Wall should sit at head of lottery class

Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson could find himself as one the top three picks in the June draft

The 2010 NBA draft still is still nearly five months away. Already, of course, there is a consensus No. 1 overall pick: Kentucky freshman guard John Wall. As one NBA general manager put it: "He will go No. 1 either for need or as an asset."

There was no mystery to last year's top selection, either: Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin(notes). The suspense came after that. As the NCAA season swings to conference play with March Madness on the horizon, here is a look at 13 other candidates who might join Wall in the draft lottery.

Right now, according to conversations with league executives, there appears to be a sort-of defined Top Three.

1. Wall: The 6-foot-3 Kentucky guard is the first name out of everyone's mouth. John Calipari delivered a couple of one-and-done studs at Memphis (Derrick Rose(notes), Tyreke Evans(notes)) and Wall will join that impressive duo. Rose is the player Wall is most often compared to – flattery of the highest. He may have even risen in the minds of any doubters when he said he doesn't really listen to Coach Cal anyway.

2. Evan Turner: The 6-7 Ohio State junior's name invariably comes up after Wall. He's a do-everything guard who understands and plays all facets of the game. He also showed some toughness by missing only six games with a pair of fractured vertebrae (the Buckeyes went 3-3 while he was out.) He will have had three years in Columbus so he's as NBA-ready as they come these days.

3. Wesley Johnson: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim resorts to transfers about as often as he resorts to a man-to-man defense. But he took in the 6-7 Johnson from Iowa State and the dividends have been enormous. Already this season, Johnson has had five games of 40 minutes and four of 39. His stock has shot up incredibly this season. He leads the Orange in scoring and translates into an ideal small forward in the NBA.

You might see other names in a list of top-three selections, but not too many. Some think No. 3 is high for Johnson. So here is a group of five who should be in the next batch. A few will see their names in lists of the top three.

4. DeMarcus Cousins: If talent and potential ruled, this certifiable beast might be right behind Kentucky teammate Wall. He's become a double-double machine for Coach Cal in not a lot of minutes. And, at 6-10, he has the size to play center or power forward. But he's also the consummate "Body By Fisher, Mind By Fisher Price" player – a man-child in the truest sense.

5. Derrick Favors: The 6-9 forward from Georgia Tech was one of the highest-rated high-schoolers last season, so he – like Wall and Cousins – will use college as a one-year training session. He's an athletic, physical forward who could well move to No. 3. He won't last much later than that if he doesn't.

6 Cole Aldrich: Probably the best pure center in the college game, the 6-11 Kansas hulk can block shots and rebound and has excellent hands and mobility for his size. His numbers are down a bit from last season, but he's still averaging a double-double as a junior and will benefit from a lack of big men in the draft.

7. Ed Davis: This North Carolina sophomore is not having the greatest of seasons and some wonder if he's ready for the NBA. But he also misses all those studs on the Carolina title team from a year ago – particularly Ty Lawson(notes). At 6-10, Davis comes as your prototypical power forward. But he'd need to beef up to muscle with the big men in the NBA.

8. Al-Farouq Aminu: What if the Los Angeles Clippers broadcast team has to deal with this name over the course of an 82-game season? It could happen. The outrageously talented Aminu is still a raw sophomore at Wake Forest but has what teams covet most: upside. He's 6-8 but is a lonnnnng 6-8 and is one of the best rebounders in the collegiate game.

If there's a consensus top eight, and many draft boards have these eight, then it's your basic crapshoot after that. You're going to see a lot of names on the back end of any lottery list and, with a lot of games to come, names will rise and fall. To show we're not xenophobes, one of the names will be the only international scouts feel is worthy of lottery mention (in other words, there's no Ricky Rubio(notes)). Here are six more who could fill out the 2010 lottery. Emphasis on the word "could."

9. Solomon Alabi: The 7-1 Nigerian who plays at Florida State is another one oozing with potential. And in a draft not loaded with centers, he could benefit. The sophomore is a terrific athlete and shot-blocker but his rebound totals aren't eye-popping. Still, you know the old saying: You can't coach size.

10. Donatas Motiejunas: The only international player whom scouts and GMs see as lottery-worthy, this 7-1 Lithuanian is playing for Benetton Treviso – one of the top teams in Europe. He's only 19 and we've all seen that Euro numbers don't translate well, especially when you don't play all that much. But a lot of people likened Motiejunas to Toni Kukoc (he's a lefty) after seeing him in the Nike Hoop Summit.

11. Patrick Patterson: Could we have three Kentucky players in the lottery? Patterson toyed with entering the draft last year but returned to Lexington for his junior season. He has all the tools and talent to make the next step, but at 6-8 he is projected as a power forward. His numbers are down this season, but that is due to the fact that Wall and Cousins are now his teammates.

12. Greg Monroe: This Georgetown specimen, only a sophomore, had NBA people talking about him last year. At 6-11 and 250, he has an NBA body and his lefty game is effective around the basket. (Monroe had 21 against Duke in front of the Prez.) But some question his intensity and toughness – although not too many think he's going to be around much later than the lottery.

13. Jarvis Varnado: Here's a name you don't see on many lottery lists, but he is, they say, coming on. The Mississippi State power forward (6-9, 210) is a – gasp – senior! But he also is the best shot-blocker in the country (five a game) and a terrific defender and rebounder. He's going to make some NBA coach very happy.

14. Xavier Henry: If Henry had gone on sabbatical when the Big 12 season started, he might have been a top-five pick. A month ago, he was playing as well as any freshman not named John Wall. Now, it appears as if he has hit The Wall. The 6-7 Kansas shooting guard still is highly regarded, but not with the same gusto as earlier.

Here are several others who might work their way into the lottery: Damion James, senior forward, Texas; Hassan Whiteside, freshman forward, Marshall; Gordon Hayward, sophomore forward, Butler; Ekpe Udoh, junior forward, Baylor; Elias Harris, freshman forward, Gonzaga; Willie Warren, sophomore guard, Oklahoma; James Anderson, junior guard, Oklahoma State; Stanley Robinson, senior forward, Connecticut; Luke Babbitt, sophomore forward, Nevada.