by Jeff Fox

If you’re thinking to yourself it is too early to talk about the 2009 NBA draft, this column is not for you. You’re obviously far too well-adjusted. No, this column is for the draft junkie who is suffering through the DTs since this year’s draft concluded on June 26th. For the junkies, consider Draft 365 your pusher – we got your fix. As we stand, here are the top five prospects for next June’s NBA draft. Because a junkie is a junkie 365.

Ricky Rubio – PG – Spain – 1990

SLAM and YouTube fans have known about this kid for years. Pretty soon the whole world will be down, as the Spanish Pistol Pete will be suiting up for Spain’s stacked Olympic hoops squad in Beijing. As a 17-year-old last season he helped DKV Joventut to a second-place finish in the top domestic league in the world, Spain’s ACB, and an invite into the Euroleague for this season. Now the key for the flashy Rubio is to prove he’s not all sizzle, no steak.

Blake Griffin – PF – Oklahoma – SO

It is rare for a potential lottery pick to pass on the NBA and return to school, but that is exactly what Blake Griffin did this year. This looks to be a wise decision. With the 09 draft crop visibly weaker than the 08 version, Griffin finds himself projected as a potential first overall pick. A big, strong athletic post player, Griffin looks like a prototype NBA power forward.

Demar DeRozan – SG – USC – FR

This Compton kid couldn’t have picked bigger shoes to fill than former SLAM cover boy and USC star O.J. Mayo. While a totally different type of player than Mayo, DeRozan seems quite capable of grabbing the torch from Ovinton J’Anthony. A great slasher with rim-abusing ups, he can also step back and knock down the trey.

B.J. Mullens – C – Ohio State – FR

Speaking of shoes to fill, hopefully B.J. Mullens has four feet. The Buckeyes have become a breeding ground for NBA centers, with Messrs Oden and Koufos both bolting to the League after a year in Columbus. Mullens is a very athletic, quick 7-footer with good hands who could be a stud NBA player.

Hasheem Thabeet – C – UConn – JR

The 7’3” Thabeet is proof of the old adage that it takes big men longer to develop. His game has taken remarkable strides in his two seasons under Jim Calhoun to the point where he is now a legitimate threat at both ends of the court. With his height, wingspan and shot blocking skills (4.5 bpg last season) he will at the very least be a defensive menace in the NBA.

Also worth consideration: James Harden, USC Arizona State; Brandon Jennings, Italy

Jeff Fox writes more extensively about the NBA draft and college basketball at www.collegehoopsnet.com. All hate mail can be directed to him at foxyjj@sympatico.ca.