<
>
Insider

The ACC's top NBA prospects

10/9/2012

The ACC has historically produced some of the top prospects in the NBA draft. Last season the ACC produced four lottery picks -- three from North Carolina -- and seven first-rounders overall.

This year looks like a bit of a down year. The ACC has just one player currently ranked as a lottery pick and just three more players ranked in our Top 30.

I spoke with a number of NBA scouts to get a take on five players they'll be scouting closely in the ACC this season. Here's the breakdown:

1. James Michael McAdoo, F, So., North Carolina

Top 100 Ranking: 4

McAdoo didn't have a huge freshman year. He was stuck behind a forward rotation that included two lottery picks -- Harrison Barnes and John Henson -- which meant limited playing time. When he did play, he showed enough promise that many scouts pegged him as a top-10 prospect if he declared for the draft.

McAdoo decided to return to school, and it will likely be a good move. He never had a breakout game for the Tar Heels, and while scouts love his fundamentals, they want to see it translate in big games. With Henson, Barnes, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall all gone, the Tar Heels are McAdoo's team. If he can put them on his back, he's got a great shot at being a top-5 pick.

2. Mason Plumlee, F/C, Sr., Duke

Top 100 Ranking: 16

As a freshman, Plumlee was considered a potential lottery pick. But as his playing time increased and his production flatlined, scouts starting jumping off the bandwagon. Yes, he is big and athletic. But he always leaves you wanting more.

But when his brother Miles -- who wasn't nearly as productive as Mason -- snuck into the first round in a much deeper draft last June, it was time to reassess everything. Mason Plumlee has a better offensive game than his brother. The 2013 draft is weaker. It's even weaker on bigs. That may put him, by default, into the mid-first round. If he can show any sort of scoring ability and toughness in the paint this year, he's got a good shot at the lottery.

3. Alex Len, C, So., Maryland

Top 100 Ranking: 21

Despite a lofty reputation before he ever set foot on Maryland's campus, Len was a bit of a disappointment during his freshman year. He had his moments, but his inconsistency was maddening.

This year, scouts are expecting much bigger things. With Maryland's ball hog, Terrell Stoglin, off the team, scouts expect Maryland's offense to spend much more time getting Len the ball in the post.

Len has the size and athletic ability to be a monster in the paint on both ends of the floor. He's an excellent finisher at the basket and has superb quickness for a big man. On the defensive end, he has the potential to be a monster shot-blocker if he can stay out of foul trouble.

There's always going to be interest in athletic 7-footers at the NBA level. If Len can improve on what we saw last season, he has a decent chance of cracking the lottery, much like Meyers Leonard did in June.

4. C.J. Leslie, F, Jr., North Carolina State

Top 100 Ranking: 23

Leslie has been an enigma since high school. Blessed with elite athletic abilities and size, the 6-foot-9 forward has the speed and quickness of a guard. He's a monster in transition and uses his quickness to beat bigger opponents of the dribble. He's coming off a pretty impressive sophomore campaign and scouts have high hopes. But he still has some convincing to do.

Leslie still can be frustratingly inconsistent. He doesn't always play hard, especially on defense. He also lacks a great perimeter game, which limits his offensive potential.

If his production can start to match his potential, he has the ability to be a lottery pick. But until he shows that drive and toughness every night, he's more likely to find himself somewhere between the mid- to late first round.

5. Reggie Bullock, G/F, Jr., North Carolina

Top 100 Ranking: 36

Scouts have been high on Bullock since his high school days, but injuries and limited playing time made him almost an afterthought on the Tar Heels that last two seasons. But a strong run at the end of last season reminded scouts that Bullock was once a top recruit and might still have the talent to play in the NBA someday.

His calling card will be as a shooter. When he gets his feet set, he can be lethal. He also proved to be an effective defender. He needs to improve his handle and diversify his game, but scouts are always looking for athletic players who can shoot.

If he can take over for Barnes as the Tar Heels' go-to perimeter player, he's got a good shot of sneaking into the first round.

Others to watch: P.J. Hairston, SG, So., North Carolina; Lorenzo Brown, PG, Jr., North Carolina State; Richard Howell, PF, Sr., North Carolina State; Rasheed Sulaimon, SG, Fr., Duke; Michael Snaer, SG, Sr., Florida State; Ian Miller, PG, Jr., Florida State; Marshall Plumlee, C, So., Duke; Milton Jennings, F, Sr., Clemson; Durand Scott, SG, Sr., Miami