Zagoria: Countdown to the Early Signing Period: 10 Top Committed and Uncommitted Prep Prospects

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The NCAA early signing period for basketball runs from Nov. 13-20, and even with Tuesday’s commitment by Trey Lyles to Kentucky, there’s still a slew of elite prospects and future NBA lottery picks left on the board.

Here’s a look at the top 10 uncommitted and committed prospects in the Class of 2014, including perhaps the projected top three overall picks in the 2015 NBA draft.

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Kotoch: 2013 Draft a Strong Year for One and Done Players

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The NBA draft is all about projections and potential.  A generation ago, most NBA executives’ strategy was to compare prospects based on their collegiate careers. Then the Fab Five arrived at Michigan, and suddenly the process was flipped upside down.  Underclassmen were scrutinized, analyzed and scouted thoroughly by NBA clubs who wanted to get the next big-time prospect.

While prospects with high upside are intriguing, they come with more risk than upperclassmen.  The lottery is annually dominated by underclassmen, primarily freshmen.

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Top 10 NBA draft prospects for 2013

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It’s officially fall, and with that comes the kickoff of the NBA and NCAA basketball seasons.

While Midnight Madness is just around the corner and NBA training camps will officially launch over the next few days, much of the behind-the-scenes focus among front office folks will be logging frequent flier miles to travel the country and the world to see the best and most promising prospects that may enter the 2013 NBA Draft.

While the 2011 NBA Draft was international-heavy in Round 1 and the 2012 draft was lacking international prospects who went high, the 2013 draft should be more balanced.  The top 10 prospects heading into this year are heavy on bigs, in particular centers, and lacking in point guards.

Also, in following with the recent trend, there are no college seniors. The most experienced players are sophomores.

Here are our Top 10 2013 NBA Draft prospects as September is about to turn into October.

1. Shabazz Muhammad, 6’6″ SG, Freshman, UCLA – Muhammad, out of Bishop Gorman HS in Nevada, is a talented scoring wing who blends size, strength, and length on the perimeter.  Muhammad is best in transition with his ability to slash to the basket. Muhammad also utilizes his strong frame to outmuscle opponents and finish strong in traffic. One trait scouts rave about is his intensity on both ends. Muhammad biggest deficiency right now is his ballhandling — but that can develop over time.

 

2. Cody Zeller, 6’11” C, Sophomore, Indiana – The youngest Zeller brother arguably was a top-3 pick had he been in the 2012 draft.  Zeller embodies so much of what NBA GMs want in their bigs: mobile and aggressive.  Zeller moves extremely well in transition and does not back down.  The biggest knocks on Zeller are his slender frame and shorter wingspan.  However, defensively Zeller activeness and anticipation make him disruptive. His brother, Tyler, was the 17th pick of last June’s draft and will be a rookie for Cleveland this season.

 

3. Nerlens Noel, 6’11″ C, Freshman, Kentucky – Looking at Noel on the surface, he will conjure up comparisons to Anthony Davis, who he will replace this year for Kentucky. However, several scouts I spoke with have said they are not as impressed with Noel after an up and down summer where he disappointed at Adidas Nation camp.  The biggest difference between Noel and Davis is that Noel lacks Davis’ perimeter skills that made him so special.  To his credit, Noel is a better straight up shot-blocker, whereas Davis excelled at the weakside block.  Ultimately, Noel is still raw — especially on the offensive end — but his combination of size, length, and athleticism make him very intriguing.

4. James McAdoo, 6’9″ PF, Sophomore, North Carolina – McAdoo is a smooth scoring big man who should be the focal point of the Carolina offense this season.  Although McAdoo is slightly undersized, he is a very good rebounder as he has excellent anticipation skills.  As a freshman, McAdoo flashed great potential with a very polished low post game. He was the 2009 USA Basketball Player of the Year.  McAdoo’s father is the second cousin of Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo,

 

5. Rudy Gobert, 7’1″ PF/C, Cholet (France) – The highest rated international prospect in the draft, Gobert is long, athletic big who moves extremely well for his size.  What makes most NBA scouts so high on Gobert is his freakish 7’9” wingspan.  In the top league in France, Gobert shot nearly 80% from the field, which at just 19 is very intriguing, if not astonishing.  Already a very good rebounder and shot blocker, Gobert needs to get stronger and work on his post game.

 

 

6. Alexander Poythress, 6’8″ F, Freshman, Kentucky – Coming out of Northeast HS in Clarksville, Tenn., Poythress is listed as a SF, but has the size, strength, and athleticism to project as a combo forward in the mold of a Marcus Morris or Terrence Jones. Versatility is one of Poythress’ best attributes as he can defend multiple positions, rebound, finish in traffic or step out and face up. He and Noel are two of John Calipari’s most prized recruits.

 

 

7. Isaiah Austin, 7’1″ C, Freshman, Baylor – A product of Grace Prep in Arlington, Texas, Austin is a true 7-footer but plays like a wing as he is great in transition, can handle the ball, and can face up with range.  On the defensive end Austin is so long that he disrupts most shots in the paint. The biggest knocks on the talented big are that his concentration can waver at times and that he must get stronger.

 

 

8. Tony Mitchell, 6’7″ PF, Sophomore, North Texas – Mitchell should be a household name this season as he is one of the most efficient and exciting players in college basketball.  A bit undersized, Mitchell is still a tremendous shot blocker, 3.0 per game, who averaged a double-double while shooting nearly 57% from the field.  Don’t be surprised to see Mitchell shoot up boards as the draft nears.

 

 

9. Archie Goodwin, 6’5″ SG, Freshman, Kentucky – Not too many shooting guards have a 6’10” wingspan, but Goodwin is not your typical guard. Named Mr. Basketball in Arkansas last season when he played for Sylvan Hills H.S. in Little Rock, Goodwin can score anywhere on the court and is a dynamic ballhandler. Goodwin’s instincts are very advanced and don’t be surprised to see him lead the Wildcats in scoring this season.  Goodwin needs to improve as a defender, but everything else is there that will have scouts raving come draft night.

 

10. Adonis Thomas, 6’5″ SF, Sophomore, Memphis – Thomas is a tank physically, but his athleticism and explosion make him very unique.  Thomas has nice form on his jumper and is fairly efficient as a scorer but needs to become more consistent from beyond the arc. With a talented squad in Memphis, Josh Pastner will rely heavily on Thomas to lead the Tigers and expect him to shoulder the load offensively.

 

 

(RELATED: SheridanHoops Preseason NCAA Top 25)

Joe Kotosh is the Editor-in-chief of Pro Basketball Draft, a leading scouting service in the world of professional basketball. Before Joe created PBD he served as an NBPA & FIBA certified agent and scouted players all across the world. Born and raised in Cleveland, Joe also contributes to Fox Sports Ohio and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. You can follow Joe on Twitter @Probballdraft.

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.