by Jeff Fox

We might as well address the obvious question right off the bat: Where’s Ricky? Draft 365 just got done praising the virtues of Ricky Rubio, and he doesn’t show up in its mock draft. What gives? Well, the most recent word on the street is Senor Rubio might not declare for next June’s draft, instead waiting for 2010. So, following suit with several other top mock draft sites on the web, Ricky isn’t included in Draft 365’s 2009 NBA Mock Draft, Vol. 1.

So where does that leave us? A weak draft class got even weaker with Rubio potentially pulling out. Conspiring to make the prospect list fairly tame are relatively weak freshman and international classes (only three freshman and two players currently overseas make our Top 30 picks). Now, obviously, we’re a long way off from June with plenty of basketball to be played and plenty of players still to decide whether or not to throw their hat in the ring. However, barring something crazy happening, this looks to be the weakest draft year since 2006. With that being said, here’s who the big fish in the small pond are.

1. Blake Griffin – Oklahoma – PF – SO
With his standout early season play and lack of draft competition, Griffin looks more and more likely to go first overall. He’ll look real good in his hometown Thunder’s uniforms (check that—NO ONE looks good in those uniforms).

2. Hasheem Thabeet – Connecticut – C – JR
7-3 players don’t come around too often. 7-3 guys who aren’t stiffs and show steady improvement every year hardly ever come around.

3. James Harden – Arizona St – SG – SO
Lefty Harden makes the game look effortless—just call him Nice & Smooth. He’ll be the best NBA baller to come out of Tempe since Byron Scott over 20 years ago.

4. B.J. Mullens – Ohio St – C – FR
Mullens has shown that he isn’t the second coming of Greg Oden (or Kosta Koufos for that matter). Still, his size and potential will still guarantee him a spot in the lottery.

5. Brandon Jennings – Italy – PG – 1989
Plenty was said about Jennings in our last column. If Rubio stays out of this draft, he’s your best bet if you’re looking for a point guard.

6. Stephen Curry – Davidson – PG/SG – JR
Curry proved a lot of doubters wrong with his strong point guard play this season. He may not be an NBA star but probably also won’t be a bust.

7. Earl Clark – Louisville – SF/PF – JR
Clark just oozes potential, despite his rather pedestrian numbers on a stacked Cardinals’ roster. Could be a big-time NBA player.

8. Al Farouq-Aminu – Wake Forest – SF/PF – FR
One of the few big name freshman who have stepped up this season. Has the size and skills to be a standout NBA combo forward.

9. Chase Budinger – Arizona – SG/SF – JR
One of the best athletes in the draft. Can kiss the sky and also knock down the three-ball.

10. DeMar DeRozan – USC – SG – FR
Double D has shown that players like O.J. Mayo aren’t easy to replace. Maybe he’s getting the hang of this college thing, posting four straight double-digit scoring games.

11. Gani Lawal – Georgia Tech – PF – SO
You can read more about Lawal here. He’s stepping up in a big way for the Yellow Jackets this year.

12. Jordan Hill – Arizona – PF – JR
Patrick "Poor Man's Elton" PattersonBig + Long + Athletic = NBA lottery pick for Hill.

13. Patrick Patterson – Kentucky – PF – SO
A beast down low with a Boeing 777 wingspan. A poor man’s Elton Brand?

14. Tyler Smith – Tennessee – SF – JR
Mr. Do-It-All for the Vols. His versatility will ensure him an NBA pay check.

15. Tyler Hansbrough – North Carolina – PF – SR
16. AJ Ogilvy – Vanderbilt – C – SO
17. Gerald Henderson – Duke – SG – JR
18 Cole Aldrich – Kansas – C – SO
19. Darren Collison – UCLA – PG – SR
20. Ty Lawson – North Carolina – PG – JR
21. Sam Young – Pittsburgh – SF/PF – SR
22. Damion James – Texas – SF/PF – JR
23. Patrick Mills – St. Mary’s (CA) – PG – SO
24. James Johnson – Wake Forest – SF/PF – SO
25. Greivis Vasquez – Maryland – PG/SG – JR
26. Eric Maynor – VCU – PG – SR
27. Connor Atchley – Texas – PF/C – SR
28. DaJuan Summers – Georgetown – SF – JR
29. Wayne Ellington – North Carolina – SG – JR
30. Omri Casspi – Israel – SR – 1988

Jeff Fox also writes about college hoops and the NBA draft at collegehoopsnet.com.