Athlon takes a quick look at the future NBA stars of the Big Ten.
With one month of the college season in the books, it is time to start looking ahead to the NBA draft. I will be taking a conference-by-conference look at the top prospects in college basketball.
The rankings will be updated throughout the season.
1. Jared Sullinger, F/C, Ohio State (6-9, 280) Fr.
North Carolina's Harrison Barnes got all the pre-season hype, but Sullinger has been the best player in the nation bar none. The hard-working, low-post monster is averaging 18.1 points per game for one the last remaining unbeatens. He is leading the nation in field-goal percentage for a freshman and is second overall in the Big Ten at 60.1-percent. The big man is leading the nation in double-doubles for a freshman (7) and is leading the Big Ten in rebounding as well at 10.1 per game. He is chipping in 1.2 assists and steals per game as well.
2. Demetri McCamey, PG, Illinois (6-3, 195) Sr.
The senior leader of the Illini is having his best statistical season to date. He is averaging a career high 16.2 points and 7.3 assists per game — the latter good for fifth in the nation. He is shooting a career-best 51.5-percent from the floor and has cut his turnovers from 3.4 to 2.8 per game. He is Deron Williams-lite, as he a slightly less talented but very similar in build and style to the former Illini great. He already has led his team to wins over Maryland, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Gonzaga.
3. Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota (6-7, 200) So.
The versatile, athletic forward is all upside. The explosive wing has an NBA body, wingspan and vert but is very raw. Williams has seen his minutes double from his freshman season (11.9 to 21.5) but the inconsistency is still there as he is posting modest 6.5, 3.5, 1.4 averages in points, rebounds and assists. Tubby Smith's scheme doesn't normally induce huge numbers, so this isn't overly concerning. He can fly up the court but will be a project on the next level.
4. Jon Leuer, F, Wisconsin (6-10, 230) Sr.
The smooth-shooting big man for the Badgers exploded onto the scene last fall before hurting his wrist and missing a large chunk of the Big Ten slate. This off-season Leuer put his name on the NBA map by excelling at USA Basketball in Las Vegas and showing well at the LeBron James Camp in San Diego. He held his own against names like Durant and Odom. What he lacks in raw athletic ability, he makes up for in basketball savvy and ball skills. He can shoot from outside, has a deep repertoire of post moves and can pass the ball with the best big men in the country. Few players are more important to their team than Leuer — who is averaging 19.3 points, 7.3 boards, 2.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game this season.
5. John Shurna, F, Northwestern (6-8, 215) Jr.
Jon Leuer-lite (about 25 pounds to be exact, the listed 215 is generous) plays in Evanston, Ill. Shurna burst onto the scene last season when star Kevin Coble went down with an injury. His 18.2, 6.4, 2.6 line more than made for Coble's loss. This year, Shurn has increased his efficiency dramatically from the floor (45.9 to 55.3%) and from behind the arc (35.5 to 56.3%). The early brutal conference slate — 0-3 against Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois — has hurt his scoring, but he still leads the league at over 20 points per game. He will need to add weight and strength, but his shooting touch and ball skills are NBA worthy.
6. Jereme Richmond, G/F, Illinois (6-8, 195) Fr.
Upside wing who has shone early but is currently dealing with a nagging injury.
7. Durrell Summers, SG, Michigan State (6-4, 205) Sr.
Veteran scorer who has near-prototype NBA 2-guard build and can really score the ball.
8. Kalin Lucas, PG, Michigan State (6-0, 190) Sr.
Hasn't been as good as he was as a sophomore, but still has loads of talent.
9. William Buford, G, Ohio State (6-5, 205) Jr.
Versatile 2-guard who does everything really well and good range.
10. Draymond Green, F, Michigan State (6-6, 240) Jr.
The Dancing Bear is a more athletic, better passing, not-quite-as-good-on-the-glass version of DeJuan Blair.
The Best of the Rest:
Brandon Paul, SG, Illinois
Keith Appling, SG, Michigan State
JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue
E'Twaun Moore, G, Purdue
Drew Crawford, G, Northwestern