Draft 2011: Top-10 Prospects, Vol. II
Our second crack at ranking the 2011 Draft’s top-10 prospects.
Our first attempt at ranking the top-10 prospects of the 2011 Draft took place back in July, so it should come as no surprise that “things done changed.” While many of the same names grace Volume II of our rankings, there’s a new name on the top of the heap.
It says much of Kyrie Irving’s incredible freshman campaign that, even after suffering a (possibly) season-ending injury, he still comes out on top of the 2011 NBA Draft prospects list. As long as his toe injury isn’t deemed career-threatening (which at this point it isn’t), the speedy, crafty, poised point guard could be the first name out of David Stern’s mouth in June.
If Irving doesn’t hang on to the top spot, Baylor freshman forward Perry Jones might be the one to unseat him. Jones has looked very good for the Bears this year, scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg) and has the length, athleticism and potential that scouts tend to drool over.
The king has been dethroned. The top prospect in the 2011 Draft has long been viewed as being Harrison Barnes, and while that might turn out to be correct in the end, at this point he has dropped to the third spot on our list. After a horrendous start to his freshman season, Barnes has started to turn things around the past three games for the Tar Heels, scoring in double figures in each and shooting a respectable 45 percent from the field.
One of the biggest revelations of the early NCAA action has been the play of Kentucky’s Terrence Jones. Averaging 19 points and 10 boards, the 6-8 lefty has a strong physique and is talented enough to be able to play the 3 or 4 spot in the NBA.
With Kyrie Irving on the shelf, the label of “top freshman in the land” should now be bestowed upon the Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger. The 6-9 widebody (280 pounds) has dominated opposing post players this year, and recently posted a 40-point, 13-board night as well as a 30-point, 19-board one. While he might be a little short and unathletic for the NBA, you can’t argue with that level of production.
6) (6) Enes Kanter – N/A – N/A – C
While Kentucky still tries in vain to get Enes Kanter cleared to play for them, his inactivity hasn’t hurt his draft stock. The talented, skilled big man should still be a lottery pick whether he plays this year or not.
7) (10) Jonas Valanciunas – Lietuvas Rytas – 1992 – PF/C
Jonas Valanciunas has moved in to the top slot among Lithuanian big men in this year’s Draft, leapfrogging Donatas Motiejunas. The long 7-footer has gotten off to a great start in the Euroleague, shooting 74 percent from the floor.
With all the freshman on this list, the 20-year-old Kemba Walker is the elder statesman of the top 10. The speedy NYC point guard is an early leader for national Player of the Year honors, putting up 27.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 4.0 apg. Can he keep it up once the tough Big East schedule begins?
9) (7) Donatas Motiejunas – Benetton Treviso – 1990 – PF/C
The other 7-foot Lithuanian has also gotten off to a great start to the year, scoring 13.5 points per contest in the Italian League, shooting a scorching 59 percent.
After a strong freshman season, Derrick Williams is performing even better for Arizona this year and looks like a legit lottery pick prospect.