10 players who improved stock in summer
August, 9, 2010
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
We debuted our 2011 Top 100 the day after the 2010 NBA draft. Now we're ready for our first big update of the summer. But how can college and international players improve their stock during the offseason?
Well, there isn't really an offseason anymore. College players serve as camp counselors at events such as the LeBron James Skills Academy and the adidas Nations camp. At the end of the day, the camp counselors play full-court scrimmages against one another and sometimes against NBA players. Scouts watch every move. Have the NBA hopefuls gotten stronger? Are they in shape? Have they improved on a perceived weakness?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesSingler's gamble to return to Duke is paying off.
A number of prospects also have played for their national teams in international competitions around the globe this summer.
Here's a look at 10 guys who have helped their stock this summer along with our updated Top 100 list.
The freshmenPerry Jones, F, Baylor Bears
We've had Jones ranked No. 2 on our Big Board since June, and after a few days of seeing him play at the adidas Nations camp in Chicago, we're feeling pretty good about it.
Jones wasn't dominant in Chicago, and that's the same knock that scouts had on him when he was in high school. But the way he ran the floor and fit in against more experienced teammates and opponents had scouts buzzing. Jones has as much talent as anyone in the draft. The question remains one of assertiveness.
Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke Blue Devils
Ivring was the floor leader for Team USA's under-18 gold-medal team this summer. He lived up to the hype, averaging 13.6 points and 4 assists in just more than 20 minutes per game for the Americans. Irving has it all; he's the most well-rounded point guard in the country. He can score in a variety of ways, has excellent leadership skills and steps up with the game on the line. If he were a John Wall-type athlete, he'd be ranked even higher, but as it is, we expect big things from him at Duke next season and leave him ranked No. 4 on our Big Board.
Patric Young, F/C, Florida Gators
Young already has the requisite NBA body, athleticism and toughness. He was widely considered the best high school defensive big man in the country last year and was the anchor in the middle for Team USA's under-18 gold-medal team this summer.
Young is still a work in progress offensively (he averaged just 6.6 ppg for Team USA), but virtually every scout I spoke with walked away feeling that he was looking at a potential lottery pick.
The returning collegiansKyle Singler, F, Duke Blue Devils
At this point, Singler is the granddaddy of NCAA prospects. He chose to leave behind a first-round slot in the 2010 NBA draft for a chance to improve his stock and lead Duke to another NCAA title. From the sound of things, he might get what he's looking for.
Singler looked fantastic at both LeBron's camp and in scrimmages against Team USA in Las Vegas. He continues to improve his range on his jump shot, which is helping scouts get more comfortable with him as a potential stretch 4 in the pros.
That he's going to be paired with Irving, transfer combo guard Seth Curry and a rapidly improving Mason Plumlee (in addition to key holdovers like Nolan Smith) means this Duke team could be as good as or even better than last season's national championship squad.
Marcus Morris, F, Kansas Jayhawks
Morris started edging his way onto NBA draft boards this past winter when he took over a stacked Kansas squad and led the team in scoring during conference play. Morris continued to win converts this summer with very strong performances at the LeBron James Skills Academy and the adidas Nations camp.
Morris not only is a good athlete but also is rapidly improving his basketball skills on both ends of the floor. A number of scouts remarked that he might be the most complete 4 in the country.
If he were a little bigger or slightly more explosive, we might be talking about a lottery pick. As it stands, he's looking more and more like a lock for the first round.
Shelvin Mack, G, Butler Bulldogs
Mack spent the bulk of last season playing in the shadow of Gordon Hayward. But now that Hayward has moved on to the NBA, Mack is quickly gaining the attention of scouts. It's well deserved. Mack impressed scouts at the LeBron and adidas camps with his playmaking ability and deep range.
Scouts questioned last season whether Mack was really a true point guard, but after watching him run a team and the pick-and-roll this summer, they seem more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Scouts were split on whether Mack or Illinois' Demetri McCamey was the better prospect. Mack might be considered a lottery pick if he were a slightly better athlete, but he has moved into the first-round discussion. Think of him as a poor man's Chauncey Billups.
Quincy Acy, F, Baylor Bears
Last season Ekpe Udoh got all the love, and now Perry Jones is stealing the spotlight. But more and more scouts are starting to see the light when it comes to Acy. The crazy-long, athletic forward doesn't really have a position or even a discernible NBA skill set yet. But his energy, elite leaping ability, speed and nose for the ball all had scouts praising him at the adidas Nations camp. If he can add some sort of detectable offensive game and a little strength, he'll have a legit shot at the first round.
Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland State Vikings
Cole emerged from the Deron Williams Skills Academy sessions in Chicago with scouts raving about his high basketball IQ, steadiness on the floor and leadership ability. He isn't elite in any category, but a number of scouts walked away from the camp feeling he was as good a prospect as anyone there. He's been a little under our radar the past few years, but we'll give him a close look during his senior season. Consider him a potential second-round sleeper.
The international men of mysteryJonas Valanciunas, F/C Lithuania
Valanciunas wowed scouts with his performance in the European under-18 championships this summer. Valanciunas was named MVP of the tournament, averaged 19.4 ppg in the series and scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in the final game to lead Lithuania to the gold medal.
Valanciunas has drawn some comparisons to Pau Gasol with his finesse game as a 4 around the basket. Scouts walked away impressed with his motor and ability to take over the game, but they acknowledged that his lack of elite athleticism lowers his stock just a bit.
Europeans are trending away from entering the draft early, and Valanciunas just turned 18 in May. But if he decides to declare, he's looking a lot like a top-10 prospect.
Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
Nogueira came out of nowhere to become the story of the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. The Brazilian big man was a shot-blocking machine, recording a whopping 27 blocks in five games during the tournament. He had 22 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks against Team USA in the title game and drew rave reviews from scouts.
But before you slot him into the lottery, be forewarned: Nogueira needs to add considerable weight and strength, and he'll have to improve his offense dramatically. Right now his comp would be someone like Marshall's Hassan Whiteside. Lots and lots of upside is there, but it could be a while until he achieves it.