Top 10 NBA draft prospects

UK's Nerlens Noel, Maryland's Alex Len among top next-level players

Originally Published: December 17, 2012
By Jay Bilas and Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Noel, Len & Muhammed USA TODAY Sports, AP, USA TODAY SportsNerlens Noel, Alex Len and Shabazz Muhammad are among this season's top NBA prospects.

During college hoops season, Jay Bilas and Chad Ford will start the week off by addressing a big question, evaluating NBA prospects on the rise and looking ahead to the next week.

The discussion: Who are the top 10 prospects in the NBA draft?

Jay Bilas: I have said many times this season that there are no truly "great" teams in college basketball. I see this season much like I saw 2010, as a season of some very good teams, but no great ones. Of course, there are those who push back against that judgment, suggesting that a comparison of records clearly indicates that there is greatness in teams.

Yet when I also say that this is not a "great" NBA draft class, there is far less pushback. The No. 1 pick and the lottery are of differing levels of quality and future potential each year; some years are better than others, some are historically great and some are just plain ordinary. This season, it appears to be more ordinary than great. I believe the same holds true for teams, and the two things are directly linked.

Today, college basketball is like a pond that has been systematically overfished for many years. Every season, we attempt to re-stock the pond with a new freshman class, but the quality of play and the quality of the college basketball pond is, in large measure, determined by the quality of the freshman class. This season, we have a good freshman class, but not a great one.

That stated, there is some value in this year's class -- it's just harder to find. We have some potential starters, but there looks like few All-Stars.

1. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky Wildcats: Noel does not have an offensive game, nor the body type that indicates he will bulk up and carry greater weight. However, he can impact the game with how active he is, how hard he consistently plays and how he blocks shots, runs and rebounds. Noel is only 18 years old, has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and continues to blossom. He is not -- nor will he ever be -- Anthony Davis, but he is a willing passer and an outstanding athlete who may very well be the best risk to take in this year's draft.

Jay Bilas

College Basketball analyst

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider