2011 NBA Draft: Top 5 Upperclassmen
The Draft might be about the youths, but don’t sleep on these ‘old heads.’
As our pre-season 2011 NBA Mock Draft shows, this Draft is all about the youngsters. But, just because the top 10 is populated with teens, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any love for the ‘old heads’ in this year’s Draft. Here are the five best NCAA upperclassmen draft prospects heading into this upcoming season. The odd thing is, a couple of the top prospects play for a school known for football, not basketball — Georgia.
1) Trey Thompkins — PF — Georgia — Junior
The best of the Bulldogs two upperclassmen draft prospects is big man Howard Samuel Thompkins III (but you can call him ‘Trey’). Thompkins has nice size (6-10, 247 pounds, with long arms) and a very developed offensive game, with smooth post moves, a face up game as well as range on his jumper. Despite not being the most athletic prospect or a strong defender, at this point Thompkins is still considered a late lottery pick prospect.
2) Kyle Singler — SF/PF — Duke — Senior
The most well-known name on this list would be Duke senior Kyle Singler. Most readers have been aware of Singler since he was a high school star, so we know pretty much what to expect from him on the NBA level. Capable of playing either forward spot, he might be stuck between positions for the NBA — not big/strong enough for the 4-spot; not athletic/quick enough for the small forward slot. While he might not have a ton of ‘upside,’ he should be able to contribute to a team right away. Currently his stock is all over the board — he could be top 10; he could be top 20.
3) Jeff Taylor — SF — Vanderbilt — Junior
With big man AJ Ogilvy off playing for money, Vandy is Jeff Taylor’s team now. So what does the junior swingman bring to the table, other than the greatest first name known to man? Well, his body is NBA-ready (6-7, 225 pounds) and he’s got athleticism to spare. A strong defender, he needs to work on his perimeter skills (ball handling, outside shot) this upcoming season to further elevate his draft stock — as of now he’s projected anywhere from pick No. 8 to 23.
4) Kemba Walker — PG — Connecticut — Junior
First, let’s get this out of the way — Kemba Walker is fast. Real fast. Ty Lawson fast. He’s also real small, generously listed at 6-0. Walker’s game progressed nicely last season, as the aggressive guard showed the ability to score on his own (inside or outside) or set-up teammates. Scouts will look for him to improve his ‘floor general’ abilities this season (and grow a half a foot). He might end up a lottery pick; he might end up top 20.
5) Travis Leslie — SG — Georgia — Junior
You probably know Travis Leslie best from his ridiculous dunk versus DeMarcus Cousins last season. And that is what Leslie will bring to the next level — ridiculous athleticism and leaping ability. For his size (6-4) he’s also a tremendous rebounder, pulling in almost 7 a game last season for Georgia. But he’s undersized for the NBA and needs to work on his ball handling and outside shot. Still, his athleticism and current skills should get him selected around pick No. 20 next June.
Next in line: William Buford, Ohio State; Chris Singleton, Florida State; Kenneth Faried, Morehead State; Malcolm Lee, UCLA; Jimmer Fredette, BYU.