Nation's most overrated prospects

McAdoo and Austin among top prospects not playing to their potential

Updated: January 14, 2013, 7:03 PM ET
By Jay Bilas and Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
McAdoo/AustinGetty ImagesNorth Carolina's James Michael McAdoo and Baylor's Isaiah Austin have underwhelmed this season.

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 five most overrated prospects in college basketball?

Jay Bilas: I am not a big fan of "overrated" prospect lists. When we go through this exercise, I always get the feeling that we are simply blaming the player for our mistakes in projecting and evaluating talent, or our "irrational exuberance" over a player's future potential. Instead of calling ourselves out for our mistakes, we tend to pile on the player for failing to live up to our billing of him. We rate and hype them, and if they don't meet our standard, we call them "overrated" instead of stating that we whiffed, or simply moving on to those players who are meeting that standard.

Look, I'm not naive. I understand that, right or wrong, dealing with expectations and the media is part of the deal. But I am still not comfortable with it. Notwithstanding our whiffs, there are some players who have not lived up to our advance billing. But it should also be noted that they haven't lived up to it yet. There is no clock on this, and just because Anthony Davis figured it out as a freshman and was ahead of the curve while Nerlens Noel hasn't (yet), doesn't mean that Noel won't get there, or that what he is doing now is not impressive.

Consider Noel's numbers and performance so far. Halfway through his freshman season, Noel is averaging 10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, 2.7 steals and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the line on 3.9 attempts per contest. Noel is the only player taller than 6-foot-5 who ranks in the top 30 in the nation in steals, and is the only player in the top 30 in the country in both steals and blocks.

Contrast that with the freshman season of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. In his first season at Georgetown, Ewing averaged 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.08 steals and 0.6 assists per game while shooting 63 percent from the floor and 62 percent from the line on 4.5 attempts per game.

Does the fact Noel's numbers are comparable and in some categories superior to Ewing's numbers indicate that Noel is as good or will be as good as Ewing? Of course not. However, it underscores that this is not a race, and today's "overrated" player can be tomorrow's hot prospect. These players who are not yet where we want them to be -- or where we projected them to be -- may very well get there in time. Yet time is the one thing we don't allow them.

Here are four players who might need some more time to develop:

1. James Michael McAdoo, F, North Carolina Tar Heels


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Jay Bilas

College Basketball analyst

Chad Ford | email

Senior Writer, NBA Insider