headed to the lottery.

“In recent years, Baylor has become known for its athletic versatile big men, such as Quincy AcyEkpe UdohPerry Jones III and Quincy Miller,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Isaiah continues that trend and is someone who can pass, dribble and shoot, but still possesses a 7-foot-tall frame which allows him such a huge size advantage on opposing players.

“Isaiah affects the game on both ends of the court and Baylor fans will love cheering for him,” Drew said

5. Steven Adams, C, Fitchburg, MA Notre Dame Prep — PITTSBURGH

A New Zealand National Team player, Adams competed last summer for the Wellington Exodus Saints and helped lead the squad to the National Basketball League title. He has also guided his club team in Wellington to two national titles at the Under-19 and Under-17 age groups.

The 6-10 Adams is also a free spirit who likes to play guitar and pool.

“He’s tremendous,” said Chris Rivers of adidas. “He’s very Greg Oden-like from 2005.

“He runs, he blocks shots up by the square, he finishes with both hands. He’s a competitor, a true team player.”

6. Ricardo Ledo, G, South Kent (Conn.) — PROVIDENCE

The 6-5 Ledo is a tremendous wing scorer who will bring instant offense to the Friars, assuming he qualifies academically. Questions loom over whether he will be eligible to suit up next year.

“I think he being one of the best natural scorers in the country is going to allow us not just to attract other players, but other local young men that have dreams and aspirations of coming to Providence College,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said.

“We hope he can score a lot of baskets for us and also make sure he goes to class on time.”

7. Anthony Bennett, F, Henderson, NV Findlay Prep — UNDECIDED

Bennett is the highest-rated uncommitted prospect left on the board and is considering Florida, Kentucky, Oregon and UNLV.

Florida is thought to be the favorite for Bennett, who plans to visit three schools in the coming weeks. If Kentucky were to land him, Calipari would add a fifth recruit to what is already the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the land.

“He’ll take another [school] off by next week,” Mike George of the CIA Bounce AAU team said. “He’s only gonna visit three schools.”

8. Alex Poythress, F,  Clarksville, TN Northeast — KENTUCKY

The 6-7 Poythress has played all five positions at his high school, but will be utilized immediately in the frontcourt to help replace Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both projected NBA lottery picks.

“When Alex is at his best, because of his size and athleticism, he’s as good as anybody in the country,” Calipari said. “He is really athletic, and when he’s got his motor running, he can score at will.”

9. Kaleb Tarczewski, C, Southborough, MA St. Mark’s — ARIZONA

The 7-foot, 220-pound center chose Arizona over Kansas and is part of one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, along with forwards Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett and guard Gabe York.

“Very seldom is it possible to get a seven-footer,” said Wildcats coach Sean Miller. “Kaleb can run, he has great hands and he loves the low post. His presence on the court can help us.”

10. Marcus Smart, G, Flower Mound, TX Marcus — OKLAHOMA STATE

The Texas Gatorade Player of the Year averaged 15.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game last season as a junior. Smart chose the Cowboys over North Carolina, Kansas, Stanford, Arizona, Texas, Marquette, Oklahoma, Missouri and Baylor.

“He does everything,” head coach Travis Ford said. “He plays at a level of energy that hasn’t been matched by many people that I’ve seen. He’s the ultimate competitor. He can really shoot it for his size, he’ll get down there and bang it, he’s athletic, he can rebound, and he does all these things for his high school team.”

WHO’S LEFT ON THE BOARD?

With about a month left in the NCAA late signing period, a handful of big names remain on the board in addition to Anthony Bennett.

  • Devonta Pollard, F, Porterville, MS Kemper County — Considering Alabama, Georgetown, Missouri and Texas.
  • Tony Parker, C, Lithonia, GA Miller Grove — Considering UCLA, Duke, Ohio State, Kansas and Georgia. Plans to announce Monday.
  • Amile Jefferson, F, Philadelphia Friends Central — Considering Duke, N.C. State, Villanova, Ohio State and Kentucky.
  • Chris Obekpa, C, Centerreach, NY Our Savior New American — Considering St. John’s, UConn, Providence, Cincinnati and Oregon.
  • Bradley Hayes, C, Jacksonville, FL Sandalwood — Considering UConn, Georgetown, Florida and Texas A&M.

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear  Saturdays. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

 

Zagoria: NCAA Tournament: Whose Stock is Rising?

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NEW ORLEANS — Here in The Big Easy for the NCAA Final Four, there are a slew of future NBA lottery picks set to take the floor Saturday night at the SuperDome.

Four of the projected top six picks on DraftExpress.com’s Mock Draft and five of the top 12 play for Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State. (Louisville is the lone Final Four representative without a projected lottery pick.)

Numerous other players no longer in the NCAA Tournament have also helped their stock since the Madness began.

Here’s a look at some top prospects who are here, and some who aren’t.

Top 5 NBA Prospects in the Final Four:

1. Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky

The presumptive No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Davis was named the U.S. Basketball Writers National Player of the Year. He impacts the game on both ends of the floor and his offensive game is coming along nicely. Davis has had three double-digit scoring games in the NCAA Tournament, including an 18-point, 11-rebound outing in the rout of Baylor.

2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky

Though Kidd-Gilchrist previously said he would return to school for his sophomore season, reports recently surfaced that he would come out. And why not? He’s projected as a Top 3 pick. A tremendous transition and inside player, the former St. Patrick star needs to develop his perimeter game.

3. Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas

The latest Kansas big man to follow in the footsteps of recent college successes Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins, Robinson projects to be a better NBA player. He’s more physical, rebounds well on both ends and has been the heart and soul of this undermanned Kansas team all year.

4. Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State

After choosing to remain in school following a freshman season in which he could’ve been a lottery pick, Sullinger has the Buckeyes back in the Final Four for the first time since 2007, when they lost in the championship game to Florida. A big, strong, skilled post player, he and fellow forward Deshaun Thomas form a deadly 1-2 punch that will be on display against Robinson and Kansas center Jeff Withey.

5. Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

The knock on Jones is that he doesn’t always play hard and his stock has dropped somewhat over the course of the season. But there’s no denying his talent level, and when he decides to play hard he’s one of the best forwards in the college game. He has all the tools necessary to play in the NBA, but questions linger over his commitment level.

Five Players Whose Stock Has Risen in the Tournament:

1. Bradley Beal, G, Florida

A potential lottery pick, Beal has great upside and can rebound well for a guard. NBA scouts love his handle and his ability to play-make in the halfcourt. He has 3-point range but can also get to the basket.

2. Royce White, F, Iowa State

A skilled point/power forward, White went for 23 points and 9 rebounds in third-round loss to Kentucky. NBA scouts like his skill set but feel he has to develop a more consistent jump shot and free throw.

3. C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh

The 6-3 combo guard has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. He is projected as a mid- to late-second round pick but NBA scouts see him as a scorer who can attack off the dribble. ”When his career is done at Lehigh, he will go to the NBA and help some team win,” Lehigh coach Jeff Jones said.

4. C.J. Leslie, F, N.C. State

Projected as a second-round pick, Leslie is an athlete who rebounds and will be effective in an uptempo style where he can use his athleticism. Leslie is also effective from 15 feet and in attacking the basket off the dribble.

5. Jae Crowder, F, Marquette

The Big East Player of the Year is a tough, physical forward who plays with energy on both ends of the floor. He is projected as a late second-round pick. Marquette finished second in the Big East to Syracuse this year.

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.