March 17, 2009
I know nothing about college basketball. Seriously. Not a thing. Well, no, I guess that's not entirely true. I know Clark Kellogg sounds like the old creepy guy from the "Family Guy." But besides that, nothing. Fortunately, The Dagger's Eamonn Brennan is here to help with a list of NCAA players to keep a future-NBA eye on ...
The South is probably the 2008-09's NCAA tournament's most NBA-talent-heavy region. Preliminary descriptions are unnecessary; let's just get right into it:
Blake Griffin, Older Than Time Itself, Height Unknown, It Is Impossible To Weigh A Titan. Projected draft position:
No. 1 overall.
Blake Griffin has no weight, for he is light as a feather and yet heavy as a ox. Blake Griffin has no height, for his leaps are impossible to measure. Blake Griffin has no age, for he is both Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. In short, even if you only ever watch the NBA, you probably don't need me to tell you how good Blake Griffin is at basketball. He's really, really, really good, and you should watch him play, and then hope your team drafts him. It's really just that simple.
Willie Warren, 19 years old, 6'4", 200 pounds. Projected draft position: No. 7 overall.
Willie Warren has played something of a second- or third-fiddle on Oklahoma this season, quietly running OU's offense through their adonis in the post, but anyone that spends any time watching the Sooners can see why pro scouts apparently love Warren. He's big, with a great handle, he can run, he can pass, he's a very accurate, deep perimeter shooter. Overall, the feeling one gets from watching him is solidity; he's not flashy, but he is incredibly sound.
James Harden, 19 years old, 6'5", 219 pounds. Projected draft position: No. 2 overall.
Get ready to have your interest piqued. James Harden is a big, strong guy with guard skills, at first glance the sort of mini-LeBron template guard any NBA team would love to have. There's only one thing missing: athleticism. Harden isn't super quick and he's not a great leaper, which has relegated him to what NBA scouts may or may not call a "European style." Still, Harden can get his shot against anyone, at least at the college level, and his weird combination of skills and size make him, at the very least, interesting.
Also see: Pendergraph, Jeff
Ty Lawson, 21 years old, 6'0", 195 pounds. Projected draft position: No. 14 overall.
Lawson's decision to return to North Carolina after testing the NBA waters last season appears to have helped him as much as it helped UNC; they're the No. 1 seed in the South and a favorite to win the tourney, and Lawson has seen his draft stock approach lottery levels. Lawson is undersized — even in college — but makes up for it with incredible speed and strength. He never fails to get to the rim in the fast break. Would be a perfect player for a running team, though he could stand to improve his outside shooting.
Tyler Hansbrough, 23 years old, 6'9", 230 pounds. Projected draft position:
Late first round.
Hansbrough is a quitissential college player, and few, even among college hoops fans, think he's cut out for the NBA. He's not particularly athletic. His offensive game relies on strength. His outside shooting has never really been tested. In short, he's a stretch. But you never know: he could be a productive banger for an NBA team looking for interior defense and rebounding. It's hard to imagine, but you're the NBA fan: Tune in and see for yourself.
Also see: Green, Danny
Jonny Flynn, 20 years old; 6'0", 172 pounds. Projected draft position: Mid-to-late first round.
If you saw Syracuse's now-legendary six-overtime win over Connecticut in the Big East tourney, you saw Jonny Flynn: He was on the floor for almost all of the game, ditching his trademark headband in one of the later overtimes and hitting key free throws to seal the game. Flynn is another of the rising point guards in the South region. He's a supremely quick player, a great passer, and he can shoot, and his most potent skill — getting to the rim and creating shots in the paint — is the one that kept Syracuse alive against UConn over and over, and the one that might make him especially attractive to pro teams. But more than anything, he's fun to watch. Check him out.
Later today: East Region players to watch.